Can I Drink Coffee While Intermittent Fasting?

The number one question I’ve gotten since I first shared my experience with intermittent fasting is whether I drink coffee while intermittent fasting. The answer is YES…but under certain circumstances.

Bear in mind as you read that I am neither a doctor nor a nutritionist, so take my experience with a grain of salt and consult your physician if you have any questions.

coffee cup on a tray

My Intermittent Fasting Schedule

It’s been a minute since I posted about how I use intermittent fasting. While I initially tried a 16:8, it wasn’t for me. I think a lot of this had to do with my morning workouts. I’ve since settled into a groove of 13:11 fasting, as it’s what works best for my well-being and my family. I finish eating before 7 pm most days and don’t eat again until around 8 am the next morning. 

Coffee And Intermittent Fasting 

Most expert interviews I’ve read argue that the three calories in a single cup of black coffee won’t break your fast. In fact, one study showed that coffee even helped induce autophagy in mice. 

Autophagy: (au-toph-a-gy) consumption of the body’s own tissue as a metabolic process.

Here’s the thing, though: I don’t like black coffee. To my tastebuds, anything with that much flavor should have somebody to it, so I always take my coffee with 2% or whole milk. And to be fair, I probably like my coffee lighter than most people do. For that reason, I don’t drink coffee until I’m ready to break my fast. 

Hand stirring coffee cup on tray

How Many Calories Breaks A Fast?

While many experts say that a 30-40 calorie beverage probably won’t break your fast, some concede that complete abstention during intermittent fasting produces superior results. While the jury is still out on this one, I’ve decided to align myself with the purists given that my fasting window is on the shorter end. 

I have also read that adding ghee or MCT oil to coffee in lieu of milk may be beneficial while intermittent fasting. I gave that a shot and found that the fat made me nauseous, especially on an empty stomach. But while it wasn’t for me, it may be worth looking into if you can tolerate it.

Drinking While Intermittent Fasting

I feel my best when I’m staying hydrated, which I think may have been part of the problem when I tried a 16:8 fast. I was getting so hungry that I would pound water to fill me up, which left me feeling oddly more thirsty. It turns out that drinking too much water on a fast can actually flush electrolytes from your body and dehydrate you. Cue headache, muscle cramps, and all kinds of discomfort.

Now that I’ve shortened the length of my fasting period, I start my day with a big glass of water, then drink as I become thirsty. On colder mornings, I may also enjoy a cup of tea without anything to sweeten it, or hot water with lemon.

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