Can I have { fill in the blank } while fasting?

In the Flexible Eating Lifestyle Program we talk lots about what things break a fast. Black coffee, plain water, unflavored sparkling water, plain teas...all are safe.  Anything that tastes sweet is NOT safe.  But there is a grey area in the middle.

Here’s the thing. We are all so different, and our bodies may not all release insulin in response to the exact same things.  The pancreas releases insulin when sugar (glucose) levels in the blood rise. Insulin then helps the body to lower blood glucose levels and 'store' the sugar away in fat, muscle, liver and other body tissues where it can be used for energy when required.

Consider your fast ‘broken’ when insulin is released.

Some things are a definite no-go. Anything that tastes sweet will trigger insulin. We all know we should avoid artificial sweeteners, and even "all natural" sweeteners that proclaim that they are "Good-For-Diabetics" or "Low-glycemic!" or "Won't raise blood sugar!"  

(Important Reminder:  we don’t want to raise insulin, not blood sugar.  That confuses a lot of people.  Sweet tastes raise insulin levels, not blood sugar.  In fact, if your body releases insulin, you would actually expect to see your blood sugar go DOWN as insulin does its job--which is to lower your blood sugar.  I have had many people argue that a particular artificial sweetener is fine for them because they tested their blood sugar after consuming it and their blood sugar didn't go up.  Yay insulin!  Insulin lowers blood sugar.  It also stops the fat burning process, tells the body to store fat, which is why we want to avoid it during the fast.) 

Other things in the grey area include things like some herbal teas, lemon/citrus, apple cider vinegar, and supplements.  When you ask, what about this tea, coffee creamer, lemon water or apple cider vinegar, et?  I can't give you a definitive list of what will not trigger insulin, because the answer isn't the same for everyone. 

Some people do fine with lemon or ACV in water in the morning or throughout the day.  Others don't.  You are going to have to do some experimenting to find out for yourself. 

Here is how you will know what works for you and what doesn't:

  1. Fast "clean" for at least two weeks, three weeks is better. 

    "Clean" fast means nothing but plain black coffee, plain water, plain sparkling water, and plain black or green tea during your daily fasting time.  Give yourself two to three weeks to see how your body feels during the daily fast.  At the end of that time period, you will be familiar with how your body feels during the day while fasting, including your daily levels of hunger.

    ** NO, I do not mean that you should fast nonstop for 2 or 3 weeks straight..I'm an intermittent faster, NOT an extended faster.  What I mean is that you should follow your intermittent fasting routine for at least 2 weeks, fasting clean during the fast and then enjoying your eating window each day.  That should be enough time for you to know how your body feels during the fasted part of the day. If you add in lemon or tea or whatever you will recognize definitively and can decide if you should continue with that addition.

    If the addition is okay for you, you won't notice any difference in hunger, mood or energy levels.  You'll feel the same as you did when fasting clean.  If that happens, yay!  That item is fine for you. 

    If the addition to your fast is not okay, you will know pretty quickly.  You may feel shaky and/or hungry within about an hour (or less), and it will be harder to get through the fast. This is why it is so important to fast clean for a couple of weeks first.  When you are used to fasting and how you normally feel, you can tell when something doesn't work for you because you are super in-tune to your body. 

    I used to like flavored, sparkly mineral water.  The only ingredients were mineral water and "natural flavors."  The first time I had one while fasting I was really hungry within thirty minutes.  I knew right then that my body is very sensitive to fruit flavors, and I have avoided them ever since.

    I also can't handle apple cider vinegar first thing in the morning now so I have it right before I eat for digestion.  It makes me noticeably hungry, so that’s a no for me. Some will drink it all day long while fasting and with no issues.  Some people tolerate lemon water.  Some don't. You get it.

    So the moral of the story —->  when it comes to things in the grey area, nobody can say 100% what will work for YOU during the fast.  You have to experiment and learn that for yourself. 

    Oh, btw, that’s not permission to drink soda and say ‘it works for me’. Nope. Sweet = Out. ;)

Missy Bane