Can you chew gum while fasting? This may be one of the many questions you can think of while intermittent fasting.
Finding ways to curb hunger while fasting can be quite a challenge and even more so in determining what you can and cannot consume in order to not break your fast.
This article delves deeper into whether or not you should chew gum while fasting.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting (IF) is an eating routine in which people restrict their meal consumption to specific times of the day. At its core, you have to refrain from consuming any intake that includes calories or that will spike an insulin response. This is especially done when practicing a strict intermittent fast.
Intermittent fasting is one of the world’s most popular health and fitness trends. It is being used to help people lose weight, enhance their health, and simplify their lives. Many studies demonstrate that it can have a significant impact on your body and brain, and it may even help you live longer1,2,3.
Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting
- Weight Loss
Intermittent fasting can help you lose weight and belly fat without consciously restricting calories4,5.
- Insulin Resistance
Intermittent fasting has been shown to improve insulin resistance by lowering blood sugar levels by 3-6% and fasting insulin levels by 20-31%, perhaps protecting against type 2 diabetes6.
Some studies reveal reductions in inflammatory indicators, a major cause of many chronic diseases7.
- Heart Health
Intermittent fasting has been shown to lower “bad” LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, blood triglycerides, inflammatory indicators, blood sugar, and insulin resistance – all of which are risk factors for heart disease8.
Can You Chew Gum While Fasting: What You Need To Know
To understand if gum is allowed for fasting, it is necessary first to understand what breaks a fast.
Typically, carbs provide energy to your body. While fasting, you should limit your carbohydrate and calorie intake so your body can utilize stored fat for energy.
So, only foods with low calorie and carbohydrate content are permitted during fasting.
Another factor to consider while contemplating fasting foods is their effect on the insulin hormone. Insulin regulates blood sugar levels. As a result, foods that produce an insulin surge should be avoided.
The type of fast you’re participating in also influences whether chewing gum is permissible during fasting. Some types of intermittent fasting have extremely low thresholds that are easy to breach.
Chewing gum is not permitted during water fasting since calories are enough to break your fast. Other fasting techniques are significantly more forgiving and allow for modest calories.
Standard intermittent fasting regimens, such as the 16:8 or 5:2, allow for few calories throughout the fasting window as long as you don’t exceed the threshold. Understanding how many calories are in the gum, you’re chewing and whether it exceeds the recommended caloric intake for breaking your fast is critical.
Chewing Gum And Calories
In general, most gums include some calories.
For example, one stick of ordinary chewing gum comprises approximately 11 calories, but sugar-free gum contains about six calories9,10.
Consuming calories technically break your fast for more brutal forms of fasting, such as water fasts. This is especially true if you chew numerous sticks of gum each day or choose those with high sugar content.
Specific brands of bubble gum can have up to 30 calories per serving, which can rapidly add up if you eat them multiple times throughout the day.
However, because many other types are minimal in calories, eating a stick or two of sugar-free gum daily is unlikely to impact your fast substantially.
Chewing Gum And Blood Sugar
Gum can cause a rise in blood sugar levels if eaten in large quantities. Remember that even though a single piece may contain few calories, eating too many during the day will raise your blood sugar level.
As blood sugar levels rise, insulin levels rise and enter the bloodstream, which can be mobilized throughout the body’s tissues or used for energy. This procedure ends the fast11.
The primary goal of intermittent fasting is maintaining an autophagic state during the fasting window. You will burn fat as energy if you meet the timing that triggers human autophagy which can be at least 16 hours into your fast. This will help you lose weight quickly.
What makes sugar-free gum taste wonderful if it doesn’t contain sugar?
Artificial sweeteners, artificial flavors, “natural” flavors, and sugar alcohols are the culprits. These non-nutritive sweeteners deliver a sweet taste without the carbs. Does this imply that these calorie-free sweeteners do not break a fast?
As mentioned, one of the primary benefits of intermittent fasting is that it naturally reduces the storage hormone insulin and hence activates fat-burning processes. However, it turns out that even while sugar-free sweeteners do not contain real sugar, they can still produce an insulin reaction in certain people12.
Certain sugar-free gums are perfectly acceptable in small quantities. If you’re going to be chewing gum while fasting, it’s recommended to find a brand that is sugar-free and low in calories as these should be fine to consume.
As long as you’re not chewing multiple sticks throughout the fasting window, it would be best to remain below your caloric intake limit.
Chewing Gum While Fasting
Chewing gum while fasting is not strictly forbidden, although it is not advised. If you must chew gum while fasting, make sure it is sugar-free.
With weight loss as the goal, it’s critical to avoid consistently raising your storing hormone insulin. This disables your body’s fat-burning processes and forces it into fat-storage mode. Precisely the opposite of what you’re aiming for with intermittent fasting.
Another aspect to consider with fasting is that there are many diverse perspectives on what is and isn’t permissible. It all comes down to personal preference and how your body reacts to chewing gum when fasting.
If it doesn’t affect you and you can keep your fast without breaking it, then go ahead and chew away.
Benefits Of Chewing Gum While Fasting
One of the primary reasons people chew gum is to entertain themselves. Chewing gum has long been thought to help lessen hunger because it allows your mind to focus on other things.
Chewing gum can fool your mind into believing you’re eating, but only to a point. If you’re craving, gum might be a good choice if you need the distraction and you still have a long time left in your fasting window.
This is not a substitute for eating, but it may help you finish your fast. However, it would be best if you exercised caution because relying on chewing gum may make you unknowingly break your fast. As previously said, sugar-free gum should be your preferred fasting gum, but it can even hurt your fast if you chew too much.
