Everyone seems to be hopping on some form of fasting to shed some pounds and get their summer bodies ready. While they’re at it, they cut out certain foods and drinks. Rightfully so—shedding pounds while getting healthier is not something that you can do while eating more refined carbs, junk, or drinking sugar-laden beverages. But wait, does that mean we have to give up our beloved cup of tea? Fear not, fellow tea lovers, you don’t have to give it up. Tea can be part of your fasting regimen — but that doesn’t mean you should go crazy and start chugging it down during your fasting hours. So before you put the kettle on, let’s dive into the dos and don’ts of tea drinking during fasting periods, shall we?
Is Tea Allowed During Fasting?
Here’s how intermittent fasting works: You have a set fasting window and an eating window. During the time you fast, you’re not supposed to consume any calories — this includes calories from food and drink (7).
While in a calorie-restricted state, several things are believed to happen in the body, such as a rise in human growth hormone, improved cognition and fat loss. Your body is also able to tap into its stored energy sources.
To achieve these possible benefits, you’re meant to fast without any calorie intake. But you still need hydration. Unless you’re dry fasting (which we do not recommend), water is essential to stay hydrated while fasting.
Water performs multiple roles in the body, including aiding digestion and helping flush out toxins. A lack of water can cause dehydration, slow your metabolism down, mess with your electrolyte balance and harm your kidneys (10).
There’s only so much plain water you can drink without losing your mind, so there are a few beverages that are green-lighted when fasting. These beverages share a few qualities that make them IF-friendly. They don’t contain any calories, they’re not sugary, and they don’t add anything to your calorie count.
Coffee is one such beverage, as long as you don’t add any cream or sugar.. Unfortunately, it’s high caffeine content is not for everyone — and this is where tea comes in.
Drink Tea During Fasting By Following These Rules
Here are some rules to keep in mind if you’re considering drinking tea during fasting:
Stick To Plain Tea
This means avoiding any tea with added sweeteners, cream, or milk. Stick to plain, unsweetened tea, such as green tea, black tea, or herbal tea.
You may be tempted to add a teaspoon of honey or some low carb sweetener, but keep in mind that these can also contain calories.
Ultimately, the type of fast you’re on can dictate what kind of tea is allowed. Some fasting protocols are more lenient and allow for low-calorie sweeteners, but others may not. Know your fast and adjust your tea accordingly.
Watch Your Caffeine Intake
Tea is often suggested as a milder sub for coffee, but that doesn’t mean it’s caffeine-free. Caffeine can have some benefits during fasting, such as increased energy levels and improved physical performance. But too much caffeine can be a problem — it can lead to increased hunger, insomnia and anxiety (4).
So if you’re planning on chugging down cups of tea, watch your caffeine intake. Stick to two or three cups a day in order to take advantage of the benefits without experiencing adverse effects.
Further, timing your cup can also help you reap the most benefits. For instance, if you struggle with energy levels in the afternoon, a cup of tea might give you the pick-me-up that you need
Conversely, if you’re sensitive to caffeine, it might be a good idea to cut back on your evening cup.
Avoid Flavored Teas
The same rule applies here as with sweeteners — avoid flavored teas and any tea that contains added carbs or calories.
Here’s the thing about flavors that many people don’t know. Flavoring agents are often made with sugar or artificial sweeteners, which can add calories to your tea without you realizing it (1). That said, if you’re planning on drinking tea during fasting, keep it plain.
There’s a middle ground for flavored tea fans. Some brands offer naturally-flavored teas, which may be allowed under certain fasting protocols — check your specific protocol and the label of your tea to find out.
Consider Additives Carefully
So, most sweeteners are off the table. But you can’t wrap your head around plain, old black tea. It just doesn’t do the trick for you, and other additives are a must. That’s alright, as long as you consider them carefully.
Some IF-friendly additives include lemon, lime or ginger. These can add a bit of flavor while adding zero calories. The idea here is to stick to the basics and not overthink it. A simple squeeze of lemon or a few slices of ginger can go a long way in jazzing your boring cup of tea.
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What Are The Benefits Of Drinking Tea During Fasting?
There are numerous potential health benefits of drinking tea during fasting. Here are a few:
Enhanced Relaxation And Mental Clarity
The thing about fasting is; it can be stressful. When you deny yourself the things that make you feel satisfied, like food and snacks, your body releases stress hormones to cope with the sudden lack of energy.
Tea can help you relax and alleviate some of that stress by providing an alternate source of warmth and comfort.
This effect isn’t just anecdotal (aka people’s experience). Studies have shown that tea has anti-anxiety effects, with some researchers believing that theanine (an amino acid in green tea) has a calming effect on the body and mind (9).
Furthermore, tea can also help you stay focused and alert. The caffeine in tea is known to have mild stimulating effects on the brain that can lead to improved focus and concentration.
Feeling thirsty during fasting is common. It’s a side effect of low caloric intake and the body’s natural response to preserve resources.
