These foods, drinks, and supplements will break your fast if you do intermittent fasting (2024)

If your Instagram feed is any indication, everyone and their mum is trying intermittent fasting right now, and maybe you’re interested in it, too. People swear intermittent fasting can have a slew of different benefits, from reseting your relationship with food to weight loss. But it can be tricky to do it right, and understand what foods and drinks break a fast (and thus defeat the purpose of having a fasting window).

Here's the thing: Fasting doesn’t mean you have to go about part or all of your day without putting anything in your body. And, while the fasting police aren’t going to come after you if you don’t fast perfectly, it makes sense that you want to do this the right way.

You can probably guess that water is okay (and a must) during a fasting window—you’ve got to stay hydrated, after all—but what about stuff like coffee and tea, which is ~basically~ water? And can you have a little sugar or creamer in there, too, or is that off-limits? Is there some kind of calorie limit here? Also, what’s the best thing to eat and drink when you’re ready to break your fast?

So many questions! But don’t stress—dietitians have *all* the answers for you right here on what does and doesn't break a fast.

Here's a quick refresher on what it means to do intermittent fasting.

Before we get into what you can and can’t eat and drink, it’s a good idea to go over what intermittent fasting involves in the first place. Intermittent fasting focuses on following a pattern of periods of eating and fasting, i.e., times when you eat and don’t eat. Intermittent fasting usually involves fasting for a certain number of hours or even days that are spaced out during the week.

There are plenty of types of intermittent fasting to choose from, but some of the more popular forms include the 16:8 diet, where you fast for 16 hours a day and eat only during eight hours (most people tend to stop eating at a certain time in the evening, like 6 p.m., and then wait to eat again until 16 hours later), and the 5:2 diet, where you eat less than 500 calories for two non-consecutive days a week (for men, it’s less than 600 calories) and eat normally for the rest of the time.

Research has linked intermittent fasting with lower insulin levels and blood pressure, and increased appetite control. Some people also lose weight while intermittent fasting.

The thinking is that any amount of calories can technically break a fast and should be avoided while you’re in a fasting window.

Technically, fasting means refraining from having any kind of food. As a result, 'Any amount of calories will break a fast,' says Scott Keatley, RD, of Keatley Medical Nutrition Therapy.

'The rule of thumb floating around the Internet is that 50 calories will break your fast, but this is based on one random guy's experience and has been repeated so often that people believe it's true,' he says. But, Keatley emphasises, 'Any amount of calories will break a fast [because] the ingested energy will be broken down as quickly as possible and provided to your cells.'

These foods, drinks, and supplements will break your fast if you do intermittent fasting (1)

There’s unfortunately no hard-and-fast research that gives a set number of calories that are okay for fasting, says Jessica Cording, MS, RD, author of The Little Book of Game-Changers. Plus, she points out, everyone’s metabolism is different, so what jump-starts you out of a fast may be different from what does the same for your friend.

Also, there’s this, per Cording: 'As soon as you consume enough calories to give your body energy to do anything, that brings you out of that fasting state because your body has been given fuel to work with.' Basically, having any amount of calories means you're rolling the dice with leaving your fasting state.

If you want to consume *something* during your fasting window, here are your best options.

Again, fasting by definition means you’re not having food, so this is really more about what you can drink. That includes:

  • Water. 'Water is fine, for sure,' Keatley says. This includes still or sparkling water, although flavored waters get a little dicey because they usually contain some calories.
  • Coffee. Black coffee has about five calories per cup, which is technically not nothing, Keatley points out. Still, he says, most people have black coffee during fasting periods and do just fine. Just skip add-ons like milk, creamer, or sugar. 'That will have an effect on your fast,' Cording says.
  • Tea. Brewed tea typically contains the same calories as a cup of black coffee or less. The same rules apply here as they do for coffee, Cording says.

