Intermittent fasting or time restricted eating has been on the rise in the past few years. This is due to the numerous health benefits intermittent fasting can have on the body. Not only can intermittent fasting help you lose weight, but can improve insulin sensitivity, increase metabolism, trigger autophagy, and promote gut rest. There are many reasons people are choosing to try intermittent fasting. However, there is often questions in regards to what things may or may not break a fast.
A common question I get asked is if adding lemons or lemon juice to water is acceptable. There are numerous different answers on the internet, and most of these answers don’t provide a clear response. Some are even straight up wrong. In this article I will be discussing the benefits of adding lemon to water, nutritional facts of a lemon, and if lemon water will truly break your fast.
Will Adding Lemon To Water Break My Fast?
Yes, adding lemons or lemon juice to your water “technically” breaks your fast. The calories and carbohydrates may trigger an insulin response within the body, thus breaking your fast. The carbohydrates found in a lemon are in the form of fructose, sucrose, and glucose. Fructose and glucose are absorbed directly into blood during the digestive process. So, although the calories and carbohydrates in a lemon are rather low, it still could cause an insulin response in the body, and it does trigger digestion.
However, it all really depends on how much you consume. It depends on how much you add to your water, and in the way you add it to your water. For instance, if you just toss a few lemon peels in your water, then you will not be consuming very much of the lemon juice at all. However, if you squeeze a lemon into your water, then you for sure are consuming a significant amount of lemon juice. So adding a few lemon peels without squeezing would most likely be an insufficient amount to cause an insulin response, however it will still trigger digestion. So it depends on the reasons for which you are fasting. I will explain this more below.
Lemon Nutritional Facts
First, let’s look at the nutritional facts of a lemon and lemon juice. It is important to look at nutritional facts when consuming anything during your fasting window. Some beverages may contain calories and macronutrients that will break your fast. So it is important to stick with acceptable beverages while fasting like water, plain sparkling water, and black coffee. However, back to the lemon. A lemon is composed of primarily water and some carbohydrates. It is nearly 90% water! However, the other 10% is in the form of simple sugars such as fructose, glucose, and sucrose.
A medium sized lemon is about 20 calories and contains about 6-7 grams of carbohydrates. However, look at the image above. You can see that 1 fluid oz of lemon juice is about 8 calories, and even just a table spoon is 3 calories. So it does add up rather quickly. Especially, if you are squeezing multiple lemon peels or lemons into your water. The problem is, these calories are in the form of simple sugars which can cause an insulin response.
Benefits Of Adding Lemon To Water
There are numerous health benefits to consuming lemon or lemon juice. Not only can it flavor your water, but it can also provide your body with a good source of fiber and vitamin C. The fiber found in lemons is a soluble fiber called pectin. Pectin is a polysaccharide found in most fruits, and actually has numerous health benefits such as reducing cholesterol and triglycerides.
However, the main benefit of the fiber pectin in terms of intermittent fasting is that it can slow the digestion of certain sugars and starches. So, many people believe that they can add lemon to their water without causing an insulin spike due to this reason. Although, pectin can help slow down the digestion of sugar and lower blood sugar levels, it does not necessarily stop an insulin response. Especially in the case of adding lemons to your water while fasting.
It All Depends On The Reason You Are Fasting
I want to touch base on this topic, and clear some confusion for a lot of people. It all comes down to the reasons you are doing intermittent fasting. Certain things “break the fast” in different aspects. I like to categorize fasting into 3 main categories. The first being fat loss and increased metabolism. Secondly, autophagy and longevity. Third, being gut rest and digestive healing. Those are the 3 main benefits to intermittent fasting, and some products or beverages may “break the fast” for all 3 of those benefits, whereas, some things may only “break the fast” for one or two of those benefits.
For example, adding a small lemon wedge in your water will not break your fast in terms of fat loss and increased metabolism purposes. Nor will it for autophagy and longevity purposes. However, it will break your fast in terms of gut rest and digestive healing.
So it is important to consider the reasons for which you are fasting. If you are fasting just to lose weight, then go ahead and add lemon to your water. However, if you are fasting very seriously to get all the benefits of fasting like gut rest, cellular autophagy, etc. then you should not add lemon to your water.
There are various things to consider when intermittent fasting. You want to make sure you are not ruining your fasting window, by consuming something that will break your fast. Lemon water is just one of those things that can be tricky in terms of fasting, and whether or not it breaks a fast. It all really depends on the amount you add in your water and the way in which you add it. If you just toss in one lemon wedge or peel, this will not significantly have an impact on your fast. However, if you squeeze in an entire lemon or multiple lemons you will “technically” be breaking your fast.
In most cases lemon water is okay, but it will cause digestive processes to become activated within your body. If you are fasting primarily for weight loss purposes then it is perfectly fine. However, if you want to be completely safe while fasting, then stick with plain water or sparkling water. We know for sure that water and plain sparkling water will not break a fast. Check out my article on the 10 best sparkling waters to consume while fasting.