Did you know that your body can go longer without food than it can without water? It’s true. This is because our bodies are made of at least 60% water and it’s necessary to keep us alive. Without regular hydration, our bodies can’t function as they should (15). While drinking fluids is one of the main ways to stay hydrated, a good amount of water gets into our bodies through food. So while fasting, you’re avoiding a major source of hydration. This means you need to be super careful, monitor your thirst, and make a conscious effort to drink water regularly. In this article, we’ll go over some of the best drinks for fasting and how to drink water during a fast in a way that maximizes health benefits.
What Are The Qualities Of Good Fasting Drinks?
There’s a lot of information out there about what you can and can’t consume during a fast. If you’re new to intermittent fasting, all this information can easily get overwhelming.
In reality, there are just a few factors you should consider while choosing intermittent fasting drinks. Let’s break them down:
Must Have Zero Calories
Intermittent fasting works because you spend a number of hours consuming zero calories. The idea behind this type of fasting is to allow the body to move into a fat burning mode.
This mode is triggered when your glycogen (carbohydrate) stores are depleted and you start using stored fats for energy instead of carbs. The intended result of this is not only weight loss, but also a more efficient and effective body (12).
To enter this fat burning mode, you’ll need to deplete your glycogen stores and not consume calories during the fasting period. This means that any intermittent fasting drinks you choose should have zero calories.
Must Have Zero Carbs
As we noted above, one of the main reasons intermittent fasting works so well for weight loss and overall health is that it allows you to enter a fat-burning mode by depleting glycogen stores. When you deplete glycogen stores, your body begins using stored fats for energy instead of carbs.
The problem with carbs during this time is that they break down into glucose and can raise insulin levels. When you are in a fasting state and eat or drink something high in carbs, it brings up your blood sugar level and triggers the release of insulin to lower it, and you’ll start burning carbs for energy (7).
This is not what you want when fasting. You don’t want to eat or drink anything that’s going to bring up your blood sugar levels and trigger the use of carbohydrates rather than fats for fuel.
May Have Electrolytes
While you’re fasting, your body isn’t able to replenish the electrolytes it’s losing through sweat and elimination. While many people feel they can get away with this for a day or two, most need to pay attention to how much water and electrolytes they consume during longer fasts. This is a flexible requirement, as there are other ways to replenish electrolytes without necessarily drinking a certain type of beverage.
Must Be Natural And Healthy
The final consideration for choosing an intermittent fasting drink is that it should be natural and healthy. You should avoid anything that’s processed, artificial, or has a lot of added ingredients.
It should also be free from sugars and sweeteners. Avoid anything that contains additives like corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, canola oil, soy lecithin, and other common food additives, most of which contain calories and/or carbs which will break your fast.
Read More: Lemonade Fasting: Does It Work?
The Best Drinks For Fasting
Now that we know the qualities of good fasting drinks, let’s see some of the most common ones you can rely on for hydration while on a fast:
Keeping things simple as a beginner to fasting can make it easier for you to stick to your schedule and get the most benefits.
Water is the best drink you can start off with. There are many reasons to choose it over other beverages, including (16):
- Water has zero calories
- It’s readily available and it’s cheap.
- It doesn’t contain any additives that may be harmful to your health
- It helps prevent headaches and nausea, which are common during the fasting period
- It helps prevent constipation and urinary tract infections
- Mineral water contains trace elements that are beneficial for your body
- It has minimal side effects.
- It fills up your stomach and helps you survive the fast
Clean, plain water is generally safe for consumption. While fasting, it’s advisable to drink 2-3 liters of water per day. You’ll want to increase your intake if you exercise while fasting or live in a high-temperature environment.
- Coffee contributes to your daily fluid intake which keeps you hydrated all the time, although caffeine acts as a diuretic so make sure you maintain balance.
- It contains antioxidant compounds that may be linked to heart health, increased mental functioning, protection against type II diabetes, and protection against Parkinson’s disease.
- It boosts energy levels helping you stay active for longer hours.
- It improves memory and sharpens your mind by increasing blood flow to the brain.
