One of the common health trends nowadays is intermittent fasting. However, some people are still a bit confused about how it works. So, let’s try to make things clearer! One of the frequent questions people ask when considering intermittent fasting is, “Does iced coffee break a fast?”
The short answer is no, iced coffee does not break a fast. If you only drink iced coffee with no sugar or cream added to it you will not break your fast. The issue is that almost everyone adds something to their iced coffee that has calories. Once you add something with calories, you will have broken your fast.
But let’s get into the rationale as to why coffee doesn’t break a fast. In this article, we’ll cover exactly why it doesn’t as well as the best ways to ice coffee and fasting to your advantage. It’s best to really grasp the concept of intermittent fasting in order to know why some people think that a cup of coffee would break it.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Many people think that intermittent fasting is a diet that would help them lose weight. This, however, is wrong.
Author Note: While intermittent fasting can help with weight loss, it’s more of an eating pattern than a diet. You voluntarily refrain from eating for a specific period in the day, then, start eating until it’s time to fast again. Thus, intermittent fasting is a way of scheduling your meals.
What Are the Stages of Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is actually a process that organizes your metabolism in five stages:
Ketosis & Heavy Ketosis
Ketosis is the metabolic state you enter after 12 hours of fasting. In this stage, your body begins to break down, burning fats.
In this stage, your liver also uses some of these fats to produce ketones to replace glucose as sources of energy for your brain along with other organs and muscles.
As the ketones level increase in your blood, they can act like hormones in signaling for your body to enhance your stress-busting pathways.
Autophagy is the stage of fasting where the cellular components like misfolded proteins are degraded and recycled. Some of such proteins are known to cause some neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.
This stage usually starts after 24 hours of fasting, though exercising can help initiate it faster.
Autophagy is quite an important process that boosts your immune system. In fact, older people are more prone to such neurodegenerative diseases because our autophagy decreases as we grow.
After 48 hours of fasting, your growth hormone increases by 5 times. This is because both the ketones and Ghrelin, the hunger hormone, push the secretion of the growth hormone.
The growth hormone is important in keeping the muscle mass lean and reducing the accumulation of fat tissue.
After 54 hours of fasting, your insulin level drops to its lowest. This helps in activating autophagy, reducing inflammation, protecting you from chronic diseases, and making you more insulin-sensitive.
Immune Cell Rejuvenation
After 72 hours of fasting, your body starts to break down old immune cells and generate new cells, keeping you healthy and safe.
How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?
People follow different schedules for intermittent fasting. Among the popular schedules are:
The 16/8 Method
This method involves fasting for 16 hours and eating for 8 hours a day, although women have proven to function better with only 14-15 fasting hours. It involves eating 2-3 meals during eating hours.
Generally, people who follow this method skip breakfast and have lunch and dinner. Then, they refrain from eating after dinner.
This method can be tough for people who are used to having breakfast, otherwise, it’s quite simple.
Spontaneous Meal Skipping
This method involves skipping meals randomly. On any day you like, you can choose to skip one or two meals and have the rest.
This is one of the methods that offer you much freedom. It’s good if you don’t like the pressure that comes with having to stick to a fixed schedule.
However, if you’re more organized, like me, you may find this method too loose. At least I do.
The 15:2 Diet
This method, aka the Fast Diet, includes fasting for only 2 days a week and eating normally for 5 days. Preferably, the 2 fasting days should be separate; for example, you can fast on Monday and Thursday.
On the fasting days, men should preferably eat 600 calories while women should eat 500 calories.
Typically, such calories are distributed among 2 meals.
Eat Stop Eat
This method involves a 24-hour fast 2 days a week. The fasting days should also be separate.
A 24-hour fast means fasting from a meal until the same meal of the next day. For example, you can do a 24-hour fast from dinner till dinner time of the following day.
This method may be difficult for some people to follow, so I wouldn’t recommend it to beginners.
As its name suggests, this method involves fasting a day, eating normally on the next, and repeating the cycle.
There are several systems for the fasting days. Some include a 24-hour fast. Others include eating only a few hundred calories a day.
In general, this is a tough method to follow. In the long run, you may find it’s hard to keep up with it due to the amount of hunger you’d feel on the fasting days and the overall unpleasant schedule.
The Warrior Diet
This fasting method is a lot like the paleo diet. It involves eating small portions of vegetables and fruits during the day, then having a large meal for 4 hours at night.
Personally, I think this method is more of a diet than a typical intermittent fasting. It’s also one of the very first methods of intermittent fasting.
Author Note: As you can see, most of the popular fasting schedules involve skipping breakfast. This is a bit of an inconvenience for people who are used to having morning coffee every day. Don’t worry, though, it’s actually not an issue!
Can I Have Iced Coffee While Fasting?
Yes, you can!
Iced coffee, as well as hot coffee, don’t break a fast, as long as you’re a healthy person and you drink moderate amounts of coffee.
This is because it’s generally believed that your body will stay in its fasted state if you’re only drinking something that has lower than 50 calories. The same thing applies to coffee, tea, and water. There’s no need to die of thirst while fasting.
Nevertheless, don’t think that drinking coffee while fasting bears no consequences. In fact, it has its advantages and disadvantages.
How Can Drinking Coffee Help my Fasting?
For one, the plant compounds in coffee can increase your autophagy.
Coffee also includes some antioxidants that can reduce your body’s resistance to insulin and its inflammation.
What Are the Downsides of Drinking Coffee While Fasting?
The caffeine in your coffee can increase the levels of some of your stress hormones. This pushes your body to signal your liver to form new glucose molecules. These glucose molecules are made out of fatty acids and proteins, which increase the levels of blood glucose. Moreover, those stress hormones can prevent your muscles from up taking glucose.
This is why it’s crucial to watch the amount of coffee you’re drinking while fasting; the more you drink, the unhealthier it gets.
Now, let’s discuss whether or not people who suffer from diabetes can drink coffee while fasting.
Can People with Diabetes Drink Coffee While fasting?
People with diabetes need to take extra precautions when drinking coffee while fasting.
In general, caffeine can increase both fasting blood sugar levels and post-meal blood sugar levels if taken in great quantities. But since we’ve agreed that you shouldn’t drink much coffee while fasting anyway, this isn’t such a big risk for healthy people.
It’s, on the other hand, a great risk for those who struggle with type 2 diabetes and those who generally have issues with blood sugar control. Specifically, a study found that the bodies of diabetic people fail to use insulin sufficiently to control blood sugar levels.
Such people are already more prone to unsteady blood sugar levels than others, and, personally, I advise them to check with a doctor before drinking coffee while fasting.
Fasting helps in weight loss, protects you from chronic diseases, reduces inflammation, and boosts cognitive performance. You don’t want to ignore all these benefits because of a misconception that your favorite iced coffee would break your fast.
Long story short, iced coffee, or any other beverage below 50 calories, don’t break your fast. What you have to worry about is your glucose level rising while fasting, making all the benefits of fasting go to waste.
In general, I recommend that you drink your coffee moderately; 1 cup of iced coffee while fasting is enough!
You can also drink your iced coffee black and without sugar to lower the chances of your glucose level rising.
If you suffer from diabetes or unstable blood sugar level, my advice to you is to be careful and consult a professional before making a habit out of drinking coffee while fasting.
Stay caffeinated friends!