One of the easiest ways to make your fast more bearable while reaping maximum health benefits is by staying hydrated with the right kind of beverages. The type of drink you consume during your fasting period might significantly impact the results of your intermittent fasting journey.
Conversely, poorly chosen drinks might spike your blood sugar levels, interrupt autophagy, and even kick you out of your fast prematurely. Zero-calorie drinks are the best companions for those who practice intermittent fasting.
They not only help to keep hunger pangs at bay, but also support your body’s natural detoxification processes. In this article, you’ll find answers to what drinks you can safely consume without breaking your fast and a few more that are best avoided to ensure you stay on track with your fasting goals.
Can You Drink Zero Calorie Drinks While Intermittent Fasting?
Yes you can; zero-calorie drinks won’t break intermittent fasting. The magic word here is “calories”. During a fast, your body is in a state of caloric restriction, meaning, it’s getting no energy from food and instead breaking down stored energy to sustain itself. .
By consuming drinks that contain zero calories, you’re not affecting that metabolic fasting state, while still staying hydrated and feeling more satiated than you would on a dry fast. You can read more about dry fasting in our comprehensive guide.
Do Zero Calorie Drinks Count As Fasting?
Yes, zero-calorie drinks do count as fasting. Since they don’t contain a significant amount of calories, there’s no energy for your body to digest and process.
The whole idea behind intermittent fasting is to create periods of eating and fasting. During the fasting period, taking in calories can disrupt this cycle.
That said, zero-calorie drinks come in handy because they don’t supply the body with energy (calories) but can still provide hydration and sometimes, a flavor fix.
Bear in mind while the name says “zero-calories”, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that all commercial beverages contain less than 5 calories per serving to be labeled as “zero-calorie” (4).
You shouldn’t just blindly reach for the next-best “zero-calorie” drink in your local grocery store. Instead, it’s important to properly check the nutrition facts before making a purchase (or brewing one).
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What Drinks Won’t Break Intermittent Fasting?
Zero-calorie drinks at home won’t break your intermittent fasting routine and can be consumed without negatively impacting your fast. Here are seven such beverages that not only hydrate but may also offer additional health benefits.
There’s nothing that beats pure, unadulterated water when it comes to hydration. It serves as the ultimate intermittent fasting morning drink, helping to kick-start your metabolism and cleanse your system by flushing out toxins (7).
Best of all, water has zero calories, so it’s a safe bet during your fasting periods. On platforms like intermittent fasting reddit, many fasting enthusiasts are in agreement about the importance of water during a fast.
For a bit of flavor, you can add a slice of lemon or cucumber to your water. However, make sure not to go overboard, as too much could add a small number of calories into the mix.
2. Black Coffee
Black coffee is a zero-calorie drink that’s a popular companion for many fasting aficionados. Its rich, robust flavor is a welcome distraction from hunger pangs, and it may also offer some health benefits (3).
For instance, it can help improve mental alertness and potentially aid in fat burning during your fast.
However, the catch here is that the coffee must be black – no sugar, no creamers, or milk, as these will all add calories. Coffee is often recommended on zero-calorie drinks intermittent fasting reddit and in the 16/8 fasting community as a go-to morning beverage.
3. Green Tea
Green tea is a great option for liquids to drink while fasting. It’s not only calorie-free when taken without any additives, but it also comes with a plethora of potential health benefits (8). It contains antioxidants, notably EGCG (Epigallocatechin Gallate), which has been linked to weight loss (6).
Drinking green tea while fasting offers a gentle caffeine boost, which can help with alertness and might even increase fat burning. It’s an excellent choice for those asking, “what can you drink while fasting 16/8?”
4. Apple Cider Vinegar
Although not traditionally considered a ‘drink’, a couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water make a zero-calorie beverage with several purported health benefits (1). It’s a popular choice amongst those looking for what not to eat or drink during intermittent fasting.
Importantly, apple cider vinegar must be diluted as its acidity can harm your tooth enamel. It’s also worth noting that while anecdotal evidence suggests it may help with weight loss and blood sugar control, more research is needed in these areas.
5. Bone Broth
Bone broth is a nutrient-dense liquid that can be consumed during your fasting window. While technically not a zero-calorie drink, it’s low enough in calories not to disrupt the benefits of fasting. It’s a great source of vitamins and minerals which are beneficial to the body (1).
Considering that bone broth does contain a small number of calories, it might not be suitable for all types of fasting. We recommend it for bone broth fasting (a modified version of intermittent fasting) or for those who practice OMAD (One Meal A Day).
6. Herbal Teas
Herbal teas, when taken without any added sugars, creamers or milk, are calorie-free and can be consumed during your fast. They not only help to keep you hydrated but also provide additional health benefits depending on the type.
Herbal teas like rooibos and chamomile contain polyphenols, which act as antioxidants and may reduce inflammation (9). We’ve discussed additional ways you can use tea during fasting in our can you drink tea while fasting post.
