Can You Drink Coffee While Intermittent Fasting?

It seems like a simple question doesn’t it? Can you drink coffee while intermittent fasting? Will this break your fast? Is it worth it to break your fast to drink coffee? These are all valid questions and honestly, all of these questions should be considered because they’re very important and could potentially disrupt what you’re doing by fasting and prevent you from getting the results you’re looking for.

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People are actually divided on this issue. There are some who believe that you shouldn’t drink coffee if you’re fasting because it breaks your fast, then there are some who believe that it is alright to drink coffee, at least black coffee anyway.

So there’s actually some different things that should be considered when considering whether or drinking coffee will actually break your fast and whether you should drink coffee while intermittent fasting.

The first thing that you put into your body that’s not water starts this activity of metabolic enzymes. This includes enzymes in your liver as well as your gut. At that moment, your body’s clock starts for these enzymes.

Humans are designed to be awake and active and working during the day. At night, that is when our bodies rest, recover, and sleep. Because of this, all of these enzymes are active during the day.

What’s really interesting about these enzymes is that it’s not just food that activates them, but light as well. This goes along with humans being diurnal beings as opposed to nocturnal. But once these enzymes are activated, they run on a 12-hour clock. Don’t ask me why or how because I have no idea.

When you go beyond this 12-hour time frame, that’s when things start going “wrong”. By that, I mean that your metabolism enzymes shut down and stop doing what they’re really supposed to do. You also become not so much insulin-responsive as you should be. All of these reasons are why it’s important to not eat late at night because your body isn’t going to do what it’s supposed to do to process everything.

Not following this time window can ultimately lead to a person putting on more fat and becoming more insulin insensitive, both of these can then continue to lead to a number of more serious issues.

That said, let’s look more at drinking coffee during intermittent fasting.

Some people believe that it doesn’t break your fast because black coffee contains no carbohydrates, no protein, no fat, and it has almost no cavities; and that makes sense. So it’s reasonable to think that black coffee wouldn’t break your fast.

Here’s the thing about drinking coffee, especially coffee with caffeine that I think people don’t typically know about.

Caffeine is a xenobiotic. It’s something that has to be metabolized by your liver and gut. So this is going to trigger those enzymes to respond. So if you’re waking up in the morning and having a cup of black coffee to try and help hold you over for a few hours before you can eat so you’re not breaking fast, you’re actually breaking the fast because you’ve triggered your body to start that enzyme activity to process the caffeine in the coffee.

Basically, anything besides water that goes into your body is going to break your fast. 

There are however some people who believe that drinking black coffee is actually beneficial for you while intermittent fasting.

Black coffee can help your body boost its metabolic rate and autophagy effects. Autophagy is the cell’s self-digestive mechanism that recycles waste material and old proteins into energy. Basically, it’s the stronger cells feeding on the old weaker cells and becoming a stronger cell. This is a good thing. So drinking coffee boosts this effect. It even works when you’re not in a fasted state.

In a study with two groups that were given caffeinated coffee and decaffeinated coffee, they noticed that there was a massive increase in autophagy for both groups, so it didn’t matter if it was decaf or not.

However, caffeinated coffee triggered this same autophagy, but through a different means, but only when it was consumed in a fuel deprived state, or in other words, after a period of fasting.

One more thing that needs to be considered is what kind of fasting you’re doing. As you know there are many different forms of intermittent fasting and time-restricted eating. 

There are those who eat every day and restrict their windows for eating down anywhere from during a four-hour period, up to a 12-hour period. Then there are those who eat multiple days per week and then completely fast for one or two entire days. The most popular is probably the 16/8 method. This means fasting for about 16 hours per day which is basically eating your last meal of the day at a normal dinner time, and then not eating again until about lunch the next day.

So I think what it boils down to what the reason is for why you’re fasting. Yes, it does break fast, but the benefits can be better to break the fast with your black coffee if you’re going for certain physiological effects and muscle building. On the other hand, if you’re doing it for the metabolism and insulin effects, then it would be better to not drink the coffee if you’re still wanting to fast. Because as soon as you put that coffee in your system, your insulin is going to spike and that starts your metabolic clock. So you may want to just keep that in mind.

The thing that I would just try to remember is that you’re going to be breaking your fast and you need to keep that time stamped in your mind or recorded on your app or however you track your fasting time.

Take this information and really consider what your goal is with your own fasting. Make sure that whatever your goals is that you’re doing everything to can to reach them.

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