When you’re new to fasting, a good start is to ask questions like what can you drink while fasting and which ones you should avoid.
This is especially important to know because what you drink affects not only you but the outcome of your fasting journey as well. So what exactly can you drink while following an intermittent fasting plan?
To avoid any lapses early on your fast, here is a guideline to help you get started.
What Intermittent Fasting Is All About
Intermittent fasting (IF) is when you deprive your body of food for a set amount of time or until you achieve a particular goal. There are many different types of fasts and many reasons for practicing them.
Most will get into intermittent fasting to lose weight. An important detail to remember is to practice intermittent fasting in a healthy way. While part of the aim is for the fast to be effective for you, it should not lead to actual starvation.
You have to ensure that you are not depriving yourself of crucial nutrients and that your plan is actually doable. Consuming the right kind of food and drink can make your fasting easier and more effective.
Intermittent Fasting Rules
There are no strict dietary restrictions when it comes to intermittent fasting. Part of its appeal and why it is so popular is that it can be modified for each individual.
However, this isn’t a free pass to indulge in calorie-dense food or drink for 8 to 12 hours straight— even if you consume them during the designated eating time frame in your intermittent fasting plan. To get the full benefit of fasting, it is still essential to not only eat the right foods but also to drink the right kinds of liquids.
What Breaks A Fast?
To put it plainly, eating or drinking any calories during your fasting window can break your fast. Even a small amount can disrupt your fasting process.
Some types of intermittent fasting may practice lesser amounts of calories, but those are still consumed during your eating window. If you’re following your intermittent fasting plan strictly, it means no calories whatsoever for the duration of your fasting window.
What Can You Drink While Fasting?
Despite what it seems, there are a lot of intermittent fasting drinks to choose from. Let’s cover which ones that are worth a drink below.
The simplest drink but is the main liquid in your fast. It’s also one that’s going to be your best friend. During any time of the day, even in your fasting window, water is the most important component of a successful intermittent fast.
Water improves your fast by helping with appetite control, creating a sense of fullness. This eliminates the risk of overeating and helps you get through those last few hours of your fast.
Not only does it prolong your fast, but it also keeps you hydrated as well. While it is recommended to drink a minimum of six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day, you may need to drink more while fasting.
Drinking water is also associated with improving metabolic health and boosting your metabolism by up to 25%. Therefore, it’s possible to burn more calories and, in turn, lose weight1.
Generally, all kinds of water are acceptable, and drinking distilled or tap water is fine. But it is recommended to consume mineral water, carbonated water, and sparkling water as they contain nutrients and are calorie-free as well.
Caffeine lovers will be happy to know that you can drink coffee during your fasting periods. Although, your options are limited to regular coffee (caffeinated) or decaf coffee and nothing of those with any sweetener or milk.
Black coffee is a calorie-free beverage that doesn’t affect insulin levels. Not to mention that it can offer numerous health benefits. Coffee has been found to aid in certain types of cancer, depression, heart disease, and stroke2.
Keep in mind that when you drink black coffee while fasting, it may cause stomach aches, headaches, or jitteriness. It is important to consume it in moderation and keep yourself hydrated with water.
3. Unsweetened Tea
Tea is another great beverage to drink during your intermittent fast. Brewed tea typically contains the same calories as a cup of black coffee or less. The same rule with coffee applies to drinking tea which means no added sugar, cream, or artificial sweeteners so that you don’t break your fast.
All types of tea are great to drink during a fast, including green, black, oolong, and herbal teas. It is a good alternative if you are sensitive to caffeine since tea contains less caffeine than coffee.
Tea can also enhance intermittent fasting if you plan to lose weight. In particular, green tea has been proven to help increase satiety and support healthy weight management3.
Whether you need an energy boost in the morning, some support drink in the afternoon, or just something to help you relax before bed, tea is a great option while fasting.
4. Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
There are some views on not including apple cider vinegar because it contains roughly three calories per tablespoon. Considering you’re not supposed to consume calories, drinking ACV will break your fast.
Despite that, there are benefits to drinking one. Having apple cider vinegar during your fast can help enhance your fast by helping you feel full and satiated.
Aside from promoting satiety, ACV has been shown to improve blood sugar levels4. While the evidence behind apple cider vinegar seems promising, there are a few things to remember before you start drinking it.
You shouldn’t drink ACV without first diluting it in water. If consumed directly, the high amount of acidity can damage the enamel on your teeth. Diluting it with water also helps with the sour taste and powerful smell, which you might find more pleasant to drink than an undiluted one.
5. Bone Broth
Bone broth is made from the liquid left after boiling animal bones such as beef, pork, chicken, fish, and even raw vegetables.
Drinking bone broth will technically break your fast, but it only contains very few calories. It has high levels of necessary sodium and other minerals and can help replenish electrolytes lost during long periods of only drinking water.
Bone broth helps you stay hydrated while also fighting off hunger pangs. Another benefit is it helps with joint health since it is rich in glucosamine, which is a supplement many people take to help repair joint damage5.
