Coffee was the first thing I looked up when I started the ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting about two years ago. I let out a huge sigh of relief, knowing that I could still enjoy my morning coffee but would have to let go of the milk, creamers, and sugar.
Does that mean you can’t add cream to your coffee while intermittent fasting? You can drink black coffee since its contents won’t likely affect your fasted state, but it gets tricky if you have add-ons, especially if it is heavy on the calorie count.
You should stick to black coffee when during a fasting period. To understand why this is, we must understand what intermittent fasting is all about first.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is an eating plan that relies on schedule rather than the food you eat, and it can aid in weight loss as long as you don’t exceed your body’s calorie requirement for the day. That requirement depends on several factors, such as age, size, and activity level, among others.
Intermittent fasting can work well when you follow a low-carb diet such as the ketogenic diet. Our body needs energy even when we are sleeping. When the body goes into a fasting state, it uses carbohydrates as its source of energy, and this is normal.
However, when all of the carbs are used up, the body will look for another source, and that is when it will undergo a fat-burning state or also known as ketosis. This is when it will use the stored-up fat as an alternative source.
The liver will use these fats and turn them into ketones, a compound that is sent straight to the bloodstream and is then used by the body as fuel to keep us get going. You might also be interested in learning how does coffee affect a blood test.
Intermittent Fasting Methods
Coffee drinkers who are looking to lose weight can turn to an intermittent fasting schedule, as the regimen is very flexible. There are several methods one can use, with the 16/8 method being the most popular one. This is when you spend 16 hours fasting, with the remaining eight hours serving as your eating window.
Another is alternate-day fasting, wherein the fasting window happens every other day instead of relying on the time. Another version of this is the Eat Stop Eat method, where you follow your normal eating schedule but requires a 24-hour fast at least once or twice per week.
Drinking Coffee During Intermittent Fasting
You might think that intermittent fasting means that you must not have any calorie intake whatsoever during your fasting period. That is not always the case. A cup of coffee, water, or tea has almost no calories, so these beverages won’t break your fast – the add-ons are a different story.
Any type of calorie intake will break your fast. Don’t fret yet, especially for those who follow a keto diet! Research has shown that adding small amounts of macronutrients won’t kick your body out of ketosis, and you can still utilize the fat-burning effects even after you break the fast.
That means you can enjoy half to one teaspoon of coffee creamer if you are really craving a cup of Joe on a keto diet. I wouldn’t recommend it but for the sake of your sanity, just make sure to manage your coffee consumption and limit it to just one cup.
Go for black coffee if you are yearning for more. Adding cream means it will become more of a keto diet rather than proper intermittent fasting.
The Case For Artificial Sweeteners
How about artificial sweeteners such as Splenda? Can they be added to coffee instead? I am inclined to say no, but it is very tricky.
These have virtually zero calories, so one can argue that they can work, but there are some side effects you should be wary of. These artificial sweeteners are mostly made with sucralose. This additive is 400 to 700 times sweeter than sugar, and it might trigger an insulin response which can lead to a small rise in insulin levels.
Additionally, it might also affect your gut bacteria when consumed often, and this may lead to your cells becoming resistant to the body’s insulin and consequently lead to an increase in blood sugar and insulin levels. On the bright side, you can make a case for Stevia since it is a natural sweetener and is also a zero-calorie additive.
Autophagy And Coffee During Intermittent Fasting
Another benefit of intermittent fasting is autophagy. This is when your body eliminates the damaged cells and recycles some of its components to regenerate newer and healthier cells.
If you are on a keto diet, the effects are compounded when you drink black coffee, as its natural properties were found to enhance autophagy because it manages the metabolic switch or your body’s ability to use fat as energy. Another compound called chlorogenic acid also helps accelerates fat metabolism in the body.
There is a catch, though. Studies have yet to find a conclusive answer, but it was suggested that autophagy stops or dramatically decreases in effectiveness when you eat. The increase in insulin levels when the food is digested is theorized to be the culprit.
Alternatives To Creamer In Coffee While Intermittent Fasting
Coffee lovers who are not fond of black coffee but are trying intermittent fasting can weigh some alternatives for additional flavor in their cup of Joe. Being mindful of the serving size should be your priority when you add these ingredients.
You should also consider if you want to maintain your ketosis or autophagy. Remember, breaking a fast won’t necessarily hinder the former, but it is highly probable it will stop the latter.
This is clarified butter, most commonly added to coffee by those who follow the ketogenic diet. It is similar to the usual butter, but it has a bit higher fat content, which the body can use as an additional fuel source.
Ghee can also help in curbing the coffee’s acidity and is a great alternative for those who are lactose intolerant. It can be a bit oily in texture, but it gives a slightly sweet note to your cup of Joe. It is also high in calories, so keep an eye on your serving sizes.
Heavy cream is also rich in fat and can be added to your cup of Joe or sugar-free desserts when you are on keto. It is not as popular as ghee or MCT oil when it comes to coffee, but it is the better choice and the closest thing if you are looking for something that resembles a coffee creamer.
An ounce contains only a gram of fat and protein and is very low in carbohydrates, so it is unlikely to affect your ketosis when taken during your fasting window. It might disrupt the autophagy activity in your body, however.
MCT Oil is often considered a crucial ingredient in bulletproof coffee. This is a high-calorie beverage that is rich in fat and effective in giving a good boost of energy because it can be quickly absorbed by your body as fuel.
