This article is reviewed by a team of registered dietitians and medical doctors with extensive, practical clinical and public health experience.
What Can You Drink While Fasting? Things You Need To Know In 2023
Obesity is spiking at alarming levels all around the world. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC), the prevalence of obesity in American adults increased from 30.5% to 42.4between 2000 to 2018.
Among all the diet options, most Americans tend to choose intermittent fasting. It has been in practice all around the world for thousands of years and has made a great comeback recently. The popularity of this eating pattern goes beyond shedding a few pounds. It’s like giving your body a major detox.
One of the most common questions googled about intermittent fasting since it got mainstream attention is “what one can drink during their fasting windows”?. In this article, you will learn everything about what you could drink during your intermittent fasting phase and some simple tips weight loss.
What can you drink while intermittent fasting
When you are fasting intermittently, you can drink anything that doesn’t carry calories. However, you can also consume drinks that offer a few calories along with some health benefits. Drinks such as lemon water, apple cider vinegar, unsweetened tea and coffee, and bone broth are excellent choices, since they support your intermittent fasting journey, despite offering a few calories.
What is intermittent fasting?
This eating pattern involves a cycle of eating and fasting periods. Intermittent fasting does not talk about what foods to eat, rather stresses when to eat. There are different ways to do intermittent fasting, which are split into days or weeks into eating and fasting periods. It’s simply time-restricted eating.
What can you drink during intermittent fasting?
You can only drink certain drinks which are calorie-free. Beverages like coffee and tea without added sugar or artificial sweeteners, cucumber water are some great options. As mentioned earlier, most intermittent fasters go on to the internet to know this while their hunger pangs kick in. So here is the detailed information on what you can drink during the fasting period.
Water is naturally calorie-free and rich in minerals. Carbonated water, mineral water, and sparkling water are calorie-free as well. Water can boost up your metabolism and help you lose weight by the process of induced thermogenesis. Water can promote optimal hydration for energy and digestive health. The daily recommended fluid intake for women is 2200 ml. For men, it is 3000 ml. Moreover, when consumed with a meal, one can experience a decrease in hunger and an increase in satiety.
Who doesn’t like the citrusy flavor? Lemon water has zero carbohydrates and only a few calories. It can boost metabolism the same way water does. Both plain water and lemon water have similar potential effects to improve your metabolic health. They do so by boosting hydration, metabolism, and satiety. This in turn helps reduce calorie intake and stops you from gaining further weight.
Apple cider vinegar
It is very important to consume apple cider vinegar by diluting it with water or any unsweetened tea. The high amount of acidity in Apple cider vinegar can damage the enamel of the teeth, if consumed directly. Some experts do not permit the consumption of apple cider vinegar as it contains 3 calories per tablespoon. However, 5-10 ml (1-2 tablespoons) of diluted apple cider vinegar can keep cravings at bay and pump up the hydration to your body. Simply put, this is where you consume a few calories that help you stop craving for a lot more.
Unsweetened tea or coffee
Coffee and tea should be consumed without any mixtures like milk, flavored syrup, artificial sweeteners, sugar, or cream. It’s best to avoid sugars even during eating hours. However, some feel that adding some milk or fat can curb hunger, so try it this way, only in the eating window as they will break your fast. Herbal teas and decafs should be brewed only in water to make them calorie-free. Do not overdo caffeinated varieties, since they can cause irritability and poor sleep. This applies particularly if consumed on an empty stomach, which is usually the case when you are fasting.
Bone broth contains few amounts of calories and fats which can ideally break your fast. But for the longer intermittent fasting methods like 24-hour fasts, consuming it can do more good than harm. Little amounts of fat can keep your body in ketosis and burn fat. So always consume small amounts of homemade bone broth. Most doctors recommend consuming it during intermittent fasting to restock the electrolytes, minerals, and nutrients. It will keep you fuller for a longer time and curb hunger. Add black salt or sea salt to it. The sodium in salt will prevent dehydration. Remember, it still contains calories, so consume very little amounts of it while fasting and as much as you desire during the eating window.
Most sought out fats to lose weight are MCT oil, coconut oil, and butter. Oil can break a fast, but it won’t push you out of ketosis and can tide you between the eating window and fasting window. Most people consume bulletproof coffee which is a part of the keto diet to keep those pesky cravings away and induce fat burning. Moreover, fats keep you full for a longer time.
Other zero-calorie beverages like sparkling water, infused water can be great options too. Black tea, black coffee, and herbal teas like green tea can induce thermogenesis and help you lose weight. Chamomile tea can also help you cope up with sleep difficulties.
