Blog Diets Fasting What Can You Drink While Intermittent Fasting?

What Can You Drink While Intermittent Fasting?

Hydration is a crucial component of any fast. Not only does it keep you energized, it also helps your body eliminate waste products and toxins (9). The idea behind intermittent fasting is to consume no calories during the fasting window, so what you drink while fasting matters.

Water is an obvious choice – it contains zero calories, does the job of keeping you hydrated, and helps suppress hunger. But sometimes, drinking only water can get a bit boring. It can be even worse if you’re craving something sweet or flavorful.

What else can you drink while fasting for weight loss, or other benefits? Can you flavor your water? What about coffee or tea?

Let’s explore some options in detail.

Can You Drink Anything During Intermittent Fasting?

Yes, you can and must drink fluids during intermittent fasting. Not doing so is incredibly dangerous and can lead to dehydration, headaches, and fatigue.

However, you must choose your drinks wisely as consuming certain beverages may break your fast or affect its effectiveness.

During a fast, your body enters a state of ketosis or fat-burning mode. Even if you’re not fasting for weight loss, entering and maintaining this state may be beneficial for many reasons, including:

  • Improved insulin sensitivity – this is when your body processes blood sugar more effectively (13)
  • Increased energy levels – ketosis forces the body to use fat as its primary source of fuel, which some people find improves their energy levels (15)
  • Improved brain function – when in ketosis, the brain’s primary fuel source changes from glucose to ketones, which some people claim improves their focus and mental clarity (8).
  • Reduced inflammation – a ketogenic diet, which also promotes ketosis, has been found in some studies to be associated with decreases in certain markers of inflammation (11)

Therefore, when choosing what to drink during a fast, it’s important to ensure your beverage of choice doesn’t disrupt this state of ketosis.

Research on exactly when and how much certain drinks affect the body during a fast is still ongoing. However, here are some general guidelines you should keep in mind when selecting what to drink when intermittent fasting.

The number one rule is to choose zero-calorie drinks for intermittent fasting. But, the word “zero-calorie” can be misleading, as some drinks labeled as such may still contain a few calories. To avoid any confusion, let’s dive into specific drink options and how they affect your fast.

See also
Intermittent Fasting and Bodybuilding: Can You Do Both for Muscle Gain?

can you drink while intermittent fasting  

What Drinks Won’t Break a Fast?

Drinks that have no/minimal impact on insulin levels or don’t contain any calories (or contain a negligible number of calories) won’t break a fast. Below are some beverage options that are permissible during intermittent fasting. Each of these options is examined in detail to provide an informative discussion based on facts.

1. Plain Water

Water is the most basic and essential beverage option and is vital for hydration and overall health. It contains no calories, which makes it the perfect drink for fasting. Drinking water helps maintain bodily functions, helps with digestion, and keeps hunger pangs at bay (14). Unlike other drinks, plain water doesn’t require any preparation and is easily accessible.

Health Benefits:

  • Hydrates the body, helping with optimal physical performance
  • Promotes skin health by maintaining moisture levels
  • Supports weight loss by naturally reducing calorie intake

Downsides:

  • The lack of flavor can be unappealing to some, leading to monotony during long fasting periods

2. Sparkling Water

Sparkling water, which is also known as carbonated water, can be a refreshing change from plain water. It has the same hydrating benefits but adds a bit of fizz, which can make it more enjoyable to drink. Most varieties have zero calories, which makes them suitable for fasting.

Health Benefits:

  • Provides hydration with the added pleasure of carbonation
  • Can help alleviate feelings of hunger due to its fizzy nature
  • May reduce constipation (as with regular water)

Downsides:

  • Some brands may contain a small amount of sodium, although this is probably not enough to be a problem for most people
  • The carbonation may cause bloating or gas in some individuals

3. Lemon Water

Lemon water involves adding freshly squeezed lemon juice to water. This gives plain water a citrusy flavor without significantly increasing its calorie content. Generally, a few drops of lemon juice won’t disrupt fasting.

