For anyone trying intermittent fasting, what breaks a fast is an important thing that needs answers! Intermittent fasting is of many types, so there are different rules for breaking fasts. Here we are talking about the most common types like 16:8 fasting or monk fasting.
Strictly speaking, what counts as breaking such a fast is — the consumption of any number of calories!
There’s no good research to say exactly how many calories would break a fast. However, some experts believe you get the most benefits of intermittent fasting on zero-calories.
Yet, we realize it’s almost impossible to fast for long hours or days without consuming anything. Only water has zero calories, but it’s not nourishing or energizing enough to help you get through the modern work day that’s full of stress and no time to rest.
Since fasting only brings results when done for one to six months regularly, you can’t expect to do it only on days when you don’t have to work. That’s why it’s better not to try sticking to zero calories, instead find foods and drinks that will sustain you on negligible calories, helping you enjoy as many benefits of intermittent fasting as you can, without making your life miserable.
We need to redefine what breaks an intermittent fast from being zero calories to almost zero.
Read on to know about low-calorie food and drinks – things that will help you stay sane on a fast while getting the most benefits.
Foods That Break Fast
Now that you know what breaks a fast is the number of calories in a food, you need to know which foods to avoid during the fast! This list will also come in handy when you need to break your fast but healthily.
- Dry fruits
Dry fruits are high in fat. They are great fast breakers, especially if you are following intermittent fasting and keto diet together as they help you stay in ketosis for longer.
About 100g of dried fruits have 359 calories, which are nowhere near zero, so you should avoid them during the fasting period.
Plain yogurt (unsweetened) has about 70 calories per 100g serving. While this is much better than a serving of dried fruits, it’s still not in single digits for us to consider it good enough when fasting.
However, yogurt is rich in calcium, sodium, vitamin A and protein, as well. These are highly nourishing for anyone who hasn’t eaten anything for long. A little cup of yogurt is a great way to break your fast and reduce your craving for unhealthy food.
Being rich in electrolytes (which by the way, don’t break fasts) allows it to help you against dehydration, weakness, and many other related issues that can distract you from fasting.
It is common to have eggs in the morning, but if you are following a 16:8 intermittent fasting routine, any food, including eggs, is not a fine idea. Skipping breakfast is the easiest way to follow this fast if you find skipping dinner after a tiresome day overwhelming.
Don’t worry eggs are a fantastic lunch idea that will help feed you enough nourishment to go about your day after your fast.
A 100g serving of eggs has 143 calories, protein, and fat, along with sodium, potassium, and phosphorus, ready to enrich your body.
Foods You Can Have While Fasting
There are hardly any foods that don’t break intermittent fasting. However, if you are trying long-form fasting like water fasting, it’s okay to have a little something that will give you the strength to keep calm and finish the fast.
What are these things? These are low-calorie foods that technically break your fast. But they only reduce the benefits of autophagy, not ketosis. These are two of the essential processes that occur during fasting.
With foods that help you avoid ruining the fast due to uncontrolled cravings with something high calorie and unhealthy, you can fast for long hours and get better at fasting, so you cherish its benefits for longer.
- Healthy fats
A teaspoon of grass-fed butter, coconut oil, ghee, or MCT oil will technically break your fast. However, they help your body get some nourishment (fats, electrolytes, etc.) that it got starved from. These healthy fats should be consumed in low quantities and are only recommended in long fasts like monk fast.
- Bone or vegetable broth
Broth has no chewable food and is full of nutrients. But it also has calories. For instance, bone broth has 59 calories per 100ml serving. If you are concerned about calories, choose veggie broth over bone broth. It has only about five calories per cup. It can be filling as well as nourishing.
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Drinks That Can Break A Fast
If you are asking about which drinks break a fast, we know you are primarily concerned about your morning caffeine!
Don’t worry when taken right, coffee does not break a fast, nor does tea! Keep reading to know the right and wrong methods of taking tea or coffee when fasting. But first, let’s go over other drinks you should stay away from in your fasting period.
No matter how healthy or delightful they are, smoothies are not okay for fasting. Even if you choose to take them as a pre-workout drink, they can do you some harm.
A glass of green smoothie, for example, has 50 calories. It has carbs and sugar too, which may not only get you out of autophagy but also ketosis.
- Coconut water
Coconut water is full of nutrition because of which it’s a common way to break a fast around the world among health freaks.
While drinking it on a monk fast for some energy may be considered okay by some, it’s not a great idea on shorter fasts despite its nourishment. That’s because just half a can of coconut water has about 50 calories.
- Coffee or tea with milk, cream, or sweeteners
A cup of coffee or tea with these ingredients is bad for your health whether you are fasting or not. Not only are they high in sugar but also make the drink difficult for your body to digest. So, make sure you hide away your cream, milk, and sweeteners when on a fast.
- Soda & alcohol
If you are trying to get healthy, soda and alcohol should be out of your pantry whether or not you are on a fast. These are not only loaded with sugar and calories but also can cause a disturbance in your stomach, thus worsening your sugar cravings.
Drinks You Can Have While Fasting
I am sure you are wondering, “What can I drink while fasting if not even something as healthy as coconut water? What will not break a fast? Can I only have water?”
Fortunately for you, water is not the only drink you can have on fasting. Your favorite coffee or tea is on the table too.
- Black coffee or tea
When you don’t add any ingredients like cream or milk, your black coffee or tea has no calories to ruin your fast. That’s right! Zero calories!
Now you can’t just fill up your belly with these caffeinated drinks all through your fast, as excessive caffeine may disturb your stomach. But a cup or two will help you stay energized and focus on your work while getting the benefits of intermittent fasting.
- Green or herbal tea
Skipping dinner as part of your intermittent fast? Reduce your cravings with green tea or calming herbal tea like chamomile. These teas have calories in single digits that are good enough to be had during fasting.
As a bonus, they are also rich in electrolytes, so your body doesn’t starve of nutrients it needs to function properly.
Lemon water (without any sweetener) and fruit or vegetable-infused water also have similarly low calories along with fantastic nourishment.
Now you know what breaks a fast and what doesn’t!
When it comes to food, it’s better to avoid everything on a short fast, like a 16:8 fast. For longer fasts like the 36-hour fast, you can add healthy fats like coconut oil to your coffee and reduce cravings. Broth (veggie or bone) also works.
However, be it for short or long fasts – you can have green tea, black tea, black coffee, herbal tea, lemon water, fruit-infused or vegetable-infused water, and plain water to keep yourself nourished and hydrated.
Avoid smoothies, coconut water, and vegetable juice even though they seem healthy. And definitely avoid soda, alcohol, cream, milk, or sweeteners in any drink you take.