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Introduction: Stevia While Fasting – The Sweet Dilemma

Fasting has become an increasingly popular way to detox, reset, and improve physical and mental well-being. But many people are left asking themselves – can I use stevia while intermittent fasting

Can I utilize a sugar substitute like Stevia without compromising my fast? If you’ve been wondering this, too, then read on to find out the answers! 

Can I Use Stevia While Fasting?

This article explores all the facts about stevia and fasting. You’ll learn why it’s crucial to understand how our body reacts when combining these two things and how each type of fast may be affected by using sweeteners such as stevia. 

So, let’s get started – it’s time to unravel the sweet dilemma of stevia during fasting!

A Dive into Health: What Kind of Stevia is Healthiest?

When we talk about stevia, it’s essential to differentiate between whole-leaf stevia, stevia extracts, and commercial stevia-based sweeteners.

1. Whole Leaf Stevia

This is the closest to the natural form, derived directly from the stevia plant’s leaves. Some believe this to be the healthiest form because it undergoes minimal processing. However, it can have a somewhat bitter aftertaste for some folks.

2. Commercial Stevia-based Sweeteners

These can vary in their composition. Some contain natural flavors, bulking agents, or other sweeteners like erythritol with sugar alcohols. They’re formulated to reduce the natural bitterness of stevia. If you’re looking for the healthiest option, look for products with minimal additives and fillers.

3. High-purity Steviol Glycosides

These extracts from the stevia leaf have 95% or more purity. This form is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by many health organizations, including the FDA, and is often used as one of the most popular commercial products in this area. It has a cleaner, sweeter taste than whole-leaf stevia.

Can I Use Stevia While Fasting

Unmasking the Myth: Does Stevia Break Intermittent Fasting?

The effect of stevia on your fast also depends on your fasting goals. If you’re fasting strictly for weight loss, stevia might not be a significant concern due to its non-caloric nature. However, if you’re fasting for autophagy or strict insulin management, you might approach stevia more cautiously.

  • Insulin response. Some believe that non-sweeteners in fasting states can stimulate an insulin response. Studies on stevia and insulin response have produced mixed results, with some indicating a minor effect and others showing negligible to no impact.

Artificial Sweeteners in Fasting – Synthetic Sugar Substitutes

Aspartame, sucralose, and saccharin have negligible or zero calories. This means they won’t contribute to energy intake during a fast.

  • Artificial sweeteners can stimulate an insulin response. It’s best to proceed cautiously if your fasting goal is strict insulin management.
  • Some research has indicated that certain artificial sweeteners might alter the gut microbiota – with negative implications for digestive health and metabolism.
  • Even without caloric content, the sweet taste (sucralose) might trigger hunger or cravings.
  • While most artificial sweeteners are deemed safe for consumption by health authorities like the FDA, ensuring moderation and awareness is always crucial.

Nature’s Own: Natural Sweeteners for Fasting

Stevia

Derived from the stevia plant leaves, this zero-calorie sweetener has gained popularity for not affecting blood sugar levels. Does stevia affect fasting? Some concerns about insulin response exist, but generally, it’s a favorite for many fasters.

Monk Fruit (Luo Han Guo)

Another calorie-free sweetener, monk fruit extract, has mogrosides that provide sweetness without impacting blood sugar.

Yacon Syrup

Extracted from the yacon plant’s roots, this syrup has a low glycemic index and is prebiotic, meaning it feeds good gut bacteria. However, it contains some calories, so use sparingly if strictly watching calories.

Coconut Sugar

Made from coconut palm tree sap, this sugar contains calories and carbs. While it has a slightly lower glycemic index than regular sugar, it can break a strict fast because it’s still food.

Honey & Maple Syrup

Though natural and containing beneficial compounds, they also pack calories and carbs. These are likely to disrupt a strict fast but can be part of a broader healthy diet.

Also read – How Many Calories to Eat During Intermittent Fasting

Stevia and Intermittent Fasting: A Symbiotic Relationship?

Stevia, a natural, calorie-free sweetener, has been eyed by many in the intermittent fasting (IF) community. But can they coexist harmoniously?

  • A primary appeal of stevia during fasting is its lack of calories. This means it won’t contribute to energy intake during a fast.
  • Stevia during intermittent fasting doesn’t raise blood sugar levels, making it attractive to those fasting for glucose management or ketogenic benefits.
  • For some, the sweet taste of stevia during a fasting window can help curb sweet cravings, making the fasting period more manageable. 

Ketosis and Sweeteners: Does Stevia Break Ketosis Progress?

Navigating the keto landscape means keeping an eagle eye on carbs. How does stevia fare in this low-carb realm?

Pure stevia is essentially carb-free, making it an excellent choice for those on a keto diet. Thus, from a carbohydrate perspective, it won’t kick you out of ketosis.

One of the critical benefits of stevia is that it doesn’t spike glucose, which aligns well with the goals of a ketogenic diet!

How Long Does Stevia Stay in Your Body? The Lifespan of Sweetness

After consumption, steviol glycosides (the sweet compounds in stevia) get broken down in the gut into steviol. This process happens relatively quickly.

Steviol is then absorbed into the bloodstream and primarily excreted through urine. 

  • A significant proportion of ingested steviol glycosides is excreted within 24 hours.
  • By 48-72 hours, the majority, if not all, of the steviol should be excreted from your system.

