Want to know what you can add to your coffee when intermittent fasting? Putting the wrong thing in your coffee can ruin your fast and your results, so it’s essential to make sure you only add what’s approved.
We need our coffee, we love our coffee, and trying to work is horrible in the morning without it. But the good news is that you can drink coffee and put in some of the approved sweeteners and creamers below without breaking your fast.
It can be confusing knowing exactly what you can add to your morning cup of coffee without it breaking your fast. Some fasting purists are very militant with the rules of what will or won’t break a fast. And many unknowingly break their fast by adding the wrong sweeteners and creamers to their coffee.
Now you don’t want to ruin your fast by breaking it and not getting the results you worked hard for. So keep reading to discover what you can and can’t put into your coffee while intermittent fasting.
Does Coffee Break Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting (IF) is a scientifically-supported health trend known for its benefits, from weight loss to improved insulin sensitivity, lower inflammation, and better gut health (1,2,3,4). Fasting windows restrict caloric intake during certain times of the day while eating normally the rest of the time. But can you have coffee during your fasting window, and what are you allowed to put in it?
Fasting purists believe drinking anything other than water will break your fast, and they’re not entirely wrong. It’s true that once you take any xenobiotic (foreign substance), you could very well start taking away some of the benefits of intermittent fasting. Even black coffee can cause a metabolic change in your body, which could technically break your fast.
But does this completely negate all your results? No. Fasting isn’t like an on/off light switch, and there is some “gray area.” Drinking black coffee creates a thermogenic effect in your body that increases your metabolism and will give you better results if one of your goals is weight loss (5). Plus, many aren’t able to give up their morning coffee. So if drinking your morning coffee helps you to keep fasting for many more hours, then the tradeoff will be more than worth it.
Now here is the tricky part. Can you put anything in your coffee when fasting? Or will it break your fast completely and ruin your results? Once again, fasting isn’t an on/off light switch. Many follow a “50 calorie rule” that allows some leeway during your fasting window. This allows you to have a small number of calories when fasting if it helps you to fast longer and if it can improve your results.
What You Can Put in Your Coffee Without Breaking Your Fast
Clean fasting is when you eat nothing and drink only water during your fast. Dirty fasting allows the “50 calorie rule” and will still get results, especially if you’re trying to lose weight. Many cannot do a 100% pure water fast for very long, which can be more harmful to your long-term results.
Many who try a pure water fast get way too hungry and cranky. Not getting their morning coffee can do this to many of us. Coffee is not only a natural thermogenic, but it’ll help to curb your hunger (6). Unfortunately, hunger pangs are the most challenging part of fasting, so the better you can increase your satiety, the more likely you are to keep fasting.
If you’re just planning on drinking black coffee, then finding the best beans can go a long way in reaching your satisfaction. It’s a lot easier to drink black coffee when you have good coffee from good high-quality beans. Even flavored coffee is acceptable since it shouldn’t contain calories, carbs, or sugars.
So it is more than acceptable to drink coffee when fasting. But are you allowed to put anything in it? If it fits under the “50 calorie rule” and isn’t sugar, then yes, you put it in your coffee. I know many aren’t fans of drinking their coffee black and need to add some kind of sweetener or creamer to their coffee. And if it makes it easier to keep fasting, then the better results you’ll get in the long run.
Can you put cream in your coffee when intermittent fasting? This is probably the most asked question I get; the answer depends on the cream.
Adding a dollop or splash of heavy cream won’t break your fast since it’s mostly (if not all) fat. The fat shouldn’t cause much of a blood sugar increase (if any) and thus no insulin spike. It shouldn’t break your fast and won’t halt fat burning.
If it curbs your hunger and allows you to fast for more hours, then you’ll win in the long run. But keep in mind you’ll probably reduce the autophagy effect from fasting when adding anything other than water during your fasting window.
Drinking coffee with milk while intermittent fasting pushes it a little more. Milk naturally contains sugars (lactose), which can raise your blood sugar and cause an insulin spike. But by sticking to the “50 calorie rule,” you could have 1-3 ounces of whole milk and not negatively impact your fast.
It’s better to go with whole milk over 2%, skim or non-fat, since the whole milk will contain more fat which will slow the absorption of the sugars keeping it from spiking your blood sugar. But with that said, the cream is a better choice than milk, and you should keep it at a 1-2 ounce dollop either way.
Half and Half
Adding a tiny amount of half and half to your coffee also won’t really break your fast if you’re following the 50-calorie rule. Half and half is equal parts whole milk and cream so it shouldn’t have as many sugars as milk but isn’t as ideal as the whole fat you get from just the cream.
But you can, in theory, add 1-2 tablespoons of half and half to your coffee without much negative impact. So I would go with half and half over milk but place heavy cream ahead of it.
Keto Coffee – MCTs
MCTs (medium-chained triglycerides) can take your fast up to another level and give you better results. They contain some calories on paper, but they aren’t processed like other calories. Instead, they’re instantly shuttled over to your liver, where they’re converted into ketones (7).
Ketones are what your body makes from fat stores for energy when it’s no longer getting quick-burning sugars or carbs for fuel. This is what happens on the keto diet… you stop eating carbs, and your body has to switch to the next fuel source, your fat stores. So by taking these MCTs, you can “flip the switch” and jumpstart the fat-burning process by signaling your body to create ketones for fuel.
The best coffee creamer for intermittent fasting you can find is Keto Elevate. It contains 100% pure C8-MCTs, your body’s preferred source of MCTs. They’re most efficient and quickest to be converted to ketones by your body. Most other MCTs oil contains a blend of multiple MCTs that your body has a harder time converting. Also, this keto coffee creamer tastes delicious and enhances the coffee’s flavor.
