There are a lot of gray areas when it comes to intermittent fasting and yerba mate tea that you need to know. And the biggest question is, does yerba mate break a fast?
Many prefer the more relaxed energy they get from drinking yerba mate tea over the unpleasant side effects such as jitters and caffeine crashes they may have from drinking coffee or even green tea. The caffeine in yerba mate is uniquely more balanced, giving you a sustained release without the jitters or crash afterward.
There are a lot of science-backed studies discovering the benefits of drinking yerba mate tea, and if you don’t mind the taste, it can become an essential part of your health-boosting routine. But certain people shouldn’t drink yerba mate tea, and you’ll uncover whether you should or not here.
So does yerba mate break intermittent fasting? The truth is the answer isn’t so black and white, but there are some ambiguities you should know before you start drinking yerba mate tea when intermittent fasting. So let’s get into it!
Intermittent Fasting and Yerba Mate Tea
Intermittent fasting has become a popular method of dieting not only for its proven weight loss benefits. Studies find fasting boosts fat burning, improves insulin sensitivity, reduces body inflammation, improves heart health, repairs damaged cells, elevates mental clarity, and even prevents cancer.
To fast, all you have to do is alternate between a period of fasting and a period of feeding. But it gets tricky during your fasting window on what you can and can’t drink. Some drinks can break your fast, while others can speed up your results. Hunger is a big challenge to overcome when fasting, but you can help curb this hunger with some approved fasting beverages.
Yerba mate tea is made from dried yerba mate leaves and brewed with hot water to make the tea. It’s quite popular in South America and is well known for its sustained jitter-free caffeine release. While it can take some time to get used to its more earthy flavor, the benefits it packs are undeniable.
Where you get your yerba mate tea will make all the difference. It’s best to brew your own yerba mate tea from loose-leaf yerba mate. Yerba mate from a can, soda, or tea bag usually contains sugar to enhance the flavor profile making it more likely for the user to keep buying it. But this isn’t good for fasting!
Does Yerba Mate Break Intermittent Fasting?
If the yerba mate you’re drinking is coming from a can, soda, or tea bags, then it’s not going to be the best choice when you’re fasting. These sources of yerba mate usually contain sugars added during processing. Yerba mate naturally has an earthy taste, so manufacturers add sugar to enhance its flavor making it more sellable.
But sugars can elevate your blood sugar and cause an insulin release. The goal when fasting is not to cause an insulin release otherwise, you could effectively break your fast. So if you drink yerba mate tea during intermittent fasting, then be sure to brew it yourself from loose yerba mate leaves.
Keep in mind what you are fasting for…
If your goal with fasting is to lose weight and burn fat, then having yerba mate tea will be beneficial. Yerba mate tea has been found to increase metabolism and burn more fat (1). It’s also highly satiating, which will help you to feel fuller and curb the hunger pangs when fasting (2).
Fasting isn’t like a light switch…
Fasting purists believe that anything other than water will break your fast. And if you’re fasting for religious reasons or getting every ounce of benefit during your fast, then that’s quite possibly true. But you can still get many of the benefits from fasting while adding in some drinks that will make getting through your fast easier and speed up your results.
How Yerba Mate Affects Fasting
You don’t have to strictly drink water when intermittent fasting to get results. There’s a “50 calorie rule” when fasting that allows some leeway. This small exception can be advantageous to getting better results and making your fasts easier.
Home brewed yerba mate can be considered on the same level as drinking black coffee or green tea when fasting. They won’t break your fast if you’re doing it for weight loss and can make your fast easier while boosting your results.
Yerba mate that has been home-brewed has some powerful benefits that can enhance your fasting:
Studies have found that your mate can help you lose stubborn belly fat by reducing the total number of fat cells and the amount of fat inside your body (3). According to research, your body can also burn more of its stored fat for energy after drinking yerba mate (4). For example, one study found that those drinking yerba mate daily reduce their waist circumference (5).
Yerba mate, like a lot of beverages that contain caffeine, has the ability to suppress your appetite (6). It’s not rocket science to know that the less hungry you feel, the easier it’ll be to get through your fast and the less you’ll eat. Lower calorie consumption is a big part of the weight loss process (but not everything), so the easier you can make it on yourself by reducing hunger, the better.
