Tea, a beverage steeped in tradition and known for its numerous health benefits, has found a special place in the world of intermittent fasting. As this dietary approach continues to gain popularity for its potential to support weight management, improve metabolic health, and provide a range of other benefits, the role of tea in enhancing the fasting experience cannot be underestimated. Selecting the perfect tea while fasting can effectively reduce hunger, boost energy levels, and promote an overall sense of well-being.
In this guide, we will explore the best types of tea for intermittent fasting, helping you maximize the advantages of this dietary strategy while keeping you energized and focused throughout your fasting periods.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting, often abbreviated as IF, is a dietary strategy characterized by specific eating and fasting timeframes. The primary guideline involves abstaining from any calorie-containing food or beverages during the fasting window while maintaining regular eating habits within the designated eating window1.
Intermittent fasting encompasses a variety of approaches, including 24-hour water fasting, alternate-day fasting, and time-restricted fasting like the 18/6 intermittent fasting method2.
Irrespective of the chosen intermittent fasting method, it induces a state of temporary ketosis. During ketosis, your metabolic process shifts from utilizing carbohydrates for energy to relying on ketones generated through the breakdown of fat during fasting periods. This shift in metabolism is a key characteristic of intermittent fasting3.
While intermittent fasting does not impose strict dietary restrictions and even permits the occasional consumption of alcohol, it’s important to note that the best results are achieved when combined with a nutritious diet.
What Breaks A Fast?
In essence, the fundamental principle is that any consumable with caloric content, encompassing beverages like soda, fruit juices, smoothies, alcoholic drinks, and the like, has the potential to disrupt your fasting state. Essentially, the act of breaking a fast occurs upon the ingestion of calories, even if it’s as minimal as a piece of chocolate or a small fruit serving4.
In contrast, calorie-free beverages such as water, unsweetened tea, and black coffee are permissible and compatible with the fasting period.
Maintaining your body within a fasting state is a critical factor for achieving the benefits associated with intermittent fasting, which encompass5:
- Weight loss
- Enhanced control over blood glucose levels, insulin sensitivity, and blood lipid profiles.
- Reduced inflammation
- Improved longevity
- Diminished risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), cancer, diabetes, and certain neurodegenerative conditions.
Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting And Fasting Teas
Fasting teas, which are unsweetened, are suitable beverages for consumption during fasting periods. It’s crucial to emphasize that these teas should be enjoyed without the addition of sugar or milk.
This practice is especially valuable as intermittent fasting can lead to several undesirable side effects, including feelings of hunger, nausea, fatigue, headaches, and difficulties with sleep6.
Here are the benefits of intermittent fasting and the additional advantages of incorporating tea into your intermittent fasting routine:
- Alleviating Digestive Discomfort – Certain teas, such as ginger and peppermint, have properties that can help ease gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea and vomiting, which may sometimes occur during intermittent fasting. According to a 2018 systematic review in Food Science & Nutrition, scientific evidence supports the effectiveness of ginger in relieving nausea8. Previous studies have also shown that the scent of peppermint oil can have a calming effect on upset stomachs, particularly in postoperative cardiac patients9.
- Promoting Sleep – Additional teas, such as jasmine and chamomile10, have the potential to promote a calming effect that can contribute to better sleep. Previous research has shown that the aroma of jasmine tea has a soothing impact on mood and the autonomic nervous system11. One of the goals of intermittent fasting is to cultivate healthier sleep patterns, which might entail going to bed earlier. If you tend to snack late at night, choosing one of these caffeine-free herbal teas can be a wonderful substitute, helping you achieve a more peaceful state before bedtime.
- Enhanced Heart Health – Intermittent fasting has the potential to promote cardiovascular well-being by reducing blood pressure, triglycerides, and unhealthy LDL cholesterol levels. A 2017 review indicated that excessive calorie intake, combined with a sedentary lifestyle, might lead to issues like insulin resistance, excess fat, and cardiovascular diseases. Intermittent fasting, as per the study, could mitigate these risks and facilitate weight loss12.
