If you are in a position where you find yourself needing to lose weight, deciding what diet to follow can be one of the most difficult decisions. It seems simple enough: eat fewer calories, and you will lose weight.
However, with the overwhelming plethora of popular diets to choose from, many people get “paralysis by analysis,” meaning that there are just so many options that they end up not being able to choose any diet and move forward with their weight loss plans.
Intermittent fasting is one of the more popular approaches to weight loss, and unlike many popular diets, with intermittent fasting, you don’t have to worry so much about what you can and cannot eat, but rather just when you can or cannot eat.
This can make intermittent fasting appealing to people who don’t want to give up certain foods or food groups altogether. When it’s time to eat, you can enjoy the foods you like in moderation.
However, what can you drink during fasting itself? What foods can you have while intermittent fasting to get through the fast? This article will give suggestions for what to eat during intermittent fasting and what to drink during intermittent fasting.
We will cover:
- What Is Intermittent Fasting?
- What Can You Eat During Fasting?
- What Can You Drink During Fasting?
Let’s get started!
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is a broad term to describe a type of diet that is defined not by what you can and cannot eat but by when you can and cannot eat.
There are many different approaches to intermittent fasting schedules, some of which involve restricting the window of time that you can eat in a day (time-restricted eating intermittent fasting), whereas others involve fasting or severely restricting caloric intake every other day (alternate day intermittent fasting).
With any intermittent fasting schedule, only water, black coffee, tea, and other calorie-free beverages are permitted during the fasting period. You cannot consume any food or caloric beverages.
As mentioned, there are no rules about what you can eat when it is actually time for you to eat, but as with any diet, the goal should be to try to consume nourishing foods in a well-balanced, healthy diet.
Intermittent fasting is a popular dietary approach for weight loss, but there can be other potential health benefits —such as decreased inflammation, improved cellular health by way of increased autophagy, and improvements in cardiovascular health—which spur some people to take this approach to their dietary habits.
What Can You Eat During Fasting?
It may sound like an odd question—what can you eat during fasting? After all, by definition, fasting technically involves abstaining from consuming all caloric food or beverages. With that said, depending on how strict you want to be with your fasting, you can drink a few things during intermittent fasting.
Technically, you can eat nothing during intermittent fasting, as any caloric foods will likely take you out of the fasted state.
However, it is important to note that whenever you take on any diet or a dietary approach, including intermittent fasting or water fasting—whether a time-restricted intermittent fasting diet like 16/8 intermittent fasting or multi-day water fast—you need to make the diet work for you.
There are no laws against adjusting or modifying diet rules to make the diet more feasible or healthier for you.
So, for example, even though you aren’t technically supposed to eat or drink anything that contains calories while fasting, if you need to have a small number of calories spaced out during the fast to help you get through, that is fine.
There is very little research pointing to the specifics about how many calories you can eat to keep your body in a sustained fasting state such that the amount of energy coming in is not enough to induce metabolic effects that make the body switch “off” the benefits of fasting and start trying to use the calories you have consumed for energy.
Some intermittent fasting “experts” say that your body will remain in a fasted state as long as you stay under 50 calories.
However, there isn’t much scientific evidence to necessarily substantiate this seemingly arbitrary number, nor is it particularly clear about the timeframe within which these 50 calories can be consumed. Is it 50 calories per hour? 50 calories per day?
As can be seen, there is still a lot that we have yet to learn about intermittent fasting, the metabolic benefits of fasting, and the effects of eating a few calories while fasting.
Therefore, if you do feel a strong urge to drink or eat during intermittent fasting and you’re willing to give yourself some latitude on having a few calories, here are some ideas of what to eat during intermittent fasting.
Again, keep in mind that eating during intermittent fasting isn’t technically permitted if you want to be strict with your fasting.
#1: Basil Leaves
Adding basil to your water or club soda can add flavor, or you can chew on the leaves if you feel like you really want to eat during intermittent fasting. A quarter cup of basil (about 10 leaves or 6 grams) contains only 1-2 calories, while a full cup contains about 6 calories.
Like basil, parsley is very low in calories. There are about 4 calories in 10 sprigs. You can chew on parsley or add it to water.
