You have probably heard of the many benefits of intermittent fasting and are excited to try it out.
You’re probably wondering if you can still enjoy your morning coffee without breaking your fast, or whether bone broth during an extended fast is okay. Or whether you can still have your favorite tea.
Which is why we’ve decided to look into all of these questions.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
But first, a quick reminder on what intermittent fasting is – it’s an eating protocol in which you intentionally restrict your eating window (i.e. the part of the day when you eat) to anywhere between 12 hours and just 1, and fast throughout the rest of the day.
For example, if you decide to a follow a 16:8 fasting protocol, you are fasting for 16 hours (which includes the time when you are sleeping) and consume your daily macros within the remaining 8 hours.
This is usually achieved by skipping breakfast, but some people prefer skipping dinner instead – the way you do it is entirely up to you, and that’s one of the great things about fasting: it’s an approach that allows for a lot of flexibility.
Most people who fast do it every day, but you might opt to do it every other day, or only do it from time to time.
Intermittent Fasting Food List
What can you drink while you’re fasting?
The quick answer is, any beverage that contains no calories, and that doesn’t raise your insulin.
The safe options are:
- Water, with or without added salt to replenish electrolytes (salt has no calories)
- Unsweetened tea – black, green, oolong or herbal tea are all fine
- Black coffee.
You can enjoy your tea or coffee iced or hot – it won’t make a difference.
In fact, for the hot summer months, an excellent alternative to hot beverages would be cold brewing your coffee or tea – you let them brew in cold water for an extended period of time, f.e. by putting them in the fridge overnight.
This will give you a milder and more complex taste and it’s a pure iced bliss for your busy mornings – 100% keto-approved, too (given that you add no sugar or honey or the like).
All of these beverages above do not contain any calories and will not break your fast, which means that you will be able to benefit both from the weight loss effects of fasting and from the autophagy that’s associated with extended fasts.
The Optimal Fasting Strategy Depends On The Reason Why You’re Fasting
For weight loss in general
Keep in mind that the main mechanism that induces weight loss in people who fast frequently is the fact that they’re simply eating less calories by having fewer & bigger meals in a shorter time frame, which feels more satisfying.
Many of us benefit from having some sort of relatively rigid structure to our meal timing, in order to have better control of our food choices – instead of giving yourself permission to eat whenever you want, you limit the time window in which you can eat, and therefore do not need to rely on your willpower for the rest of your time.
The decision is already made, and you don’t need to make it again each time you have an opportunity to consume something – you just ask yourself a simple question – “Is this my feeding window, or is it my fasting window?” and stick to the plan.
Considering the above, if you’re doing fasting mostly for weight loss, you could still have a splash of cream in your coffee, or have a sip of bone broth. Technically if you do that, you will break your fast, since you’d be consuming calories. While not optimal, if this helps you with long-term adherence and if it makes whole the experience easier and more enjoyable for you, go for it (and do so without guilt).
As for autophagy, in order to benefit from it, you need to do longer fasts of 16-24 hours. This is an advanced fasting strategy and only people who already have significant fasting experience should do it.
Women might not do so well with longer fasting periods, too (check out our article on Women and Fasting for more info), so if you notice adverse effects from longer fasts, you might wish to reconsider your strategy.
Bottom line: If you want to experience the benefits of fasting related to autophagy, you should not consume any calories. This means sticking to water, unsweetened tea and black coffee.
Can You Use Sweeteners While Fasting?
The debate around this is heated, but the scientific research shows that if a sweetener has 0 calories, it will not raise your insulin in a way that would impact your fasting, and is therefore okay to use. If its caloric count is higher than 0, your best bet would be to avoid it. If you’d like to stick to natural sweeteners, stevia is a good option.
For more information on keto-approved sweeteners, check out our article here!
Regarding drinking coffee with or without cream, while you might think drinking black coffee is not for you, you might be surprised how much of this is purely due to habit. Give black coffee an honest try of at least a couple of days, or gradually add less and less cream. You’d be astonished how tasty it can be.
If you’re fasting for weight loss, the key to success is to give yourself a solid structure which allows you to eat less frequently and fit your daily nutritional needs within fewer meals, making them more satisfying. This will most likely make it easier to eat less. Regardless of that, you still need to track your macros to make sure you’re on point.
If you’re fasting for autophagy, you’d want to stick to a simple and effective rule – water, unsweetened tea or black coffee are okay, adding salt is fine, and the rest should be saved for your eating window.
What is your experience with fasting? How do you like your coffee best? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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