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Home arrow Nutrition arrow Intermittent Fasting arrow Does Alcohol Break a Fast? Plus 3 Side Effects

Does Alcohol Break a Fast? Plus 3 Side Effects

Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Last update: October 22, 2023
4 min read 1276 Views 0 Comments
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Everyone wants a drink now and then, even when they’re supposed to be losing weight. So, can you have some alcoholic beverages during intermittent fasting? We explain if alcohol breaks a fast and provide 3 negative side effects of drinking too much alcohol.

does alcohol break a fast

Alcohol is something you should stay clear of when losing weight.

This beverage contains too many calories and sugar that can disrupt your overall weight loss progress. Drinking alcohol on special occasions is believed to be safe, but exceeding the recommended amount could contribute to stubborn body fat and future heart diseases. It can also spike up your blood glucose.

Moderate drinking is fine on a normal diet. Does that mean it’s suitable for fasting? Some people might ask this question outside of their chosen eating window. 

In this article, you’ll discover if drinking alcohol breaks a fast. 

Does Alcohol Break a Fast?

Yes, consuming alcoholic drinks can break your fast immediately. Many types of alcohol contain too many calories that disrupt the fat-burning process. If you do want to have a small drink, consume it during the eating window to maintain any weight loss results.

Fasting means you have to avoid food and drinks that have calories. This is because your body will use those calories for energy, instead of burning stubborn weight. Alcohol can ruin the intermittent fasting routine and contribute to possible weight gain and severe bloating.

Just remember that alcohol not only breaks your fast, but also breaks your progress. For example, one serving (5 fl oz) of red wine contains 125 calories. Consuming too much wine will exceed your daily calorie intake and contribute to that fat around your thighs and upper belly.

What Happens if You Drink Alcohol While Fasting?

People who drink alcohol during a fast can hinder fat-burning mechanisms. This is because your body relies on current fat stores for energy. So, if you feed the body calories, it will quickly latch onto those and stop reducing your body fat over time.

Even though alcohol ruins intermittent fasting, it’s not good to have on an empty stomach regardless. The drunk-inducing chemicals are quickly absorbed into your system and affect coordination. Of course, once you’re intoxicated, it will take a while to be sober again. 

Your body is more focused on getting rid of the alcohol instead of burning fat. This isn’t something you want during a weight loss journey, as it slows down long-term results. It’s better to avoid alcohol while intermittent fasting and stick to having lots of water or plain tea. 

Side Effects of Drinking Alcohol

Alcoholic drinks don’t offer many health benefits, especially when it comes to weight loss. You should only have moderate alcohol consumption after you’ve reached your goals. It’s not worth disrupting any progress just to have one drink, so keep that in mind while intermittent fasting. 

Let’s take a look at the 3 side effects of a high alcohol intake:

#1 Promotes weight gain

There are lots of ways alcohol can lead to future weight gain. It stops your body from burning fat and weakness the metabolism, meaning you won’t burn those extra calories. A moderate intake is fine, but always be aware that alcohol can disrupt long-term intermittent fasting progress. 

Since alcohol is high in calories, it may exceed your daily calorie intake. People who want to lose weight safely usually stick to 1,500 calories or more a day, but some alcoholic drinks ruin that. Even just one can of beer has 153 calories, which can be replaced with a healthy snack.

One final thing to note is that alcohol consumption makes you hungry. These drinks stimulate the brain’s hunger hormones and cause those intense cravings. If you’re trying to cut down on junk food, drinking lots of alcohol might not help your urges to eat sugary meals.

#2 May promote inflammation

Alcohol contains toxins that can damage your cells, tissue, and organs. Of course, this isn’t something you need when building healthy lifestyle habits. Chronic inflammation may lead to type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, insulin resistance, and certain bowel diseases.

#3 Raises blood pressure

Those who consume alcohol most likely have blood pressure spikes. Alcohol increases renin – a hormone that constricts blood vessels. Smaller vessels mean your body has to forcefully push more blood through them, leading to hypertension symptoms like stomach and chest pain.

Even moderate alcohol consumption can raise blood sugar levels. Too much glucose causes hyperglycemia, especially in people with type 2 diabetes. Naturally, there will be an increased risk of heart disease and other serious health issues, so try to avoid excessive drinking.

What Drinks Won’t Break a Fast?

There are a few drinks you can have that won’t break intermittent fasting.

One of these beverages includes plain water, which is the best option for losing that stubborn weight. Not everyone enjoys this natural drink, but your body needs it to function properly. Men need around 12 cups of water a day and women need 9 cups to stay healthy in the long term.

You can also drink plain tea or black coffee. Just make sure not to add sugars and milk, as these contain calories that break fasting. The more calories you consume throughout the fasting window, the more likely your body won’t burn fat and continue the weight loss efforts.

These options might not appear diverse, but it’s better to consume zero-calorie beverages during intermittent fasting. You don’t want to reach a fasting plateau that sets you back a few weeks. Just remember that alcoholic mixed drinks are also a bad idea for your fast. 

A Word From Our Nutritionist

Drinking wine or cracking open a cold, refreshing beer might seem tempting when you’re fasting. However, one alcoholic beverage can ruin your entire progress. Not many people realize that a certain amount of calories breaks fast, even if the beverage is perfectly healthy.

You should only drink moderate amounts during eating periods. If you want to see more physical results, avoid these beverages completely. Time-restricted eating means you’ll only be allowed water, plain tea, or black coffee during a fasting period, before moving on to normal meals.

Alcohol is bad for your health in general and can cause long-term complications. Consult with your doctor if you have an increased risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. They can advise you on what not to drink and how intermittent fasting offers more benefits for weight loss.


So, can you drink alcohol while fasting?

People with a high alcohol intake usually don’t lose enough weight. It’s very important that you avoid excessive alcohol consumption, even during your eating window. Calorie-dense products often promote future weight gain and hinder the body’s ability to burn that stubborn fat.

Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
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.
The article was fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Last update: October 22, 2023
4 min read 1276 Views 0 Comments

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