By Dr Joe
Does coffee break a fast? A very good question. Some people just cannot get on with their day, if it doesn’t start with a regular morning routine that includes a coffee drink. That’s a habit of a lifetime for them and it’s pretty hard for them to change it.
And with all the rave about intermittent fasting as one of the healthiest things you can do for your health, you don’t want to miss out. You know the drill. Fear of missing out (FOMO). So you join in the fun of intermittent fasting.
Now you have a clash of concepts in your hands. I’m supposed to be fasting and I like my coffee. How do I marry the two ideas. Hence, you have to ask the all-important question; does coffee break intermittent fasting?
If you go on this wonderful platform we call the internet to research this, all you get is conflicting opinions and views.
The Plan – What You’ll Get On This Page
You needn’t worry, because you have just landed on the right page where you’ll get the low-down on:
The effect of plain black coffee on intermittent fasting and the effect of bulletproof coffee on fasting (water fast and dry fast). Plain black coffee and bulletproof coffee affect fasting differently. You’ll get to know this.
The science, the effect of coffee on insulin, coffee effect on ketosis, coffee effect on autophagy, ampk enzyme and of course that will include bulletproof coffee as well.
Not forgetting how coffee with cream, stevia, dairy milk, nut milk affects fasting.
Plus, you get my suggested approach to using coffee during your fast.
I’ll clear the confusion for you. You’re going to love this.
First things first…
It makes sense to want to know ‘what a fast is’ and why you’re fasting. Kinda makes sense, right?
What’s a fast?
Our friends at Wikipedia defined it as:
“Fasting is the willing abstinence or reduction from some or all food, drink, or both, for a period of time. An absolute fast or dry fasting is normally defined as abstinence from all food and liquid for a defined period”
So, the fact that you are thinking of drinking coffee in the morning or any time for that matter, during your fast means you are not doing a Dry Fast. Because a dry fast means nothing goes through your mouth. Nothing!
If you are doing a dry fast, and you drink coffee, that means you have broken your fast. Period.
The fact that drinking coffee does break a dry fast is not debatable. Right?
I’m glad we cleared that up…quickly. Now, let’s move on.
What about the more Popular Water Fast and coffee?
Okay, not everyone is suited to a dry fast. I love doing it. You may not.
So, if you’re not doing a dry fast, then you are most certainly doing a Water Fast, right?
And that’s where the question then pops up; does coffee ruin a water fast?
Let’s talk about coffee and water fast then. Because water fast is what we are doing, if we are even considering a coffee drink at all.
Does Coffee break a fast?
As usual with these things, it’s not a straight ‘Yes and No’ answer.
Because coffee comes in various “shapes and sizes”. Not the size of the cup or the shape of the cup. No, not that. I mean coffee is prepared in different ways.
More ways than you can imagine. In fact, I saw an ad the other day on facebook about ‘CBD oil with coffee’. Wow. If that’s not a contradiction in terms, I don’t know what is. But I digress there.
The answer as to whether drinking coffee will ruin your water fast will depend on what type of coffee. I know you are thinking, isn’t coffee just coffee?
Not quite. Because you can have coffee with cream, bulletproof coffee, plain black coffee without sugar or cream or milk, coffee with stevia, coffee with almond milk, coffee with collagen, coffee with monk fruit extract etc. And that’s just a tip of the iceberg when it comes to coffee preps.
Truth be told:
If you are having coffee with any other food added to it, You Are Breaking Your Fast. A true water fast is water only. Drinking anything else muddles the water (no pun intended).
The argument is whether having plain black coffee with nothing else in it breaks your fast or not. And we shall come to that in a minute.
Before then, let me talk about Bulletproof coffee and fasting.
Does Bulletproof Coffee break a fast?
It’s funny how we can try and msucle an argument over simple things just to suit our personal circumstances and sometimes to suit our pocket. Beware of commercial intentions behind what advice you are given.
Listening to podcasts about bulletproof coffee, tea break, calories, fats, ketones and healthy living, it’s amazing how we are are even debating if bulletproof coffee breaks a fast or not. Because it’s not debatable…at all. Remember our definition of a fast?
It’s funny that commercial interest will drive a debate in a direction that wants to make you scream at your smart phone or laptop device.
