If you love coffee as much as I do, it’s probably not something you will want to go without. So as I sit here sipping my $9 mocha from Starbucks, I decided now was the perfect time to let you know what you can and can’t do when it comes to drinking coffee and fasting.
In most cases, drinking black coffee (no milk or sugar) while fasting is acceptable and won’t break your fast because it contains virtually no calories. However, it is important to keep in mind your initial reasons for beginning the fast as it may not be the best approach in all circumstances.
Why Black Coffee Is Generally Fine For Fasting
It’s the consumption of calories that causes us to break a fast. If you’re fasting for weight loss, black coffee contains so few calories that it’s not going to interrupt the metabolic processes we’re trying to engage by fasting.1https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15562223/
In fact there’s actually circumstantial evidence to suggest coffee may act as an appetite suppressant, helping make your fast easier.2https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28446037/
Can I Have Milk Or Cream In My Coffee While Intermittent Fasting?
Because milk and cream both contain a significant amount of calories, you should avoid putting them in your coffee while intermittent fasting. The general rule is that black coffee is okay, but milk, cream, or sugar is not allowed while fasting. Discretion is advised however and in some circumstances it may be acceptable to bend the rules slightly.
Not every fast is the same. Some people are intermittent fasting for weight loss, some people are dry fasting for a deep cleanse and healing effect, while others are doing prolonged water fasts for extreme weight loss. In some instances, coffee may be acceptable, while in others, not to much.
Remember The Objective Of Your Fast!
To decide if drinking coffee while fasting is a good idea for you, first remind yourself why you’re fasting in the first place and what you’re trying to get out of it.
Maybe you’ve been doing 16:8 intermittent fasting to help you establish a caloric deficit to lose a few extra pounds. In that case, drinking black coffee is certainly acceptable.
And quite honestly, having a tiny bit of milk or cream once a day isn’t going to completely throw you off course either.
But what if you’ve recently embarked on a 3 day water fast to help reduce inflammation, clean up your gut biome, or break a food or dopamine addiction? In this case, I’d actually suggest not drinking any coffee at all.
If you’re going to do a prolonged fast, you may as well get the full benefits by helping your body completely detox from caffeine dependency as well.
Note that going cold turkey on the coffee will often incur a pretty epic headache on day 1 of your water fast, but that’s just your body’s way of telling you its healing.
Other Commonly Asked Questions
Have more questions about what you can and can’t put in your coffee while fasting? Hopefully I’ve answered all of them below. If you don’t see your question, ask it in the comments section and I’ll get back to you!
Can I have sweetener in my coffee while fasting?
Artificial sweeteners are fine to have in your coffee while fasting because they contain no calories. However, many dietitians recommend avoiding artificial sweeteners where possible, but so far as breaking a fast is concerned it’s an acceptable practice.
Again, remember your objective. If you’re fasting to cleanse your insides, it’s probably best not to put artificial sweetener in your coffee, if you’re choosing to still have coffee at all.
There’s actually some recent research that suggests a correlation between using artificial sweeteners and increased sugar cravings, so probably not the best idea if you struggle with cravings while fasting.3https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/artificial-sweeteners-sugar-free-but-at-what-cost-201207165030
Oh and it goes without saying, definitely don’t put actual sugar in your coffee while fasting!
Can I drink tea while intermittent fasting?
Drinking black, green, or herbal tea while fasting is acceptable because it contains virtually no calories. You should avoid putting milk in your tea while fasting as well, although depending on your goals, a small splash of milk will usually be fine.
Be mindful that you’re consuming caffeine when drinking tea. For extended fasting protocols, you may look to detox entirely from caffeine, so you might want to consider going without tea. But for intermittent fasting, tea is a perfectly acceptable beverage to drink.
What can I put in my coffee that won’t break my fast?
Sweeteners like Stevia and Splenda as well as cinnamon or even ginger make acceptable additions to your morning coffee without the risk of breaking your fast.
As mentioned earlier, a tiny bit of milk in your coffee is also going to be acceptable for the vast majority of people.
Can I drink diet soda while intermittent fasting?
Technically, drinking diet soda will not break your fast because it contains no calories. From a general health perspective, you should still avoid drinking diet soda where possible.
Once again you simply have to remind yourself why you’re fasting in the first place. If we’re trying to make improvements to our health, consuming any diet soda is at odds with that end in view.
Can I have Bulletproof Coffee while fasting?
You should avoid drinking Bulletproof Coffee while fasting as it contains a high amount of calories and will break your fast.
Bulletproof Coffee contains a mixture of coffee, butter, and MCT oil and will definitely break your fast because of how calorically dense it is. As a general rule, you want to avoid consuming anything over 40-50 calories to keep your fast in tact.
My Experience, Thoughts, & Recommendations
Personally, I’m not a huge fan of having any coffee at all while fasting. However, that’s because I don’t typically practice intermittent fasting anymore and tend to do more prolonged fasting protocols where the intention is detoxification and healing. If you’re doing the latter, I’d steer clear of any coffee at all – give your body a rest from the caffeine!
If I was going to do intermittent fasting, you bet I would be drinking coffee! But personally, I’d only drink black coffee during my fasting window because I prefer stricter adherence to the ‘no calories’ rule.
If I were to start adding milk or cream, I’d worry it wouldn’t be long before I’m adding a large pepperoni pizza to my coffee in the mornings!