Does stevia and intermittent fasting go well together? With the limit of drinking only calorie free beverages, it’s no surprise people will turn to zero-calorie sweeteners such as stevia.
While others can skip meals, having coffee and tea with a little sweetener sometimes just makes intermittent fasting a little more bearable. There is, however, some debate if adding stevia won’t truly break your fast.
The good news is that stevia doesn’t necessarily break it. But before you go in and add one to every drink, find out more about this natural, zero-calorie sweetener and how it can aid in your fast.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting (IF) is becoming one of the most common methods of fasting. It is when you alternate between eating and not eating daily or weekly.
While “fasting” may conjure up images of starving, it usually refers to limiting your consumption between 12 to 40 hours. Intermittent fasting has various types available where you can choose what best meets your unique requirements and expectations.
Types of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting can be done in various ways, depending on your preferences. Some popular ways are as follows:
- 12-Hour or Overnight Fasting
The 12-hour fast is the most basic version. You fast for 12 hours every day, which may include your evening. So you fast for a few hours before going to bed and continue after waking up.
A variation of an overnight fast is having 3 meals a day. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are the three most common meals and you can still incorporate this in your fast.
Although this sounds more like a regular eating regimen than fasting, the difference in this is that you don’t snack, which cuts your fasting period in half. You could think this minor variation has no significance, but you would be surprised.
A study of diabetic individuals found that eating three meals daily without snacking dramatically reduced their weight and blood sugar levels. Simultaneously, the insulin dose could even be reduced1.
- 14/10 Fasting
A 14/10 intermittent fasting is another beginner-friendly strategy you may apply immediately if you have yet to gain prior fasting experience. You fast for fourteen hours and then eat within ten hours.
It might seem simple but it has the same benefits as the famed 16/8 approach. The 14/10 is popular among women who struggle with lengthier fasting periods.
During your eating window, you can consume two or three meals. Though you must move them closer together if you eat three meals a day. With two meals every day, you have considerable respite in between.
- 16/8 Fasting
The most common intermittent fasting approach is 16/8 fasting. It is slightly more complex than the prior two versions, but it is still highly user-friendly. Every day, you eat for eight hours and fast for sixteen.
During this time, most people consume two meals: either breakfast and lunch or lunch and dinner. It is also possible to consume three meals in eight hours, minimizing the time between meals.
Most people can quickly adjust to 16/8 and lose weight without feeling hungry. What’s great about this type of fast is that, despite its simplicity, you can still expect to see results. The 16/8 diet has been demonstrated in studies to help people lose weight, improve insulin resistance, and reduce inflammation while retaining muscle mass2,3.
- Warrior Diet or OMAD (ONE MEAL A DAY)
OMAD is an abbreviation for One-Meal-A-Day. As the name says, you only eat once each day. Because it works best for some people’s schedule, most of them eat at dinner. This allows you to fast for around 23 hours every day.
OMAD is a more advanced kind of intermittent fasting. Even so, some folks who aren’t hungry in the morning and don’t have much appetite at lunch find it pretty easy.
- Eat Stop Eat
The Eat Stop Eat approach is similar to OMAD in that you fast for 24 hours, from one meal to the next. For instance, from lunch one day to lunch the next.
The critical difference between this and OMAD is that you only do it once or twice a week instead of every day.
One disadvantage of this diet is that, because it only occurs once or twice a week, you may wake up on your fasting day and begin eating because you forgot. To avoid this, try setting a reminder on your phone or a post-it note to remind you on your designated fasting day until it becomes a strict habit of yours. Committing to the same day may be a helpful tactic.
- Alternate-Day-Fasting (ADF)
ADF is an abbreviation for alternate-day fasting and fasting is done as its name suggests. You eat every other day. ADF allows you to fast for approximately 36 hours, from supper on one day to breakfast on the following.
Because of the length of the fasting period, alternate-day fasting is likely one of the more successful kinds of intermittent fasting. Studies have repeatedly demonstrated how beneficial this strategy can be in assisting individuals in losing weight, controlling their blood sugar levels, lowering their blood pressure, and more4,5.