Drinks to avoid during the fasting window
Not many people know what to avoid while they are on a fast. And when you lack such critical information, you might make mistakes that could prove costly in the long run. It applies not only to your diet, but to your drinks as well. Since they also bring in calories, you must be careful and vigilant regarding what you should consume and what you need to completely avoid. So, here are some common drinks you should avoid at any cost, while you are fasting:
- Sweetened drinks like tea or coffee – Anything that tastes sweet to your palate most likely has calories. So, if you add sugar, flavored syrup, milk, cream, or artificial sweeteners to your breakfast, you are consuming calories, and in most cases, breaking your fast. Drinks like diet soda, fruit juice, almond milk, and coconut water can break a fast too. Drinks that contain sugar and carbohydrates can also raise blood sugar levels. However, one can satisfy their sugar cravings with moderate use of a natural sweetener- Stevia, which is unlikely to break your fast. Stevia contains zero calories and carbs. Research suggests that stevia can increase insulin sensitivity in rodents.
- Alcoholic beverages – Alcoholic beverages like beer, cocktails, and wine are a big no. Even if you drink alcohol in moderation it should ideally be in the eating window. Alcohol contains calories and will replace food.
- Regular sodas and Diet sodas – Diet sodas claim to be calorie-free. But diet sodas contain artificial sweeteners like sucralose and aspartamewhich raise blood sugar levels. Both diet sodas and regular sodas do not support weight loss.
- Protein shakes and smoothies – Protein shakes and smoothies contain calories and will activate insulin response and break your fast. However, they are an excellent choice when you decide to break the fast.
What can you drink in the eating window ?
You can consume any kind of milk like animal milk or almond milk, smoothies, coconut water, and fruit juices. Buttermilk and Kombucha are rich sources of probiotics and great for an upset stomach, as it also improves gut health. One can drink diet soda, alcoholic drinks, and coffee in moderation, but remember they might dehydrate you. So, drink plenty of water and stay hydrated.
How to do intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is time-restricted eating and emphasizes when to eat, instead of preaching what to eat. The 16:8 method involves fasting window of 16 hours and an eating window of 8 hours. This is one of the most popular methods.
Any food or drink with macronutrients such as proteins, carbohydrates, and fats would promote the body out of a fasting state. As these nutrients contain calories, they trigger an insulin response and raise insulin levels which signal the body to put you out of fasting mode. The fundamental rule of intermittent fasting is putting your body through certain periods where it won’t be getting any calories in any form of food and beverages.
Here are 8 popular ways to do intermittent fasting.
- 16/8 intermittent fasting
- 5:2 diet aka The Fast Diet
- Eat stop eat
- Alternate day fasting
- Warrior diet
- Spontaneous meal skipping
- 12:12 intermittent fasting
- 14:10 intermittent fasting
What are the health benefits of intermittent fasting?
A proper Intermittent fasting plan can help you curb weight gain, lower oxidative stress, and inflammation. Furthermore, it also reduces blood pressure and improves cardiovascular health. Research suggests that intermittent fasting increases the levels of the fat-burning hormone, improves insulin sensitivity, and normalizes insulin levels.
While drinks may seem negligible when considering your intermittent fasting journey, in reality, they play an immense role. The simple rule is, consume drinks with little to no calories. Make sure you avoid sugars at all costs since they bring in a considerable amount of calories. While fasting, if you consume calories, it breaks the whole point and purpose, doesn’t it? Hydrate yourself consistently and keep a check on calories.
+ 4 sources
Health Canal avoids using tertiary references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic researches from medical associations and institutions. To ensure the accuracy of articles in Health Canal, you can read more about the editorial process here
- Anon, (2021). Products – Data Briefs – Number 360 – February 2020. [online] Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db360.htm#:~:text=From%201999%E2%80%932000%20through%202017%E2%80%932018%2C%20the%20age%2D,not%20significant%20(Figure%204).
- Meinders AJ;Meinders AE (2012). [How much water do we really need to drink?]. Nederlands tijdschrift voor geneeskunde, [online] 154. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20356431/#:~:text=Intake%20of%20more%20than%20500,women%20is%20more%20than%20adequate.
- Anton, S.D., Martin, C.K., Han, H., Coulon, S., Cefalu, W.T., Geiselman, P. and Williamson, D.A. (2010). Effects of stevia, aspartame, and sucrose on food intake, satiety, and postprandial glucose and insulin levels. Appetite, [online] 55(1), pp.37–43. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2900484/#:~:text=Stevia%20has%20been%20found%20to,role%20in%20food%20intake%20regulation.
- Mansell, P.I., Fellows, I.W. and Macdonald, I.A. (1990). Enhanced thermogenic response to epinephrine after 48-h starvation in humans. American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, [online] 258(1), pp.R87–R93. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2405717/