Intermittent fasting is a diet plan that focuses when you eat and not what you eat. Specifically, it is a plan where you cycle between a period of eating and then a period of fasting. In a sense, it is more of an eating pattern rather than an actual conventional diet. When you are in the eating period, you are free to eat and drink anything you want (including coffee with cream). However, during your fasting period, you are only allowed to drink liquids that has 0 calories. This means that you are not allowed to put cream in your coffee.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
The most popular version of the intermittent fasting is the 16/8 intermittent fasting. This is the method I use for intermittent fasting as I find it the most effective while being easy to implement into my daily life. It involves you splitting your 24 hours a day into 8 hours of eating and 16 hours of fasting. This is repeated everyday to help you reach your goal. This version is generally considered to be one of the easier one to follow as it is considered to be less restrictive. Generally, you would only need to skip breakfast or dinner to fit your eating window into 8 hours.
Another popular option is the 5:2 intermittent fasting diet. You eat what you usually eat for 5 days of the week and spend 2 days of the week eating only 500 to 600 calories. You can pick any two days of the week to eat only 500 to 600 calories throughout the day.
During the eating stage of any intermittent fasting diets, you can eat anything and drink anything you want. This means that you can have cream or milk in your coffee during your period of eating while you are on the intermittent fasting diet. The theory of this diet only restricts the period of time you eat and don’t eat.
Cream in Your Coffee
Although you can drink as much cream in your coffee or eat as much food as you want, you still don’t want to go too hard during your eating period. If your aim is to lose weight, you would still want to eat less calories than you burn. The main way intermittent fasting works for weight loss is that you would eat less calories because you have less time to eat. If you are compensating the shortened eating period by eating more during your eating period, there is a high chance you might not lose weight.
If you want to have cream in your coffee while you are in your fasting period during intermittent fasting then the answer really depends on what your goal is. Having cream in your coffee will break your fast. It is best for you to follow the diet properly, this means that during your fasting period you do not consume any calories (food and liquid). You can have black coffee or 0 calories tea, but you should not put any cream, milk or sugar into your drinks. But there is a little leeway for those of you who are fasting for weight loss.
Dr. Jason Fung, the world-leading expert on intermittent fasting has stated that it is possible to use a little cream in your coffee during your fasts, even he uses cream in coffee when he fasts. In fact, he states that nobody knows for sure whether you are undoing the positive benefits of a fast while you are fasting. There simply is not enough evidence right now to support a conclusion for certain. What is most important is that you are checking up on your progression and whether you are meeting your goals.
There’s also a camp of intermittent fasters who believe that you can stay within 50 calories or less during your fasting period. There are 52 calories in 1 tablespoon of heavy cream and 20 calories in 1 tablespoon of half and half, so in theory, if you were to follow this belief you can definitely have a cup of coffee with cream during your fast.
There’s also other intermittent fasters who believe that no matter how little your are ingesting calories, it will effect and interrupt your body’s ability to be able to torch your fat form fasting. As long as it has calories, it gets digested in your stomach and broken down. When you fast, you are depriving your body from glucose (a product from the broken down food in your body), this means that your body will have to rely on your fat storage to maintain itself. This usually starts at around 12 hours after your last meal and increases between 16 to 24 hours into a fast.
For those who are fasting to improve their insulin, there has been people who suggested that 1 tablespoon of heavy cream does not contain a lot of carbohydrates, therefore it would not spike your insulin and break your fast. In fact, one study was even able to find an association between those who consumed trans-palmitoleate (a fat that was found in milk) and lower fasting insulin levels.
In fact, if you are going to put cream in your coffee during your fast, it might be better to be putting in heavy cream instead of half and half. This is because heavy cream actually is lower in carbs and protein than half and half. Which means that it is less likely to spike your insulin!
But for those of you who are fasting for autophagy, having cream in your coffee will negatively impact your fast. Autophagy basically means self-eating, it is a process where your body degrades the unnecessary or broken cells to help maintain your body. It is possible for your body to start autophagy after 24 hours of fasting, but generally it might take 2 to 4 days of fasting to achieve significant autophagy.
All in all, it really depends on what your goals for fasting is. However, the consensus is that if you do intend to put a bit of cream into your coffee during fasting, make sure you do it in low amounts and use fresh heavy cream. Heavy cream is lower in carb and protein contents than other forms of dairy. This is important as a combination of carbs and protein is what stimulates your insulin secretion. It is also healthier than some lower fat options such as coffee cream or creamers.
If you want to fast for the full benefits, then it is ideal to stick to just 0 calories drinks such as tea or black coffee. For those of you who are new to fasting or struggling with it, it might be easier to allow a cup of coffee with cream as it might help you stick to your fast much easier.
Try it out and see how you feel! If you feel like you are not making any progress with cream in your coffee, maybe you might need to reduce the amount or cut it out during your fast. I personally give myself a cup of tea with cream in the morning as it’s a habit that is hard to break for me. Personally, I do not feel like it makes much of an impact in my fast as I only drink 1 cup in the morning during my fasted state.
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