If you’re looking for what you can drink during intermittent fasting then you probably already know it can be really confusing.
There are limits to what you can drink while fasting otherwise you could easily end up breaking your fast. Then next thing you know all your hard work getting through the fast will be worthless. Now that doesn’t sound a very useful way to use your time.
But everybody who has tried intermittent fasting (intermediate fasting) already well know just how bad the dreaded “hunger pangs” can be. But by adding some of the intermittent fasting approved drinks to your fasting schedule you can greatly reduce these overwhelming feelings of hunger.
You probably also already know drinking plain water is on the top of the approved list. But there are some alternatives you can drink that won’t break your fast but will still help getting through your fast that much easier.
Here you’ll find what you can and can’t drink during a fast. Plus everything you need to know about the grey area in between so you don’t accidentally break your fast.
What Drinks Will Break and Not Break a Fast
So you’re right in the heart of your fast but then your stomach suddenly starts growling. You feel overwhelming hunger to the point all you can think about is food. This is the perfect time to take a fasting approved drink instead of throwing in the towel on your intermittent fasting schedule.
When you’re hungry all common sense will go out the window. Having a fasting approved drink can help to alleviate some of these hunger pains enough to get through your fast.
Now some Intermittent Fasting purists will tell you anything other than water will break your fast. But this isn’t entirely true. If you’re looking to maximize all the benefits of fasting then you’re going to want to stick to just drinking water.
They claim anything your body has to break down or is metabolized by the liver will break your fast. But there isn’t a whole lot of scientific research behind this yet. It’s commonly believed amongst fasting experts and purists that you’ll start to lose benefits of autophagy (killing off of cancerous cells in your body) if you drink anything other than water.
But this doesn’t mean you can’t still reap the majority of the weight loss benefits by adding in some approved fasting drinks. As a general rule you can add any beverage that contains 0-50 calories and won’t spike your insulin.
Plus you have to consider it’s better to get the majority of the health benefits from intermittent fasting than none. If drinking some of the non-water approved fasting drinks helps you get through your fast then you’re better off going only half the time but drinking only water.
Drinking black coffee during your fast is one of the best things you can put into your body. Growing up I remember people putting coffee in the same category as smoking cigarettes and drinking gallons of alcohol.
Turns out there are lots of benefits to drinking coffee such as increased fat loss, hunger reduction and antioxidants (1,2,3). Drinking coffee can also have a synergistic effect with intermittent fasting by increasing autophagy (4).
Drinking plain old black coffee is going to be the best but I’m often asked if you can put a little bit of cream in it too. Intermittent fasting isn’t like a light switch. Just adding a splash of heavy cream to your coffee doesn’t mean all of the health benefits from fasting will suddenly go out the window.
So if you love coffee with a little cream in it then go ahead. But I wouldn’t add sugar to the coffee as it will spike your insulin and cut off many of the benefits of Intermittent Fasting.
Drinking some weight loss teas during your fast is also a great option. Green tea is my favorite to take during a fast and has numerous benefits such as anti-aging, weight loss and improve brain power (5,6,7).
But just like with coffee make sure you steer clear of putting sugar in it. My usual routine is to drink coffee earlier in the morning and then some matcha green tea 2-3 hours later.
The caffeine will give your body an energy boost and it’ll also help to enhance the fat burning effects of Intermittent Fasting.
This is another one of my favorite things to drink while fasting. For a lot of people it’s a lot easier on the stomach than drinking coffee or other teas.
Plus it’ll work to delay gastric emptying meaning you’ll feel fuller for longer (8). Yerba mate also contains ingredients like theobromine that’ll help to fight off the caffeine jitters that some can get (9).
I notice I have way better focus and attention when drinking yerba mate and it’s easier to get through my fasts. But like coffee and many teas it contains caffeine so make sure you’re also staying well hydrated with water.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Now most people are shocked when I’ll tell them to start drinking more apple cider vinegar. There are numerous benefits to taking it such enhancing weight loss, better blood sugar control and lower insulin (10,11).
Apple cider vinegar is made by fermenting the sugar in apples into alcohol then converting that into acetic acid. It doesn’t contain any real calories and thus shouldn’t break a fast. Studies have also found it to help improve satiety aka the feelings of being full (12). It can also help to enhance the AMP-activated kinase (AMPK) while has been found to help reverse aging (13).
I just take a couple tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and mix it into a glass of water. Then after stirring I’ll drink it with a straw so the acid doesn’t get on my teeth. Plus it makes it a lot easier to drink without having to smell the slap-in-the-face strength of the vinegar.
This is my favorite supplement to take while intermittent fasting. I like to workout earlier in the mornings while fasting and this helps to provide my body with some much needed nutrients and won’t break a fast. I like to think of MetaboGreens as an all-in-one superfood multivitamin.
It’ll help to improve your gut health, give an energy boost, cover many micronutrients needs and even work to balance out hormonal problems. Plus it’s made from real whole foods so there’s no synthetic chemicals going in your body.
I’m often asked if you can drink lemon water while fasting. And the answer is 100% yes!
