Intermittent fasting is a great way to burn fat from your body while still ensuring that you get all the essential nutrients you need for energy, strength, and exercise fuel. Fasting involves restricting your food intake on specific days or for a set number of hours each day and only drinking beverages to quench both your thirst and your hunger during those times. Where does coffee fall on that spectrum? Does coffee break a fast or support it? We have the answers.
Intermittent fasting involves cycling between periods of eating and periods of fasting. By restricting your calorie intake for brief periods, you can activate a secondary metabolism we’re all built with called ketosis, which is the basis for both the Atkins and the ketogenic diet.
Without a regular influx of calories, your body resorts to fat burning for energy, which prompts rapid body fat loss. There are many ways to trigger this ketogenic activity: by fasting on the weekends, by fasting in the mornings, or by practicing alternate-day fasting. However you choose to fit intermittent fasting into your schedule, the first matter of concern is how do you operate (let alone enjoy life) on an empty stomach? Can you fill up on a tasty cup of coffee for early energy without breaking your fast? Short answer: yes.
If you’re a coffee drinker, we have good news: you can definitely have coffee during fasting periods, and you can also enhance it with natural sweeteners and energy boosters so that you don’t feel deprived or hungry as you utilize this weight-loss tool. Not only is intermittent fasting a proven way to reduce dangerous body fat, but research also suggests that drinking coffee while fasting could lower the risk of developing chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and even Alzheimer’s. Here’s how.
If you take your coffee black, you’re good to go. With only 3 calories per cup, black coffee while fasting won’t interrupt the process, and, like black tea or green tea, it’s also got that little bit of caffeine to put a pep in your step.
That being said, even if you’re drinking decaf, coffee may help suppress your appetite more so than filling up on water during fasting windows.
For those who don’t enjoy the bitter taste of black coffee, it’s possible to get the benefits of intermittent fasting while drinking sweetened coffee too…if you choose the right sweeteners.
Those on the low-carb keto diet know that there are many zero-calorie and sugar-free replacement sweeteners out there, including sucralose, allulose, stevia, erythritol (the basis of Swerve sweeteners), and more. So long as you avoid artificial sweeteners and addictive refined table sugar, you can still maintain your fast and enjoy your java the way you like it best.
Also known as Bulletproof coffee, keto coffee lends you extra energy due to the complex medium-chain triglycerides (derived from coconut oil) that it contains. MCTs give your body something to digest, providing you with useable energy regardless of whether you’re on the keto diet or not. MCT oil is flavorless and easily included in keto smoothies or as a simple capsule.
If you don’t have a sweet tooth but still want something to cut through the harsh taste of black coffee, try almond milk or other dairy-free milk alternatives. Almond, soy, or coconut milk can provide you with even more nutrients to keep you feeling satiated and strong throughout the day.
Some people like coffee, and some people like coffee because they can turn it into a milkshake. If you’re out and about, you can order tasty keto coffee from Starbucks (including modified lattés and cappuccinos with plain heavy cream), and if you’re at home, we’ve compiled the top 6 keto coffee creamers you can enjoy without interrupting your fast.
Here are a few scientifically backed benefits of fasting with coffee and how it impacts your insides.
The state of ketosis you enter while fasting can trigger autophagy, yet another form of metabolism that eats up the cell debris in your body.
This is a metabolism that’s at work in your body all the time but, as with many metabolic processes, it slows down with age. When cell debris builds up in the body, it can interrupt brain function, which is why stimulating autophagy can help prevent age-related mental decline. Coffee specifically has been found in mice models to significantly increase autophagy, which means regular coffee consumption may be particularly beneficial.
Another brain boost: when your body burns fat during these fasts, it releases ketone bodies for energy. Ketones are the preferred energy of the brain, and unlike many compounds in the body, they can cross the blood-brain barrier for immediate use.
Again, coffee may provide an extra boost, as studies suggest that the caffeine in coffee may further increase ketone production in humans who are in a fasted state.
Coffee intake is also associated with a decrease in the risk of metabolic syndrome, an umbrella that covers conditions like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, high blood sugar levels, insulin levels and insulin sensitivity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
Human beings evolved to thrive while fasting. Our ancestors had to survive through harsh times of famine, and while the dangers of the modern world are found more in the overabundance of non-nutritive foods like refined sugar and processed vegetable oils, we still have that same survivors’ metabolism. Intermittent fasting can utilize that metabolism to help us lose dangerous body fat, and coffee can help you fast without feeling famished.