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Coffee & Fitness

Does Coffee Break a Fast?

You’re probably doing well with your fast but a few days into it, you might wake up with the urge to take coffee.

However, just before you take your first sip, you might remember that you’re still in your fast and not sure whether you should drink coffee while fasting.

woman drinking black coffee in the morning.

While coffee tastes and smells great, it’s important to know whether it can break your fast before taking it. Whether coffee can break your fast or not depends on why you’re fasting in the first place.

Most individuals fast with the aim of improving their metabolic health/weight loss, longevity, or gut rest. To tell whether coffee can break your fast, it’s important to learn whether the reason behind your fast can be affected by taking coffee. Also, it depends on the kind of coffee you’re drinking. For instance, you may take plain, black coffee or coffee with cream or butter.

Black Coffee

Black coffee is almost free of calories. That alone is a major benefit of black coffee. Several studies investigating whether fasting offers disease prevention and health benefits while drinking coffee showed positive results. The benefits never changed when fasting and drinking coffee. The studies also assessed whether people enjoyed similar benefits when taking a calorie-free fast, with findings indicating similar health benefits.

Literature review suggests that coffee is linked to decreased insulin sensitivity. However, scientific findings indicate that there’s decreased insulin sensitivity when fasting, whether or not you’re taking coffee during the fast.

When the body is deprived of nutrients during a fast, the cells become a little more resistant to insulin. This likely happens as a result of the body dedicating more fuel to the functions of the brain rather than other body cells. However, the study was only short-term. Thus, more research is needed on whether coffee affects insulin sensitivity over time. Actually, long-term research links regular coffee intake to several health benefits, especially reduced risk of diabetes.

Research also shows that consuming both decaf and caffeinated coffees can cause autophagy in mice. The result shows that coffee may offer the benefit of longevity. The researchers linked increased cellular processes such as mTOR inhibition to the polyphenol compounds found in coffee. However, a similar study is yet to be done on humans. Thus, the results may not be very reliable in relation to humans until further research is done.

If your fast is aimed at giving your gut some rest, black coffee may trigger various digestive functions despite lacking a significant amount of calories. Essentially, coffee stimulates gallbladder contraction. It also stimulates gastrin. Gastrin is a peptide hormone that stimulates parietal cells to secrete gastric acid. Once the gallbladder and gastrin are stimulated, they have a significant impact on the gastrointestinal tract. Also, consuming coffee can stimulate reflux sensations, which aren’t great for individuals who experience heartburn issues.

From existing research, it’s evident that taking coffee while fasting for weight loss or metabolic health won’t break your fast. Also, taking coffee while fasting for enhanced longevity won’t break your fast. However, taking coffee while fasting with the aim of gut rest will break your fast.

Bulletproof/Butter Coffee

Bulletproof coffee, also known as butter coffee, is a type of coffee that contains medium-chain triglyceride oil (MCT oil) or butter. Although MCT oil has a high-calorie content, it’s shown to enhance glucose metabolism by insulin.

Also, the body can convert MCTs effortlessly into ketones for use as energy. MCT oil is used by doctors to stimulate ketosis when managing epilepsy. Thus, consuming MCT oil through bulletproof coffee can stimulate a ketogenic effect in the body.

However, MCT oils and butter differ in their chemical composition. Essentially, MCTs are sourced from organic coconut oil. MCTs comprise medium-chain triglycerides. In comparison, butter mainly comprises long-chain triglycerides, simply LCTs. LCTs and MCTs have different effects on the gastrointestinal system. Essentially, MCTs are usually absorbed directly via the hepatic portal vein. From there, MCTs are conveyed into the liver. In comparison, LCTs induce pancreatic enzymes. They also induce bile release into the gastrointestinal tract. Thus, butter induces some digestive functions whereas MCTs hardly do.

Butter also contains some protein. Essentially, protein is an autophagy inhibitor. Since protein in butter is very little, it’s not a major issue. MCT oils are protein-free but highly caloric. Since restriction in energy is vital for autophagy, consuming excessive amounts of MCTs or butter might not create an environment that would allow for longevity benefits while fasting. For instance, standard regular bulletproof coffee contains 1 tablespoon of MCT oil and 2 tablespoons of butter, which offer approximately 320 kcal. Such energy intake can slow or stop longevity benefits while fasting.

From these findings, it’s evident that taking bulletproof coffee while fasting for weight loss or metabolic health won’t break your fast. Also, taking bulletproof coffee while fasting with the aim of gut rest is likely to break your fast. Additionally, taking bulletproof coffee while fasting to enjoy longevity benefits may break your fast.

Coffee with Cream

Although high-quality and plain dairy alone doesn’t contribute to a higher risk of developing metabolic diseases or weight gain, a research study found a link between consuming trans-palmitoleate to reduced insulin levels while fasting. Trans-palmitoleate is a kind of fat that’s found in dairy. However, the quantity matters since adding a tablespoon of milk/cream to coffee isn’t as significant as taking some cups of dairy.

Dairy products such as milk and cream among others contain fat, protein, and carbohydrate that require digestion. Thus, consuming them activates the gut. However, research on the role of dairy in autophagy is limited. Regardless, some studies show that consuming top-quality dairy products doesn’t increase the risk of developing chronic diseases.

From these findings, it’s clear that fasting to enjoy weight loss or metabolic health benefits while taking coffee with small amounts of cream is unlikely to break your fast. Also, fasting to enjoy longevity benefits while taking coffee with cream is unlikely to break your fast. Additionally, fasting to enjoy the benefit of gut rest while taking coffee with cream will break your fast.