“What can you drink during intermittent fasting?”
This is actually one of the most common questions that I get from those who want to see how intermittent fasting works. You want to try a form of fasting, but you’re just not sure if you can go that long without food. So you start to wonder about what to drink during intermittent fasting.
The good news is that you actually have many options to help make fasting as easy as possible. You don’t have to struggle as you wait to eat. You can actually get by without feeling miserable. You may even have more energy than ever before.
What can you drink when doing intermittent fasting? Let’s take a look…
I don’t know about you, but I need my morning coffee. I couldn’t imagine starting my day off without that cup of joy. I also like to sip on sparkling water (my fasting secret weapon) as I get my day started.
When you’re new to fasting, you’re not sure of what you’re allowed to drink and you worry about going without food. I don’t want you to feel stressed out. Waiting to eat is actually pretty easy when you consume the right beverages.
Let’s take a look at what can you drink during intermittent fasting…
What can you eat or drink while intermittent fasting: Why you’re fasting.
Before we look at what to drink during intermittent fasting, it’s important to know why you’re doing this in the first place.
So there’s intermittent fasting for health/fitness reasons. Then there’s spiritual fasting for Ramadan and religious reasons.
I’m not familiar at all with spiritual fasting as I’ve only done this voluntarily for health reasons. Truth to be told, I just fast because I love to eat and I also want to stay in decent shape. I got into this way of eating because I didn’t want to count calories or to be restricted in what I could eat.
Then there’s also dry fasting. For the sake of this article, we’re going to assume that you’re trying this stuff for health reasons (cleansing, autophagy, more energy, lose weight, still eat pizza, and so on).
When you try a form of fasting for the sake of your fitness goals, you’re going to be pretty flexible with what you can drink in the sense that you can still hydrate and consume your coffee.
If you’re fasting just to get into a calorie deficit, then you’re going to be even more flexible.
If you want to try intermittent fasting to lose a few pounds then you’re in luck. We stay hydrated and we consume fluids. I personally am not a proponent of dry fasting.
What can you drink during intermittent fasting?
There are fluids that will make fasting easy and will help you feel more energetic. We’re going to discuss commonly accepted fluids that you can have when fasting and we’ll even look into the grey areas.
What are the best fluids to consume when fasting?
- Water. Staying hydrated is essential and I start every morning with a cold glass of water.
- Black coffee. I usually sip on a black coffee or I grab an espresso or Americano if I’m feeling fancy.
- Tea. You can’t go wrong with herbal/green tea.
- Sparkling water. This is actually my fasting secret weapon.
We dig into these later in the article. These are the main fluids that you’re going to consume when fasting.
What can you add to your water?
I’ll add lemon to my water (another highly debated topic). I sometimes also had some pink Himalayan salt for electrolytes.
This is where the debate begins.
Can you really drink lemon water?
I don’t always drink lemon water, but I’m not opposed to it. This article sums up drinking lemon water during intermittent fasting the best:
“Fasting involves abstaining from eating for a given period for weight loss, religious, medical, or other purposes.
Considering its low calorie content, plain lemon water will not break your fast in most cases.
Yet, other lemon beverages may contain added sugar, so it’s smart to read the food label to determine the calorie content.”
As you can imagine, there are many other fluids that we have to discuss when it comes to what you can drink during intermittent fasting.
Does coffee break your fast? Can you drink coffee when doing intermittent fasting?
“Am I allowed to drink coffee when fasting?
“Can I add some cream to my coffee”
“I heard someone say that coffee breaks a fast. Is this true?”
So what’s the deal? Are you really allowed to drink coffee when fasting?
Caffeine will increase your alertness, give you a boost of energy, and curb your appetite. Studies have shown that caffeine can even boost your metabolism and help with weight loss. I’m convinced that black coffee is the best breakfast.
In Eat Stop Eat, Brad Pilon brings up the following points:
“The other common misconception about coffee, teas and colas is that caffeine causes giant increases in insulin. While it is true that caffeine can cause an increased insulin response to large doses of carbohydrates (caffeine + carbs = more insulin release than carbs alone). I have never seen any research suggesting that caffeine alone, without any carbs, causes insulin release.”
