- Intermittent fasting boasts a myriad of potential benefits and some beverages, like tea or black coffee, may even enhance its effects
- During fasting windows, it’s important to avoid food and drinks that contain calories
- Beware of “zero-calorie” beverages, many of them can actually still break your fast
Intermittent fasting holds the potential for a myriad of health benefits, all without counting calories or hours of preparation. (1) No wonder so many people have been trying (and raving about) it!
Despite what it might sound like, intermittent fasting is NOT about starving yourself. It’s more about when you eat, than how much you eat.
So what exactly can you consume while following an intermittent fasting plan? And are there drinks that can make it easier or more effective?
We wanted to get to the bottom of that question, and here’s what we discovered: there are entirely different guidelines for what you can eat and drink to get the most out of intermittent fasting. And it all depends on whether you’re in your eating window or your fasting window.
Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that breaks your day into two parts:
- Eating (or feeding) windows, and
- Fasting windows (not eating)
There are actually a variety of intermittent fasting schedules you can follow to determine what hours of the day these windows actually include. We have a handy guide to fasting schedules for you to check out here.
The most common schedule is the 16/8 plan, which means you eat for an 8-hour window and fast for 16 hours. You can also choose to do shorter or longer eating windows, or even opt for alternate-day fasting.
If you’re new to this way of eating and need help getting started, definitely check out our Beginner’s Guide to Intermittent Fasting.
During your fasting period, you want to refrain from consuming any food or beverages that contain calories. So….. no food. But you have several beverage options, and these are important because it is critical to keep yourself hydrated while fasting.
Zero-calorie beverages can be a life-saver when it comes to fighting off hunger pangs and cravings during your fasting windows! There are even certain drinks – like tea – that can help enhance the benefits of your intermittent fasting plan. Sweet!
Here are 5 drinks to enjoy during your fasting windows:
You can (and should!) definitely drink water during your fasting windows. Water is always a great choice, all day long, every day. It can be still or sparkling, whatever you enjoy. If you prefer lemon water, you can also add a squeeze of lemon (or lime) to your water. For other fun flavor variations, try infusing a pitcher of water with cucumber or orange slices.
But make sure you stay away from any artificially-sweetened water enhancers (like Crystal Light). The artificial sweetener can interfere with your fast!
Black coffee is a calorie-free beverage that doesn’t affect insulin levels. You can drink regular coffee (caffeinated) or decaf coffee during fasting windows, just don’t add any sweetener or milk. Spices like cinnamon are totally fine!
Many coffee-drinkers enjoy a cup of joe, or even espresso, during fasting windows with no adverse effects. But some people experience a racing heart or upset stomach if they drink coffee during fasting windows, so monitor your own experience.
Bonus: black coffee might actually enhance some of the benefits of intermittent fasting, and it’s quite popular with people who also follow a keto diet. This study demonstrated that taking in caffeine can support ketone production. Coffee has also been shown to support healthy blood sugar levels over the long term.
3. Bone Broth
Bone broth (or vegetable broth) is recommended for any time you decide to fast for 24 hours or more.
Beware of canned broths or bouillon cubes! These have tons of artificial flavors and preservatives that will counteract the effects of your fast. A good homemade broth, or one made by a trusted source, is the way to go.
Help increase your satiety naturally with tea! It just might be the secret weapon that, not only makes your fasting plan easier but also more successful. Read our primer on how to use tea to enhance your intermittent fasting plan.
All types of tea are great to drink during a fast, including green, black, oolong and herbal teas. Tea boosts the effectiveness of intermittent fasting by supporting gut health, probiotic balance, and cellular health.
Green tea, in particular, has been proven to help increase satiety and support healthy weight management. (2)
5. Apple Cider Vinegar
Drinking apple cider vinegar has numerous health benefits, and you can definitely continue drinking it while intermittent fasting, even during fasting windows. And since ACV helps to support healthy blood sugar and digestion, it may even enhance the effects of your intermittent fasting plan.
If you aren’t a fan of the apple cider vinegar drink, try it as salad dressing during eating windows. It’s good for you any time of the day!
There are a few beverages (including “zero-calorie” ones) that you might not realize are capable of “breaking your fast.” This means that if you consume these, you will knock your body out of the “fasted state.”
If you’re wondering whether common beverages, like diet soda, almond milk, coconut water, or alcohol will break your fast, we found the answers:
Can You Drink Diet Soda While Intermittent Fasting?
Even though diet soda is technically free of calories, it may inhibit the positive effects of fasting. Sugar-free diet drinks get their sweet taste from artificial sweeteners (like aspartame) which can create an insulin response. Therefore, you want to avoid drinking diet soda during your fasting windows. This also goes for energy drinks!
Can You Almond Milk While Intermittent Fasting? What about Coconut Water?
Almond milk and coconut water both tend to be very high in sugar. Sugar equals carbs, so as soon as you consume these, you are no longer considered to be fasting. You want to avoid drinking these during fasting windows.
Can You Drink Alcohol While Intermittent Fasting?
On intermittent fasting days, it’s best to limit alcohol consumption to your eating windows. Most alcoholic beverages are high in sugar and calories, so drinking alcohol can easily break your fast. Plus, alcohol affects us more on an empty stomach, so even one glass of wine during a fasting window might feel awful the next day!
Sometimes the transition to an intermittent fasting lifestyle can lead to a couple weeks of symptoms like headaches, hunger and muscle cramps. These are pretty normal for your initial adjustment period. We have a few suggestions to help you out in the infographic below.
So many diets fail because they’re complicated or too difficult to follow. The popularity and success of intermittent fasting are attributable to the fact that it is incredibly simple. Follow these basic guidelines of what to drink to best support your fasting schedule, and you should be well on your way to reaping the amazing benefits of fasting. Good luck!