Some people will drink chicken broth or bone broth, or add MCT oil, ghee, or coconut oil to their coffee during a fast, but all of these will break your fast, Cording notes. Broth is kind of surprising, but Cording points out that bone broth in particular has plenty of protein. 'What can happen is, when you consume the broth, your body uses the amino acids as fuel and then you’re not longer in the fasting state,' she says.

It's also probably better to wait to consume any supplements or vitamins until your eating window too.

This is slightly tricky. 'Vitamins and minerals have no calories in them—it's the stuff companies put with the vitamins that have calories,' Keatley says. Usually salt, potassium, and 'various sugars' are used to bind with the vitamins and minerals as a delivery system, he says, adding that 'reviewing the ingredient list on your multivitamin is the only way to know for sure.' In general, most vitamins have between seven to 10 calories each, although gummies have more due to their sugar content, Keatley says.

There’s also this to consider: If you’re taking a fat soluble vitamin like vitamin D, you’ll really want to have it with food, because it’s absorbed better in your body with fat, Cording points out.

Overall, Cording says it’s better to try to take supplements during your non-fasting state, just to be safe.

When you're ready to break your fast, here's what to eat.

Time to break your fast? Go into it gently and choose wisely. Eating a bunch of food that’s high in carbs and sugar in a short period of time won’t make you feel great, Cording says. 'If you drop a big load of carbohydrates into your bloodstream on an empty stomach, you’re going to feel uncomfortable,' she says. 'It could set you up for glycemic instability throughout the day, causing problems with energy levels and appetite control. It could work against you.'

It’s easy to overeat when you break a fast (because, hello, you're hungry!), but planning out what you’ll do when you eat again can help. 'If you're going to give this diet a try plan, plan, plan, and cater it to your life,' Keatley says.

Cording recommends starting with 'something on the smaller side' that also has a good amount of fat, like nuts and seeds, which she calls 'a good starting place.' For example, you can have a handful of almonds while you make a bigger meal to ease your stomach into eating again.

Since you only have so much time in your day to fit in healthy foods, Keatley says it's best to focus on nutritious options. 'I would recommend a complete protein that has healthy fats and is loaded with vitamins and minerals, like eggs,' he says. 'You still need to get about 25 to 35 grams of fibre in your system, so having high fibre products as well such as beans, legumes, and anything ending in -berry should be on the plate.' Healthy oils like avocado and olive oil can also give you energy, he says.

Then, Keatley recommends that you 'give yourself a few hours break and go again with the same formula but different foods.'

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These foods, drinks, and supplements will break your fast if you do intermittent fasting (2024)

FAQs

What food or drink breaks intermittent fasting? ›

Technically speaking, eating or drinking any calories breaks a fast. That means it's generally considered OK to drink black, unsweetened coffee or tea, as well as water.

Do vitamins and supplements break intermittent fasting? ›

Intermittent fasting is a health and fitness trend, widely used to manage weight and generally promote health. “Taking Care/of vitamins, for example, won't break a fast. But if you're taking vitamins with additives, sugar, and carbs, then those vitamins will indeed break your fast.”

What drinks are allowed during intermittent fasting? ›

Below are some foods and beverages you can consume while fasting.
  • Water. Plain or carbonated water contains no calories and will keep you hydrated during a fast.
  • Coffee and tea. These should mostly be consumed without added sugar, milk, or cream. ...
  • Diluted apple cider vinegar. ...
  • Healthy fats. ...
  • Bone broth.

What foods should you avoid during intermittent fasting? ›

It's best to limit ultra-processed foods like packaged snacks, deep-fried items, sugary drinks, and most frozen meals. These negate the positive effects of 16/8 intermittent fasting. To begin 16/8 intermittent fasting, choose an 8-hour window and limit your food intake to that time span.

Can I eat whatever I want while intermittent fasting and still lose weight? ›

It's not a diet, so unless you have individual dietary restrictions, you can eat whatever you want within the eight-hour time frame. But the plan will work best for weight loss if you are already making smart, nutrient-rich choices, said NBC News health and nutrition editor Madelyn Fernstrom, Ph. D.

