Intermittent fasting can be done easily and smoothly if you consume liquids during your fast. Some of them help with hunger, some with energy levels and inflammation. Let’s talk about liquids that can promote fasting benefits and help with unpleasant side effects.
You might think of fasting as “going without”. Usually, it means going without food, but there are types of fasting like “dry fast” and “water fast” where you are restricted in consuming liquids.
It is not necessary to adopt such restrictive fasting protocols. There are plenty of liquids allowed during intermittent fasting, that can make your fast easier, joyful and even more beneficial.
Some liquids will not break or negatively affect your fast but can boost the beneficial effects of fasting. The main point about these liquids is that they shouldn't contain any calories.
Let’s have a look at each of them in more detail.
Hydration is a key for many factors that play a role in our body functioning such as maintaining blood volume, eliminating toxins and waste through urine, it also lubricates your joints and eyes, helps our digestive system with movements and cleansing and keeps our skin elastic (1).
This is more important during a fast as your body undergoes a natural detoxification process and it needs to have adequate amounts of water to flush those byproducts out of your body.
Green tea doesn’t break your fast, as long as it’s unsweetened and uncreamed. All the beneficial compounds contained in green tea are absorbed much better by the body while fasted.
Green tea is rich in antioxidants called catechins and polyphenols. Catechins can lower glucose levels and protect the pancreas. Polyphenols can boost metabolism, which may aid in fat burning. All together they work as natural hunger suppressants (2).
Herbal teas without dry fruits or berries provide different beneficial effects. Chamomile or lavender tea calms you down and helps with falling asleep. Mint tea may relieve digestive issues such as bloating.
Matcha tea comes in a bright green powder, it is specially grown, partly in the sun, partly in the shade, so that the leaves create more chlorophyll.
Matcha has almost ten times the antioxidants such as regular green tea and half the caffeine, which makes it a great drink even for people who are sensitive to caffeine. Having a cup of matcha green tea fights inflammation in the body and supports your immune system.
One important point, your matcha should be made with water, not with milk or cream (3).
Black tea is a great alternative to coffee. This tea is made from the same green tea leaves but goes through a fermentation, where it gets a specific strong flavour.
Black tea as its green “brothers” also contains many antioxidants, it is rich in flavonoids. This fights free radical damage to the body, helps with inflammation and other chronic diseases, and benefits heart health.
Black tea has antimicrobial properties that can improve gut health and immunity in general (4).
Many people ask: “Can you drink coffee while intermittent fasting?” Yes, absolutely! Black coffee doesn’t have enough nutrients to initiate a significant metabolic change that would break your fast and one cup has only about three calories. In order to keep the benefits of your fast, the coffee must be enjoyed on its own. Good coffee tastes great and it doesn’t need sweeteners, milk or creamers.
Coffee contains antioxidants that suppress your appetite and caffeine boosts your cognitive function further enhancing your focus (5). Another bonus is that coffee promotes autophagy - the recycling system that is responsible for many intermittent fasting benefits.
Minerals help your cells to absorb all the vital nutrients they need, and it is also required for healthy muscle and nerve activity. Balanced minerals levels are necessary for the health of the heart, liver, and kidneys. They regulate blood fluids and help to maintain a healthy blood pressure.
To prevent problems, caused by a lack of minerals such as headaches, tiredness, and low blood pressure, add a pinch of sea salt to your water in the morning, have a glass of mineral water or even better order yourself electrolytes (mix of minerals).
A deficit of electrolytes is dangerous for the body, and when you're fasting, you tend to get less of them (6).
Having one tablespoon of vinegar in a glass of water won’t break your fast, but it will help you to prepare your digestive system for a meal.
ACV contains beneficial bacteria and some nutrients, supporting healthy cholesterol levels, blood sugar and nutrient absorption.
ACV can help with bloating and other digestive issues. Like other fermented foods, unpasteurised apple cider vinegar contains gut-friendly bacteria that help to keep your digestive system working properly and may improve gut health. ACV could provide relief for those with stomach problems.
Drinking water with a splash of lemon juice in the morning is a great way to start your day, especially if you are fasting. Lemon juice produces alkaline byproducts and can support healthy pH levels in the body (9).
Lemon water contains high amounts of citrate which can help counter and protect you against kidney stones formation by stopping calcium from binding with oxalates which you consume with food. If you combine too many oxalates and too much calcium, you could develop a buildup of minerals that collect in the kidneys (10).
A lack of water in the body is a common cause of kidney stones. Drinking more water can therefore help prevent kidney stones, and the pleasant taste of lemon can help you to drink more.
Some people are big fans of essential oils. If you are one of them and you’ve got a habit of having a glass of water with orange essential oil to start your day or some lavender oil before going to sleep, you can be sure that a few drops won’t break your fast.
Oils are types of fat and they don’t affect blood sugar levels and don’t impact insulin if consumed in small amounts.
Bone broth is rich in minerals and collagen. But collagen is a protein that kicks you out of a fast for a short period and it stops the autophagy process. That’s why it is not recommended to consume collagen or bone broth on short fasts, such as 16/8 or OMAD.
Longer fasts that go on for several days are different from short ones and you might need some extra support for going through a prolonged fast, so it won’t negatively impact your health and you actually will be able to accomplish your fast and will have it done without unpleasant fasting side effects (11, 12).
Fasted exercise has some pros and cons over fed exercise. Find out what works best for you.
Alcohol breaks the fast but moderate alcohol consumption can be a good addition to intermittent fasting during the eating window.