Dave Asprey had this to say about drinking coffee when fasting in the “Fast This Way” book:
“Coffee and fasting go together like motherhood and apple pie or teenagers and cell phones. I strongly recommend coffee in the morning (and not just because I created Bulletproof Coffee!). It really does make a difference. If you’re not a particular fan of drinking coffee, think of it as the fasting equivalent of eating kale. You may not like the taste of kale, but you eat it because you’ve been programmed to believe it’s such a healthy food. Look at coffee as a superfood for your fast, another part of the tool kit that allows you to direct the way your biology works.”
What can I add to my coffee?
There are people who follow ironclad rules. The spirit of fasting is about not consuming any calories. With that being said, I do understand that not everyone can drink black coffee like me. It’s not the end of the world if you had some cream to your cream. Sugar is still not allowed. Any kind of latte is just dessert.
I will occasionally add some cream to my coffee.
Most people will agree that you can add cinnamon to your coffee.
Brad Pilon brought this up about what you can add to your coffee:
“Try your best to keep your calories as close to zero as possible. Once you start adding a ‘little bit’ of cream and sugar to your coffee, or a ‘little sip’ here or there you may find that your calorie intake slowly starts to creep up during your fast. Do your best to try and have a ‘zero-tolerance approach’ during your fast.”
Martin Berkkan from Lean Gains brings this up:
“The fasted state is not an on/off switch that immediately gets turned off once you have a tiny amount of calories, like a lot of people seem to believe.”
Berkhan goes on to say:
“Can you have some milk in your coffee? Sure, I wouldn’t worry about it and I have it myself. Life would just be too damn boring with only black coffee, especially if you’re used to having some milk with it. How much milk/cream? I would put the limit at 50 kcal total used throughout the fast. That’s about 1 deciliter or 1/2 cup 2% milk.”
James Clear echoed a similar sentiment on what to drink during intermittent fasting:
“As for having coffee or tea during your fast — you should be just fine. As a general rule of thumb, if you drink something with less than 50 calories, then your body will remain in the fasted state. So, your coffee with a splash of milk or cream is just fine. Tea should be no problem either.”
The team at Zero Fasting had the following summary:
What about bulletproof coffee?
What is this exactly? According to Dave Asprey:
“Black coffee, a dollop of grass-fed butter, and a teaspoon or more of C8 MCT oil.”
What are the benefits of this drinking bulletproof coffee?
Aspey goes on to mention the benefits of this coffee variation:
“Bulletproof Coffee hacks the feeling of hunger during fasting by boosting the level of ketones in your blood. Ketones are another important part of the biology of fasting.”
From an anecdotal perspective, many folks believe that drinking this morning beverage makes fasting easier for them. Whatever makes your life simpler is usually a good move.
The goal is to make fasting easy so that you stick to it and don’t feel the urge to cave every few minutes. If you find that Bulletproof Coffee helps you get through fasting, then it be perfect for your situation.
Should you drink bulletproof coffee?
My response is always about doing what’s best for you. If you can afford it and you feel that adding MCT oil with grassfed butter will help you feel better in the morning, then go for it. I don’t want you to feel like you have to complicate this process though.
You also don’t have to buy the brand name/expensive ingredients here. Some people have suggested that you try making this concoction with any unsalted butter and coconut oil.
But I heard that coffee does break a fast!
Okay, we can’t write an article on what you can drink when fasting if we don’t address this.
Dr. Rhonda Patrick mentioned on the Joe Rogan podcast back in 2017 that coffee may impact a fast and that has had people in the fasting community confused for years.
Upon further investigation, I couldn’t find anyone else that went on the record to say that coffee breaks a fast. I also couldn’t find any follow-up from Dr. Patrick on the idea that coffee does indeed break your fast.
So keep on drinking that morning cup of coffee!
What drinks will break a fast during intermittent fasting?
When searching up for what can you drink during intermittent fasting, there’s going to be some bad news.
Here are drinks that will definitely break your fast:
- Energy drinks.
- Gatorade or anything like there.
- Anything with calories.