If you want to know the answer to the relationship between bulletproof coffee and fasting. Here it is.
Bulletproof coffee will break your fast. Period.
You can use bulletproof coffee to boost your fitness results if you want to. Nothing wrong with that. In fact, I encourage it. But just know that bulletproof coffee with break your intermittent fasting.
Why is this?
Okay, let’s look at what’s in a bulletproof coffee first of all. In fact, let’s make a cup of bulletproof coffee whilst we are at it.
How to make a bulletproof coffee
Here’s how you make 1 cup of bulletproof coffee
- Scoop 2 ½ heaping tablespoons of freshly ground Amazonian Coffee Beans made with a French Press. This preserves beneficial coffee oils that paper filters tend to sieve off.
- You add 1 – 2 tablespoons of Brain Octane Oil.You may use other Medium-chain triglyceride oils like Coconut oil instead.
- Then add 1-2 tablespoons of grass-fed, unsalted butter or grass-fed ghee butter. Ensure the butter is unsalted. The last thing you want is Salty coffee. Not nice!
- You may add a scoop of Collagen Powder. This is optional.
- Then blend all of these mixture for about 30 seconds or thereabout. Stop the blender when you have a foamy latte.
This is how you make a lovely, creamy coffee that will send your energy stores through the roof. Think endurance.
So, you have 1 – 2 tablespoons of Brain Octane oil fetching 125 – 250 calories and the butter bringing another 100 – 200 calories making a total of 225 – 450 calories. This is liquid food, by all accounts.
Liquid food like Bulletproof coffee breaks your fast
If you are consuming anything with calories in it, you’re by definition breaking your fast. It’s that simple.
We can argue as to whether consuming bulletproof coffee is a good thing or bad thing, and I’ll clarify that in a minute. But what’s not up for argument is; if bulletproof coffee breaks your fast or not.
Because let it be known here; bulletproof coffee breaks your fast. It sure does.
If you’re potentially consuming those amounts of calories in bulletproof coffee, then you’re techically eating and indeed you are breaking your fast.
I think the question we should be answering is; does it matter at all that you break your fast with bulletproof coffee?
What about Collagen and fasting?
Before I get to that, let me quickly answer the question, does collagen break my fast? If you want to know if collagen will break your fast or not, the answer is; yes, it will.
Collagen will break your fast because it is protein and it contains calories. In fact, 1 gm of Collagen powder will furnish you with 4 Calories.
Hence, if you consume collagen during your fast, you are also technically eating. Because you are consuming calories. Fasting should be a calorie-free endeavour. Adding collagen powder to any drink would mean you are administering calories during your fast.
What about coffee with cream, dairy milk and Nut milk and fasting?
The same thing applies to having your coffee with cream or dairy milk or any nut milk like almond milk. If you consume coffee with cream, dairy milk, almond milk, hazelnut milk, hemp milk, cashew nut milk, goat milk, you are breaking your fast for the same afore-mentioned reason.
What about plain black coffee.
Does plain black coffee break a fast?
No, plain black coffee without any added sugar does not break your fast. Indeed, you may even add a calorie-free sweetner as stated above, if you like and you still will not break your intermittent fasting schedule with black coffee.
The reason is; plain black coffee has no calories. It might have some influence on insulin but that effect is sub-clinical, so long as you don’t have added sugar, added cream, added nut milk or added dairy milk.
Plain black coffee will not stimulate insulin secretion significant enough to blunt the hormonal benefits of intermittent fasting.
So, does breaking your fast with Coffee really matter?
Let’s start with bulletproof coffee. One reason bulletproof coffee became popular and indeed the reason we are talking about it now is because of Dave Asprey.
He was hiking in the Tibet mountainous regions and he was served coffee with Yak butter during his hiking escapades.
He noticed that he could hike for longer, his endurance was so much better and he wasn’t hungry for hours on end. He felt so much better and naturally when he got back home, he publicized this discovery and here we are.
We’re talking about bulletproof coffee as a standalone concept in fitness. Thanks to that serendipity.
The point is, yes, you’ll break your fast with bulletproof coffee but the fitness benefits are so much more.
You would fast for longer because the fat in the coffee keeps hunger at bay and you’ll still burn fat. Indeed, the longer you fast, the more the benefits especially when it comes to autophagy.
