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How many calories break a fast? This is one of the most common and frequently asked questions about intermittent fasting. Any number of calories taken during a fasting period will break your fast.
Some people usually eat more than 500 calories on their last meal on their fasting days. This does not help anyway, let’s get into the concept of fasting and how a fast breaks!
1. Break A Fast
For example, if any fuel comes into your body in calories, it will break your fast. There can be two types of definitions, dirty fasting, and clean fasting. However, none have a clear purpose since it varies from person to person.
Generally, fasting is when people do not consume anything for a certain period.
However, dirty fasting is an all-new practice used by some people who engage in intermittent fasting. It usually means consuming some calories during the fasting window. In comparison, clean fasting means restricting calorie intake from food and beverages.
During dirty fasting, people can consume up to 100 calories during their fasting windows. The calories consumed can be from milk, the artificial sweeteners in coffee and tea, or a cup of bone broth. However, since there is no definition of dirty fasting, some people tend to have more than 100 calories during their fasting.
Even fasting advocates say that consuming a few calories doesn’t break a fast. It also makes it a lot easier to maintain a fasting regimen. If you are fasting, you should ask yourself why you are fasting. And what are the benefits of fasting?
There are multiple benefits of intermittent fasting. Health benefits include:
- Blood sugar control
- Inflammation reduction
- Muscle gain
- Insulin resistance
- Ketones production to increase longevity
Out of these benefits, the most common uses of fasting are:
- Gut Rest
- Weight Loss
Eventually, you will break your fast if the food, drink, and calorie intake fails to meet the fasting benefits.
2. What Should You Eat on Intermittent Fasting
There are plenty of benefits between a strict water-only fast and eating a full-blown meal.
Fasting advocates agree that it is acceptable to consume certain caloric foods in small quantities. Moreover, it will help you stick to the intermittent fasting plan since some foods maintain many fasting benefits while keeping you sane.
If you are on dirty fasting, you can only try water fasting. Generally, most people can stay up to 13-14 hours with only water. Then you can start your dirty fast with tea made with almond milk.
If you are trying to improve your gut health, then you should not take more than 50 grams of carbohydrates on a fasting day. The impacts of fasting and a low-carb diet on the gut microbiome depend on the fast.
Whether you are on a water-only fast or a very low-calorie diet with a small amount of food consumed, the benefits will vary for both cases. The benefits will be the same if the ingested food is of standard food amount.
There are some food items that you can eat to break a fast. They have calories and technically break the fasting, but they still deliver many of intermittent fasting’s perks.
2.1. Coffee And Tea
Coffee and tea both have fewer calories which cannot reduce the benefits of fasting. However, these drinks can slightly reduce autophagy.
It is well known that both drinks can help one stick with their fast. Caffeine also has some benefits for the fasting window, such as appetite control, which can be the needle mover for some people towards their fasting window.
But, if you are not getting any help from caffeine consumption, then you must stop doing it or reduce the amount of caffeine. Then see if it helps.
2.2. Healthy Fats
It is widespread among people who like to have coffee blended with MCT oil in between their fasting periods. The MCT oil can be grass-fed butter, ghee, or coconut oil, which technically breaks your fast and reduces some autophagy. Moreover, this can curb cravings while maintaining successful immediate benefits.
If losing weight is not your main agenda from fasting, you can consume a healthy form of fat during your fasting period.
Burning fat for people looking for moderate body composition changes or maintenance by fasting, then a fat fast is best for them. A body with a low-fat level can drive imbalances in hormones.
However, a pure water-only fast or zero-calories is best for people who want to lose fat from fasting.
Fat Fast also helps people who have high blood sugar levels. Consuming some amount of fat during the fast can elevate insulin levels and cortisol levels. This may trigger hunger or cravings and even prompt you to eat.
Moreover, a little fat in the morning helps you keep the bowels regular.
2.3. Bone Broth
This liquid is frequently touted as “acceptable” in a fast. It can be a smart addition to your fast, depending on your goals. But, to be clear, this can break your fast.
Bone broth can reduce hunger and improve fasting compliance when delivering necessary minerals and electrolytes.
If you are fasting for more than 16 hours with only water, it can lower your electrolyte levels. This can lead to:
- Low blood pressure
- Muscle spasms
But if you do not want to add bone broth to your fast, then you can add a teaspoon or two of mineral-rich sea salt to your water. Bone broth is rich in gelatin and other amino acids like glutamine. This can be exceptionally beneficial if you are looking for your gut health.
