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Nutrition » Diets » Does Coffee Break A Fast: Science-Backed Take On Coffee And Its Effect On Fasting

Does Coffee Break A Fast: Science-Backed Take On Coffee And Its Effect On Fasting

does coffee break a fast

Science-Backed Take On Coffee And Its Effect On Fasting

Modern world of weight loss is packed with an extremely wide range of diets. Some of them are well-balanced and call for only a couple of tweaks in your lifestyle and nutrition. Others belong to fad diets that throw around unsupported claims and swear up and down to bring immediate results. In the ocean of available nutrition plans, it is quite a task to figure out which foods should be approached with moderation and which foods you can stock up on without a doubt in mind. In this article you will find out the details about fasting. Moreover, here you can find the answer to one of the most common questions that IF enthusiasts are puzzled with – does coffee break a fast? Read on to find out.

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The lowdown on intermittent fasting  

As it was mentioned above, there are dozens of diets that cater to specific needs and preferences of people looking to drop some weight or pack on a pound or two. Intermittent fasting is one of the most popular nutrition plans, as it brings about a bunch of health benefits along with weight loss. The premise of this dietary pattern is that you should abstain from food during a certain period of time.

There are several possible approaches to intermittent fasting. Some weight-watchers prefer daily time-restricted approach. They have an 8-hour window, when they can eat normally, but it is necessary to avoid any food during the rest of the day. As a rule, people who stick to this approach, sleep at night, skip their breakfast and have their lunch and dinner by 8 p.m. Another approach is to fast every other day. Some IF supporters give preference to 5:2 fasting schedule – they stick to their regular diet 5 days a week and fast for 2 days.

Some more words about this dietary plan

Such a dietary plan decreases your calorie intake and subsequently helps to lose weight. In combination with regular training sessions it is an effective way to achieve your fitness goal. Moreover, intermittent fasting has a host of other health benefits. It can decrease the risk of diabetes, arthritis, asthma, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, multiple sclerosis and even certain types of cancer. The only one thing you should keep in mind is that fasting is not for everyone. Some people may face headaches, insomnia, fatigue, nausea and other side effects (8). That’s why it is important to consult a healthcare professional before starting this nutrition plan.

There are no specific restrictions or recommendations concerning which foods to eat and which ones to avoid during your non-fasting days. It’s self-explanatory that in order to slim down faster, it is better to choose healthy meals, packed with vitamins instead of junk food and processed foods.

does coffee with coconut milk break a fast

Does coffee break a fast?

Such a dietary pattern as fasting allows consuming low- and zero-calorie beverages in moderate amounts. Such drinks are unlikely to break your fast.

Black coffee belongs to this list. One cup of this drink (about 240 ml) has a barely detectable amount of minerals, fat and protein. Moreover, such amount of coffee contains approximately 5 calories (7), which is not enough to affect your metabolic rate and break your fast.

Black coffee offers some health benefits as well. For example, according to the recent study, this drink may lower your risks of type 2 diabetes, heart attack, heart stroke, liver diseases and even Parkinson’s disease (6). Dieters also claim that black coffee helps to decrease your appetite, which makes it easier for you to follow the dietary plan and manage your fasting days. However, this theory lacks factual backing.

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Coffee and the benefits of fasting

By drinking black coffee, you can also increase the benefits of fasting. For instance, intermittent fasting can support your brain health by increasing autophagy. Autophagy is a process in your organism, during which your body cells get rid of damaged or unnecessary components (1). It is also your body’s way to replace damaged cells with healthy ones. This process lowers your risks of age-related mental decline. A study in mice has shown that coffee can increase the process of autophagy (5). This example demonstrates, that coffee can boost the benefits of intermittent fasting. However, it is essential to practice moderation, in order to avoid side effects, such as insomnia, heartburn, nervousness and more.

So, in general, black coffee won’t break your fast, and you can indulge in a cup or two on your fasting days. But keep in mind, that this goes only for black coffee without added ingredients.

does heavy cream in coffee break a fast

Does coffee with added ingredients break a fast?

Not all people like black coffee and very often they add some ingredients to improve its taste. Milk, sugar, heavy cream, butter and many other ingredients may influence not only the taste of your beverage, but its effect on your body and fasting.

  • Butter coffee

Butter is packed with fat and calories, that’s why technically it could break your fast. However, this fat doesn’t affect you blood glucose or insulin levels or any other measurements, that are important for your fasting. In simple words, if you add some butter to your coffee, it won’t break your fast. You’ll just burn a little less body fat. Moreover, butter coffee will help you fast longer. Fat in butter cannot affect the process of autophagy, and the amount of protein in this food is too low to do this. Some people also add coconut oil instead of butter, it has the same effect.

