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Can You Drink Coffee While Intermittent Fasting?

Drinking black coffee during intermittent fasting increases fat burning and triggers autophagy, improving health.
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Summary

Drinking black coffee during intermittent fasting (in moderation) can increase fat burning and trigger autophagy. This, in turn, boosts your weight loss efforts and improves overall health. However, adding ingredients to your coffee may break the fast. If you must indulge, use a small amount of heavy cream or coconut oil or have a bulletproof coffee.


Written by
Jill Lebofsky
15+yr Women's Wellness Expert, Holistic Menopause Support, Intermittent Fasting, Midlife, Essential Oil, Author, Speaker

"I'll give up anything, just don't take my coffee!"

When it comes to intermittent fasting and coffee, the thought of giving up one's favorite cup of joe is a deal-breaker for many women.

The great thing is you don't need to give up your java and can instead reap the many rewards of both intermittent fasting and coffee.

Together, the intermittent fasting-coffee combination can boost your fat burning and weight loss results.

 

Coffee benefits for general health

Black stethoscope.


Coffee isn't just for waking up in the morning. It has numerous, well-researched health and wellness benefits, such as:

1.     Increases energy (1)

2.     Improves mood (2)

3.     Burns fat (3)

4.     Heightened physical performance (4)

5.     Contains many essential nutrients (Vitamin B 3, 5, 12, magnesium, manganese, potassium)

6.     High in antioxidants

7.     Lowered risk of cancer, Alzheimer's, diabetes, Parkinson's disease, and cardiovascular issues (5, 6)

8.     Live longer (7)

 

But there can be a downside to coffee, especially if consumed daily in large quantities.

  • Women especially are at risk for increased bone fractures (8).
  • Coffee can increase anxiety and disturb sleep (9).
  • Most commercial coffees have toxic additives and fillers.
  • Many coffee drinkers report higher levels of gastro-esophageal reflux disease (10).

 

Intermittent fasting and coffee

Woohoo! Black coffee during intermittent fasting, no matter what method followed, is one of the liquids permitted during the fasting hours. Choose organic coffee if possible. Some people adhere to a "clean" fast and choose to drink only water.


How much coffee can you drink while intermittent fasting?

There is no set number of cups of coffee you should have. Consider first some of the unhealthy things that can result from too much coffee.

Look at the coffee you are drinking. The amount of caffeine in most coffee ranges from 50 mg to over 400 mg per cup. 

Three to four cups a day are considered healthy for most adults (11).


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How does coffee affect intermittent fasting?

After fasting for 12+ hours, the process of autophagy can kick in. Autophagy cleans and recycles damaged cells, decreases inflammation, reduces oxidative stress, and induces anti-aging effects (12).

In addition to triggering autophagy by restricting nutrient intake with intermittent fasting, drinking coffee can also start the process. Studies revealed that caffeine content didn't matter – cups of regular or decaffeinated coffee both induce autophagy (13).

Plant-based compounds (phytochemicals) found in natural sources such as coffee may be why autophagy occurs and the explanation behind the many health benefits of drinking coffee (13).

Knowing that it is acceptable to drink coffee during intermittent fasting helps people commit to this lifestyle. Both intermittent fasting and coffee induce autophagy but drinking coffee speeds up the body’s ability to reach this stage faster than intermittent fasting alone.

Will adding ingredients to coffee break the fast?

A teaspoon with sugar.

While black coffee has many positives, adding in other items may stop the fast.

During intermittent fasting coffee with sugar or milk is a big no-no. Save those high-calorie, sweetened drinks for your eating window if you must indulge.

If you need your morning coffee and are wondering if there is any intermittent fasting coffee creamer you can have, try adding a teaspoon of healthy fat such as heavy cream or coconut oil. Some people ask about intermittent fasting and bulletproof coffee which combines coffee, MCT oil, and ghee butter. All these high-fat content items are less likely to raise insulin levels, which breaks the fast. But technically, adding them does break the fast and stops autophagy from occurring.