Tea can help you stay hydrated. It’s mainly made of water, which is essential for maintaining healthy bodily functions (10). Plus, if the taste of water doesn’t tickle your fancy, tea can be a great way to stay hydrated in an enjoyable manner.
Fasting is loved for its effect on the metabolism. What happens during fasting is that the body switches to using fat as its primary source of energy.
You’ll be happy to learn that tea may actually support this process. Studies have found that tea may help the body burn fat effectively, leading to improved metabolic functioning. Researchers believe that this effect is due to catechins, natural plant compounds found in tea.
Catechins are known to have powerful antioxidant properties, as well as to possibly stimulate fat-burning processes in the body (3).
Muted Hunger Cues
Fasting isn’t always easy — especially in the beginning. You’re likely to experience hunger pangs throughout the day, and tea can help ease them.
Tea, especially green tea, contains epigallocatechin gallate, EGCG, a powerful compound that has been linked with increased satiety — the feeling of being full. This can help you stay satisfied and reduce the intensity of hunger cues during fasting.
Also, EGCG has been linked to increased thermogenesis — a process that helps the body burn fat more efficiently.
What Tea Can You Drink While Fasting?
Now that we’ve gotten the rules out of the way, let’s talk about the teas you can drink while fasting.
The go-to tea for fasting enthusiasts, black tea is one of the most popular types of tea when it comes to intermittent fasting. It’s simple and straightforward — just leaves and water.
Plus, black tea packs a good amount of caffeine, making it ideal for those looking to stay alert throughout their fasts.
Research shows that black tea may have several health benefits, including improved cardiovascular health and management of type-2 diabetes. These benefits might become further pronounced when combined with fasting (8).
If you’re looking for something a bit lighter than black tea, try green tea. Think of it as a cousin of black tea. It has a more delicate flavor, due to the lack of oxidation that takes place in its production. It is harvested from the same plant as black tea, but it’s processed differently — hence the difference in flavor and color.
Green tea has the highest concentration of catechins, and therefore provides the most health benefits among all types of tea. In addition, it has less caffeine than tea or coffee, making it a better choice for those who want to enjoy the benefits of caffeine without experiencing its side effects (2).
Herbal tea is a great choice for those who are looking to get the benefits of tea without caffeine. Herbal tea is made from different herbs and spices, such as ginger, chamomile, peppermint, etc. While they don’t contain caffeine, they may still provide a variety of health benefits (6).
Herbal teas are thought to improve digestion, reduce inflammation and even support the immune system. Plus, they are a great way to get an energy boost with the added health benefits of herbs and spices (6).
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Below are our favorite herbal teas for fasting:
Harvested from the peppermint plant, this tea is believed to improve digestion and reduce bloating. It’s best to drink at night, as it can help you relax and get a good night’s sleep.
This tea is made from the leaves of the rooibos plant, native to South Africa. It’s rich in antioxidants and has been linked to improved cardiovascular health. It also has a slightly sweet taste, perfect for those with a sweet tooth who are sensitive to caffeine.
Made from the ginger root, this tea is known for its-inflammatory properties and is often used to help reduce nausea. It’s also believed to support the immune system and improve overall health. Note, this tea isn’t exactly calorie-free, but it is very low. So make sure to keep track of its nutritional content if you’re watching your weight.
Made from the hibiscus plant, this tea is known for its bright red color and tart taste. It’s loaded with antioxidants that may help protect the body from oxidative stress, improve heart health and even reduce blood pressure.
Made from the leaves of the moringa tree, this tea is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. It’s also been linked to improved digestive health, as well as better blood sugar control.
Tea can be an excellent choice of beverage for intermittent fasting, as long as you stick to plain, unsweetened varieties. Caffeine is okay in moderation, but it’s best to avoid flavored teas and any tea that contains added carbs or calories.
For tea lovers, it might take some getting used to but the benefits of intermittent fasting can make the transition worth it. With the right tea, you should be able to stay on track and make the most of your fast.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Are Artificial Food Flavors and Colorings Harmful? (2018, news-medical.net)
- Beneficial effects of green tea: A literature review (2010, nih.gov)
- Beneficial Properties of Green Tea Catechins (2020, nih.gov)
- Coffee (2020, nih.gov)
- Epigallocatechin Gallate: A Review of Its Beneficial Properties to Prevent Metabolic Syndrome (2015, nih.gov)
- Herbal beverages: Bioactive compounds and their role in disease risk reduction – A review (2018, nih.gov)
- Intermittent fasting: eating by the clock for health and exercise performance (2022, nih.gov)
- Molecular evidences of health benefits of drinking black tea (2019, nih.gov)
- The Effects of Green Tea Amino Acid L-Theanine Consumption on the Ability to Manage Stress and Anxiety Levels: a Systematic Review (2020, nih.gov)
- Water, Hydration and Health (2010, nih.gov)