  • Coffee with heavy cream

Heavy cream contains fat and protein, that’s why it can affect your fasted state, if you add too much of it. However, 1 ounce of heavy cream has only 1 gram of fat and 1 gram of protein. That’s why it won’t break your fast and won’t significantly affect your fat burning process, but it can decrease your autophagy. Just remember that everything should be in moderate amounts.

does black coffee break a fast

  • Coffee with almond milk

Almond milk, as well as any nut milk, won’t break your fast. However, it is important to avoid almond milk with added protein or its sweetened versions.

  • Coffee with cinnamon

You can safely add cinnamon to your coffee even during the fasting days. It not only doesn’t affect your fast, but it helps to reduce your insulin resistance as well. This effect is especially helpful if you have had a rough and sleepless night.

  • Coffee with cocoa powder

You can add some cocoa powder to your coffee, but it is important to be careful with its amount. Cocoa powder has protein, carbs and fat, so if you add more than 1 teaspoon, you’ll reduce the effect of your diet. It is better to use defatted cocoa powder.

So, as you can see, black coffee is the best option and you can drink it without being afraid to break your fast. It is better to avoid sweetened and high-calorie drinks, such as cappuccinos and lattes. However, if you still want to add something, a teaspoon of butter, coconut oil or heavy cream won’t be harmful for your weight loss or fast.

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does butter coffee break a fast

A couple of tips for your success

  • When you order coffee at your favorite coffee shop, go for espresso or Americano, these are black coffees, which won’t affect your diet. It is also better to avoid almond milk or any nut milk. The majority of coffee shops use sweetened versions of almond milk, which can break your fast.
  • According to research, chewing a gum can help you reduce hunger (4). It will help you tide over the fasting period. If you are afraid that sugar in your gum will break you fast, opt for sugar-free chewing gums.
  • Be careful with exercising. Yes, regular physical activity is vital for your health and weight loss, but if you are a newbie in the world of intermittent fasting, it is better to opt for low intensity training sessions and then gradually increase the load. Yoga or walking will be perfect for this case.

What can I drink to manage fasting days?

There are some other drinks that can help you to deal with hunger during your fasting period.

iced tea

  • Iced tea

Iced tea is a great option for your fasting days. However, make sure to choose simple black, green or herbal tea, without sugar or milk. A cup of such tea won’t break your fast and will help to survive this challenging period.  

  • Lemon water

Water is essential especially during the fasting days for your body to function properly. To improve the taste of you water you can squeeze some lemon juice into your glass. Lemon is rich in vitamin C and packed with antioxidants, which help to protect your body cells from damage. It can significantly lower the risks of a number of health conditions, such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and even cancer. Lemon water can also help to treat kidney stones. Water itself helps to lose weight, improves mood and memory, athletic performance, and digestion (2). The combination of lemon juice and water is a great option for your fasting days.

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Conclusion

Does coffee break a fast? As you can see, the answer is no. However, remember to practice moderation. It is recommended not to drink too much coffee to avoid negative side effects. If you are drinking more than 4 cups of coffee a day, you should reduce this amount to prevent fast heartbeat, muscle tremors, insomnia, irritability, nervousness and more. During your fasting days it is better to limit yourself to 2-4 cups of coffee (3). It is also better to avoid high amounts of additional ingredients in order not to break your fast. Remember that your health is your biggest priority, and it is essential to consult a healthcare professional before making significant adjustments in your lifestyle and nutrition.

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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. Autophagy: Everything you need to know (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)
  2. Benefits of drinking lemon water (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)
  3. Caffeine: How much is too much? (2020, mayoclinic.org)
  4. Chewing Gum Decreases Energy Intake at Lunch Following a Controlled Breakfast (2017, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  5. Coffee Induces Autophagy in Vivo (2014, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  6. Does coffee offer health benefits? (2020, mayoclinic.org)
  7. I’m trying to lose weight. Should I cut back on coffee? (2020, mayoclinic.org)
  8. What is intermittent fasting? Does it have health benefits? (2020, mayoclinic.org)
Kristen Fleming

Kristen Fleming

I am a U.S. educated and trained Registered Dietitian (MS, RD, CNSC) with clinical and international development experience. I have experience conducting systematic reviews and evaluating the scientific literature both as a graduate student and later to inform my own evidence-based practice as an RD. I am currently based in Lusaka, Zambia after my Peace Corps service was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic and looking for some meaningful work to do as I figure out next steps. This would be my first freelance project, but I am a diligent worker and quite used to independent and self-motivated work.

Kristen Fleming, MS, RD, CNSC

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