- It increases mental alertness and enhances physical performance.
- Caffeine may support ketone production, making coffee a good keto fasting drink.
While it has many health benefits, coffee is not always well-tolerated during a fast. Drinking too much coffee can cause (6):
- Racing heart rate and palpitations.
- Jitters that disturb sleeping.
- Insomnia, anxiety, tremor, irritability, nausea and vomiting if it is taken in excess.
- Excessive caffeine may lead to calcium loss from the bones which can result in kidney stone formation.
For coffee drinkers who want to try a fasting diet, it would be best to limit intake of this drink to one cup for every four hours while fasting. Make sure that the coffee you drink is not too strong and has very little caffeine content. It should contain less than 100mg of caffeine per cup, otherwise you will find yourself wired up while trying to sleep or rest during a fast.
A good way to help you limit coffee intake while fasting is by having your morning coffee in your non-fasting period. You can also add some fat to it such as cream, butter or coconut oil for a better tasting and more filling drink.
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Green Or Black Tea
- Has zero calories.
- Lower caffeine quantity than coffee.
- It contains antioxidants known as catechins that might help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity, diabetes and Alzheimer’s.
- Tea polyphenols may reduce insulin resistance in people with impaired glucose tolerance.
- Green tea might help lower blood sugar and lipid levels.
- It improves metabolism and boosts energy, helping you stay active for longer hours throughout the day.
However, you shouldn’t add sugar, milk, honey or agave nectar to sweeten your tea or make it more flavorful while on a fast. These additives have calories. They will also affect how well your body will be able to absorb the benefits of tea while fasting.
The Worst Drinks For Fasting
Now that we know what you can drink, here’s what you should never drink while on a fast and why:
This one’s a no-brainer. Soda is one the worst drinks you can drink while fasting.
Why? It contains high amounts of sugar that will affect how well your body absorbs and uses nutrients for energy production. Its high sugar content means it has a lot of calories. These will interfere with weight loss efforts during a fast since you’re trying to limit calorie intake.
Finally, soda is one of those drinks that slowly destroys our teeth causing tooth decay (9).
Coffee With Creamer
Coffee creamer contains unhealthy ingredients like hydrogenated vegetable oils, corn syrup solids and artificial flavors. These additives have calories and carbs too. They will affect your ability to maintain ketosis when you’re fasting.
Sports drinks are designed for athletes who engage in intense physical activity that causes them to sweat profusely during workouts or competitions. It has electrolytes and carbohydrates to replenish electrolytes and carbohydrates lost through sweating.
While you may need to replenish lost electrolytes after a fast, sports drinks are not your best option. They may contain sugar which will affect how your body burns fuel for energy. Taking sports drinks might also mean you’re taking in more calories than you actually need, which works against weight loss efforts since fasting for weight loss is all about minimizing calorie intake.
Alcohol is a toxin that will affect your liver. It’s processed in the liver so it makes sense that alcohol can slow down or even halt the function of this organ while you’re fasting. Alcohol has calories too, which will add up especially if you drink on an empty stomach (2).
Caffeine-Rich Energy Drinks
You can’t go wrong with coffee or tea, but energy drinks are a different story. These beverages have caffeine and sugar along with other stimulants which will make you wired when you’re trying to rest during fasting.
Sugar-Sweetened Fruit Juice
Fruit juice might not be as bad as soda in terms of its sugar content, but it’s still not ideal to take while fasting. Here are some reasons why:
- It has a high sugar content which lowers its nutritional value. The fructose in fruit juice raises your blood sugar levels giving you an energy boost but this will be followed by a crash soon after. This will also break your fast.
- Fruit juices also contain high amounts of calories so you will get more than you bargained for when you drink fruit juice while fasting.
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What About After Your Fast?
Breaking your fast with the wrong drink can undo all the good work you’ve done while fasting. So it’s important to be aware of what to take in after your fast concludes.