Unlike some compounds, steviol glycosides don’t accumulate in the body. This is why stevia is considered safe for daily consumption over long periods.

Treading the Fine Line: How Much Stevia is Too Much?

The World Health Organization has determined an Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) for steviol glycosides (the sweet compounds in stevia) at 4 mg/kg of body weight, expressed as steviol. 

This means, for example, that a person weighing 70kg (about 154lbs) can safely consume 280mg of steviol equivalents per day.

Perspective

To give some context, a typical serving of a “stevia benefits weight loss” tabletop sweetener might have anywhere from 50 to 400 mg of steviol glycosides.

Remember, however, that the amount of pure steviol in such a product is only a fraction of this, so, in practice, one would have to consume quite a bit of stevia to approach the ADI.

Symptoms of overconsumption

Consuming an excessive amount might lead to the following:

  • Digestive discomfort
  • Nausea
  • Feeling of fullness

These symptoms tend to be more about the body’s reaction to a significant amount of any substance rather than something unique to stevia.

Also read – Sweeten Your Success: Embrace the No Sugar Challenge

Can I Drink Coffee with Stevia While Fasting? The Morning Brew Query

For the vast majority engaging in intermittent fasting, a morning brew with a touch of stevia is unlikely to disrupt the primary benefits of their fast. 

Both black coffee and pure stevia are virtually calorie-free. This means they won’t contribute noteworthy energy during your fast, making them suitable for most fasting protocols.

Coffee with stevia while fasting can stimulate metabolism and may even enhance the fat-burning benefits of fasting. However, it’s worth noting that some individuals are concerned about any sweet taste potentially producing an insulin response. Research on this front is mixed, with some studies suggesting a minor effect from stevia, while others show minimal to no impact.

If you’re fasting specifically for autophagy (the body’s way of cleaning out damaged cells), it’s currently unclear if either coffee or stevia might impact this process. 

Does Tea with Stevia Break a Fast? A Sip Away from Breaking? 

Pure stevia contains virtually no calories. Similarly, plain tea (black, green, or herbal) without additives is also calorie-free. So, from a caloric standpoint, combining the two won’t break a fast.

One of the primary concerns with any sweetener during fasting is its potential effect on insulin. As a non-nutritive sweetener, stevia has been shown in some studies to have a negligible impact on insulin levels. Still, individual reactions can vary.

Some find that certain sweeteners, including stevia, can cause minor digestive discomfort when consumed in large quantities. However, it’s generally well-tolerated in the modest amounts used to sweeten tea.

How to Use Stevia When Fasting

How to Use Stevia When Fasting – The Sweetener Handbook

1. Picking the Right Product

Be vigilant when shopping for stevia. Commercial stevia products are mixed with other fillers or sweeteners (like dextrose or maltodextrin) that can potentially spike blood sugar. Aim for 100% pure stevia extract.

2. Caloric Range

Stevia is calorie-free, making it an excellent choice during fasting. This ensures that you won’t break your fast from a caloric standpoint.

3. Mixing with Drinks

Stevia is a popular choice for beverages during a fast. Whether it’s tea, coffee, or just water with a hint of lemon, a drop or sprinkle of stevia can add that touch of sweetness without the calories.

4. Possible Insulin Response

Some studies have looked into whether stevia can cause an insulin response. Results are mixed, with most research suggesting that stevia has minimal to no effect on insulin, especially in the amounts typically used for sweetening beverages.

5. Moderation is Key

Even though stevia is calorie-free, using it in moderation ensures you don’t inadvertently trigger cravings or overstimulate taste buds, which could tempt you to eat.

6. Beware of Blends

Many sweetener packets labeled “stevia” might be blended with other 

sugar substitutes, such as erythritol. While some of these combinations might still be fasting-friendly, knowing what you consume is essential.

7. Liquid vs. Powdered

Liquid stevia extracts often have fewer additives than powdered versions, making them a better choice during fasting.

8. Adjust to Taste 

Remember, stevia is considerably sweeter than sugar. Start with a small amount and adjust based on your preference. Overdoing it can result in an overly sweet taste with a slightly bitter aftertaste for some people.

Stevia can be a fasting-friendly companion for those craving a touch of sweetness without the caloric content. As with all aspects of diet and health, individual experiences might vary. 

So, listen to your body and adjust your stevia usage accordingly. Stay sweet and steadfast on your fasting path!

Conclusion

So, is stevia okay for intermittent fasting? The decision to use stevia in fasting is entirely yours. If you choose to fast with no sugar substitutes, you can ensure your fast is successful without much hassle. Alternatively, why not if adding a low-calorie sweetener such as stevia helps you make it through your fast? 

Ultimately, you should experiment and find out what works for you and fits your values and beliefs. Pay attention to how your body responds so you know if there are any adverse effects from the stevia or other sweeteners you experiment with. 

If anything feels off or strange – adjust! Most importantly, remember that fasts aren’t always just about food – they are more than physical – they allow us to practice self-care and connect with our true selves. 

Doctor of Physical Therapy, Strength and Conditioning Specialist

Alex is a health sciences writer with experience in sports performance and rehabilitation settings. His areas of expertise include health and fitness, sports nutrition, and injury prevention. He is passionate about health science education and health/wellness optimization for people of all ages.

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