Everyone wants to know if sugar-free energy drinks will break their fast. They taste good, provide energy, and can be found at every gas station which makes them a popular choice for those who may be intermittent fasting. Energy drinks have been the hype over the past few years, especially with the emergence of sugar-free options. Intermittent fasting is a time period away from consuming calories, so people often want to find the best drinks they can consume while fasting. Any drinks consumed while intermittent fasting must be zero calories with zero macronutrients, because any calories or carbs would cause an insulin response which would break your fast.
A popular drink that people want to consume while fasting is sugar-free energy drinks. These energy drinks contain zero calories and zero macronutrients, so people often pick them as an acceptable drink while intermittent fasting. However, sugar-free energy drinks are still being debated in the intermittent fasting community due to them containing artificial flavors. In this article I will be discussing the implications to drinking sugar free energy drinks while fasting, and whether or not sugar-free energy drinks will “truly” break your fast.
Do Sugar-Free Energy Drinks Break My Fast?
Yes, sugar-free energy drinks “technically” break your fast. This is due to them containing artificial sweeteners, which have been shown to cause an insulin response. The insulin response would technically cause your body to switch to a fed state. People always see 0 calories on the nutrition label, and instantly think it is acceptable to drink while intermittent fasting. There has been a lot of debate whether or not the artificial sweeteners found in energy drinks would cause enough of an insulin response to break your fast.
The issue with artificial sweeteners found in sugar-free energy drinks is that it can trick the brain into believing you have been fed. This is due to the tongue receptors which identify different tastes such as sweet, sour, savory, etc. So the artificial sweeteners would be picked up by the tongue receptors due to the sweetness, so the receptors found on your tongue would send the signal to your brain that you just consumed food. Whether or not this is enough to totally break your fast is still debatable.
Sugar-free Energy Drink Nutrition Label
Let’s take a look at the nutrition label on a can of Monster Ultra Zero. You can see it contains 0 calories, 2g of carbs, 0g of protein, and 0g of fat, 180mg of sodium, 1g of Erythritol, and some B vitamins. Remember there is 2 servings per container in a normal 16oz can, so we must double all these macronutrients. So in a full can of Monster Zero Ultra there is actually 4g of carbs, 360g of sodium, and 2g of Erythritol. Also, remember to look at the ingredient list. It is mostly carbonated water, citric acid, erythritol, and natural & artificial sweeteners.
The main concerns in regards to this nutrition label and whether or not it would break your fast would be the 4g of carbs & artificial sweeteners. I am not as concerned about the 4g of carbs because it is such a minuscule amount, but the artificial sweeteners are what concern me the most.
The Problem With Artificial Sweeteners
Like I mentioned earlier, the issue with artificial sweeteners is whether or not they will trick your brain into thinking you have just been fed. This would then defeat the purpose of fasting, and you might as well eat at that point. In a research study done on mice, they found that the sweetness from artificial sweeteners can trick the brain into believing that it has just been fed. Meaning, the tongue receptors sent a signal to the brain, which indicated that food was just consumed. So if this same mechanism occurred in humans, then the sugar-free energy drink would break a fast. The brain would believe it has been fed, and would stop the neurological benefits of fasting.
Other Drink Options While Fasting
Although sugar-free energy drinks taste delicious and provide a nice energy boost while fasting, I recommend avoiding them if you can. There are plenty of other drinks that you can have while intermittent fasting.
Some of my favorite drinks that WON’T break your fast:
- Regular Water (obviously)
- Sparkling Water such as San Pellegrino or Topo Chico
- Carbonated Water such as Schweppes or Canada Dry
- Black Coffee
- Black Tea
- Green tea
Check out my other article on all acceptable drinks while fasting.
The MuscleMaster’s Final Say:
I recommend avoiding sugar-free energy drinks while intermittent fasting. Although the effects artificial sweeteners have on fasting is still not clear, it is best to avoid them just in case. Artificial sweeteners may cause an insulin response and signal to your brain that you have broken your fast. Personally, I consume sugar-free energy drinks for an energy boost, but I make sure it is not in my fasting window. I try to stick with water, sparkling water usually Topo Chico, and black coffee. Black coffee provides me the same energy boost like an energy drink would, and without the artificial sweeteners.
If you have feel like you need to consume sugar-free energy drinks while fasting, then do it. It will not be super detrimental to your progress while fasting, and you will still get the main benefits of fasting. Try your best to avoid them, but if you have a sugar-free energy drink while fasting it is not the end of the world. In my opinion, Intermittent fasting while consuming sugar-free energy drinks is still a better option then not fasting at all. So if sugar-free energy drinks allow you to stick with your fasting schedule then go for it!