Intermittent Fasting Explored! Do you know what breaks a fast?

Updated: Apr 19

How much do you know about intermittent fasting ?

Fasting can be a lot more flexible than you may think. There’s a lot that can be consumed during a fast, depending on how you approach fasting. If you’re flexible with how you approach fasting then there are some things you can still have while starting your fasting journey that will allow you to achieve you weight maintenance or weight loss goals, and help intermittent fasting become a little bit more sustainable.


If you’re a purist to fasting, then anything that isn’t water is considered to break your fast - this is a very valid way of looking at fasting.


Personally, I like to find ways of fasting that help support me in achieving my goals. Let’s first look at the fasted state. The fasted state is characterised by low insulin levels, raised glucagon levels (which is insulin’s opposite number), normal blood glucose levels (especially in non-diabetics), increased fat burning and ketones production. The key factor is that in the fasted state you’re burning your own body fat for energy, which you want in order to lose weight or to help with weight maintenance.


In order to decide if something really breaks a fast, we need to understand what impact it has on our fasted state. Let’s first focus on the micronutrients. All micronutrients that are carbohydrates, protein and fats will have some sort of an impact on insulin levels. They’ll also supply your body with energy, which your body will use preferentially over burning its own stored body fat.


Doesn’t Break your fast:


· Water: I don’t think this will be a shock, but from unflavoured sparkling to warm water you can drink this at any point of a fast.

· Green tea: there’s scientific evident that it increases the metabolic rate and the rate that fat burns.

· Black tea: however, I have to say that black tea with no sugar isn’t fun. So not my first choice.

· Black coffee: simple plain black coffee has no protein, carbs or fat so it’s good for fasting.


Breaks your fast:


· Cream: a small amount of cream with your coffee is going to provide your body with a small amount of fat and very small amount of carbohydrate. The fat and carbohydrate in the cream will raise your blood insulin level only slightly. Yes, this will technically break your fast, however, if you want to be more flexible with your fast it’s only very slight and you’ll be back to your baseline level very quickly as the effect is so minimal. This doesn’t mean you can get away with having four tablespoons of cream in every five cups of coffee you have in a day while fasting.

· Milk: the lactose in milk is two sugar molecules stuck together - glucose and galactose. So, it will definitely raise your blood glucose levels, increase your blood insulin level and disrupt the fasting state. Similar to cream in coffee, if you want to be flexible as you start your fasting journey if you only have a splash of milk then there will only be a minimal blip. Your body will quickly deal with it and move back to the fasted state.

· Plant-based milks: almond milk, coconut milk, rice milk and so on have carbohydrates that will affect your fasting state. They too can have a minimal effect in small amounts. This means you can choose to add them if you really want, however, like milk and cream, they still technically break your fast.

· Sugar, honey and anything sugar based: these all of course break your fast. Sugar is a refined carbohydrate which rapidly raises your blood sugar levels and insulin levels, and can take hours to get back into the fasted state.

· Bone broth: contains collagen, which is a protein, so technically it does break your fast. However, if you can have a small cup of this while you start your fasting journey as its effects on the fasting state are small.


I’m not a fan of coffee at all, but I’ll always have green tea, especially in the morning. Which drink is your favourite to have while fasting? Let me know in the comments below.


Till the next one x