Alternate-day fasting has also been found in studies to be quite effective at increasing autophagy, reducing signs of aging, and even increasing longevity. Some animal studies also suggest an increase in lifespan of up to 80%6,7.
- 5:2 fasting
5:2 fasting is similar to ADF, but you only fast two (non-consecutive) days per week and eat normally the other five.
On fasting days, you usually consume 500-600 kcal, but you can also totally refrain from meals.
5:2 is a more sophisticated intermittent fasting approach, similar to ADF. If you want to try it, please consult your doctor first.
What Is Stevia?
Stevia is one of many sugar substitutes that have recently gained popularity and is becoming a known alternative to natural and artificial sweeteners like sugar or honey.
Stevia is a plant that has been used for generations to sweeten beverages.
The plant resembles mint, and its leaves have been utilized for millennia in South America. Stevia comes from the sunflower family, and its leaves are inherently sweet. In reality, the indigenous people chewed the leaves for their sweet taste and utilized them to sweeten their drinks organically.
Because stevia extract is 200-300 times sweeter than sugar, you only need a small amount to sweeten your morning coffee or baked products.
The flavor of stevia differs depending on who you ask. It takes longer for the “sweetness” to kick in than sugar. However, most people claim that the sweet flavor lasts longer.
Depending on the stevia brand and your taste preferences, you may detect bitterness, a metallic aftertaste, and licorice or minty smell.
Health Benefits Of Stevia
Stevia is a zero-calorie sweetener that not only helps you reduce the number of calories you consume but also provides a slew of other advantages and benefits. Here’s a rundown of them:
1. Help Control Diabetes
The effect of stevia on your glucose levels is an essential advantage. If you have diabetes or are watching your carbohydrate or sugar intake, stevia is an excellent alternative to table sugar.
This is because stevia contains stevioside, a glycoside chemical that gives you a sweet taste but is not absorbed by your body. Instead, bacteria eats it in your gut, which does not affect your blood sugar levels8.
2. Help With Weight Loss
Because stevia is a non-nutritive sweetener, you may easily replace table sugar with it to reduce additional calories without giving up sweets.
To put it another way, you can add stevia to your tea, coffee, sweets, candies, and other dishes without adding calories. As a result, you may easily limit the amount of sugar (carbs) you consume without giving up sweets9.
3. Pancreatic Cancer
Stevia contains a variety of sterols and antioxidants, including kaempferol. Studies have shown kaempferol reduces the incidence of pancreatic cancer by 23%10.
4. Blood Pressure
It has been discovered that some glycosides in stevia extract widen blood arteries. They may also cause an increase in salt excretion and urine production.
Stevia may help decrease blood pressure, according to a 2003 study. Based from the findings, the stevia plant may have cardiotonic properties. Cardiotonic effects help to maintain normal blood pressure and heart rate11.
5. Children’s Diets
Foods and beverages containing stevia can help to reduce calories from undesired sweets in children’s diets.
Thousands of items containing naturally-sourced stevia are available on the market, ranging from salad dressings to snack bars. This accessibility allows youngsters to consume sweet foods and beverages without consuming extra calories while moving to a lower-sugar diet.
Excess sugars and calories have been related to obesity and cardiovascular disease12.
Stevia And Intermittent Fasting: What You Need To Know
How Is Stevia Processed In The Body?
Carbohydrates are broken down into essential sugars (glucose) and absorbed into your small intestine’s intestinal lumen. Glucose is transported from your small intestine into the bloodstream via ion channels and transporters13.
Glycosides of stevia are not broken down in the small intestine but are moved into your large intestine. The steviol glycoside, the sweet substances found in stevia, is broken down into glucose molecules inside your large intestine. Gut bacteria do not absorb these molecules even if little amounts of glucose are absorbed. Instead, they are excreted either through feces or urine.