- Improved Cognitive Function – Intermittent fasting offers not only increased energy but also the potential to enhance concentration and mental alertness. An animal study, featured in PLOS, explored the impact of intermittent fasting on cognitive function in mice. The findings revealed that mice subjected to intermittent fasting exhibited enhanced learning abilities and memory skills13.
- Reduced Diabetes Risk – Intermittent fasting offers various benefits in disease prevention, especially concerning type 2 diabetes. This condition occurs when the body encounters difficulties in either producing sufficient insulin or effectively using it, a concept known as insulin sensitivity. A study, as detailed in Translational Research, investigated the impact of intermittent fasting and alternate day fasting on the risk of type 2 diabetes. The findings demonstrated that fasting boosted the body’s ability to burn fat, resulting in substantial weight loss compared to a control group. Moreover, fasting led to reduced insulin resistance, lower blood sugar levels, and decreased fasting insulin levels14.
- Hunger Suppression – Many people encounter hunger pangs in the early days or weeks of intermittent fasting because their bodies are accustomed to receiving sustenance for energy throughout the day. Tea consumption can help alleviate these challenges as your body adapts to the fasting routine. Notably, a study featured in Clinical Nutrition revealed that the catechins found in tea can inhibit the release of ghrelin, the hormone responsible for signaling hunger. One of these catechins is EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), an antioxidant known for its various health benefits, including its ability to neutralize free radicals15. Drinking tea can make the transition to fasting smoother, easing common side effects and dietary adjustments. At a biochemical level, tea can mitigate the hunger hormone by reducing ghrelin levels, effectively curbing hunger.
- Enhanced Weight Loss – Considerable research supports the notion that tea may help with weight loss while contributing to long-term weight management. Tea, being calorie-free, serves as a suitable alternative to calorie-laden beverages such as juices and diet sodas, making it an excellent choice for those monitoring their caloric intake. Beyond this, tea’s catechins promote increased fat loss. One mechanism by which tea achieves this is by elevating the body’s internal temperature. Caffeine, present in tea, further enhances energy expenditure and fat oxidation, facilitating more rapid weight loss16.
- Supports Detoxification – When coupled with intermittent fasting, tea complements the body’s inherent detoxification process, known as autophagy. This process is initiated by the activation of a protein that prompts the body to eliminate damaged cells and fosters the generation of new ones. Autophagy is vital for preserving muscle mass and warding off age-related ailments. Within the fasting window, tea’s catechins trigger autophagy, aiding the body in detoxifying and regenerating cells17. Additionally, tea’s catechins combat free radicals, which are implicated in oxidative stress, akin to rust on the body, and have long been linked to degenerative conditions, including premature aging.
- Promotes Relaxation – Drinking tea aligns with the objectives of brain health, akin to intermittent fasting. The calming act of drinking tea can help soothe and facilitate relaxation after a taxing day, providing a few moments to focus on personal well-being. Tea consumption has been shown to reduce stress levels by inhibiting the stress hormone cortisol18.
Best Types Of Tea For Intermittent Fasting
Certainly, you can enjoy tea during your fasting period without breaking your fast. Tea, in its pure form, contains zero calories, making it a fasting-friendly beverage, as long as you refrain from adding milk, cream, or sugar.
Save any of these teas to enjoy on your designated eating window:
- Green Tea
Green tea, a widely recognized health drink in the weight loss industry, is available in concentrated forms like pills to aid weight loss. It’s also beneficial for maximizing the advantages of fasting. During fasting, you can enjoy green tea to harness the flavonoids and catechins it contains, powerful antioxidants such as ECGC and theaflavins. These antioxidants are crucial in combating various health issues like oxidative stress, cavities, inflammation, aging, cancer, and cardiovascular disease19.
