Whether you’ve recently begun intermittent fasting or are undertaking a longer fast, you’re probably wondering whether coffee is OK during the hours you choose not to eat. Does coffee break a fast? Is there such a thing as coffee fasting? In this guide, we’ll take a close look at the relationship between coffee and fasting, plus we’ll cover the best drinks for intermittent fasting.
Will coffee break a fast in general?
The answer to this question depends on the coffee in question. If you’re among those who like to load up their java with rich additives like cream, half and half, or flavored coffee creamers, then the answer is yes. Once you add anything that contains calories, your favorite cup of joe isn’t going to do you any favors, and you’ll need to wait until your chosen eating window to indulge. The good news is that you can have other energizing beverages in the meantime.
Will black coffee break a fast?
Does black coffee break a fast? There’s good news for all of you who like black coffee is that it is one of the best drinks for intermittent fasting. When you’re drinking nothing but water and black coffee during the fasting portion of your day, you’re essentially on a coffee fast. You don’t want to drink so much coffee that you feel jittery or find yourself feeling wakeful when you ought to be sleeping, but you can definitely drink enough to quell hunger pains and sharpen your mind even more.
Can I sweeten or flavor my coffee for intermittent fasting?
There are a few additions for black coffee that are generally considered “safe” for intermittent fasting. It’s worth noting that these can stimulate food cravings, so take this advice with a grain of salt and see how you feel when you try them.
- Monkfruit extract
- Artificial sweeteners (These are not generally recommended, but they have zero calories so they’re technically OK.)
If you find that you’re fixating on food after adding these spices and sweeteners to your coffee, it’s best to skip them and just drink it black.
Can I add pink Himalayan salt to my black coffee?
Since pink Himalayan salt is an excellent source of trace minerals and electrolytes, it makes a valuable addition to your intermittent fasting regimen. Salting black coffee, especially with pink Himalayan salt, enhances the flavor and treats your body to a little boost. It’s best to choose a finely ground pink Himalayan salt for this purpose, as it dissolves faster. Be sure to stir well so that the salt permeates the entire cup. Note that you won’t get the same benefits from plain iodized table salt.
Black Coffee Benefits for Intermittent Fasting
Coffee contains loads of antioxidants, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. While you’re waiting for your eating window, this dark, steaming beverage can get to work – and when it does, you’ll understand why so many people believe that it’s miraculous.
Black Coffee May Upregulate Ketosis and Enhance Fat Burning
When the body goes into ketosis, it’s using fat for energy instead of relying on glucose. Most people who practice intermittent fasting spend at least a little bit of each day in ketosis. If you’re pairing IF with a ketogenic diet, then you’re really going to like this black coffee benefit. A 2017 study evaluated caffeine taken in the morning and showed that it stimulated ketone production and raised free fatty acids in blood plasma. Since coffee increases fat mobilization in the body, it helps with fat burning. So long as you’re cognizant of your caloric intake during your eating window, coffee can help you lose weight a little faster when you’re intermittent fasting.
Black Coffee Gives You Instant Energy
Coffee provides an energy boost any time, and it’s even stronger when you drink it black, on an empty stomach. The energy surge you’re craving will come quickly, and if you’re into fasted cardio, you’ll find that you feel like something of a beast. Be sure to stay hydrated with water during your workout though. Since coffee is also a powerful diuretic, it can contribute to dehydration and hurt your performance if you forget to balance it out with water.
Black Coffee is an Excellent Appetite Suppressant
When you’re first getting started with intermittent fasting, your appetite is likely to feel out of control during your fasting window. While hunger is a natural signal that can tell you when your body starts dipping into its fat stores instead of burning food for energy, it can be helpful to suppress those hunger pangs. That’s where black coffee comes in. Thanks to its high caffeine content, coffee is one of the best natural appetite suppressants in the world. It has no calories, so you can enjoy it without worrying about breaking your fast.