While breaking your fast you’ll need nutritious drinks that ease your body out of the fasted state and give you some much needed energy. Here are a few good options:
Bone broth is hands-down the best drink to take while breaking your fast. Its high nutritional value makes it ideal for restoring lost nutrients while also helping your body get back into the fed state.
A warm mug of bone broth is not only comforting but may also be rich in the following nutrients (5):
- Protein – vital for tissue growth and repair
- Collagen – needed to strengthen ligaments, bones, teeth and nails
- Gelatin – beneficial for the joints
- Minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sulfate and potassium
- Antioxidants like vitamins A, C and E
- Short-chain fatty acids like butyrate, propionate and acetate
- Glycosaminoglycan which prevents water retention in the joints
Apple Cider Vinegar
Food cravings are quite common after a period of fasting. In fact, your body craves the nutrients you’ve deprived it of.
When your body craves sugar after a period of fasting, drink some apple cider vinegar (ACV) diluted in water to quench your thirst. ACV is believed by some to t help get rid of unwanted pounds. Raw apple cider vinegar also contains probiotics which may help improve gut health and digestion (1).
Water Mixed With Pink Himalayan Salt
Electrolyte loss is a common and normal response during intermittent fasting. Some signs you may experience are dry mouth and thirst.
Pink salt (or any type of salt) contains vital electrolytes and it’s important to restore these minerals after a period of fasting. Salt helps your body maintain fluid-electrolyte balance and an optimal body pH (11).
Drinking plain water can be non-appealing, but by adding some salt to it, it makes the drink taste better and gives you the benefits of salt. Just make sure not to add too much salt since it can be very bad for your blood pressure if taken in excess.
Herbal teas are an essential part of breaking your fast because they will help you get back into a fed state by replenishing lost nutrients and promoting good digestion. It also helps manage cravings and manages hunger pangs. Always talk to your doctor first about herbal teas, especially if you are on any medications or being treated for anun conditions.
Here are some of the most popular herbal teas to drink while breaking your fast:
- Dandelion tea contains vitamins and minerals which may help the body recover from fasting (14).
- Licorice root tea has a sweet taste that might be effective in curbing sugar cravings (13).
- Peppermint tea is ideal for controlling food cravings because it helps you feel full (3).
- Ginger tea has natural anti-nausea properties (10).
Although you’ve broken your fast, go slow with the sweeteners in herbal teas to avoid the dreaded sugar crash.
The Bottom Line
The best drinks to take while fasting have zero calories, zero sugar, and other ingredients that do not interfere with the process of fasting.
When it comes to breaking your fast, you’ll want to ensure that you only take in healthy drinks that will give you all the nutrients you need while keeping hunger at bay. Don’t go for sugary drinks like energy drinks because they will only make you feel more tired afterward.
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!
- 3 Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) (2021, clevelandclinic.org)
- Alcohol’s Effects on the Body (2021, nih.gov)
- A review of the bioactivity and potential health benefits of peppermint tea (Mentha piperita L.) (2006, pubmed.gov)
- Beneficial effects of green tea: A literature review (n.d., nih.gov)
- Bone Broth: Is It Good For You? (2020, cedars-sinai.org)
- Caffeine (2022, medlineplus.gov)
- Carbohydrates and blood sugar (n.d., harvard.edu)
- Coffee (n.d., harvard.edu)
- Dental erosion and severe tooth decay related to soft drinks: a case report and literature review (2009, nih.gov)
- Ginger on Human Health: A Comprehensive Systematic Review of 109 Randomized Controlled Trials (2020, nih.gov)
- Himalayan Pink Salt: Are There Health Benefits? Pros and Cons, Nutrition, and More (2020, webmd.com)
- Intermittent Fasting: What is it and How does it work? (n.d., hopkinsmedicine.org)
- Is Licorice Root Tea Good for You? Pros and Cons, Nutrition Information, and More (2020, webmd.com)
- The Physiological Effects of Dandelion (Taraxacum Officinale) in Type 2 Diabetes (2016, nih.gov)
- The Water in You: Water and The Human Body (2019, usgs.gov)
- Water, Hydration and Health (n.d., nih.gov)