Steviol does not create insulin response, maintaining the fasting state (even when some steviol is absorbed into the bloodstream and eventually excreted).
Does Stevia Break A Fast?
As stated, stevia does not technically break your fast. This is because stevia contains no calories causing no insulin response in your body.
Unlike certain artificial sweeteners, which raise insulin levels, stevia is a natural sweetness that your body does not digest. As a result, it does not affect blood sugar or insulin levels.
Since stevia is neither digested or absorbed by your body, it merely passes through your digestive tract. Stevia is unusual in this regard and appears to impact insulin sensitivity significantly. As a result, diabetics and those following a ketogenic diet like stevia.
Whatever your reason for intermittent fasting, stevia is a natural sweetener that is safe to take during your fasting window.
Is Stevia Good While Intermittent Fasting?
It isn’t clear whether stevia can help you lose weight. In theory, it should be if you replace regular sugar with zero-calorie sugar.
However, the human body is complex, and research has yet to show that calorie-free sweeteners, such as stevia, can help you lose weight. Like other calorie-free and natural sweeteners, you may eat more because you believe you “saved” calories, or these sweeteners may impact your appetite differently, prompting you to eat more.
Though there have been other promising studies so far with stevia. Prior studies indicated that when people consume stevia or aspartame drinks before a meal, they do not eat more than those who drink sucrose (sugar) drinks14.
Are There Any Side Effects From Using Stevia?
Stevia, in various forms, is widely regarded as safe, which explains its widespread use.
However, because of the potency of stevia leaves, they should be used with caution, especially if you have specific health issues. This includes compromised renal capacities, a weak cardiovascular system, or low blood pressure.
Stevia’s mechanism of action increases the likelihood of it interfering with blood sugar-controlling medications. Stevia is safe for young and healthy people, but it should be used cautiously by the elderly and people with specific health difficulties.
Is Stevia In The Same Category As Healthy Sugar Alternatives?
Stevia does not fit in with the other sugar-free sweeteners and healthier options. For example, people are obsessed with so-called natural alternatives and organic items like cane juice and brown sugar.
While it is true that things are wild and healthy, the truth remains that both raise blood sugar levels while also adding calories. The influence of these natural compounds differs from the impact of stevia. Unlike the other products, stevia does not add calories and does not cause an increase in blood sugar levels.
Difference Between Natural/Extracted Stevia And Will It Break A Fast?
There are distinctions between natural and extracted stevia. Organic green leaf Stevia and extracted stevia are not the same things.
Extracted stevia is likely to contain small plant extract. However, the action and impact of both natural and derived stevia are similar. When matched spoon for spoon, extracted stevia powder or liquid stevia has the same impact as natural stevia and over 200 times the strength of sugar powder.
To answer the question, “does stevia break a fast?”, it is reasonable to say that if the product is pure and unadulterated, neither natural stevia nor derived stevia powder will break a fast.
Natural sweeteners, artificial sweeteners, and sugar alcohols affect the human body differently. Some of the other zero-calorie sweeteners may trigger an insulin reaction in the body, breaking your fast.
On the other hand, while stevia is one of the best zero-calorie sweeteners, it does not trigger an insulin response and is not absorbed by your digestive system, making it suitable for intermittent fasting.
While fasting, the best is to stick to the 3 intermittent fasting safe drinks: water, tea or black coffee. These will be the drinks you can add a pinch of stevia to add some flavor and satisfy your sweet tooth.
1 Daniela Jakubowicz, Zohar Landau, Shani Tsameret, Julio Wainstein, Itamar Raz, Bo Ahren, Nava Chapnik, Maayan Barnea, Tali Ganz, Miriam Menaged, Naomi Mor, Yosefa Bar-Dayan, Oren Froy; Reduction in Glycated Hemoglobin and Daily Insulin Dose Alongside Circadian Clock Upregulation in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes Consuming a Three-Meal Diet: A Randomized Clinical Trial. Diabetes Care 1 December 2019; 42 (12): 2171–2180.
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