Plenty of people don’t seem to have a hard time with the idea of not eating when they’re doing intermittent fasting—the trendy diet in which you eat only during certain time-restricted windows. Popular variations of intermittent fasting include the 16:8 fast (eat all your meals in an 8-hour time period daily) and the 5:2 fast (fast for two days each week, eat normally the other days).
Sounds simple enough—which is part of the appeal—but questions inevitably arise about what technically constitutes a fast: Can I have water? (Absolutely.) Protein? (No.) Twinkies? (It’s a fast, okay?).
But what about—gasp, twitch, shudder—can I have coffee while doing intermittent fasting? Surely you can have a cup of Joe without breaking your fast…c-can’t you?
Relax: “There’s no caloric load in black coffee,” says Angelo Poli, ISSN, creator of the MetPro training and nutrition app. “So it doesn’t break your fast.”
“If you’re fasting to purify the body, or as part of a religious practice, then coffee might not be allowed,” says Poli. “But it won’t stop you from losing weight.”
It should go without saying—though for fasters who are looking for a loophole, it often doesn’t—that sweeteners like sugar and honey, dairy products like milk and cream, and other delicious treats that coffee-drinkers often add to their daily cups do have calories, and are therefore officially verboten when you’re fasting.
The effect isn’t huge—at most you’re talking about a hundred calories or so—but if you’re trying to burn as much fat as possible, that little bit will set you back a little. More importantly, part of the challenge—and thus, the reward—of fasting is to practice discipline and overcome habits, at least for a limited time. So if you’re serious about getting your fast on—and there’s no reason to do it if you aren’t—it’s OK to keep that morning coffee black.
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