#3: Iceberg Lettuce
Nibbling on a little bit of iceberg lettuce may work if you’re willing to give yourself some latitude to consume a few calories while intermittent fasting and really want to eat.
One cup (57 grams) of iceberg lettuce provides only 8 calories, along with some vitamin A, vitamin K, and folate.
Watercress is a super nutritious green leafy vegetable that contains only 4 calories per cup (34 grams). One cup also provides 120% of the DV for vitamin A, 71% of the DV for vitamin K, and 16% of the DV for vitamin C.
#5: Swiss Chard
Swiss chard is another nutrition dark, leafy green that is quite low in calories yet high in vitamins and minerals.
It is particularly high in vitamins A, C, and K, containing 249% of the DV of vitamin K per cup. Plus, one cup of chard (36 grams) provides only 7 calories.
Therefore, a few leaves of Swiss chard can be a reasonable thing to eat during intermittent fasting if your stomach is growling and you feel like you have to eat something.
Radishes are slightly higher in calories than lettuce, watercress, or herbs, but they contain only 19 calories per cup.
Therefore, if you have just one or two every few hours, you will probably not take yourself out of the fasted state, and the crunch can be more satisfying and help you feel like you are eating during intermittent fasting more so than having a few leaves of lettuce.
You will also get potassium, folate, and vitamin C.
Celery can be a good food to eat during intermittent fasting if you are permissive with yourself in terms of eating a few calories because it’s crunchy, contains fiber, and takes some time to eat, helping you feel like you were able to eat something.
One full cup of celery (120 grams) has only 19 calories, so if you have just a stalk or two periodically during a prolonged fast, you should not induce many metabolic changes that take you out of a fasted state.
Cucumbers are primarily water, so they are very low in calories. If you’re looking for something to drink during intermittent fasting, you can add cucumber slices to your water to add a bit of flavor and then suck on or eat the cucumbers afterward.
One half-cup serving of cucumbers (52 grams) has only 8 calories.
Clear soup stocks and broths can provide the sodium and electrolytes you need without many calories, making these liquids good foods to eat while fasting.
One bouillon cube contains about 11 calories. Broth is lower in carbohydrates and calories than stock, so it tends to be a better option for what to eat during fasting. Additionally, although bone broth is packed with nutrients, it is also higher in calories and will take you out of the fasted state.
With that said, bone broth is one of the best foods to eat to break a fast since it contains highly-digestible collagen protein and tons of vitamins and minerals.
#10: Sugar-Free Jello
Although certainly not nutritious and not recommended as part of a “healthy diet,” sugar-free jello can be an option for something to eat during fasting if you’re really needing the sensation of eating something.
One serving (117 grams) provides about 23 calories. However, keep in mind that you’ll get no nutritional value, and artificial colors and sweeteners are unhealthy.
Therefore, if you are fasting to improve your health, it is not a good idea to indulge in sugar-free gelatin desserts while fasting.
What Can You Drink During Fasting?
Now let’s get into a bit more detail about what to drink during intermittent fasting.
While fasting, you can drink non-caloric beverages like unsweetened tea, water, club soda, or seltzer.
Unsweetened electrolyte tablets or powders are also recommended. The sodium can help you feel fuller and will prevent electrolyte imbalances.
Black coffee is also technically permitted during an intermittent fasting diet because the caloric content is so small that it is not thought to induce metabolic changes that take you out of the fasting state.
One cup (240 ml) of black coffee only contains about 3 calories, along with just trace amounts of protein, fat, and minerals.
Overall, although you shouldn’t technically eat anything while fasting, having some very low-calorie foods during prolonged fasts can be a tenable option, especially for those new to fasting.
Additionally, you can drink non-caloric beverages during fasting.
Remember, you need to make your diet work for you. Having a few calories while intermittent fasting shouldn’t sabotage your results and may help you get through the fast.
If you would like to get into the nitty gritty of intermittent fasting schedules, check out our article: The Complete Guide To Intermittent Fasting Schedules.