Studies have demonstrated that green tea can heighten metabolic rate, increasing 24-hour energy expenditure by nearly 5%20, facilitating faster fat burning and quicker achievement of weight loss goals. The catechins in green tea also play a role in reducing hunger hormones, keeping you feeling satiated even during extended fasting.
You have the flexibility to choose from a variety of natural green teas, such as matcha, sencha, or Gyokuro, depending on your preferences, considering that different teas can either energize or promote concentration and calmness. Hence, the timing of consumption should align with your desired effects.
- Ginger Tea
Ginger tea is a valuable herbal addition to your fasting regimen, well-known for its digestive health benefits, including alleviating symptoms of nausea and aiding in food breakdown21. Scientific research, notably a study in metabolism, has shown that ginger enhances thermogenesis—a natural bodily process that accelerates fat burning. Additionally, ginger helps in reducing feelings of hunger22, supporting your commitment to the fasting plan and restricting eating to the designated eating window.
Chamomile tea, derived from the leaves of the Asteraceae plant, possesses anti-anxiety, stress-relieving, and anti-inflammatory properties. It may also provide relief from menstrual cramps23. Opting for an herbal tea like chamomile during a fast can be a preferable choice compared to green or black tea, especially if you wish to avoid the stimulating effects of caffeine or prefer to enjoy tea before bedtime.
- Black Tea
Black tea, the quintessential cup of tea, is traditionally consumed with milk and sugar to offset its natural astringent, bitter taste. During fasting, however, it’s essential to abstain from adding anything other than boiling water to preserve the fasting benefits. Black tea, like green tea, is derived from the Camellia sinensis plant and contains valuable antioxidants such as flavanols and catechins, contributing to its anti-inflammatory and cellular damage prevention properties24. Despite having about half the caffeine content of coffee, black tea contains L-theanine, an amino acid that prolongs the release of caffeine, resulting in a sustained energy boost and heightened focus25. This aligns well with the benefits of fasting.
Rooibos tea, a herbal option naturally devoid of caffeine, is an excellent choice for evening consumption. It’s widely acclaimed for its positive impact on liver health. With regard to fasting, rooibos tea assists the body inefficiently metabolizing fat. Notably, a study published in Phytomedicine highlighted that rooibos tea could impede the formation of fat cells and enhance metabolism, findings observed in an in vitro analysis26.
Hibiscus tea, characterized by its appealing rich pink hue and fruity flavor, contains essential trace minerals and anthocyanin antioxidants. These antioxidants may confer antiviral effects and offer cardiovascular benefits23.
In conclusion, selecting the right types of tea to complement your intermittent fasting regimen can be a beneficial and health-conscious choice. The discussed teas, such as green tea, ginger tea, black tea, rooibos tea, and hibiscus tea, offer various advantages that align with the goals of intermittent fasting. These benefits include hunger suppression, weight loss acceleration, support for the body’s natural detoxification process, and relaxation enhancement.
Moreover, the diverse flavors and properties of these teas cater to different preferences and needs, allowing you to tailor your tea choice to your specific fasting routine and lifestyle. Remember that it’s essential to enjoy your tea without additives like milk, cream, or sugar during the fasting period to maximize its fasting-friendly benefits.
Sipping on tea during your fasting period not only elevates the fasting experience but also highlights the harmonious relationship between mindful nutrition and fasting, promoting overall well-being. Whether you’re looking for a smooth introduction to fasting, assistance with your weight loss objectives, a detoxifying companion, or simply a moment of relaxation, the right tea can be your fasting partner.