1. Chewing Gum May Reduce Hunger
Chewing gum has been demonstrated to reduce hunger and appetite, which may be especially useful during a fast.
Chewing gum for 30 minutes while fasting increased fullness and stabilized levels of glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), a hormone that suppresses hunger, in a bit of research13.
Another study found that chewing sugar-free gum an hour before a meal reduced appetite while fasting and lowered food consumption at the next meal14.
Chewing has also been proven to reduce desire and attention to food-related stimuli, which may aid in the prevention of binge eating15.
As a result, chewing a stick or two of gum may help lessen hunger and make it easier to stick to your fast.
2. Gum Minimally Affects Insulin
Insulin is the hormone that transports sugar from your bloodstream to your cells to be utilized as fuel16.
Fasting causes insulin levels to drop. This may be especially true if you enter ketosis, a metabolic condition in which your body burns fat for energy rather than carbohydrates. Longer fasts may result in ketosis17.
Some people blame ketosis for the many metabolic benefits of intermittent fasting18.
According to one study, chewing sugar-free gum for 30 minutes did not influence insulin levels in 12 participants who were fasting19.
In another study, which included 59 women with gestational diabetes, they discovered that chewing gum after eating did not affect blood sugar levels20.
However, remember that this may not apply if you eat numerous sticks of gum or choose gum with a high added sugar content.
Reading Chewing Gum Labels
Chewing sugar-free gum will help you get through the fasting hours, but make sure it doesn’t contain unpleasant substances like:
- Titanium Dioxide
- BHT (Butylated hydroxytoluene)
- Artificial Food Dyes21: Red #40, yellow #5, yellow #6
They are additives that help preserve, soften, and color the gum. Allergies and headaches can be caused by yellow #5.
Choose sugar-free gum flavored with stevia, monk fruit, or sugar alcohol. The latter has less than three calories per gram, so do not overdo it. Sugar alcohols are known to produce gastrointestinal issues like bloating and diarrhea.
Sweeteners can interfere with intermittent fasting’s health benefits and weight loss. Chewing gum is not permitted during prolonged, water, or strict intermittent fasting because it is primarily sugar.
On the other hand, the amount in a piece of gum is so tiny that it is unlikely to make a significant difference. Sugar-free is more encouraged and it may even be recommended that you chew these gums while fasting to assist in managing hunger and cravings.
However, don’t overdo it on the sugar-free gum because it still includes calories. The best way to include it in your fast without concern is to keep it to a minimum. Just always be mindful of the type of gum you’re chewing as well as the type of fast you’re partaking in.
1 Wilhelmi de Toledo F, Grundler F, Sirtori CR, Ruscica M. Unravelling the health effects of fasting: a long road from obesity treatment to healthy life span increase and improved cognition. Ann Med. 2020 Aug;52(5):147-161. doi: 10.1080/07853890.2020.1770849. Epub 2020 Jun 10. PMID: 32519900; PMCID: PMC7877980.
2 Gudden J, Arias Vasquez A, Bloemendaal M. The Effects of Intermittent Fasting on Brain and Cognitive Function. Nutrients. 2021 Sep 10;13(9):3166. doi: 10.3390/nu13093166. PMID: 34579042; PMCID: PMC8470960.
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6 Adrienne R. Barnosky, Kristin K. Hoddy, Terry G. Unterman, Krista A. Varady, Intermittent fasting vs daily calorie restriction for type 2 diabetes prevention: a review of human findings, Translational Research, Volume 164, Issue 4, 2014, Pages 302-311, ISSN 1931-5244, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.trsl.2014.05.013.
7 Wang X, Yang Q, Liao Q, Li M, Zhang P, Santos HO, Kord-Varkaneh H, Abshirini M. Effects of intermittent fasting diets on plasma concentrations of inflammatory biomarkers: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Nutrition. 2020 Nov-Dec;79-80:110974. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2020.110974. Epub 2020 Aug 12. PMID: 32947129.
8 Yang F, Liu C, Liu X, Pan X, Li X, Tian L, Sun J, Yang S, Zhao R, An N, Yang X, Gao Y, Xing Y. Effect of Epidemic Intermittent Fasting on Cardiometabolic Risk Factors: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Front Nutr. 2021 Oct 18;8:669325. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2021.669325. PMID: 34733872; PMCID: PMC8558421.
9 U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. 2022. USDA Food and Nutrient Database for Dietary Studies 2019-2020. Food Surveys Research Group Home Page, http://www.ars.usda.gov/nea/bhnrc/fsrg
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12 Lee SA, Sypniewski C, Bensadon BA, McLaren C, Donahoo WT, Sibille KT, Anton S. Determinants of Adherence in Time-Restricted Feeding in Older Adults: Lessons from a Pilot Study. Nutrients. 2020 Mar 24;12(3):874. doi: 10.3390/nu12030874. PMID: 32213965; PMCID: PMC7146127.
13 Xu J, Xiao X, Li Y, Zheng J, Li W, Zhang Q, Wang Z. The effect of gum chewing on blood GLP-1 concentration in fasted, healthy, non-obese men. Endocrine. 2015 Sep;50(1):93-8. doi: 10.1007/s12020-015-0566-1. Epub 2015 Mar 11. PMID: 25758865; PMCID: PMC4546692.
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19 Xu J, Xiao X, Li Y, Zheng J, Li W, Zhang Q, Wang Z. The effect of gum chewing on blood GLP-1 concentration in fasted, healthy, non-obese men. Endocrine. 2015 Sep;50(1):93-8. doi: 10.1007/s12020-015-0566-1. Epub 2015 Mar 11. PMID: 25758865; PMCID: PMC4546692.
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