Black Coffee Boosts Focus and Productivity
Thinking about food? No worries! Black coffee is here to save the day once again, increasing your willpower and helping you feel awesome even when you haven’t had a bite to eat. Since coffee suppresses your appetite and provides you with instant energy, it’s going to help you with productivity, particularly during those first few weeks of intermittent fasting. Fasting itself has a side benefit of enhanced focus, and adding coffee into the mix sharpens your mind even further. While everyone at work is feeling sluggish after lunch, your cup of black coffee will make you feel like something of a superhero in comparison.
Black Coffee Lightens Your Mood
One reason so many of us find ourselves hooked on the intermittent fasting lifestyle is that we feel absolutely amazing. But those good feelings usually take some time to arrive. During the first few days or weeks of your intermittent fasting journey, you’re likely to find yourself feeling a combination of hunger and anger. People will feel like avoiding you when you’re hangry, and things that didn’t bother you before might seem like major issues.
Great news: Black coffee stimulates the release of dopamine in your brain. Simply breathing in the aroma and anticipating that first sip can help move the dial, transforming your mood. Within minutes, you start to feel happier. A better mood feels more pleasant – not just for you, but for the people who deal with you, too. If you’re miserable, you’ll have a tough time continuing your intermittent fasting routine until your body gets used to the new eating schedule. When you treat yourself to a natural mood boost first thing in the morning, you’ll feel like you can take on the world, even if your eating window doesn’t begin until late in the afternoon.
A quick note here, and this isn’t directly related to black coffee. In case you haven’t started yet, intermittent fasting isn’t something that’s easy to jump into cold turkey. It’s best to start with a longer eating window like 16:8 and gradually push back toward a 20:4 eating window. After that, you can work your way toward one meal a day or every other day eating if you feel so inclined. Slow and steady wins the race, and black coffee can help propel you toward the finish line.
How to Transition to Drinking Black Coffee
Since the only intermittent fasting coffee you can drink is black, you’ll either have to wait for your caffeine buzz, choose unsweetened tea for your fasting hours, or embrace the dark side and learn to love (or at least tolerate) black coffee.
Just like dark chocolate, black coffee is an acquired taste. And once you learn to appreciate it’s velvety, nutty flavors, you might never go back to the sweet, creamy variety. Here are a few ways to make the switch.
Start with Good Coffee
Cream and sugar mask a whole host of ills, which is why sub-par coffee tends to taste delicious once you add dessert-flavored ingredients to your cup. A good organic coffee with a light to medium taste is likely to taste better to you, at least in the beginning. Try a light roast even if you prefer dark roast now.
Try Going Cold Turkey
Some people decide to go cold turkey. That’s what I did, and it took about three days for me to truly appreciate the delicate, nuanced flavors of black coffee and stop craving all the extra “stuff” I used to put into my cup. I’ve tried adding cream and sugar during eating windows when coffee was served alongside dessert, and it didn’t hold the same appeal that it used to. People who know me well are often shocked to hear that I prefer my brew black these days.
Ease your Transition to Black Coffee
Some people opt to transition slowly, gradually reducing the amount of cream, sugar, and/or flavored creamer they add to their cups. Measure those additives and think about what’s in them. Intermittent fasting isn’t all about becoming the food police, but it’s helpful to choose healthy options whenever you can and make every calorie beneficial, particularly if you’re planning a transition to OMAD later. Transitioning to black coffee can take weeks, particularly if you’ve been drinking your brew with lots of cream and sugar for years. Cut back gradually, and give yourself time to get acquainted with the less creamy, less sweet taste.
If you want to do this and start intermittent fasting before you make the transition to black coffee, there are a couple of ways to go about it. The first way is to have your eating window in the morning instead of later in the day. Some people like to do this because it works for their schedules. People who like to eat dinner with their families usually find that a later eating window works better.
The second method is to have a different caffeinated beverage in place of your morning coffee. Green tea and white tea offer plenty of caffeine, plus they provide you with a nice antioxidant boost. Once your eating window arrives, you can go ahead and enjoy a little coffee with some cream and sugar. You might miss your morning coffee, or you might decide that you like tea just as much.
