Intermittent Fasting and Alcohol: Can I Drink While I Fast?
Introduction – What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is a form of fasting that allows for eating within a certain duration of time. What differentiates intermittent fasting from traditional fasting is that time cycles are established, which provides opportunities to schedule periods of fasts and eating to fit with one’s daily routine.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
According to experts, fasting poses many benefits including:
- Increased energy: Fasting has been shown to assist with mental clarity through emotional mastery of physical responses/food cravings.
- Activation of autophagy: Autophagy is the process of cell regeneration. This occurs when the body rids itself of dead/unhealthy cells and makes way for healthy cells. Intermittent fasting assists in this process by giving the body lengthier time windows to better digest foods and help with metabolism.
- Helps improve heart health: Research has shown that intermittent fasting methods help reduce cholesterol and improve heart health.
- May prevent high risks of cancer: Intermittent fasting is said to slow and even alter the progression of tumors.
Weight Loss and Intermittent Fasting
One of the well-known benefits and purposes of intermittent fasting includes weight loss. Weight loss occurs when the body enters a stage of ketosis, where the body begins to burn fat on its own rather than traditional glucose. The onset of ketosis occurs while maintaining a specific diet during fasting.
Ketosis starts approximately 12 hours after the last meal when the body begins to burn remaining glucose and begins the ketogenic process of carb reduction. Intermittent fasting is a recommended way to ease into ketogenic food while fasting to burn the remaining glucose. This is because intake is restricted to a cycle that allows for a time of resting during the period of fasting while eating can be allocated to during the day. (Usually an 8-hour window of food intake and 16-hour window of fasting).
To maintain ketosis, it is imperative to greatly reduce foods with high levels of carbs, because by the time ketosis has begun, the body reduces carbohydrates on its own as remaining glucose is eradicated. Foods such as berries, lean meats, leafy green vegetables, nuts, and seeds are ketogenic and can help to maintain the process of ketosis, thus leading to weight loss. As far as beverages, water is a top recommended option. However, the question remains, is it okay to have an occasional cocktail during this time?
Also read: Can You Eat When You’re Fasting?
Alcohol And Intermittent Fasting
Depending on the amount, drinking alcohol during intermittent fasting may impede the process of ketosis. Alcohol is shown to be dense in calories with 1g containing 7 calories, and one drink can contribute 100 or more calories.
That one drink may not completely impede or alter the process of intermittent fasting; however, it is important to be mindful of alcohol intake as excessive drinking (defined as more than 8-15 drinks per week) can lead to weight gain as well as other detrimental health issues.
When consumed in moderation, it is possible that alcohol can be enjoyed during intermittent fasting. Studies have shown that lighter alcohol beverages, such as red or white wine, may help to reduce weight gain and improve heart health.
Will Alcohol Break a Fast?
During a fasting period, alcohol can break the fast by contributing calories. Not to mention, drinking alcohol on an empty stomach can lead to a heightened chance of hangovers, with presenting symptoms of headaches, nausea, and vomiting. For this reason, it’s recommended to only drink during designated eating windows.
When drinking during these windows, different types of alcohol may pose different effects during intermittent fasting:
Being that mixed drinks include a variety of juices and sugars along with alcohol, they may impede weight loss during intermittent fasting as the high sugar content may affect the process of ketosis. Opting for cocktail recipes limited in sugar can help in enjoying an occasional mixed drink during this time.
These types of hard alcohols are carb-free, which can help in maintaining insulin and blood sugar levels during intermittent fasting. However, hard alcohol should not be consumed during a fasting window as it can reduce fat burning.
In moderation, dry wine can contain lower calories/sugars which has a low impact on the fasting process during eating windows.
Beer is considerably higher in starches and carbs being that it is grain-based. There are keto-approved beers including those labeled as a light that can be safe to drink during intermittent fasting.
Alternative Beverages and Intermittent Fasting
Recommended non-alcoholic beverages during this time include:
Coffee: Which is high in caffeine and acts as a natural diuretic. With no additives, coffee will not break fast.
Tea: Unsweetened tea or herbal teas are beneficial as they can provide additional benefits such as reducing bloating and helping with sleep and gut health. Green Tea, Black Tea, and Chamomile teas are some of the recommended options.
Sweeteners: Artificial sweeteners can be consumed during intermittent fasting in moderation. However, they may increase craving and appetite. Natural sweeteners, such as stevia are also recommended.
Alcohol is unlikely to greatly impede the intermittent fasting process. However, it does depend on the amount and the type of alcoholic drink consumed. Meals should never be replaced with an alcoholic drink and drinks should stay within the eating window. It is also important to hydrate with water before and after drinking alcohol.
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