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Liquids and Intermittent Fasting: What Can You Drink?

In this article, I will discuss liquids and intermittent fasting — what you can drink while fasting.

Intermittent fasting is a pattern of eating that involves alternating feeding periods with fasting periods or eating a very few calories. Intermittent fasting focuses on when you eat rather than the food you eat.

Intermittent fasting isn’t new. Humans have practiced fasting throughout history for various reasons, including survival, health, and spiritual reasons (1).

The goal of intermittent fasting is not necessarily to minimize calorie intake but to maintain your health and help your body recover.

Most fasting techniques incorporate fast periods of 12–16 hours into each day. On the other hand, other patterns may include 24–48 — hour fasting periods once or twice every week.

Whenever you fast, your body undergoes several metabolic changes. For example, after an extended period of fasting, your body enters ketosis. Ketosis is a state in which your body burns fat for fuel. This happens when there are no carbohydrates (2, 3, 4).

It is also important to note that fasting causes a drastic decrease in insulin levels. It also enhances autophagy. Autophagy is the process by which your body gets rid of damaged, unneeded, or harmful cells (5, 6, 7, 8).

Studies have shown that intermittent fasting plays a vital and highly beneficial role in weight loss, reducing blood sugar level, reducing inflammation, improving heart health, and reducing the risk of chronic health conditions (9, 10, 11, 12).

In this article, I will cover what liquids are good to drink during intermittent fasting and those that are not good.


What can you drink while fasting?

1. Tea

Tea is good for your fast as well as for your health. Herbal teas, lapsang, oolong, green, black, even souchong — they’re great. Tea makes your fasting more effective by giving your gut health a boost. Also, studies have shown that green tea promotes satiety and helps with weight loss (13).

Ensure that you do not add artificial sweeteners, cream, or sugar to your tea. Adding these will break your fast.

2. Coffee

Coffee is best drunk black. Black coffee is free of calories, so you are better off enjoying it during fasting. Avoid adding milk, cream, or sugar to the coffee. Doing so will add calories to it, thus putting an end to the fasted state.

If you want to flavor your coffee during the fast, add a calorie-free flavoring such as cinnamon.

It is also important that you do not take more than a cup when fasting. Taking too much caffeine, especially on an empty stomach, can trigger some jittery feelings, which increase your appetite and makes you want to snack.a

3. Water

Clean drinking water is essential. It should be your top priority. Water promotes weight loss and keeps you hydrated. A study published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition suggests that proper hydration can boost your metabolism and enhance your body’s fat-burning ability. And so, you must drink plenty of water during your fasting. You can make it more refreshing by infusing it with cucumber or mint.

4. Bone broth

Bone broth is rich in nutrients and helps replenish any electrolytes that may have been lost during prolonged periods of drinking just water. Bone broth is a good thing to consume even between your feeding times and fasting period. That’s because you’re getting a lot of electrolytes but with not a lot of calories, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

5. Apple cider vinegar

If you have food cravings or get hungry during the fast, then try out some apple cider vinegar. Yeah, I know not many would be enthusiastic about this, but you don’t have to worry. You don’t have to drink it as it is. You can dilute 5–10 ml (1–2 teaspoons) of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water. That will prevent your cravings during the fast.

6. Almond milk (unsweetened)

Almond milk contains lower calories than cow’s milk.

This is somewhat confusing to some people because almonds are known to be high in fat and calories. But it is also worth mentioning that due to how almond milk is processed, just a little portion of it is left in the finished product.

This is most helpful for those who want to lose weight and cut calories.

A cup of unsweetened almond milk (240 ml) contains approximately 30–50 calories. This implies that there are 65–80% fewer calories in almond milk.


What can you NOT drink while fasting?

1. Diet soda

Diet soda doesn’t contain any sugar, carbs, or calories, but studies suggest that ingredients like acesulfame-K and sucralose may shoot up your insulin levels. The rise in insulin levels can negate the benefits of fasting and trigger cravings for sugar. Results from several studies indicate that diet soda contributes to weight gain, whether you increase your calorie intake or not. Diet soda also affects your gut bacteria. It increases the population of harmful bacteria while decreasing the population of beneficial gut flora.

2. Alcohol

Never take alcohol during fasting. You should avoid it completely. Alcohol is loaded with calories meaning that it will break your fast. Alcohol dehydrates the body system and causes a spike in your blood sugar level. There’s no reason why you should drink it during your fast.

3. Coconut water

Coconut water has a wide range of health benefits. However, drinking it during a fast is a BIG NO. Coconut water contains some carbohydrates, so drinking it will certainly break your fast. You’re better off drinking it at mealtimes or not at all.