2 Soliman, G. A. (2022). Intermittent fasting and time-restricted eating role in dietary interventions and precision nutrition. Frontiers in Public Health, 10. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpubh.2022.1017254
7 Orenstein, B. W. (2022, December 19). Foods to avoid before a flight and what to eat instead. EverydayHealth.com. https://www.everydayhealth.com/digestive-health/common-digestive-conditions-from-top-bottom/
8 Bodagh, M. N., Maleki, I., & Hekmatdoost, A. (2018). Ginger in gastrointestinal disorders: A systematic review of clinical trials. Food Science and Nutrition, 7(1), 96–108. https://doi.org/10.1002/fsn3.807
9 Briggs, P., Hawrylack, H., & Mooney, R. (2016). Inhaled peppermint oil for postop nausea in patients undergoing cardiac surgery. Nursing, 46(7), 61–67. https://doi.org/10.1097/01.nurse.0000482882.38607.5c
10 Salomon, S. H. (2022, August 1). What is chamomile used for? potential benefits, side effects, types, and more. EverydayHealth.com. https://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-nutrition/diet/chamomile-tea-used-potential-benefits-side-effects-types-more/
11 Kuroda, K., Inoue, N., Ito, Y., Kubota, K., Sugimoto, A., Kakuda, T., & Fushiki, T. (2005). Sedative effects of the jasmine tea odor and (R)-(−)-linalool, one of its major odor components, on autonomic nerve activity and mood states. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 95(2–3), 107–114. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-005-1402-8
14 Barnosky, A., Hoddy, K. K., Unterman, T. G., & Varady, K. A. (2014). Intermittent fasting vs daily calorie restriction for type 2 diabetes prevention: a review of human findings. Translational Research, 164(4), 302–311. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.trsl.2014.05.013
15 Chen, I., Liu, C., Chiu, J., & Hsu, C. H. (2016). Therapeutic effect of high-dose green tea extract on weight reduction: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Clinical Nutrition, 35(3), 592–599. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clnu.2015.05.003
16 Rains, T. M., Agarwal, S., & Maki, K. C. (2011). Antiobesity effects of green tea catechins: a mechanistic review. Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 22(1), 1–7. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jnutbio.2010.06.006
17 Brimson, J. M., Prasanth, M. I., Malar, D. S., Sharika, R., Sivamaruthi, B. S., Kesika, P., Chaiyasut, C., Tencomnao, T., & Prasansuklab, A. (2021). Role of herbal teas in regulating cellular homeostasis and autophagy and their implications in regulating overall health. Nutrients, 13(7), 2162. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13072162
18 Steptoe, A., Gibson, E., Vounonvirta, R., Williams, E. D., Hamer, M., Rycroft, J. A., Erusalimsky, J. D., & Wardle, J. (2006). The effects of tea on psychophysiological stress responsivity and post-stress recovery: a randomised double-blind trial. Psychopharmacology, 190(1), 81–89. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00213-006-0573-2
19 Musiał, C., Kuban–Jankowska, A., & Górska‐Ponikowska, M. (2020). Beneficial properties of green tea catechins. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 21(5), 1744. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21051744
20 Rudelle, S., Ferruzzi, M. G., Cristiani, I., Moulin, J., Macé, K., Acheson, K. J., & Tappy, L. (2007). Effect of a thermogenic beverage on 24-Hour energy metabolism in humans*. Obesity, 15(2), 349–355. https://doi.org/10.1038/oby.2007.529
22 Mansour, M., Ni, Y., Roberts, A. L., Kelleman, M., RoyChoudhury, A., & St‐Onge, M. (2012). Ginger consumption enhances the thermic effect of food and promotes feelings of satiety without affecting metabolic and hormonal parameters in overweight men: A pilot study. Metabolism, 61(10), 1347–1352. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.metabol.2012.03.016
25 Giesbrecht, T., Rycroft, J. A., Rowson, M., & De Bruin, E. A. (2010). The combination of L-theanine and caffeine improves cognitive performance and increases subjective alertness. Nutritional Neuroscience, 13(6), 283–290. https://doi.org/10.1179/147683010×12611460764840
26 Sanderson, M., Mazibuko, S. E., Joubert, E., De Beer, D., Johnson, R., Pheiffer, C., Louw, J., & Muller, C. J. F. (2014). Effects of fermented rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) on adipocyte differentiation. Phytomedicine, 21(2), 109–117. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.phymed.2013.08.011