What can I drink that won't break intermittent fasting? ›

What drinks are ok during fasting?
  • Water and sparkling water, which you can flavour with fresh lime, lemon, or a splash of sugar-free juice.
  • Coffee (usually best enjoyed black)
  • Tea (usually best enjoyed without milk or sugar)
  • Bone broth.
Jan 12, 2023

What vitamins should I not take while fasting? ›

Dietary supplements that may interrupt fasting include:

Fatty acid supplements (e.g., omega-3 fatty acids, medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs)). Products that include sweeteners or additional ingredients (e.g., cane sugar, fruit juice concentrates, starches).

Can I take multivitamins while intermittent fasting? ›

It's okay to swallow regular vitamin pills and capsules while fasting, as they are unlikely to affect insulin levels, but vitamins and supplements sold as gummies, liquids, or chewable tablets are typically sweetened and can stimulate an insulin response, so, if you use these, take them during your eating window.

Can I take vitamin D while fasting? ›

If you are considering fasting for medical, religious, or other reasons, you may wonder whether vitamins break a fast. The simple answer is yes. You must take vitamins with water and a meal, so you are breaking your fast if you take your vitamins correctly.

How can I speed up weight loss on intermittent fasting? ›

Also, note that the key to weight loss with intermittent fasting is not to overeat during your eating windows. Eating fewer calories than you expend remains the basis for losing weight. Shortening the eating window may make it difficult to get the vitamins and minerals you need.

What is the best intermittent fasting window to lose belly fat? ›

Best Intermittent Fasting Method For Visceral Belly Fat

14/10 Method: Fast for 14 hours and have a 10-hour eating window daily. That means you restrict your food intake to a specific 10-hour period while abstaining from caloric consumption for the remaining 14 hours.

Does toothpaste break an intermittent fast? ›

There are even claims that fasting may benefit dental health to some degree. But what are the rules when it comes to brushing your teeth when practising intermittent fasting? Well, the general consensus is that it's perfectly fine to brush your teeth as long as you're not swallowing the toothpaste.

Can I eat bananas while intermittent fasting? ›

Foods rich in protein and fiber will fill you up, which is especially important on fasting days when you won't be eating as much. Some examples of protein and fiber rich foods include: chicken and lean meat, broccoli, milk, black beans, almonds, peanut butter, bananas and pasta. Don't over-indulge on non-fasting days.

Can I eat potatoes while intermittent fasting? ›

Basically, the best foods to eat while intermittent fasting are the best foods to eat no matter what. They include things like avocado, potatoes, cruciferous veggies, fish, seafood, whole grains, nuts, and fermented foods.

Can I eat bananas while fasting? ›

Banana can be consumed during fasting to increase the energy of the body. There is no feeling of hunger after eating banana and the strength of the body also increases. If you are a diabetic patient, then you should not consume more than 2 bananas in a day.

Does chewing gum break a fast? ›

Does Chewing Gum Break Your Fast? Chewing gum with sugar can break your fast. But sugar-free gum has very few calories, so it doesn't much affect insulin levels and you can usually chew it while fasting. Some stricter forms of fasting may still prohibit any calories, including sugar-free gum.

What can I put in my coffee that won't break my fast? ›

While black coffee is the best choice, if you have to add something, 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of heavy cream or coconut oil would be good options, as they're unlikely to significantly alter your blood sugar levels or total calorie intake.

What is dirty fasting? ›

Dirty fasting is a term used to describe consuming some calories during a fasting window. This differs from traditional fasting or “clean” fasting, which restricts all foods and calorie-containing beverages. People who practice dirty fasting will typically consume up to 100 calories during their fasting window.

Does lemon water break a fast? ›

Considering its low calorie content, plain lemon water will not break your fast in most cases. Yet, other lemon beverages may contain added sugar, so it's smart to read the food label to determine the calorie content. In addition, you should research the guidelines for your particular fasting approach.

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