My general rule is to look at the ingredients list. I once purchased a case of sparkling water that look pretty appealing to me. When I got home, I cracked open a can. I couldn’t help but notice how juicy it tasted. So I checked the back of the can to discover that the sweetness was coming from all of the sugar in the drink.
I would avoid anything with calories during the fasting period. You’re not denying yourself, you’re just delaying.
What can you drink during intermittent fasting: Grey Area.
What can you drink during intermittent fasting? Since we’ve already extensively looked at what you can and can’t drink, it’s important to go over a grey area. The jury is still out on some of these options.
- Zero calorie energy drinks. These don’t technically have any calories so many people will rely on them when fasting to get through the day.
- Other random concoctions. New drinks are being created daily to monetize those who fast. I keep it simple and try to avoid them.
- BCAAs. I had to include this in the grey area because it’s a highly debated topic in the fitness community. I used to consume these religiously until I realized that I didn’t really need them. There’s plenty of research out on this topic if you would like to go over it.
What about kombucha?
This article made some interesting points on consuming kombucha and fasting:
“Drinking kombucha and intermittent fasting are two healthy habits that can be combined for even greater weight loss and overall wellness.
Although it technically breaks a strict fast because of its sugar and calories, kombucha can still be drunk during the eating periods of an intermittent fast, and even sipped on during the fasting period of less strict fasts as long as you don’t drink more than 50 calories.”
On that note…
What’s dirty vs clean fasting?
Some people will consider sticking to coffee/water/tea as clean fasting while adding lemons to water, flavoured sparkling water and adding any cream to coffee is dirty fasting.
I personally consumed all kinds of sparkling water during my fasting period.
What can you eat or drink during intermittent fasting: everything else.
“Don’t chew gum because it breaks your fast.”
So are you allowed to chew gum when fasting?
I found the best possible line from Martin Berkhan (“The Leangains Method: The Art of Getting Ripped. Researched, Practiced, Perfected”):
“Chewing gum, celery sticks, and ‘calorie-free’ beverages that aren’t technically free from calories but contain negligible amounts, fall into a category called Shit You Don’t Need to Think About.”
I agree with this summary.
I normally will just drink black coffee, water, and sparkling water during a fast, but I don’t stress if I do happen to chew on a stick of gum.
What about dry fasting?
There are some people who do dry fasts where they don’t consume anything at all. Many folks will do this for religious reasons or for longevity.
I don’t have much to add on this because I’ve never tried a dry fast. I don’t go more than an hour without drinking any water.
What’s dry fasting all about? Here’s the simplest definition of dry fasting:
“Dry fasting can be done with any intermittent fasting method by not drinking or taking in any fluids during the fasting period.”
I personally love my water too much to give up on it. I like to stay hydrated so I don’t see myself pursuing dry fasting ever.
What can you eat while intermittent fasting?
You generally can’t eat anything because once you start consuming calories, you’re breaking the fast. I would not eat anything to remain in the fasted state.
The good news is that you’re only waiting to eat. You’re not denying yourself and you won’t “literally starve yourself.” You’re just waiting to eat.
You can check out our previous post on how to handle hunger. As intimidating as it seems to go so long without food, you’ll eventually find fasting to be easy when you realize that you can get some extra sleep and then have a coffee in the morning to get by until it’s time to eat.
What’s the bottom line on what you can drink during intermittent fasting?
That’s a look at what can you drink during intermittent fasting. The goal is to keep it simple. Nobody’s saying that you can’t enjoy your go-to beverage ever again. We’re just saying that you should limit drinks with calories to your eating window.
What you can drink during intermittent fasting will come down to your personal reasons and goals for why you’re fasting.
I just want an easy-to-follow system for fitness/weight loss/life so that I can get into shape without feeling restricted.
I personally rely on coffee, sparkling water, and water to get through the fasting period. I enjoy flavoured sparkling water, lemon in my water, and occasionally I put cream in my coffee. Nobody ever put on weight because they had a lemon in their water. There are some things that aren’t worth stressing about.
Just try to limit your caffeine consumption so that you don’t annoy everyone around you. Good luck!