Takeaway

There are two important things to consider when liquid and intermittent fasting: first, you must drink enough liquids. Secondly, do not drink liquids that are loaded with calories.

Recommended drinks include herbal infusions, unsweetened tea, plain coffee, and of course, water. Do not drink flavored waters because they contain sweeteners. If you’re not ok with plain tea and coffee, you can add a bit of cinnamon, and you’re good to go.


References

  1. Patterson, R. E., Laughlin, G. A., LaCroix, A. Z., Hartman, S. J., Natarajan, L., Senger, C. M., Martínez, M. E., Villaseñor, A., Sears, D. D., Marinac, C. R., & Gallo, L. C. (2015). Intermittent Fasting and Human Metabolic Health. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics115(8), 1203–1212. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2015.02.018
  2. Scott, J. M., & Deuster, P. A. (2017). Ketones and Human Performance. Journal of special operations medicine : a peer reviewed journal for SOF medical professionals17(2), 112–116.
  3. Kim, K. H., Kim, Y. H., Son, J. E., Lee, J. H., Kim, S., Choe, M. S., Moon, J. H., Zhong, J., Fu, K., Lenglin, F., Yoo, J. A., Bilan, P. J., Klip, A., Nagy, A., Kim, J. R., Park, J. G., Hussein, S. M., Doh, K. O., Hui, C. C., & Sung, H. K. (2017). Intermittent fasting promotes adipose thermogenesis and metabolic homeostasis via VEGF-mediated alternative activation of macrophage. Cell research27(11), 1309–1326. https://doi.org/10.1038/cr.2017.126
  4. Martin, B., Mattson, M. P., & Maudsley, S. (2006). Caloric restriction and intermittent fasting: two potential diets for successful brain aging. Ageing research reviews5(3), 332–353. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.arr.2006.04.002
  5. Kim, I., & Lemasters, J. J. (2011). Mitochondrial degradation by autophagy (mitophagy) in GFP-LC3 transgenic hepatocytes during nutrient deprivation. American journal of physiology. Cell physiology300(2), C308–C317. https://doi.org/10.1152/ajpcell.00056.2010
  6. Bagherniya, M., Butler, A. E., Barreto, G. E., & Sahebkar, A. (2018). The effect of fasting or calorie restriction on autophagy induction: A review of the literature. Ageing research reviews47, 183–197. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.arr.2018.08.004
  7. Mattson, M. P., Moehl, K., Ghena, N., Schmaedick, M., & Cheng, A. (2018). Intermittent metabolic switching, neuroplasticity and brain health. Nature reviews. Neuroscience19(2), 63–80. https://doi.org/10.1038/nrn.2017.156
  8. Heilbronn, L. K., Smith, S. R., Martin, C. K., Anton, S. D., & Ravussin, E. (2005). Alternate-day fasting in nonobese subjects: effects on body weight, body composition, and energy metabolism. The American journal of clinical nutrition81(1), 69–73. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/81.1.69
  9. Johnstone A. (2015). Fasting for weight loss: an effective strategy or latest dieting trend?. International journal of obesity (2005)39(5), 727–733. https://doi.org/10.1038/ijo.2014.214
  10. Barnosky, A. R., Hoddy, K. K., Unterman, T. G., & Varady, K. A. (2014). Intermittent fasting vs daily calorie restriction for type 2 diabetes prevention: a review of human findings. Translational research : the journal of laboratory and clinical medicine164(4), 302–311. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.trsl.2014.05.013
  11. Johnson, J. B., Summer, W., Cutler, R. G., Martin, B., Hyun, D. H., Dixit, V. D., Pearson, M., Nassar, M., Telljohann, R., Maudsley, S., Carlson, O., John, S., Laub, D. R., & Mattson, M. P. (2007). Alternate day calorie restriction improves clinical findings and reduces markers of oxidative stress and inflammation in overweight adults with moderate asthma. Free radical biology & medicine42(5), 665–674. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2006.12.005
  12. Catterson, J. H., Khericha, M., Dyson, M. C., Vincent, A. J., Callard, R., Haveron, S. M., Rajasingam, A., Ahmad, M., & Partridge, L. (2018). Short-Term, Intermittent Fasting Induces Long-Lasting Gut Health and TOR-Independent Lifespan Extension. Current biology : CB28(11), 1714–1724.e4. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2018.04.015
  13. Nagao, T., Komine, Y., Soga, S., Meguro, S., Hase, T., Tanaka, Y., & Tokimitsu, I. (2005). Ingestion of a tea rich in catechins leads to a reduction in body fat and malondialdehyde-modified LDL in men. The American journal of clinical nutrition81(1), 122–129. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/81.1.122

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