With time-restricted intermittent eating, you don't eat any food while fasting and only consume drinks with very few calories, such as water or black, unsweetened coffee and tea. During the periods when you do eat, try to follow a healthy diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean protein.What liquids can you drink while fasting? ›
Plain or carbonated water contains no calories and will keep you hydrated during a fast. Coffee and tea. These should mostly be consumed without added sugar, milk, or cream. However, some people find that adding small amounts of milk or fat can curb hunger.What can I drink to keep my fasting? ›
- Water and sparkling water, which you can flavour with fresh lime, lemon, or a splash of sugar-free juice.
- Coffee (usually best enjoyed black)
- Tea (usually best enjoyed without milk or sugar)
- Bone broth.
With any intermittent fasting schedule, only water, black coffee, tea, and other calorie-free beverages are permitted during the fasting period.Can you eat anything while fasting? ›
Strictly speaking, any amount of calories will break a fast. If a person follows a strict fasting schedule, they should avoid any food or drinks containing calories. Those following a modified fasting diet can often eat up to 25% of their daily calorie needs while fasting.Does lemon water break a fast? ›
Long story short - the answer to the question “Does lemon water break a fast?” is no, lemon water does not break a fast. Lemon water contains almost no calories and zero sugars, it doesn't raise insulin levels, which means it will not break your fast (1).Can I drink lemon water while fasting? ›
No sugar or salt is added. Is lemon water allowed during intermittent fasting? The short answer is YES, as lemon water is considered a non-caloric (zero calorie) beverage. Lemons are so low in calories that when you add a small amount of lemon juice to water, the calorie content is negligible.What not to eat or drink while fasting? ›
- Coffee or tea with milk, sugar or cream added to them.
- Soft drinks that contain sugar or other sweeteners with calories.
- Lattes, cappuccinos, and other coffee drinks.
- Alcoholic drinks.
One of the common problems with eating after fasting is the tendency to overeat or binge eat. Overeating after fasting is especially common if you consume processed foods and high-glycemic carbohydrates such as breakfast cereals, white bread, pasta, bagels, cookies, pastries, and jelly.How long is good fasting? ›
Some people do very well fasting for 20 to 24 hours a day, whereas other people are best served with more moderate fasting lengths of 14 to 18 hours or so. What is this? The benefits of fasting will be somewhat dependent on how long you fast for.
Eggs. As another high-protein food, eggs are one of the best foods to eat after fasting. Eggs are a complete source of protein, which means that they contain all nine essential amino acids. They also contain several important vitamins and minerals.Will Gatorade Zero break a fast? ›
Do Electrolyte Drinks Like Gatorade Zero, Powerade Zero, and Vitamin Water Zero Break A Fast? Technically since these electrolyte drinks have no calories and no effect on blood glucose levels, they will not affect your intermittent fasting results.What truly breaks a fast? ›
Summary. Consuming any calories breaks a fast. However, research has shown that some mechanisms behind fasting's benefits, like ketosis, remain active with the consumption of a few certain macronutrients.What is dirty fasting? ›
Dirty fasting is a term used to describe a type of modified fasting that allows for a small amount of calories—usually around 100—during a fasting window. Strictly speaking, if you're eating any calories during a fast, you're no longer fasting.What if you are hungry while fasting? ›
Unless you are fasting for religious reasons, staying hydrated is a simple way to reduce your hunger levels. Not only will water help you to feel less hungry when you are fasting, but it will also improve every aspect of your health, and boost your energy levels.
Eating, drinking, and sexual activities are not allowed between dawn (fajr), and sunset (maghrib). Fasting is considered an act of deeply personal worship in which Muslims seek a raised level of closeness to God. It helps them acknowledge Allah as the source of all sustenance.What is the best morning drink while fasting? ›
Drink: Water and seltzer
Water is naturally calorie-free so there's no need to restrict it, says Palinski-Wade. Water in general is a good idea to sip on during fasting times to ensure hydration but also as a way to fill your stomach and prevent hunger.
Some people choose to also have non-caloric beverages like green tea, herbal tea, club soda, or very low-calorie beverages such as black coffee during the fast. It's also advisable to consider supplementing your water with noncaloric, unsweetened electrolyte powders or having electrolyte tablets or capsules.What can I drink while fasting for 7 days? ›
Actually doing a 7 day water fast is simple—drink only water (and/or plain tea or black coffee if you want) for a full seven days.