Lemons contain some great nutrients such as vitamin C and potassium. It’s a great way to flavor up water so it’s not so boring all the time. So if it encourages you to drink more water then I’m all for it. Try adding in a pinch of Himalayan salt or Celtic salt for increased hydration.
I’m a big fan and of flavored sparkling waters. The bubbles in sparkling water can be satisfying especially when you feel like you’re starving during a fast. Just make sure it’s zero calories and doesn’t contain any added sugars. I’ll usually make my own sparkling water and add a few drops of stevia since many of those sparkling waters can be bad for you in the long run.
First off I have to say that the artificial sweeteners usually found in diet soda (aspartame and sucralose) have been linked to weight gain despite containing zero calories (14). Plus there are more recent studies finding they can wreak havoc on your gut and brain health (15,16).
But since diet sodas don’t contain any calories then technically they should be fine to drink during a fast. Just be sure to limit your consumption and be aware of the long term consequences.
This one like diet sodas shouldn’t technically break your fast. And just like diet sodas you should be aware of some of the negative effects of artificial sweeteners. But if you love drinking them and they help you get through your fast then just make sure you get the ones that contain zero calories. It’s not a smart idea to drink a ton of these diet sodas and energy drinks every day so try to only drink once in a while.
A lot of people like to add electrolytes to their morning routine. These electrolyte drinks usually contain micronutrients such as potassium, salt, magnesium and calcium. Drinking them should help to increase hydration, lower blood pressure and help with muscle contraction. So if you can find an electrolyte powder that contains no calories then you should be good. But most of them do contain sugars so those would be a hard no.
Is Stevia Ok?
Now many of us who don’t want to drink straight up black coffee can benefit from adding some natural sweeteners like stevia to it. Studies have found stevia to not increase insulin levels in humans and it’s my favorite natural sweetener of them all (17). Monk fruit is another one of my favorite natural sweeteners that’s ok to have while fasting.
As for sugar alcohols I’d stay away from everything except erythritol which has been found to not cause an insulin release (18). Xylitol isn’t recommended as studies have found it to cause a small insulin response in the body (19).
What You Can’t Drink on a Fast
Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
Now I used to take BCAAs a lot when I was fasting but have recently backed off of using them. BCAAs contain the amino acids which are the building blocks of protein. BCAAs will cause a small insulin response in the body which can break your fast. But there are many proponents of using BCAAs to prevent muscle breakdown if you workout while fasting. If you want to take BCAAs while fasting try to only take near the end of your fasting time.
If you’re doing a truer intermittent fasting routine then it’s best to avoid bone broth. Now while bone broth won’t cause a blood sugar spike or insulin response it does contain calories in the form of protein and fats. So technically this is going to break your fast. But it may fall into the grey area of fasting if you’re ok with modifying your fasting protocol.
If you drink Bulletproof Coffee (coffee with butter in it) then you should know that it’ll break your fast. Butter is sky high in calories and fats so it will undeniably break your fast. But with that said if you’re looking to do a modified fast then drinking buttered coffee won’t cause your blood sugar to spike or an insulin response.
As long as you’re keeping eye on the rest of your calorie and fat intake for the day and if you prefer drinking buttered coffee then it could help to extend your modified fast. Same goes with adding fasting food like coconut oil or MCT oil.
If you’re trying to maximize the benefits of intermittent fasting then it’s best to take a collagen supplement during your feeding window. Now taking collagen regularly can lead to a lot of benefits such as improved skin appearance and stronger joints but taking it during your fast isn’t advised. It does contain calories in the form of protein so it’ll end up breaking your fast. But it shouldn’t spike your blood sugar or cause an insulin response so if you’re doing a modified fast then it’s acceptable in that case.
Can you drink alcohol while intermittent fasting?
Now I definitely wouldn’t recommend drinking alcohol during your fasting period. Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram so you’ll for sure break your fast by drinking it. But if you really want to drink some red wine or other alcohol during your feeding window then it should be fine. But keep aware alcohol does prevent fat burning and is very calorie dense. It’s best to limit your consumption.
The Last Word
At the end of the day it’s going to be a good idea to add some of the above approved beverages to your intermittent fasting routine. While most fasting purists out there will tell you that you can only drink water it’ll be a better long-term strategy to add in some of these drinks.
Let’s face it just drinking plain water while fasting can get old quick. Plus there are other benefits to drinking many of the approved fasting drinks such as increases in fat burning and autophagy.
So you’ll still be getting the majority of the benefits from fasting even though you’re not sticking to plain water. Plus it’ll make getting through your fasting period that much easier. I’ll be the first to admit some times the hunger during a fast can feel like it’s too much. So if you can crush these hunger feelings by adding in an approved fasting drink then you’ll be much better off in the long run.
Josh holds a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Physiology and Nutrition Science. He’s a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) by the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He’s worked as a Strength and Conditioning Coach at the high school and college level. He has over 10 years experience as a personal trainer and nutrition coach. He is also the author of The Flat Belly Formula. He hopes to be able to bring inspiration & results to people all over the world to live a healthier life through diet & exercise.