Health Benefits (7):

  • Rich in vitamin C, which can support immunity
  • Enhances digestion 
  • May improve skin quality due to its antioxidant properties

Preparation:

  • Recipe: Squeeze half a lemon into a glass of water and add more according to your taste if necessary

Downsides:

  • Overuse of lemon juice may erode tooth enamel due to its acidity
  • Store-bought lemon juice often contains additives or preservatives
See also
Fasting While On Period - Does It Have Any Benefits? What Science Says

4. Black Coffee (Unsweetened)

Black coffee is a comforting option for many, particularly in the morning. It contains negligible calories and may stimulate metabolism, potentially helping the fat-burning process initiated by fasting (17, 18)

Health Benefits:

  • Contains antioxidants that may support overall health
  • Enhances mental focus and alertness due to caffeine
  • May help with appetite suppression

Downsides:

  • High caffeine intake can cause jitteriness or disrupt sleep
  • Drinking coffee on an empty stomach may cause stomach discomfort

Purchase Considerations:

  • Opt for fair-trade coffee to support sustainable environmental and labor practices
  • Freshly ground coffee beans offer the best flavor and health benefits

Check out our guide – Zero Calorie Drinks for Intermittent Fasting – for more information on various drink options that won’t break your fast.

can you drink while intermittent fasting  

5. Green Tea (Unsweetened)

Green tea is a healthy, zero-calorie beverage that is packed with antioxidants. It is believed to promote fat loss and reduce the risk of some chronic diseases (4).

Health Benefits:

  • Contains catechins that support metabolic rate increase
  • May reduce the risk of certain cancers
  • May improve blood lipid levels and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease

Downsides:

  • Contains some caffeine, which might affect sleep if consumed excessively or too late in the day
  • The flavor may be too subtle or bitter for some

Preparation:

  • Recipe: Steep a teaspoon of green tea leaves in hot water for 3-5 minutes. Strain and enjoy.

6. Herbal Tea (Unsweetened)

Herbal tea, crafted from blends of herbs, spices, and other plant materials, serves as a versatile and flavorful addition to fasting regimens. Most herbal teas contain zero calories and lack the caffeine that is found in traditional teas, which makes them suitable for any time of day. They offer a diverse range of flavors, providing an enjoyable way to stay hydrated without compromising the fast.

Health Benefits (5):

  • Rich in antioxidants, supporting overall health and immune function
  • Can help with digestion and may soothe digestive discomfort
  • Provides relaxation and stress relief, which helps with mental well-being

Downsides:

  • Some herbal teas, such as licorice root tea, may impact blood pressure or have other side effects
  • Not all herbal teas are created equal – some products may contain added sugar which could break your fast, so you should check labels to be sure

Preparation:

  • Recipe: Steep a tea bag or a teaspoon of dried herbs in hot water for 5-7 minutes. Strain if using loose herbs and enjoy.
See also
Circadian Rhythm Fasting: Synchronize Your Diet for Peak Health

Purchase Considerations:

  • Check ingredient lists for additives or hidden sweeteners

In our guide – Can You Drink Tea While Fasting  – we discuss fasting and how different tea varieties can affect it, providing more information on herbal teas that are suitable for fasting.

7. Apple Cider Vinegar Diluted in Water

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) diluted in water is another fasting-friendly option. Typically, a tablespoon of ACV is mixed with a large glass of water. This drink is low in calories and has been claimed to enhance the effects of fasting through various mechanisms (1).

Health Benefits (1):

  • May help regulate blood sugar levels
  • May alleviate bloating or indigestion
  • Contains acetic acid, which may help with weight loss and fat burning

Downsides:

  • The strong taste of ACV might be off-putting to some people
  • Overconsumption can erode tooth enamel and irritate the stomach lining

Preparation:

  • Recipe: Mix one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with a large glass of water. Adjust to taste if necessary.

