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Home arrow Nutrition arrow Intermittent Fasting arrow How Many Calories Break a Fast? Do It Without Feeling Hungry

How Many Calories Break a Fast? Do It Without Feeling Hungry

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Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
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Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Last update: April 26, 2023
4 min read 1743 Views 0 Comments
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Depending on the method, an intermittent fast may permit a small number of calories during the fasting window. Here’s how to handle your fast.

how many calories break a fast

Intermittent fasting comes with several rules and restrictions. 

There are several variations of the method, and some are harsher than others. 

To find success with fasting, whether you want to lose weight, reduce insulin resistance, or manage your blood sugar, you need to practice the routine that works best for you. 

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Not all fasts involve extreme hours of fasting. You can fast for shorter periods and still find it effective. And for those that struggle to cut food out entirely, some modified methods permit certain low-calorie foods or low-calorie beverages.

Keep reading if you want to know how many calories are safe to consume without ruining your fasting efforts. This article discusses intermittent fasting in detail and identifies the maximum calories you can take in before breaking a fast.

How Many Calories Break a Fast?

To be clear, any number of calories will technically break a fast. Even consuming very few calories can interrupt your fast.

The point of an intermittent fast is that you consume zero calories during the fasting window. The idea is to hold off until your eating window to benefit from the many perks of intermittent fasting. 

However, depending on what you want to achieve from it, you may be able to eat a small number of calories. 

For instance, if you follow the keto diet, the goal is to reach the metabolic state of ketosis. You can still facilitate ketosis when eating a few specific macros.

As a rule of thumb, most fasting methods suggest consuming no more than 50 calories during the fasting period to maintain the fasted state.

Many dieters choose to take their limited calorie intake from low-calorie drinks, such as black coffee and tea without milk or sugar, herbal teas, or water with lemon.

While some intermittent fasting schedules slash calories altogether, other modified versions allow followers to consume up to a quarter of their usual daily calories.

For example, alternate-day fasting cycles between alternate days of no food restriction and days that allow one meal containing roughly 25% of daily calories.  

What Is Fasting? 

Fasting is the willful abstinence from food. Intermittent fasting refers to time-restricted feeding. You divide hours of the day or days of the week between a feeding window and a fasting window for a certain period.

You may have certain eating days or a few hours each day where you refrain from eating.

It is a beneficial weight loss method as participants naturally consume fewer calories. As the period between the calories burned from your last meal is prolonged, the body runs out of fuel. It naturally begins burning fat instead, and people lose weight relatively quickly.  

Other potential health benefits include lower insulin levels, lower blood pressure, controlled blood sugar levels, and appetite control.  

Most people have difficulty adhering to an intermittent fasting plan. It can get complicated, confusing, and demands a lot of self-control.

What Breaks a Fast? 

In short, any food or drinks containing calories will technically break a fast.

If you’re following your intermittent fasting plan to the letter, you shouldn’t consume anything in the fasting periods other than water which has zero calories. 

As you’re not eating anything, you may be tempted to take dietary supplements to ensure an adequate nutrient intake. However, many supplements contain calories or sugar that may break a fast.

Always read the label carefully. Generally, the supplements most likely to break a fast are gummy multivitamins, branched-chain amino acids (BCAA), and protein powders. 

What Can I Have While Fasting? 

If you can’t shift the hunger pangs and feel that you need to consume something outside of the feeding period, there are some possibilities.

As previously mentioned, anything with calories breaks your fast. But the below products in limited amounts enable you to reap the benefits of IF.

#1 Bone Broth

Bone broth is a liquid food choice that many people enjoy in moderation without halting a fast. 

It is packed with health benefits, including essential nutrients and electrolytes.

#2 Healthy Fats

Many dieters, especially those fasting on the keto diet, consume some healthy fats. 

For example, you might add MCT oil, coconut oil, or grass-fed butter to your morning coffee break for a dose of pure fat. It’s called bulletproof coffee and has lots of health benefits.

It can help curb your appetite and keep you going until your next meal. However, this may not be the ideal approach if losing weight is your primary goal.

What to Drink While Fasting? 

Plain water is the queen of fasting drinks as it contains no calories, but there are some alternative drinks. 

#1 Lemon Water

It’s best to avoid flavored water, which tends to have hidden carbs. Instead, try adding a squeeze of lemon juice. It’s highly beneficial to the digestive system.

#2 Coffee and Tea

Coffee and tea have so few calories that they won’t kill your fast. Caffeine may even contribute to appetite control. 

The trick is to avoid adding other ingredients like cream, milk, sugar, and artificial sweeteners. You may get away with a small splash of almond milk, but don’t go overboard.

#3 Natural Teas

Unsweetened, natural teas, including black, white, and green tea, are fast-friendly beverages. As well as keeping you hydrated, other benefits include better digestive health, appetite suppression, and a boosted immune system.

A Word From RD

Intermittent fasting is the ideal weight loss program for those looking to reduce their body weight. Aside from fat burning, it also promotes heart health, brain function, and a reduced risk of chronic diseases.

To summarize, whether consuming calories breaks a fast, the answer is yes. However, it’s still possible to get the perks without battling constant hunger and cravings.

Homemade bone broth, black coffee, and unsweetened teas are great options to curb hunger. You can also eat healthy sources of fat in moderation, depending on your approach.

Consult your doctor before trying intermittent fasting.

Summary 

Fasting is an excellent tool for fat loss when done right. 

How many calories break a fast? Technically speaking, even 1 calorie would break it as the main idea of fasting is to restrict food completely. However, you can drink water, coffee, tea, or diluted apple cider vinegar. 

Depending on the approach, you will either restrict all calories or follow a very low-calorie diet. Eating too many calories will sabotage your fast and quickly bring your efforts to an end.

Always consult with your doctor before starting any diet.

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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HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
HR_author_photo_Rosmy
Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Last update: April 26, 2023
4 min read 1743 Views 0 Comments
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