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Can You Eat Pickles While Fasting? Do They Break Autophagy?
Intermittent Fasting

Can You Eat Pickles While Fasting? Do They Break Autophagy?

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by Edibel Quintero, RD | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on November 6, 2022
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3 min

Most people who practice intermittent fasting add pickles to their diet because they presumably have a low caloric count and can prevent them from feeling hungry. However, do pickles break a fast?

can you eat pickles while fasting
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During intermittent fasting, consuming food with calories and sugars can break a fast by inhibiting fat-burning processes. 

Still, staying away from food for more than 12 hours can be challenging, and you might start wondering what you can and can’t have while fasting. Are pickles off-limits? They have a great taste and are low in calories, so maybe that’s a fit for your fasting?

Here is everything about eating pickles in the fasting window and whether replacing them with pickle juice is a good idea.

Can You Eat Pickles While Fasting?

You can’t consume pickles as they will break your fast. In addition, pickles are not calorie-free, considering a 100g serving contains 1.99g carbs, yielding roughly 11 calories.

Unfortunately, even dill pickles break a fast because they are not entirely calorie-free; they contain about 4 calories, which is not ideal if you are on a clean fast. Despite predominantly having a higher water composition, eating a small amount of dill pickles will also break your fast.

Of course, the type of fasting plays a huge role in determining the number of pickles you can consume. 

On the one hand, there’s clean fasting, which requires you to keep a zero-calorie intake during your fasting period. On the other hand, dirty fasting allows you to take a daily calorie intake of around 50–100 calories.

If you are following the latter approach, then adding a few pickles or dill pickles to your diet will not impact your fasting goals. Your daily calorie intake will be around 5–11 calories per spear of pickles. 

Pickles Nutritional Value

Like all other vegetables, dill pickles have low protein and fat content with high vitamin concentrations. The higher vitamin concentration results from the salty brine drawing out water from cucumbers. The USDA gives the following nutritional value for a 100g serving of pickle:

Net CarbsTotal CarbsFatsProtein
0.99g1.99g0.43g0.48g
CaloriesFiberSugarsGlycemic Index
141g1.28g32

Do Pickles Break Autophagy?

Pickles will disrupt autophagy because the small number of carbohydrates and calories could spike your insulin levels. It is known that intermittent fasting lowers insulin levels to help the body self-clean, so it is best to avoid these small amounts of calories.

Autophagy allows the body to eliminate and replace damaged and dead cells, and intermittent fasting makes the process more efficient. During this period, it is crucial to avoid eating foods with calories because even a spear of dill pickles can break autophagy. Even dill pickle and pickle juice break autophagy because the natural pickle ingredients contain carbs and calories that increase blood sugar.

Do Pickles Spike Insulin?

There is no definitive answer to this question because many dieting factors come into play. For example, consuming pickles during intermittent fasting may not spike insulin levels because the vinegar content increases the body’s insulin sensitivity. As a result, it will significantly lower blood sugar levels to improve autophagy. 

Alternatively, dill pickles may not trigger spikes because of their low carbohydrate content. For example, a 100g serving has 1.99g of carbohydrates, hence low calories. However, including dill pickles with added sugar in your fasting diet will break a fast, break autophagy, and affect weight loss.

Can I Drink Pickle Juice While Fasting?

The answer depends on your fasting technique. If you are dirty fasting, you can drink pickle juice on an empty stomach. When drinking pickle juice in your fasting window, you must look at the pickle juice ingredients and nutritional value to determine if it is the right food choice.

Pick one made using natural ingredients like vinegar, salt, water, and organic pickle flavoring. Pickle juice contains more electrolytes, providing more energy when you are still in a fasted state. In addition, it does not have a lot of calories, so they are a safe beverage to take when your maximum fasting calorie intake is 50 calories. 

Alternatively, if you are clean fasting, eating pickles will break a fast. This fasting approach requires you to keep your diet at zero calories. Therefore, even 1 calorie from either a pickle or its juice will abruptly end your fast.

Some pickle juices have added preservatives that increase their calorie count, sodium, and carb content which can affect your health. So, before taking any pickle juice, take a look at the label and then decide if you can drink it or not. If you are clean fasting, you can’t drink anything except water, tea, and black coffee. If you are dirty fasting, then you can consume up to 50 calories, so it actually depends on your fasting approach.

A Word From Our MD

Pickles are delicious, have a low-calorie count, high fiber content, and provide extra vitamins and minerals, which are good for gut health. Therefore, they are beneficial in losing weight and improving gut rest. However, pickles break your fast, and you should not consider eating them in a fasted state.

While exercising for an extended period to lose weight, your muscles become sore, and you will feel dehydrated. Adding pickles to your fasting diet will reduce muscle cramps and also improve digestion after meals. Fortunately, if your main goal is to burn fat and lose weight, having some pickles will not affect your weight loss.

You must, however, stay within the recommended low-calorie recommendations for health benefits. Because dill pickles have natural ingredients that facilitate weight loss, they may not be a great choice for intermittent fasting. Best results only come if you avoid carbs and calories that could affect the fat-burning process.

Conclusion

You can’t eat pickles while clean fasting as they will break it. Instead, only consume pickles, or dill pickles, in small amounts during the eating window to keep you energized. Also, drink lots of water during fasting to stay hydrated.

Everyone loves pickles, and even while fasting, you might be tempted to take a bite of a dill pickle or drink some pickle juice. However, you have to consider your fasting needs and whether or not you need to keep calories at bay.

HR_author_photo_Edibel
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 by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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