Intermittent Fasting – Is Caffeine Okay to Have?
When it comes to intermittent fasting there are lots of questions that come up. From how long should I intermittently fast for, to should I exercise while undergoing an intermittent fast. But a big question, and certainly one for any coffee and tea lover is, “can I still have caffeine while intermittent fasting? Can I drink coffee/tea and what are the benefits of consuming these drinks while I fast?” luckily we have some answers for you!
What is intermittent fasting?
First off, what is intermittent fasting? You can visit some our articles in this series for a general discussion of intermittent fasting (How Intermittent Fasting Works; Where to Start Intermittent Fasting). A brief introduction to intermittent fasting may help. Intermittent fasting is a method of promoting weight loss, increasing energy, warding off certain ailments and increasing ones general health and longevity. IF is generally not strict on what foods to eat or not to eat, but rather focuses instead on when to eat or not eat. Intermittent fasting is a cycle of alternating between eating and fasting to improve health. A popular style of intermittent fasting includes limiting eating times to a shorter time window than normal.
For example, most people begin by eating breakfast at 8 a.m., having lunch at noon and having dinner at 6 p.m. with dessert later that evening. Fasters may instead designate their time for food intake to start at noon and finish at 8 p.m. with complete fasting before and after those times. Other popular styles and time combinations exist in the world of intermittent fasting. Some styles promote fasting each day for 16 hours (this is made easier by sleeping, of course!) while others opt for fasting 2 days out of the week and myriad other styles exist in between.
Now of course this is fasting in the traditional sense, so no food whatsoever. But drinks like water, coffee and tea are permitted. Which brings us to the main part of our discussion which is what are the benefits of drinking coffee and/or tea while intermittent fasting?
Intermittent Fasting and Caffeine – Coffee
While water should be the main drink of choice when fasting, opting for black coffee is an excellent choice, too. You aren’t cheating or breaking any fasting rules and coffee can actually enhance your fasting experience. Your body will not be taken out of ketosis by drinking black coffee and the caffeine in coffee can also speed up your metabolism.
As fasting is also about weight loss, the boost in metabolism is certainly a plus. What’s another cool aspect of enjoying black coffee while taking part in intermittent fasting though? It can also help stave off hunger! This is helpful for those just trying intermittent fasting out for the first time and who may be having some trouble resisting the urge to break their fast. With black coffee you are speeding up your slim down process and also keeping your appetite at bay.
But there are some tips to remember when enjoying coffee while intermittent fasting. First off, because you will be drinking on an empty stomach most of the time, the caffeine will enter your blood stream much faster than if you were to enjoy coffee during breakfast or after lunch. This may lead to jitters and anxiousness. And as mentioned before, as a general rule of thumb take your coffee black to be on the safe side. For certain intermittent fasting methods enjoying coffee with just a small dollop or splash of cream or milk is okay, as long as it is under a certain amount of calories. Brewed and filtered coffee, cold and Dutch brew, espresso and Americano are all great options to have on your fasting coffee menu.
Tea, that is herbal tea or tea coming from the camellia sinensistea plant, known as “true teas”, have a ton of benefits to aid in your fasting practice. To begin, tea from the camellia sinensisplant like green, black and pu’erh tea are loaded with antioxidants. Some of these antioxidants can help to stave off hunger. Pu’erh and black tea in particular can help one’s body feel satiated for longer and so can be helpful aids in an intermittent fast. As true tea also has caffeine like coffee does, it too can help speed up our metabolic functions. So slimming down is enhanced when enjoying true tea during the fasting phase. Tea like green and black tea also possess catechins. Catechins are beneficial to the fasting process by helping the body detox. Catechins help us detox more effectively by assisting to activate the body’s autophagy process.
That’s not all, tea also has tons of antioxidants that help fight off free radicals and protect the body from oxidative stress. True teas also possess another special amino acid, L-theanine. L-theanine is what gives green tea that calming and relaxing effect. While fasting, caffeine may cause us to experience anxiety or jitters since we are drinking on an empty stomach, but the L-theanine will combat these negative effects and help us stay mellow.
What Types of Teas are Acceptable?
Some great teas to enjoy include black tea like Earl Grey, Ceylon, English Breakfast and Lapsang Souchong. Green tea in the form of matcha or other loose leaf tea, oolong tea and Pu’erh are also great true tea options. As for herbal tea, rooibos can aid in staving off hunger and boosting metabolism, while ginger tea can speed up digestion.
Try to avoid bottled, flavored or sweetened teas as these may have sugars, artificial flavors and excessive calories you would want to avoid during your fast. The best way to enjoy tea is to brew it yourself by brewing loose leaf tea or tea bags that are unsweetened. As mentioned above in regards to coffee, cream or milk can be added to your black tea but only if it is just a slight amount and under certain set number of calories. Otherwise just the leaves or herbs and some hot water will do the trick. You can also cold brew your tea, which his refreshing and yields tea that is less bitter, astringent and with a bit less caffeine.
A Quick Recap
So when it comes to intermittent fasting and caffeine, consuming coffee and tea are certainly okay and even encouraged to help amplify the effects of your fast. The caffeine in coffee and tea can not only help stave off hunger and keep your energy up in lieu food, but also speed up your digestion and metabolism. When kept under a certain number of calories these beverages are superb supplements to your fasting state and can even be enjoyed with a slight addition of cream or milk in some cases. So for those interested in trying intermittent fasting for the first time, or more experienced fasters who have been wondering about these beverages for a while now, feel free to brew some Earl Grey or to grab a shot of espresso here and there during your fasting periods. Make sure to certainly always consume water during your fast periods and keep your caffeine intake within a reasonable amount if you feel jitters, weakness or anxiousness. Otherwise these beverages are great additions to an intermittent fast regimen.
- Gunnars, Kris. “What Is Intermittent Fasting? Explained in Human Terms.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 4 June 2017, www.healthline.com/nutrition/what-is-intermittent-fasting.
- “Intermittent Fasting: How Tea Can Boost Your Results – Cup & Leaf.” Cup and Leaf Tea, 29 Mar. 2019, www.cupandleaf.com/blog/intermittent-fasting-tea.
- James Clear. “Answers to the Most Common Intermittent Fasting Questions.” James Clear, 1 Sept. 2018, jamesclear.com/reader-mailbag-intermittent-fasting.
- Rizzo, Natalie. “Will Drinking Coffee Wreck My Intermittent Fast?” Greatist, Greatist, 31 May 2019, greatist.com/eat/does-coffee-wreck-my-intermittent-fast#1.
- “What Can I Drink When Doing Intermittent Fasting?” COM, Leaf Group, www.livestrong.com/article/463230-what-can-i-drink-when-doing-intermittent-fasting/.