A popular choice during intermittent fasting is a piece of gum. Surprisingly, a piece of gum can make a huge difference in hunger levels during intermittent fasting. Gum is a popular choice because it gives you something to chew on, satisfies cravings, and can take your mind off the fact that you are fasting. For those unaware, intermittent fasting a time period away from consuming any calories. There are many benefits to fasting such as fat loss, increased energy, and neurological benefits. Make sure to read my article on intermittent fasting and acceptable drinks during intermittent fasting.
Most gum contains zero calories and zero macronutrients, so people often pop in a piece of gum without thinking about it. Personally, I have noticed that just a single piece of gum can take my hunger cravings away and stop my stomach from growling while fasting. But I didn’t want to continue chewing gum if it was ruining my fast. So, I did a lot of research on the topic, and in this article I will be discussing the implications of chewing gum while fasting, and whether or not gum will “truly” break your fast.
(Popular Choices of Gum While Fasting)
If you want to chew gum while fasting, then check out the ones listed below. They are aspartame free meaning no artificial sweetener, and the sugar alcohol they use has been shown not to be absorbed by the body at all meaning it will not cause an insulin response.
Does Gum Break My Fast?
Yes, chewing gum while fasting would “technically” break your fast. This is due to them containing sugar alcohols, which have been shown to cause an insulin response in some people. An insulin response would technically cause your body to switch to a fed state. Meaning, your brain/body would no longer be fasting. Unfortunately, everyone always thinks foods and drinks that contain zero calories and zero macronutrients are acceptable during intermittent fasting. However, they do not consider the artificial sweeteners in most of these products. Sugar alcohols such as Maltitol, Xylitol, and Sorbitol in gum have been shown to produce a slight insulin response in some people. Although, there is still some debate whether or not the small amount of sugar alcohols in gum causes enough of an insulin response to break your fast.
The issue with sugar alcohols is that it provides your tongue a taste of sweetness, and this can trick your brain into thinking you have just ate. The human tongue receptors are very powerful, and this is why we are so good at picking up different flavors such sweet, sour, spicy, savory, etc. So, the sugar alcohols in gum would be recognized by your tongue receptors and would send a signal to your brain that you just consumed food. This is an evolutionary mechanism that can switch our brain from a fasted to a fed state. However, whether or not this is enough to totally break your fast is still debatable. It also depends on the purpose you are fasting, I will discuss this further down in the article.
Sugar-Free Gum Nutrition Label
Let’s take a look at a sugar-free gum nutrition label. This nutrition label is from Five Gum, a very popular one. 1 stick of gum contains 5 calories, which is not a very substantial amount. There is 0g fats, 0mg sodium, and 0g of protein. However, there is 2g of carbohydrates in form of 2g of sugar alcohol. Also, remember to check the ingredient list! It is made of Sorbitol, Gum Base, Mannitol, Natural and Artificial flavors, Aspartame, etc.
The main problem here is the 2g of carbohydrates in the form of sugar alcohols. These sugar alcohols are found in the ingredient list. In this particular gum the sugar alcohols used are Sorbitol, Glycerol, and Mannitol. Also, it contains Aspartame which is an artificial sweetener. The main concern in regards to this nutrition label and whether or not it would break your fast would be the 2g of sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners.
The Problem With Sugar Alcohols
Like I mentioned earlier in this article, the problem with sugar alcohols/artificial sweeteners is whether or not they cause a significant insulin response. If this was the case then chewing a piece of gum would break your fast. This would defeat the purpose of fasting for most people. In several research studies looking at sugar alcohols and effects on blood sugar/insulin response they found that Sorbitol, Maltitol, and Xylitol to cause a small glucose and insulin response in normal subjects. So, this would cause your body to switch to a fed state.
Other Options While Fasting
Although, chewing gum can be addicting and help satisfy you while fasting, I advise avoiding gum if you can. There are plenty of other options that can help blunt cravings while fasting. I particularly like drinking sparkling water and sometimes black coffee. Check out my article on the best sparkling waters to drink while fasting.
Here are some of my favorite drinks that WON’T break your fast:
Personally, I recommend avoiding gum all together during the fasting window. Although, the effects that artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols have on intermittent fasting is unclear. It is best avoid them just to be clear. I believe the effects of chewing one piece of gum while fasting is very small, but multiple pieces and/or making a habit of it can negatively impact your benefits of intermittent fasting. The purpose of intermittent fasting is to avoid any possible insulin response, and one piece of gum may be throwing you out of the fasted state. Personally, I try to stick with plain water, sparkling water, or even black coffee. If I am craving a piece of gum or just feel like having one I will, but I try to avoid it for the most part.
I recommend trying to fast without chewing gum. However, I understand it can be hard for some of you to stop chewing gum completely. If chewing gum is the only thing that allows you to get through your fasting window, then I would say continue having it. I believe all the benefits of intermittent fasting outweighs the risk of chewing one piece of gum during it. In my opinion, intermittent fasting while chewing gum is better than not intermittent fasting at all! So if gum is the only way for you to restrict yourself of eating then I say go for it.