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Oat Milk Creamer
I’ll start by saying I’m not a big fan of oat milk or oat milk creamer. Oat milk has more sugars than regular milk and other added ingredients like bad vegetable oils. It might sound like a healthier option, but in my opinion, it isn’t.
But as far as if it’ll break your fast, it’s about the same as regular milk. It does contain added sugars, so it’s not a great choice to add to your coffee when fasting. So if you really want to have some oat milk, keep it at a small splash and use unsweetened oat milk.
Almond Milk Creamer
Almond milk is similar to oat milk because it usually has added sugars and other added ingredients like vegetable oils. I know on the surface it sounds like a healthy choice considering all the health benefits of almonds.
The truth is, there really aren’t many almonds in almond milk, and much of the nutrients come added by the manufacturer, making it more of a processed food. But like oat milk, if you really want to have some almond milk in your coffee, try to find an unsweetened version and only add a small splash.
Coconut Milk Creamer
Coconut milk is similar to almond milk meaning there aren’t a whole lot of nutrients in it. It’s mostly watered down to the point the nutrients left are low. You also have to check the nutrition facts label on the coconut milk to make sure there aren’t any added sugars. Manufacturers like to add sugar to sweeten up the coconut milk creamer to improve its taste.
But adding a little coconut milk or coconut milk creamer to your coffee isn’t going to break your fast. Coconut milk itself is very low on the glycemic index so that’s even further evidence it shouldn’t cause an insulin spike. Just make sure to keep it at 1 tbsp or less in your coffee and make sure the coconut milk creamer is unsweetened and doesn’t contain added sugars.
Soy Milk Creamer
Like oat and almond milk, Soy milk is mostly a watered-down processed food. But soy milk does contain the closest nutritional profile to cow’s milk. People who take soy milk end up with nutritional deficiencies, and even if it does help build muscle, it’s not as much as cow’s milk.
If you’re lactose intolerant, you’re better off using lactose-free cow’s milk. Soy farming is notorious for bad practices, such as using a higher amount of pesticides and fertilizers. Plus, consuming too much soy could cause hormonal changes in your body.
Putting honey in your morning coffee will definitely break your fast since it’s practically all sugar. Honey is 40% fructose and 30% glucose, both of which are sugars. Fructose is broken down in your liver, but the glucose will spike your blood sugar and insulin breaking your fast. So it’s best to avoid honey in your coffee when fasting.
Adding stevia to your coffee will be your best bet for a sweetener. I prefer stevia over artificial sweeteners that contain sucralose, but even a little bit of that is better than sugar. Stevia doesn’t have any carbs, sugars, or protein, so it shouldn’t raise your blood sugar or cause an insulin spike, thus keeping you in a fasted state.
If you’re not a fan of stevia, try monk fruit for a sweetener since they’re pretty similar. Make sure you check the nutrition facts on the stevia. The manufacturers add other ingredients that could take away from your fast.
Can You Put Anything in Your Coffee?
The rule is to keep it under 50 calories and no straight-up sugars. So that includes no sugar, honey, maple syrup, molasses, etc. You can use zero-calorie sweeteners like stevia, monk fruit, and sucralose without a problem unless the manufacturers have added other ingredients to it. You can have a small splash of cream or milk creamer as long as it’s just a tiny serving under the 50-calorie limit.
I wouldn’t drink butter coffee since the butter is relatively high in calories. But if you really like the butter coffee, keep it to just one tablespoon or less of butter. And it would be better to have a small amount of butter in your coffee than a tablespoon of sugar.
Adding collagen to your coffee will break your fast. Collagen is technically a protein, so it will cause an insulin response in your body, thus breaking your fast. Scalding hot coffee can also denature the collagen giving you fewer results. Taking collagen can give you many benefits such as improving skin appearance, stronger joints, thicker hair, and less cellulite, but it’s best to wait to take it in your daily protein shake instead of your morning coffee.
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Cinnamon is a great way to enhance the flavor of your coffee without breaking your fast. Cinnamon is a zero-calorie yet powerful spice that can help to slow the absorption of sugars and can also help improve insulin sensitivity.
If you’re looking for a way to add flavor to your coffee while fasting, there are plenty of options that won’t break your fast. For example, you can use unsweetened almond milk, soy milk creamer, stevia, or monk fruit as sweeteners. Just be sure to avoid putting honey or any other type of sugar in your coffee, and avoid drinking butter coffee altogether. With these tips, you can enjoy a delicious and satisfying cup of coffee while still reaping the benefits of intermittent fasting.
Fasting isn’t like an on/off light switch, and there is a little leeway. This is especially true if what you’re adding to your coffee can enhance your results, such as with the keto coffee creamer. The trick is keeping it to a tiny serving without any sugars. I know many don’t like drinking black coffee, so having this little leeway can make getting through your fast much more manageable with fewer hunger pangs.
You will most likely lose some of the benefits of a pure water fast, such as autophagy. Some studies have found coffee to enhance the autophagy effect, but other fasting purists say it’s all gone once you put anything in your body that’s not water. But if your main goal is weight loss, then having some black coffee with MCTs can take your results up another level.
Making your fasts sustainable so you keep doing them, in the long run, is key to getting long-term results. If you eliminate your much-loved coffee and sweetener, it’s only a short time before you give up fasting altogether. It’s better to allow some leeway by drinking coffee with an approved sweetener so you can get better results and keep fasting for 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 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 strives to bring inspiration and results for people to live healthier lives through smart diet and exercise.