Purchase Considerations:

  • Opt for raw, unfiltered ACV with the “mother” for maximum possible benefits

8. Electrolyte Drinks (Sugar-Free)

Electrolyte drinks can be particularly beneficial during fasting periods, particularly for those who are engaging in intense physical activity. These beverages help maintain hydration and replenish essential minerals such as sodium, potassium, and magnesium (6).

Health Benefits:

  • Prevents dehydration and maintains electrolyte balance
  • Reduces the risk of muscle cramps and fatigue
  • Supports normal nerve and muscle function

Downsides:

  • Some individuals may be sensitive to added electrolytes, potentially causing imbalances
  • Overconsumption can lead to excessive sodium intake

Preparation:

  • Recipe: Many sugar-free electrolyte powders are available – mix with water according to the package instructions

Purchase Considerations:

  • Look for products with no added sugar, but that contain sodium, potassium, and magnesium

9. Bone Broth (in Moderation)

Bone broth, a nutrient-rich drink made by simmering animal bones, offers a warm, savory beverage option that is suitable for intermittent fasting when consumed in moderation. It contains a small number of calories, but is packed with essential nutrients (3).

Consider what type of fasting you’re following and the benefits you hope to gain to determine if bone broth is appropriate. Long fasts or pure water fasts may allow for broth consumption to prevent nutrient deficiencies and ease hunger, while shorter fasts may not allow it.

See also
The Benefits of 40 Hours Fasting: Do They Outweigh The Potential Risks?

Health Benefits:

  • Rich in collagen, supporting joint health and skin elasticity
  • Contains amino acids such as glycine, which may promote gut health
  • Provides electrolytes and minerals essential for bodily functions

Downsides:

  • Contains calories, so it should be consumed sparingly to avoid breaking the fast
  • Can be high in sodium, impacting those with hypertension

Preparation:

  • Recipe: Simmer animal bones with vegetables and herbs for 12-24 hours. Strain and store the broth.

Purchase Considerations:

  • If you don’t make it yourself, look for a low-sodium store-bought version

can you drink while intermittent fasting  

10. Strained Vegetable Broth (in Moderation)

Strained vegetable broth offers a light, nutrient-rich drink option that can be enjoyed in moderation during fasting periods. This broth is made by simmering vegetables and then straining out the solids, leaving behind a flavorful liquid.

Consider what type of fasting you’re following and the benefits you hope to gain to determine if vegetable broth is appropriate. Long fasts or pure water fasts may allow for broth consumption to prevent nutrient deficiencies and ease hunger, while shorter fasts may not allow it.

Health Benefits (16):

  • Provides vitamins and minerals that support overall health
  • Hydrating and can be a warm, comforting drink option
  • Low in calories, which makes it a suitable choice for fasting

Downsides:

  • Contains some calories, so it should be consumed in moderation
  • Homemade versions can vary greatly in nutrient content

Preparation:

  • Recipe: Simmer a mixture of vegetables (such as carrots, celery, and onions) with herbs in water for 1-2 hours. Strain to remove vegetable solids.

Purchase Considerations:

  • Choose low-sodium options when purchasing pre-made broths

Does Alcohol Break Intermittent Fasting?

Alcohol contains calories, which means that drinking it will break your fast. A single gram of alcohol provides approximately 7 calories. Even if you consume low-calorie alcoholic beverages, they still contain enough calories to break your fast. If you choose to drink, it’s best to do so during your designated eating periods and in moderation.

There are several other reasons why it’s best to avoid alcohol during fasting periods:

Impact on Metabolism

Drinking alcohol while fasting can affect your metabolism. When you drink, your body prioritizes metabolizing the alcohol over other metabolic processes, which may interfere with the possible benefits of fasting, such as improved insulin sensitivity and increased fat burning (2).

See also
What Can You Drink During Intermittent Fasting?

Impact on Food Choices

Alcohol consumption can impair decision-making, leading to overeating or choosing unhealthy foods during your eating window. It’s best to avoid or limit alcohol during fasting routines to ensure you make mindful food choices.