You can consider this as the plainest alternative in terms of flavor. It is made from coconut oil, but the taste is hardly noticeable when added to coffee. Still, it is better than reaching out to sugar or other sweeteners.
Even if you are not on the keto diet, MCT oil is a great supplement. Learn more in our reasons why MCT oil in coffee is a healthy option.
Unsweetened Plant-Based Milk
This is what I consider the tastiest of the alternatives, but plant-based milk is not carb or calorie-free, so proceed with caution. Macadamia milk has the lowest carb content, with only a gram per cup and 4 to 5 grams of fat. The drawback is that it has around 50 to 70 calories.
Almond and soy milk are second and third, with an average of 1.4 and around 4 grams of carbohydrates per cup, respectively. Going for a creamier and nuttier coffee flavor should be an easy feat with this alternative.
Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
Chocolate lovers can rejoice but not too much! A tablespoon of quality unsweetened cocoa powder contains around 15 calories, 3 grams of carbs, and more or less a gram each of fat and protein. You don’t have to use one tablespoon, just a sprinkle is enough to keep your taste buds happy.
A cinnamon stick is also something to consider if you are looking for a twist in your morning cup. A stick only contains about three calories and just 1.1 grams of carbohydrates. It also contains traces of antioxidants along with other vitamins and minerals – not bad for just a stick in your cup.
At the end of the day, I would still recommend choosing black coffee over any add-ons to maximize the health benefits you will get from intermittent fasting. You can also consider switching up your drinking habit a little if you are getting tired of java by going for tea or other zero-calorie drinks.
You read that right! Alcoholic spirits, such as gin or whiskey, to name a few, have virtually no carbohydrates.
The downside is that they are somewhat high in calories. Regardless, if you are the type of person who drinks a cup of coffee before bed, half a shot of alcohol in it works as a great nightcap.
Low-Calorie Or Zero-Calorie Drinks
Flavorful low-calorie or zero-calorie drinks such as tea or lemon water can help break the routine. These beverages offer different health benefits, as well! You can also rely on good old H20 to help you feel full, and you can put other leaves in it, such as mint, to add a bit of flavor to it.
Intermittent fasting demands discipline. It is important to follow your schedule as much as possible. If you have to resort to breaking your fast, adding a dash of these alternatives can aid you in making the venture bearable.
Did you know that there is also a bulletproof tea? Check out our bulletproof tea recipe to make your weight loss journey more enjoyable!
Physical Or Mental Activity
This isn’t something you can drink, but you can do it while enjoying a black coffee on the side! Try to distract yourself if your cravings are overwhelming. You can go for a stroll around your area or do mild yoga inside your home.
Reading a book, doing puzzles, watching the latest cute cat videos, or playing video games are effective distractions, so you don’t have to think about the fasting part.
As with all kinds of diets, it is best to follow a doctor’s medical advice to determine if it is the right one for you. The same goes for coffee. You can enjoy reaping the health benefits of intermittent fasting and a cup of Joe as long as it won’t interfere with any pre-existing conditions or medication you’re taking.
Health Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting can bring a lot to the table besides autophagy and ketosis. On the surface, following an eating schedule without exceeding your daily calorie intake can help you maintain your weight. It gets better when you dive in deeper.
Improves Insulin Sensitivity
High insulin sensitivity helps your body process what you eat and use it as fuel for energy. It is what helps glucose to enter into the different parts of your body so it can function properly. The opposite of this is insulin resistance, and its effects can be deadly.
If the cells in your body can’t respond to insulin, glucose can accumulate in the blood, and this can raise your blood sugar levels and can ultimately result in developing Type-2 diabetes.
Drinking coffee can aid in the metabolism of sugar, and some studies have even suggested that it can help reduce the risk of developing diabetes. Enjoying a cup of coffee while intermittent fasting not only lowers your insulin levels but can also help to manage your blood glucose!
Promotes Weight Loss
Following an intermittent fasting schedule can help reduce the number of calories you consume and possibly the foods you eat. Fasting in itself can also increase your metabolism, which will make your body burn calories much faster, even when at rest, which makes it an effective option for those who suffer from mild obesity.
A study showed that the regimen could help you lose 3% to 8% of extra weight over three to 24 weeks. It also showed that unhealthy fats such as visceral fats were also shed, with intermittent fasters achieving a 4% to 7% decrease in waist circumference over six to 24 weeks. These are large numbers from a medical standpoint.
As a result of improving your body’s overall wellness, intermittent fasting can improve the chance of living a long life as it can reduce oxidative stress. This is when free radicals interact with the cell and damage it, leading to signs of aging and a number of illnesses.
It is interesting how this happens; fasting induces a mild strain on the human body. When this is detected by our cells, it triggers a stress response that enhances their ability to adapt, which consequently leads to improved performance of our bodily functions.
You can argue that the habit of drinking coffee increases the effects. A study has suggested that drinking up to eight cups a day contributes to longevity due to its natural properties.
Improves Cognitive Function
Fasting and enjoying a cup of Joe also promote better brain health. Caffeine increases alertness and concentration, in addition to increasing serotonin and dopamine levels which are crucial in ensuring both physical and cognitive functions work well.
Promising studies have also shown that the process of autophagy can provide several layers of protection from neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
This effect is arguably enhanced when coffee is introduced to the diet. If you are aiming to utilize the result, you might want to consume coffee during your eating window.