If weight loss isn't your primary goal with intermittent fasting, adding these high-fat ingredients to your coffee may make it easier for you to extend the length of time before your next meal.

For women, adding small amounts of fat into coffee may be helpful for hormonal balance.

If you are not getting your desired results on the scale, consider cutting out the additives altogether.

Join the intermittent fasting online community for women for more suggestions of what foods you can eat during the fasting period.

 

The bottom line

Not only can you drink coffee while intermittent fasting but by consuming no more than 3-4 cups daily, you may boost the benefits of intermittent fasting. Both intermittent fasting and coffee (regular or decaf with no other ingredients added) trigger the process of autophagy, promoting better health and longevity.

If you can't survive the day without your coffee and cannot transition to black coffee, consider adding a small amount of fat, such as heavy cream or coconut oil. If the scale isn't budging and you’re adding in extras to your coffee, stop for a period and see if that makes a difference.


References:

1.     Smith AP, Brockman P, Flynn R, Maben A, Thomas M. Investigation of the effects of coffee on alertness and performance during the day and night. Neuropsychobiology. 1993;27(4):217-223. doi:10.1159/000118984

2.     Maridakis V, O'Connor PJ, Tomporowski PD. Sensitivity to change in cognitive performance and mood measures of energy and fatigue in response to morning caffeine alone or in combination with carbohydrate. Int J Neurosci. 2009;119(8):1239-1258. doi:10.1080/00207450802333987

3.     Acheson KJ, Zahorska-Markiewicz B, Pittet P, Anantharaman K, Jéquier E. Caffeine and coffee: their influence on metabolic rate and substrate utilization in normal weight and obese individuals. Am J Clin Nutr. 1980;33(5):989-997. doi:10.1093/ajcn/33.5.989

4.     Goldstein, E.R., Ziegenfuss, T., Kalman, D. et al. International society of sports nutrition position stand: caffeine and performance. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 7, 5 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1186/1550-2783-7-5

5.     Nehlig A. Effects of coffee/caffeine on brain health and disease: What should I tell my patients? Pract Neurol. 2016;16(2):89-95. doi:10.1136/practneurol-2015-001162

6.     Carlström M, Larsson SC. Coffee consumption and reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes: a systematic review with meta-analysis. Nutr Rev. 2018;76(6):395-417. doi:10.1093/nutrit/nuy014

7.     Freedman ND, Al. E, Author Affiliations From the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, M. G. Thompson and Others, T. T. Shimabukuro and Others, P. T. Heath and Others. Association of Coffee Drinking with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality: NEJM. New England Journal of Medicine. 2012. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1112010

8.     Liu H, Yao K, Zhang W, Zhou J, Wu T, He C. Coffee consumption and risk of fractures: a meta-analysis. Arch Med Sci. 2012;8(5):776-783. doi:10.5114/aoms.2012.31612

9.     Clark I, Landolt HP. Coffee, caffeine, and sleep: A systematic review of epidemiological studies and randomized controlled trials. Sleep Med Rev. 2017;31:70-78. doi:10.1016/j.smrv.2016.01.006

10.  Wei TY, Hsueh PH, Wen SH, Chen CL, Wang CC. The role of tea and coffee in the development of gastroesophageal reflux disease. Ci Ji Yi Xue Za Zhi. 2019;31(3):169-176. doi:10.4103/tcmj.tcmj_48_18

11.  Higdon JV, Frei B. Coffee and health: a review of recent human research. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2006;46(2):101-123. doi:10.1080/10408390500400009

12.  Alirezaei M, Kemball CC, Flynn CT, Wood MR, Whitton JL, Kiosses WB. Short-term fasting induces profound neuronal autophagy. Autophagy. 2010 Aug 16; 6(6): 702–710. doi: 10.4161/auto.6.6.12376

13.  Pietrocola F, Malik SA, Mariño G, et al. Coffee induces autophagy in vivo. Cell Cycle. 2014;13(12):1987-1994. doi:10.4161/cc.28929


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