Negative Effects on Sleep

Consuming alcohol close to bedtime can disrupt your sleep and interfere with the hormone balance that is essential for fasting benefits such as weight loss and improved blood sugar control. It’s best to avoid alcohol during fasting routines, particularly close to bedtime (10).

Check out our blog on Intermittent Fasting Alcohol Belly to learn more about how alcohol consumption can affect your fasting goals.

can you drink while intermittent fasting  

Can You Drink Alcohol on the 16/8 Diet?

While alcohol consumption can break a fast, it may still be possible to enjoy a drink or two during your eating period on this type of fasting plan.

The 16/8 diet, which is also known as the “leangains” method, is a type of intermittent fasting that involves restricting your eating window to eight hours and fasting for the remaining 16.

If you choose to drink alcohol on the 16/8 diet, there are a few things you should keep in mind:

  • Stick to low-calorie options: Choose alcoholic beverages that are low in calories, such as hard liquor paired with a zero-calorie mixer or wine spritzers.
  • Avoid sugary drinks: Sugary cocktails and mixed drinks can add unnecessary calories and spike your blood sugar levels, potentially impacting the benefits of fasting.
  • Watch portion sizes: Stick to one or two drinks at most during your eating window to avoid excessive calorie intake and potential negative effects on sleep and decision-making.
  • Be mindful of timing: It’s best to consume alcohol earlier in your eating period rather than close to bedtime to minimize disruptions to sleep and hormone balance (10).

FAQs

  • Will 10 calories break a fast?

The general rule of thumb is that consuming any calories during a fasting period may break the fast. 10 calories may not have a significant impact, but it’s ideal to avoid consuming any calories during your fasting window to get the full benefits of intermittent fasting.

Check out our Fasting Drinks article for more information on what you can drink while fasting, including caffeine options and homemade electrolyte drinks.

The Bottom Line

While water is the best drink you can consume during intermittent fasting, several other options can be enjoyed in moderation and may provide additional health benefits. It’s important to consider your personal goals and fasting plan when deciding which drinks to include in your diet when fasting. Alcohol is certainly not recommended, and careful consideration should be given to any beverage that may impact the overall benefits of fasting.

DISCLAIMER:

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!

SOURCES:

  1. 20 Benefits of Drinking Apple Cider Vinegar (2022,medicinenet.com)
  2. Alcohol Metabolism (2022,nih.gov)
  3. Analysis of the Anti-Inflammatory Capacity of Bone Broth in a Murine Model of Ulcerative Colitis (2021,nih.gov)
  4. Green Tea – Uses, Side Effects, and More (2020,webmd.com)
  5. Herbal Teas and their Health Benefits: A Scoping Review (2019,nih.gov)
  6. Hydration: Are Electrolyte Drinks Better Than Water (2023,unh.edu)
  7. Is Lemon Water Worth The Squeeze? (2023,northwell.edu)
  8. Ketone Bodies and Brain Metabolism: New Insights and Perspectives for Neurological Diseases (2023,neuro.psychiatryonline.org)
  9. Stay hydrated during Ramadan (n,d,hamad.qa)
  10. The Effects of Alcohol on Quality of Sleep (2015,nih.gov)
  11. The effect of a ketogenic diet on inflammation-related markers: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (2024,nih.gov)
  12. The effect of black coffee on fasting metabolic markers and an abbreviated fat tolerance test (2020,nih.gov)
  13. The Effects of Ketogenic Diet on Insulin Sensitivity and Weight Loss,  (2023,nih.gov)
  14. The Health Benefits of Water (2019,maine.gov)
  15. The Potential Health Benefits of the Ketogenic Diet: A Narrative Review (2021,nih.gov)
  16. Vegetable Broth (2024, bmc.org)
  17. Normal caffeine consumption: influence on thermogenesis and daily energy expenditure in lean and postobese human volunteers (1989, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  18. Metabolic effects of caffeine in humans: lipid oxidation or futile cycling? (2004, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
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