Intermittent fasting or time restricted eating has been on the rise over the past few years. However, there is still quite a few misconceptions about what is acceptable to drink while intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting or time restricted eating is a time period away from consuming calories, and this comes with numerous health benefits. Some of these health benefits include fat loss, autophagy, increased immune function, and other neurological benefits. I highly recommend intermittent fasting for those who want more flexibility in their diet, and want to take advantage of these health benefits. Read more about intermittent fasting here.
We all know that us coffee drinkers need our morning coffee to get the day going! However, most of us like adding cream/sugar to make black coffee taste better. So those who switch to intermittent fasting are often disappointed that they cannot have their typical Starbucks Latte. Black coffee is very bitter and takes time to acquire a taste for it, but black coffee is acceptable to consume while intermittent fasting. I often get asked if adding cream or butter to coffee will break a fast, so this article is going to be taking a close look at the nutritional facts of cream and discussing if cream breaks your fast.
Does Cream Break My Fast?
Yes, adding cream or dairy products to your coffee will break your fast. This is due to cream containing macronutrients such as fat, carbohydrates, and protein which equates to consuming calories. Most creams contain sugar and/or artificial sweeteners as well which will break your fast. Although, most creams are very high in fat and lower in carbohydrates, so they do not cause a huge insulin spike, they still cause a noticeable rise in insulin depending on the type of cream. Not only that, but cream will activate gut digestion after consuming. So you will not be receiving any of the gut rest benefits or the longevity benefits of fasting. However, you will still increase metabolism and burn fat even with adding cream or butter to your coffee.
Cream Nutrition Label
First, let’s take a look at the nutrition label of a popular cream that is widely used. This nutrition label is from Coffee-Mate Original Liquid Coffee Creamer. I have nothing against this cream in particular, I just wanted to pick a popular plain cream to analyze. So this creamer is for individual packets like the ones you find a restaurants. 1 packet or tub contains 11mL and most people add 3-4 tubs into their standard cup of coffee. 1 tub or 1 serving contains 10 calories, 1g of fat, 0g carbs, and 0g protein. Now remember since most people add 3-4 tubs in their cup of coffee, you need to triple this serving size. So, essentially it would be 30 calories, 3g of fat, 0g carbs, and 0g protein. The fat content is in the form of saturated fat at 1g per serving.
So a 3 packet serving of this cream, would be 30 calories and 3g of fat. Which is not a significant amount, however this would still break your fast. The calories and fat would activate digestion inside the gut, thus turning on feeding metabolites and enzymes. This is actually a modest cream to analyze, most contain way more calories, fat, and carbohydrates. Especially the flavored ones like french vanilla or hazelnut.
We can’t forget to check the ingredient list. I highly recommend looking at the ingredient list for all drinks you want to consume while fasting. They may contain 0 calories and 0 macronutrients, but the ingredient list could contain artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols. For this Coffee-Mate Creamer the ingredient list contains, coconut oil. sugar, sodium caseinate, diglycerides, and artificial flavor. So the main ingredients that would be breaking your fast would be the sugar and artificial flavors.
What About Sugar Free Creamer?
I get asked about sugar-free options quite frequently. Some sugar-free options contain 0 calories, so most will assume these products are acceptable to consume while intermittent fasting. However, you need to check the ingredient list. This ingredient list is from a popular sugar-free creamer. You can see this creamer contains Palm oil, Corn syrup, Carrageenan, Sucralose, Acesulfame potassium, Natural and Artificial flavors. Just to name a few. First off, palm oil/corn syrup is just not good for you in general. They can wreak havoc on your gut and digestive tracts. However, most of these ingredients are artificial sweeteners. Which research shows that artificial sweeteners can cause an insulin response in some people. Not only that, but just the sensation of sweetness on your tongue could break your fast.
What About Butter?
The same principles hold true for butter. Butter is made from heavy cream, so it will contain calories and fat. Like I stated above the calories and fat may not cause a significant insulin response, but it will turn on digestion. By activating digestion it will convert your body to a fed state, and turn off most genes responsible for the neurological benefits of fasting. However, you would still be able to burn fat and ramp up your metabolism. Essentially, you could maintain ketosis even with the high calories and fat content of butter. So you would be burning fat, but the other benefits of intermittent fasting like gut rest and longevity would be turned off.
I recommend avoiding any cream or butter in your coffee while intermittent fasting. It is best to stick with consuming only beverages we know for sure won’t break a fast. Such as water, sparkling water, and black coffee. If you are unfamiliar with sparkling water, check out my article on the best sparkling waters to drink while fasting. You would be surprised how good these taste and the carbonation helps blunt hunger.
I know it can be hard to ditch your coffee creamer or daily Starbucks run, but it will be worth it. Cream will break your fast, and this would defeat the purpose of doing intermittent fasting. Stick with black coffee. You will eventually develop a taste for black coffee, or you may discover you don’t even need coffee! I recommend starting with plain water in the morning, and then if you get hungry switch over to sparkling water or black coffee during your fast. Remember to check the nutrition labels and ingredient lists of any products you may want to consume while fasting. Comment below if you have any questions!