Glutamine and some high-protein foods fuel a process called mTOR, preventing autophagy. So it’s better not to overdo it and continuously sip on bone broth or coffee spiked with collagen powder ahead of your feeding period. It needs more glutamine to negate all the benefits together.
3. How Many Calories Break A Fast
Intermittent fasting is a prevalent concept in this generation. People often tend to follow this rule to lose weight. Intermittent fasting is also known as alternate-day fasting.
In this type of fasting, people typically eat on other days and can eat about 50 calories on the fasting day. This helps in weight loss and also keeps the system healthy.
However, some people eat within a 6 or 8-hour feeding window and then fast for the rest of 16-18 hours. If you want to check that you are in a fasting state, then take in zero calories during your fasting window.
How many calories break a fast? This is the most common question. Eating anything during a fast can end your fasting period.
3.1. The 50-Calorie Rule
The 50-calorie rule is something we get to see everywhere. People familiar with the term intermittent fasting are also familiar with this term.
It generally means intaking 50 calories on the fasting day without breaking the fast. Intaking 50 calories through food or drink is considered okay in this process. However, there is no evidence of it being effective to date.
This practice is good because one can get away with some calories without breaking the fast. It is also straightforward and convenient. Eating one meal daily does not break a fast unless it is more than 50 calories.
There remains a flaw in this rule that states that not all calories are made equal. The right amount of calories is not always mentioned in the food or drink we take; hence, one can eat even more than 50 calories on a fasting day.
The food we eat is not just about calories, it is also about the measure of energy. The meal we intake regularly is considered information for our body. This information triggers a lot of biological processes within our bodies.
It is also essential to notice the response of our hormones to these calories. Especially during a fast, it is essential to see the reaction of the hormones to the calories to get the benefits of fasting.
Even if you are fasting for fat loss and eat 50 calories of cream in your coffee, your fat-burning process will stop for the next thirty minutes. On consumption of every 36 calories of cream, your fat-burning mode will be delayed by one hour.
3.2. One-Calorie Rule
For some people, water-only intermittent fasting is an excellent idea, whereas, for others, it’s not. This is where the one-calorie rule comes in.
Staying on just water the entire day can be stressful for some people. Some feel weak and dizzy, and this doesn’t serve the purpose of fasting rather makes a person more ill. In that case, it is better to opt for some calorie intake.
This way, it doesn’t break a fast and provides the benefits of fasting. However, technically any amount of calories breaks a fast. A small number of calories can even stop the fasting’s perks—ketosis, which is the main reason behind the fasting benefit’s increased fat burn. The intake of certain macronutrients remains active.
But, if you are thinking about a cup of tea or coffee that hardly contains two or three calories, and breaks your fast, then it is not so. It will not harm your fast if you drink coffee with cream, milk, or sweetener.
However, much debate has been over “coffee break a fast.” Unless your coffee has more calories, you do not need to worry about it.
4. Avoid Zero-Calories During Fasting
You should always avoid zero-calorie sugar during your fasting period. It would help if you avoided it even in your complete meal, be it at any time.
Does zero-calorie break a fast? Zero-calories artificial sugar does not breakfast, and it can disrupt your gut balance and cause many problems.
Insulin harms fasting and sometimes may drive blood sugar drops. The sweet taste of the zero-calorie sugar impacts the GLP-1 receptors on the tongue. This enhances insulin release. Most people lose weight when their insulin levels fluctuate.
The causes can be more miserable and hangry by this. So it would be best if you avoided this zero-calorie meal.
Maintaining an eating window, drinking enough water, exercising, and taking proper rest are essential daily to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Practicing intermittent fasting is also helpful in maintaining good health, and it helps control body weight and cut calories for a day.
It is unnecessary to always look at the calories for breaking a fast, and it is more about consistency. The more consistent you are, the better the results will be.
The concept of breaking a fast varies from person to person. A glass of black coffee, diet soda, or bone broth effectively sees the fasting window to the finish.
The more flexible one gets, the more consistent one becomes. Keeping a fast for days after days or even weeks after weeks increases confidence, increasing consistency.
Some increase the time of their fasting window, some switch to black coffee and diet soda, some only consume calories necessary for the proper functioning of the body, some switch to herbal teas, and some eat very carefully. People are often seen opting for water-only fasting as well.