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Can You Drink Coffee While Fasting?
Intermittent Fasting

Can You Drink Coffee While Fasting?

Written by Edibel Quintero, RD | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Published on 2022 July 11
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5 min

Coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world and a great way to start your day. Can you enjoy a cup of coffee while fasting?

Can you drink coffee while fasting

There’s nothing quite like that fresh cup of coffee first thing in the morning.

It’s an essential beverage for many to get things going, and without it, many of us shudder at the thought. 

If you’re practicing intermittent fasting, you’re probably aware that you need to quit food during certain hours. You might have accepted that you can’t eat breakfast, lunch, or dinner on certain days. 

It’s simply the commitment you make to intermittent fasting, for whatever health reasons. But take away that morning caffeine fix, and we have problems. 

So, will drinking coffee interfere with your new intermittent fasting regime? 

Keep reading as we investigate whether coffee is on the yes list, coffee modifications, and other beverage options that won’t break your fast. 

Can I Drink Coffee While Fasting? 

Contrary to popular belief, water is not the only drink you can consume in your fasting period. Coffee drinkers – we have good news.

Drinking coffee is acceptable while fasting, but hold on – there’s a catch.

If you want to drink coffee, it must be black. So, no more oat milk lattes, people.

Black coffee is fat-free and contains very few calories. According to the USDA, one can expect to find just 2 calories in a cup of black coffee.

It’s unlikely to break a fast unless you’re consuming copious amounts throughout the day. And even then, the calorie count is virtually nonexistent.

The danger lies when you start adding milk, cream, sugar, and syrups, as you immediately boost the calorie and fat content. Not only will you upset your metabolic state, but you could even gain weight with frequent cups of fat-filled coffee.

Drinking black coffee may even support weight loss, but minimal research exists. The caffeine content may suppress appetite, curbing hunger pangs and sugar cravings for a short while.

It’s also thought to boost your metabolic health, helping you burn more calories.

However, keep in mind that the strictest intermittent fasting strategies tolerate nothing other than zero calories. If you want to play it by the book, black coffee will break your fast, theoretically speaking.

But as it has almost no calories, it won’t sabotage the health benefits of your fasting endeavors. In short, a cup of coffee is perfectly fine.

How Much Coffee Is Okay to Drink While Fasting? 

Now you know you can drink coffee while intermittent fasting; don’t get carried away. 

Drinking coffee may have several benefits, but even outside of intermittent fasting, too much caffeine triggers a ton of negative effects, even for those with regular coffee consumption.

The undesirable consequences include some or all of the following: 

  • Shakiness
  • Feelings of restlessness 
  • Headache
  • Anxiety 
  • Heart palpitations
  • Poor sleep
  • Dehydration 
  • Nausea
  • Upset stomach

According to the FDA, 400 milligrams of caffeine a day (4–5 cups) is presumed a safe amount to drink, without posing the consequences listed above. 

That said, many people have different tolerance for caffeine. Just a half cup of strong black coffee could be enough to make a non-coffee drinker feel ill at ease. 

When fasting, you’re cutting out food for significant hours. The effects of caffeine can take hold faster on an empty stomach, which could leave you feeling queasy and anxious. 

So, too much caffeine, especially in fasting windows, is not the best idea.

What Can I Put in My Coffee That Won’t Break a Fast? 

We’ve established that black coffee is perfectly fine for the fasting window.

Fortunately for many, black coffee is already their go-to. But for those who consume regular sugar in coffee, going back to black might be tricky. Must it be totally plain? 

We’re already mentioned how milk, cream, and artificial flavorings turn an innocent coffee break into a whopping cup of calories. And as you know, those high-calorie additives will kick you out of your fast. 

But if you’re desperate for something to spice things up, there are some limited ingredients you can add to your coffee while intermittent fasting.

A sprinkle of any of the following shouldn’t break your fast: 

  • Nutmeg
  • Cinnamon 
  • Cocoa 
  • Pumpkin spice
  • Very low-calorie sweeteners

Anything else, including healthier options like unsweetened almond milk, has enough calories to break a fast. So, keep it controlled, and you can enjoy a little extra sweetness in your black coffee.  

Otherwise, keep sipping black coffee from time to time, and it will soon grow on you. Just don’t overdo your coffee intake.

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What Drinks Are Okay When Fasting? 

Coffee you can tick off the list. But what about other drinks? 

Tea drinkers fear not. There are some alternative low or zero-calorie beverages you can enjoy in the fasting periods.

While the debate continues over what you can and can’t drink during intermittent fasting, the following drinks are unlikely to jeopardize the journey:

#1 Water

Water, of course, is the golden drink for intermittent fasting. You can drink glass after glass of this calorie-free goodness without breaking your fast, as it won’t impact your blood sugar or insulin levels. 

You can add lemon slices or a drop of lemon juice for extra flavor if you want to. Other safe fruit and veggie additions include cucumber and celery. Just don’t physically eat them!

#2 Herbal teas 

Unsweetened, natural tea is a safe choice during eating and fasting windows.

Green tea, black tea, and ginger tea are just some of the tasty alternatives to water. Many are packed with healthy compounds, with health benefits including weight loss, controlled blood sugar, improved brain health, and good gut health.

#3 Bone broth 

Bone broth is a tricky one that drums up a debate about intermittent fasting. 

Depending on the recipe, it’s a stock made from animal bones and connective tissues, simmered down with various herbs and spices.

When homemade, you can keep a stern eye on calories and cook up a deliciously vitamin-rich brew. One cup is relatively low in calories, although considerably more than black coffee. 

Not every eating plan will recommend broth during intermittent fasting. It comes down to how much wiggle room you have and whether you can consume a limited number of calories.

#4 Bulletproof coffee

Another strange one, bulletproof coffee, is a fat bomb, i.e., a high-calorie, high-fat drink. It contains a blend of coffee, butter, and coconut oil or MCT oil.

It’s a well-known concoction on the ketogenic diet that dieters use as a source of healthy fat. While there are certainly enough calories to break your fast, it can help facilitate ketosis while leaving you satisfied. 

While we’re on this note, the drinks to steer clear of during an intermittent fast are: 

  • Soft drinks, including diet soft drinks
  • Fruit juices
  • Green juices 
  • Smoothies 
  • Alcoholic drinks
  • Milk 

Coffee and Fasting: The Perfect Match?

It’s settled. A simple cup of black coffee is A-OK while you enjoy the benefits of intermittent fasting. 

It can help increase satiety as you watch the clock until your next meal. But it’s best to avoid any additional ingredients, although a touch of certain spices like nutmeg and cinnamon are harmless. Just don’t go overboard!

If coffee isn’t your thing, you can enjoy the same benefits from other calorie-free drinks like herbal teas and water with lemon.  

While intermittent fasting is notoriously restrictive, sometimes small adjustments here and there can help you stay on track. Remember to keep track of your caloric intake so that you don’t accidentally break your fast.

Written by
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
Medically reviewed byRosmy Barrios, MD
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