Fasting: What Foods Won't Break a Fast?

When it comes to caring for our bodies, one of the first things we turn to is feeding ourselves with the best nutrients. This often includes foods that contain whole grains, lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables. But what if we told you that restricting food can also benefit your health? In this article we will explore fasting and the kinds of foods that won't break your fast.

Key takeaways:

Types of fasting

Fasting occurs when you restrict consuming any food or caloric beverages for a certain length of time. There are a few different types of fasting — some following a complete restriction and others only a moderate limitation. Restriction times can vary from as short as 8 hours to a few days.

  • Time-restricted. This minimizes your daily eating window. For example, fasting for 14 hours and eating for 10 (14/10) or a 16/8 fast. Individuals can find a comfortable fasting/eating window ratio for them.
  • One meal per day. Only eating one meal per day — typically consumed within a 1 to 2-hour period — and fasting the remainder of the day.
  • Alternate day fasting. Fasting every other day and eating normally on the other days.
  • 5:2 fasting. Eating normally for five days, and on the other two days, you can eat, but your calories are restricted — approximately 500 to 600 calories or 25% of your daily calories.

You can track your fasting windows using intermittent fasting apps.

Benefits of fasting

Intermittent fasting has been making strides across the diet culture for its weight loss benefits, proving that restriction in the appropriate manner can promote weight loss. One study found that the weight loss that individuals were experiencing became more significant after intermittent fasting than alternative programs that included continuous calorie restriction.

In addition to being an optimal weight loss technique for individuals, intermittent fasting provides several other benefits to the body and mind, including:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Improved cognitive function
  • Prevention or lowered risk for certain cancers
  • Improved insulin resistance

What foods won’t break a fast?

When it comes to fasting, more research is needed. Although technically anything but water breaks fasting, here are some foods that are also considered to be acceptable when aiming for intermittent fasting:

Water

Water is hands-down the best beverage to consume, not just for intermittent fasting but for everyday function. It has no calories or additives that will negatively interact with the fasting process, but it is critical during fasting hours.

Staying properly hydrated can prevent dehydration, fatigue, and dizziness, and enhance mental clarity. It also provides electrolytes that you aren’t getting from nutrients during fasting. If you’re not getting enough electrolytes, you can drink electrolyte supplements — just make sure they’re calorie-free and have no sugar.

Sparkling water

Sparkling water is simply regular water with carbon dioxide and contains no calories, so it is also safe to drink during a fast. However, while it might be a nice change from drinking plain water, some studies have stated that sparkling water — or any carbonated beverage — can increase ghrelin levels, causing hunger.

Coffee

While coffee does contain around five calories per cup, this is one necessity you won’t have to worry about giving up when fasting. This is because coffee doesn’t interrupt any fasting benefits, such as when your body is in ketosis and fat-burning mode. In fact, coffee has been shown to induce autophagy in mice. In addition, coffee also acts as an appetite suppressant, so it can also help you from getting those hunger pangs during the first part of your fast.

Tea

Like coffee, both caffeinated and decaffeinated tea contains very few calories and can suppress the appetite, making them both approved beverage choice for fasting. White, black, green, and other types of tea can provide several benefits to the body including aiding in digestion, promoting weight loss, improving gut health, and even fighting off heart disease and cancer.

Certain vitamins and supplements

While most vitamins and supplements should be safe to take during intermittent fasting, not all of them are. It’s always a good idea to double-check the label for any hidden ingredients such as calories, sugars, carbs, fats, and preservatives. Some products like gummy vitamins, for example, include sugars that can cause your insulin to spike and, as a result, can break your fast.

Controversial foods

There are some foods that while they may not appear to break your fast, can actually be detrimental to it.

Artificial sweeteners

While they contain zero calories, products with no calories, like artificial sweeteners, are terrible for your body and can cause intestinal problems. Studies claim that artificial sweeteners increase hunger and make you eat more. Researchers experimented with chronic exposure to artificial sweeteners and animals, finding that animals highly increased their food consumption.

When we investigated why animals were eating more even though they had enough calories, we found that chronic consumption of this artificial sweetener actually increases the sweet intensity of real nutritive sugar, and this then increases the animal’s overall motivation to eat more food.

Greg Neely, University of Sydney’s Faculty of Science Professor

Bone broth

Some people choose to sip on bone broth to curb cravings, but this can stop autophagy and break a fast. According to the USDA, a 240 g serving of bone broth contains approximately 80 calories; therefore, it’s not a good option for those restricting completely from caloric foods and beverages.

MCT oil, butter, coconut oil, and ghee

While there’s nothing wrong with a cup of coffee during a fast, anyone who adds MCT oil, butter, coconut oil, or ghee to their cup will have to skip out on it during their fast. These products are high in fat and, more importantly, calories, which will also break your fast.

Lemon and lemon juice

Changing up the flavor of your water can be a great way to stay hydrated when you get tired of plain water. However, adding lemon or lemon juice to your water can add calories and fructose — which can affect insulin levels — and potentially break your fast.

When fasting, it’s important to be aware of which foods and supplements may break your fast before you start. From there, you can decide what type of fasting schedule you want to follow. When you break your fast, make sure to eat a healthy diet that includes lean proteins, whole grains, and lots of fruits and vegetables.



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