Fat does not stimulate insulin much, so that effect is negligible. And if you are already deep in ketosis, bulletproof coffee will not kick you out of ketosis. You should be fine staying in ketosis with bulletproof coffee.
Some people will argue that you’ll burn more fat if you didn’t have the bulletproof coffee at all. That may be true but there’s a way around that that I’ll tell you shortly.
What about coffee effect on AMPK enzyme?
Well in case you don’t know about AMPK, it is Adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK). This is an enzyme you want to upregulate if you want to burn fat.
AMPK promotes fat burning whilst inhibiting fat storage. The good news is that the caffeine in coffee actually upregulates this enzyme which works in your favour. It not only does that. The caffeine in coffee is also involved in repair activities like blood vessel wall damage repair through this AMPK enzyme.
Chlorogenic acid in Coffee does what?
Coffee is one food that has chlorogenic acid in it. Guess what chlorogenic acid does?
Chlorogenic acid is involved in the delay of glucose absorption from the intestines and promotes the entry of glucose inside the skeletal muscle cell. The net effect is; lowering of blood glucose. That’s what you want.
By the way, chlorogenic acid is also found in caffeinated tea.
Will Coffee affect Autophagy?
Did you know that we all have cancer cells in our bodies every now and again. The reason these cancer cells don’t progress is because of the process called autophagy.
Autophagy is a physiological process whereby our bodies eat up these ‘bad, disordered cells’ that potentially can lead to cancer. This is what this scientific paper that confirmed coffee does promote autophagy in mice said about autophagy.
“Autophagy preferentially targets damaged macromolecules (such as unfolded and aggregated proteins) and organelles (such as dysfunctional mitochondria), it contributes to ridding the cytoplasm of aged structures and hence potentially “rejuvenates” non-nuclear portions of the cell”
That quote above might be too geeky for you but the take home message from that research is that coffee does not interfere with Autophagy. This is good news because autophagy is one of the selling points of intermittent fasting.
It will be a tragedy if drinking coffee inhibited autophagy. I particularly love this because it means drinking coffee will not ruin a water fast.
What about coffee effect on insulin?
Opinion is divided as far as the effect of coffee on insulin and insulin sensitivity is concerned. This paper talks about that.
Looking at all the research, it is clear that there may a short-term reduction in insulin sensitivity when you take coffee. But that may not matter much if tissues like your brain that prefer to use glucose as its energy source metabolize the glucose quickly.
This effect actually applies to people who do not drink coffee often. Because for habitual coffee drinkers, coffee actually increases insulin sensitivity.
Will coffee kick you out of ketosis?
I know this is always a concern for individuals on the ketogenic diet doing intermittent fasting as part of the ‘package’. Well be rest assured that drinking coffee (even bulletproof coffee) will not kick you out of ketosis.
Why, because caffeine in coffee actually increases plasma ketones. So, rather than worry about possible negative effect of caffeine in coffee or tea on ketone production, you should celebrate it because the opposite is true.
This reasearch tells us that caffeine drunk at breakfast actually stimulated ketone production by a whopping 88%. Nice!
What I suggest you do:
Use your coffee if you want to regardless of the fact that you are doing intermittent fasting. Don’t let it bother you.
If you are so concerned about any negative effect, be reassured by what you have read here on this page. I am telling you that it is okay to drink coffee while fasting.
==> Use black coffee if you are still dubious about it. Do not add any other ingredient, although a calorie-free sweetner should not cause any disruption to your fasting plans.
==> If you want to use bulletproof coffee, you may want to delay it until the last hour before your workout. That way any calories arising from using the bulletproof coffee will be used up during your workout. Cool!
Remember, Dave Asprey who “invented” bulletproof coffee used to drink it and then go for his energy-sapping hikes. He didn’t drink it and went sedentary. He moved…a lot. He didn’t sit around doing very little.
Hence, I will recommend you do the same and you shouldn’t have to worry about the calories in bulletproof coffee. Not one bit should you be worried if you adopted this approach.
Let me know what you think about this piece. Have I done justice to this all-important topic. Please leave your comments below. I’ll appreciate it.
Suggested further reading:
1 Unique Spice That BEATS Abdominal Fat (plus controls blood sugar)