Mints are a popular choice among people around the world. They are often used as an after-meal refreshment or before social interactions to fix bad breath. Most mints offer a soothing mint flavor from the Mentha plants, with hybrids such as spearmint, peppermint, and wild mint. The soothing mint flavor can cleanse the palate and calm the stomach after a heavy meal. Believe or not, mints have been around since the late 1700’s! The popular brand of mints Altoids was first created in the 1780s.
Although, mints are often used as after-meal refreshments, what about while fasting? I often get asked about acceptable foods and beverages while intermittent fasting. Two of the most popular items I get asked about is mints and gum. Check out my article on gum and fasting here. Many people claim intermittent fasting or even a ketogenic diet causes them to have bad breath, which is the main reason they want to consume mints while fasting. Another reason is that mints can help calm the stomach, reducing hunger cravings and stomach growling. Those who participant in intermittent fasting know about these issues! This article is going to be looking at the nutrition labels of popular mints, checking ingredients, and discussing if mints will truly break your fast.
Do Mints Break My Fast?
Yes, consuming mints would “technically” break your fast. This is due to most mints like Altoids, Tic Tacs, and LifeSavers containing sugar which would cause an insulin response within the body. The insulin response would switch your body from a fasting to a fed state. Although, the amount of calories in most mints are only around 5-15 calories with only 1-2 grams of sugar per mint. This small amount of sugar would still cause a slight insulin response in the body, and would turn on digestive enzymes. So, you would no longer be receiving all the benefits of intermittent fasting like gut rest and autophagy. However, you would still be receiving most of the other benefits such as fat loss, increased metabolism, and improved insulin sensitivity.
Mint Nutrition Label
First, let’s look at the nutrition label of a popular mint. This nutrition label is from the classic Altoid Mint. It is important to check nutrition labels for everything you may want to consume while fasting. Such as sparkling water or coffee, etc. You need to ensure there are no calories, zero macronutrients, and no artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols.
So, for this Altoid Mint a serving size is for 3 breath mints, because they are rather small. So most people just toss a few in their mouth at one time. 3 breath mints contain 10 calories with 2 grams of carbohydrates and 2 grams of sugar. Although it is only 10 calories and 2 grams of sugar, it would still trigger digestion within the body. Which would “technically” break your fast.
Next, we need to look at the ingredient list. Checking the ingredient list is super important, because even if the product contains 0 calories there still may be artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols in the ingredient list. The Altoid ingredients contains sugar, gum arabic, and natural flavor of peppermint, and gelatin. So the only problem here is the sugar, which would cause a slight insulin response and turn on digestion. So, these Altoid Mints would break your fast.
What About Sugar-Free Mints?
Another question I get is about sugar-free options. I cover this content often with those who are interested in intermittent fasting. The problem with sugar-free options is the artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols. Which research shows may trigger the body into a fed state. The problem with artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols is the taste of sweetness on the tongue. Research shows that even the taste of sweetness on the tongue may cause receptors to signal the brain that you have just consumed food. Also, some sugar alcohols have been shown to cause a slight insulin response within the body.
Let’s take a look at the nutrition label for a sugar-free mint. This sugar-free mint is the popular Ice Breakers. You can see that 1 mint contains <5 calories, 0 grams of sugar, but <1 grams of carbohydrates. The <1 gram of carbohydrates is in the form of sugar alcohols. You can see the <1 gram of sugar alcohols found in the label. So most people would believe this would be acceptable to consume while fasting, however you need to check the ingredient list.
Let’s check the ingredient list. This Ice Breaker contains Sorbitol, Maltitol, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Aspartame, Citric Acid, and Gum Acacia. The problem here is the sugar alcohols Sorbitol and Maltitol, and the artificial sweetener Aspartame. Sorbitol and Maltitol have been found to cause a slight insulin response within the body. So the sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners in this mint would “technically” break your fast. However, you would still receive some of the other benefits of intermittent fasting like fat loss and increased metabolism.
Other Options While Fasting
One of the main reasons people consume mints while fasting is due to bad breath and to reduce hunger cravings/stomach growling. To reduce bad breath I recommend preventing your mouth from getting too dry. This is a major issue during intermittent fasting, because all digestive enzymes within the mouth are turned off from not eating. So a lot of people get dry mouth and this can contribute to bad breath.
I recommend drinking lots of water while fasting. This will prevent your mouth from getting dry, and can eliminate bad breath. To reduce hunger cravings and stomach growling, I recommend drinking sparkling water or black coffee. Both of these are acceptable to consume while fasting. The carbonation within the sparkling water will help blunt cravings and suppress your appetite. Check out my article on the top 10 sparkling waters to consume while fasting. The caffeine in black coffee can help suppress appetite as well. Listed below are 3 of my favorite beverages to consume while fasting, and can help with hunger cravings and bad breath.
I know it can be difficult to eliminate all your usual things while fasting like mints, gum, and lattes. However, it is the small price you pay for all the health benefits of intermittent fasting. Although mints technically break your fast, one sugar-free mint here and there will not cause a huge issue. However, it is best to avoid mints and gum while fasting all together. The sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners in sugar-free mints can kick you into a fed state. Which would defeat the purpose of fasting in general. Remember to check the nutrition label and ingredient list, watch out for hidden artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols. I recommend trying sparkling water or black coffee! You would be surprised how well these drinks work to blunt hunger and get you through the fasting window. Who knows, they may even replace your need for mints.