Teach Your Taste Buds to Anticipate Black Coffee
You can also “try” your coffee black before adding other ingredients to it. This way you can savor the aromas and flavors that are naturally present in every cup, and you can train your taste buds to anticipate the taste of black coffee before moving on to the sweetened, creamy variety. Give yourself a few minutes between your first few sips of black coffee and your first taste of sweetened coffee, so your initial caffeine buzz comes from the black coffee. Your brain will quickly put two and two together and you’ll come to look forward to those delicious, nuanced sips.
What to Do If You Try Black Coffee and Don’t Like It
If you try to switch to black coffee and hate it, just add coffee to the list of things you can have during your eating window and treat yourself to your favorite additives. You’ll be missing out on some benefits, but it won’t be the end of the world. Since caffeine stays in your system for as long as 12 hours, it’s a good idea to adjust your eating window so that your coffee intake doesn’t interfere with your sleep.
How Much Coffee Should You Drink While Fasting?
When it comes to the question of how much coffee is too much, the jury is still out. Some experts say that you should have no more than two cups of coffee per day, while others say that it’s fine to have four or five. If you’re already drinking coffee, then it’s probably a good idea to stick to the same amount you’re used to, at least until you get your intermittent fasting routine down. You might feel like cutting back in the future but for now, reducing your body’s access to caffeine is likely to backfire. If you do cut back, be sure to do it gradually!
Besides Black Coffee, What are the Best Drinks for Intermittent Fasting?
Before we dive into this list of drinks that are OK to have while intermittent fasting, it’s important to note that experts’ opinions vary widely when it comes to drinking anything other than water during the fasting window. The general consensus though, is that unless you’re doing “clean” intermittent fasting and avoiding chemicals of all kinds in hopes of boosting the body’s autophagy process, anything that has zero calories is generally considered fair game.
I’m not saying that you should spend your time drinking tons of soda with artificial sweeteners, but a little bit of no-calorie sweetener isn’t going to kill you, particularly if that’s what it takes to get through those first challenging days of working your way into an intermittent fasting routine. You can always cut back later and that’s something you ought to consider, since diet soda is fraught with controversy and isn’t exactly the best thing for your health.
It’s worth noting here that studies that look at whether artificial sweeteners cause an insulin response conclude with mixed results. Long-term effects are still being studied and for now at least, it’s up to you to decide whether you want to make artificial sweeteners part of your diet. You can bridge the gap by opting for a brand made with stevia instead of conventional artificial sweeteners if you like.
Besides diet soda, you can have plenty of green tea and black tea. You can also have herbal tea, but watch out for varieties that include pieces of fruit in the blend. These have just a few calories but they will break your fast. Don’t worry – there are plenty of great herbal teas that don’t contain fruit!
Sparkling water is another fantastic drink to enjoy while intermittent fasting. Be sure to choose the varieties that contain no fruit juice or sweetener. The calorie count should be zero. If you’re looking for a way to cut back on diet soda, you can mix unflavored sparkling water with your soda and gradually increase the amount of water in the blend.
If you’re drinking diet soda and/or sparkling water, be sure to watch your intake since too many carbonated beverages can contribute to unpleasant side effects like gas and bloating.
Last but not least, be sure to drink lots of water. Water keeps your stomach occupied and it helps move toxins out of your cells. You should try to drink about half an ounce of water for every pound of body weight. If you’re drinking sparkling water or decaffeinated drinks such as decaf coffee or tea, you can add those to your liquid ounces count for the day. Don’t count coffee or tea with caffeine.
The Takeaway: Coffee is Ideal for Intermittent Fasting!
While there are a few experts who say that black coffee breaks a fast by slowing down the autophagy process, most people use intermittent fasting for weight loss. Since one of black coffee’s benefits is enhanced weight loss, it’s the perfect drink for intermittent fasting if whittling your waistline is among your chief goals. The transition to black coffee can be challenging but in the end, your body and mind will almost certainly benefit.