Consider taking bone broth when you’re on a prolonged period of fasting, such as a 24-hour fast. Be sure to limit yourself to minimal amounts since, again, it contains calories. Having a small amount can keep your body in ketosis and burn fat.
6. Healthy Fats
Healthy fats are important for optimal health, and you shouldn’t eliminate them entirely. Some common and sought out healthy fats are MCT oil and coconut oil.
It can drive you between your eating and fasting window by effectively curbing your cravings while maintaining some of intermittent fasting’s key benefits. While these can break your fast and reduce autophagy to some extent, they won’t push you out of ketosis.
What About Taking Supplements?
It is unlikely to be deficient in nutrients while fasting, but it can still depend on how strict your fast is and how long it lasts. If you fast too frequently and your diet is already low in vitamins and minerals, it could lead to nutrient deficiencies6.
You may opt to drink supplements, but it is important to know which supplements could break your fast.
Supplements to Avoid
Here are some supplements that are more likely to break a fast:
- Branched-chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
- Protein Powder
- Drinks containing certain ingredients such cane sugar, fruit juice concentrate, maltodextrin, pectin, or any that contain sugar and calories.
Supplements You Can Drink
These are the supplements that are unlikely to break a fast:
- Probiotics and Prebiotics
- Pure Collagen
If you intend to include supplements, discuss this first with a medical practitioner before beginning to take them. Do note that it’s usually best to take supplements during your eating windows since most supplements are better absorbed when taken with food.
Liquids To Avoid While Intermittent Fasting
During your fasting window, the general practice is a no-calorie drink only. With that in mind, these are the drinks you should avoid:
Right from the start, alcohol is a hard no. Beer, wine, cocktails, and spirits should never be consumed during your fasting period. It is a source of calories, so drinking it would break your fast.
Its effects can also be intensified when consumed on an empty stomach and would likely stimulate your appetite and lead to increased hunger and cravings.
Regular Soda or Diet Soda
Regular sodas usually contain sugar and calories and offer no nutritional value. There also isn’t enough data and research to say whether diet soda is okay to drink during IF. Therefore it is unclear how artificial sweeteners may impact fasting even if they are free of calories.
Consuming too many artificial sweeteners (as diet sodas tend to have) may increase cravings and appetite, as well as promote weight gain and the storage of fat.
Dairy Products or Milk Substitutes
Most diets require you to give up dairy, which can be a challenge if you’re used to having it reduce the bitterness and enhance the texture of your coffee or tea. However, drinking milk, even skim milk, will break your fast.
All varieties of cow’s milk contain lactose, which is a naturally occurring sugar. Sugar equals carbs, so as soon as you consume these, you are no longer considered to be fasting.
This is because drinking even a splash of it may cause your blood glucose levels to spike. A splash of cream may seem harmless, but your body will be able to take those calories and use them as energy, stopping you from going into ketosis or staying in ketosis.
If you want to lose weight without overly restricting yourself, intermittent fasting could be a great option for you.
Except, starting an intermittent fast won’t be easy for most people. So while no one expects you to fast perfectly, it makes sense that you want to do it the right way.
The key to your intermittent fasting success not only falls on the time and food that you eat but with what you drink as well. That means if you want to reap all the benefits of fasting, you might have to give up drinking high-calorie beverages entirely.
Ultimately, the best and safest drink for intermittent fasting is still mineral water.
1 Dubnov-Raz, G., Constantini, N., Yariv, H. et al. Influence of water drinking on resting energy expenditure in overweight children. Int J Obes 35, 1295–1300 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1038/ijo.2011.130
2 Bidel S, Tuomilehto J. The Emerging Health Benefits of Coffee with an Emphasis on Type 2 Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease. Eur Endocrinol. 2013 Aug;9(2):99-106. doi: 10.17925/EE.2013.09.02.99. Epub 2013 Aug 23. PMID: 29922362; PMCID: PMC6003581.
3 Nagao T, Komine Y, Soga S, Meguro S, Hase T, Tanaka Y, Tokimitsu I. Ingestion of a tea rich in catechins leads to a reduction in body fat and malondialdehyde-modified LDL in men. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Jan;81(1):122-9. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/81.1.122. PMID: 15640470.
4 Shishehbor F, Mansoori A, Shirani F. Vinegar consumption can attenuate postprandial glucose and insulin responses; a systematic review and meta-analysis of clinical trials. Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2017 May;127:1-9. doi: 10.1016/j.diabres.2017.01.021. Epub 2017 Mar 2. PMID: 28292654.
5 Ogata T, Ideno Y, Akai M, Seichi A, Hagino H, Iwaya T, Doi T, Yamada K, Chen AZ, Li Y, Hayashi K. Effects of glucosamine in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Clin Rheumatol. 2018 Sep;37(9):2479-2487. doi: 10.1007/s10067-018-4106-2. Epub 2018 Apr 30. PMID: 29713967; PMCID: PMC6097075.