7. Sparkling Water
Lastly, sparkling water is a viable option for those searching for a zero-calorie drink that provides a fun twist to plain water. It can feel like a treat and help deal with any fizzy drink cravings you might have during your fasting period.
Some people question, ‘can you drink coke zero while intermittent fasting?’ While it’s technically zero calories, it does contain artificial sweeteners which might trigger a small insulin response, so it’s best avoided.
Sparkling water, on the other hand, offers that carbonated kick without the potential downsides. It’s worth mentioning that some flavored sparkling waters do contain a small number of calories so always check the nutritional information before consuming.
And remember, while zero-calorie drinks can aid in your intermittent fasting journey, water should always be your first port of call for hydration.
Bonus: Drinks To Avoid
Here are some beverages that you should avoid during your fast and why:
1 .Diet Soda
While diet sodas are often marketed as zero-calorie beverages, they contain artificial sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose. These substances can stimulate the sweetness receptors in your brain and may trigger a small insulin response, potentially affecting your fasting state.
2 .Fruit Juices
Even unsweetened fruit juices can disrupt your fast, due to their high sugar and calorie content. The natural sugars found in fruits become concentrated when turned into juice, leading to a high calorie intake that can interrupt the fasting process.
3. Milk and Dairy-Based Beverages
Milk and dairy-based drinks contain sugars, proteins, and fats, which can all lead to an increase in your calorie intake, hence breaking your fast. This includes beverages like lattes and cappuccinos.
Some people find the taste of plain black coffee unpleasant, and may want to add a splash of milk as a substitute. While this might not have a large impact on your fast, it’s best to avoid it if you can.
Alcoholic beverages are high in calories and can significantly disrupt your fast. More importantly, consuming alcohol on an empty stomach can lead to rapid intoxication and possible health risks (5).
5. Energy Drinks
Energy drinks contain high amounts of sugar and caffeine that could not only break your fast but also potentially lead to dehydration or sleep disturbances.
6. Coconut Water
While coconut water is a healthy and hydrating drink, it contains sugars that can interrupt your fast due to their caloric content.
Remember, the essence of intermittent fasting lies in significantly reducing or completely avoiding calorie intake for certain periods. Hence, it’s essential to avoid these drinks during your fasting window to maintain the effectiveness of your fast.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does 0 Calorie Water Break a Fast?
No, zero calorie water does not break a fast. Water is a fundamental part of any fasting regimen and is strongly encouraged. It contains no calories, sugars, or proteins that could potentially interrupt your fast. In fact, staying properly hydrated during a fast is crucial to support bodily functions and prevent dehydration.
Do Zero Calorie Drinks Spike Insulin?
The effect of zero calorie drinks on insulin levels depends on the specific ingredients of the drink. While they do not contain sugar, many zero calorie drinks contain artificial sweeteners.
Some research suggests that these sweeteners can stimulate the sweetness receptors in the brain and trigger a small insulin response. However, other studies show no significant insulin spike. The response can also vary from individual to individual.
Can I Drink 0 Calorie Flavored Water While Fasting?
Yes, you can drink zero calorie flavored water while fasting, as long as it doesn’t contain any sugars or proteins. Just like plain water, zero calorie flavored water won’t provide any calories that could potentially interrupt your fast.
However, some flavored waters may contain artificial sweeteners which could potentially affect insulin levels, and therefore it’s advisable to consume them in moderation.
Does Lemon Water Break a Fast?
The answer to this question depends on the amount of lemon juice in the water. A small amount of lemon juice (a few drops to a tablespoon) in your water won’t significantly affect your fast because the calorie content is minimal.
However, if you’re using the juice of a whole lemon or multiple lemons, it could potentially provide enough calories to disrupt your fast. It’s always best to use lemon sparingly if you choose to add it to your water during a fast.
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The Bottom Line
Zero calorie drinks are helpful while fasting. They not only keep you hydrated but can also provide additional health benefits depending on the type.
However, you should be mindful of potential triggers like artificial sweeteners when choosing zero calorie drinks during your fasting period.
Water is always the best option for hydration while intermittent fasting, but if you’re looking for something with a bit more flavor and fun, zero calorie drinks can be a great substitute.
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!
- Analysis of the Anti-Inflammatory Capacity of Bone Broth in a Murine Model of Ulcerative Colitis (2021,nih.gov)
- Apple Cider Vinegar (2022,medlineplus.gov)
- Coffee (n,d,harvard.edu)
- CFR – Code of Federal Regulations Title 21 (2023,fda.gov)
- Drinking on an empty stomach: a scoping review of the evidence on how consuming food with alcohol affects short-term outcomes (2023,nih.gov)
- Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG): Chemical and biomedical perspectives (2010,nih.gov)
- Focus on wellness: Staying hydrated (2017,jhu.edu)
- Green tea extract promotes gut health, lowers blood sugar (2022,osu.edu)
- Health Benefits of Tea (2011,nih.gov)