Yerba mate has also been found to boost and improve mood state (7). It’ll be easier to lose weight if your mood is better, as a bad mood can make you more likely to overconsume calories and bad junk foods (8). The smooth and slow caffeine release from yerba mate can give you sustained mental clarity and concentration after drinking. Yerba mate uniquely doesn’t cause jitters or a caffeine crash for most making it a great energy source.
Improved Insulin Sensitivity
Chronically elevated insulin levels from consuming too much sugar, high carb, and processed foods are among the main driving forces for obesity today (9). Insulin resistance increases, making it harder for your body to burn fat stores for fuel and making it more likely to store more fat. Studies have found yerba mate to be effective at improving insulin sensitivity (10).
Should You Drink Yerba Mate When Fasting?
Yes, if you enjoy yerba mate, you can drink it when fasting and even get better results. Just make sure you home brew it and don’t drink the canned yerba mate loaded with added sugars.
Home brewed yerba mate contains negligible calories (usually less than 20 calories) per serving, so it shouldn’t break your fast according to the “50 calorie rule.” Also, it shouldn’t contain sugars since you brewed it yourself, making it even better for fasting.
You can even get better results by drinking yerba mate herbal tea when fasting. It’s been found to boost your metabolism, enhancing weight and fat loss. It’ll curb your hunger, making it easier to get through your fast. It can boost your mood and improve mental clarity, making you more productive and making better daily choices.
When shouldn’t you drink yerba mate when fasting?
Drinking yerba mate on an empty stomach can trigger acid reflux for some. If acid reflux is a big problem for you, then maybe drinking yerba mate when fasting isn’t the best idea. Some can minimize the acid reflux impact depending on the brand and drink it at a lower temperature.
Be sure not to drink yerba mate from a can, soda, or even a tea bag. Many tea bags can still contain sugar to enhance the flavor making them not ideal for fasting. Many tea bags are made from plastic and can leech out plastics into your yerba mate beverage when steeped in hot water. If you drink yerba mate from a tea bag, then be sure to check it doesn’t have sugars and uses a non-plastic tea bag.
Studies have found drinking yerba mate tea could possibly be associated with increased risks of some types of cancers (11). Temperature seems to be the driving force behind this, so I wouldn’t drink it piping hot. So it’s probably best not to drink it all the time. I personally drink it a handful of times during the week.
How to Drink Yerba Mate When Intermittent Fasting
If you start your fasting window at night, then it’s best not to drink the yerba mate until the next morning. Drinking caffeine too late in the day can negatively impact your sleep quality. Sleep deprivation causes weight increase, less self-control, and cravings for junk food (12). I have a 12 pm caffeine cutoff time, but some push it to 3 pm and it doesn’t impact their sleep.
My routine is first to drink black coffee mixed with C8 MCT coffee creamer for its fat-burning benefits. Then 2-3 hours later in my fast, I’ll start to feel hungry, making it an excellent time to drink some tea. Sometimes I’ll have green tea, black tea, or yerba mate tea. It’ll fight off those hunger pangs making it easier to get through your fast.
Make sure you home brew your yerba mate from loose dried leaves. It’s easy to make and you won’t have to worry about the added sugars or possible leached plastics from tea bags. If you really need to sweeten up the yerba mate to make it more palatable, try adding some stevia or monk fruit.
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So drinking yerba mate herbal tea will not break your fast if you’re doing it for weight loss, fat burning, mental clarity, mood boost, and lower inflammation. But if you’re fasting curious and believe only water should be drunk when fasting, then this can break your fast.
I’m a firm believer in the 50-calorie fasting rule. Fasting isn’t like a light switch, and consuming yerba mate tea that’s only 15 cal shouldn’t break your fast. The added benefits of yerba mate tea will be advantageous when fasting to help to reach your goals faster.
Since yerba mate tea can speed up your metabolism, you can lose weight faster than without drinking it. Fasting can be challenging with the hunger pains, but your mate can help suppress your appetite and increase satiety, making it easier to keep fasting. These are the benefits of drinking yerba mate tea, making it an easy choice along with coffee and green tea to have when fasting period.
Just make sure you’re drinking the right sources of yerba mate and not the sugary canned soda stuff. Now that you know you can drink yerba mate tea when fasting, it’s time to get brewing!
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 and he’s a Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) by American Council on Exercise. He’s worked as a Strength and Conditioning Coach at the high school and college levels. He has over 15 years of experience as a personal trainer and nutrition coach. He is also the author of The Flat Belly Formula. He strives to bring inspiration and results for people to live healthier lives through smart diet and exercise.