aYou already know things like tea and coffee are ok while fasting, but what if you want to add some milk? Does almond milk break a fast?
The answer depends on a few factors such as the quantity and the type of almond milk. Most store-bought almond milk contains a lot of additives and sugars, which will most likely break the fast. But homemade isn’t always safer in this case. The quantity also matters: if you add just a splash of almond milk to your coffee, it might not break the fast, but adding closer to 100 ml probably will.
Let’s take a closer look at how almond milk affects intermittent fasting and how you can have it safely.
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Does almond milk break a fast?
Traditionally, anything that comes with calories, carbs, and protein is considered to break a fast. Those who like to do a more strict fast are opposed even to things like MCT or coconut oil, even though, since they’re pure fat, their effect on blood sugar is minimal. A religious fast will also most likely require you to stay away from any foods.
When practicing intermittent fasting to lose weight or for its health benefits, the rules can be a little less strict and foods that don’t cause an immediate insulin response may be allowed. Almond milk is a fairly grey area. On one hand, because it inevitably contains carbs, which means it could impact blood sugar. On the other hand, almond milk is rarely made of just almonds and water.
Classic store-bought almond milk will almost certainly break your fast. It contains a lot of additives and sweeteners, so you should avoid it during your fast completely. If you want to have it, save it for your eating window.
The same goes for any flavored almond milk. Whether unsweetened or not, if it is flavored, you can be certain it has enough carbs to break your fast, even if you only add a splash in your coffee.
Homemade almond milk is a different story. If you’re the one making it, you can easily control the ingredients. Pure almond milk, that comes with only almonds and water (and maybe a bit of salt) is safe in very small quantities. If you’re buying it from others, be sure to inquire about the ingredients. Even if it is made at home, it can contain sweeteners, or even things like dates, to give it more flavor. While those ingredients may be healthy, they’ll also take you out of the fast.
(Adding the vanilla extract will break your fast).
Will unsweetened almond milk break a fast?
Again, it depends on the almond milk itself and the quantity. Homemade almond milk, as mentioned earlier, is safe as long as no sweeteners are added.
Store-bought may be a little more difficult to assess, so start by looking at the nutrition label and the ingredients. As a rule of thumb, you want to be able to stay under 1 gram of carbs and 1 gram of protein during your fast. Commonly, 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk will have about 1.5 grams of carbs, 1.5 grams of protein, and about 2.5 grams of fat. This means that if you only add a splash (or even half a cup) in your coffee or tea, you’ll be well under 1 gram, so your fast won’t be broken.
Effects of almond milk on fasting
Adding a bit of unsweetened almond milk to your coffee or tea is going to make intermittent fasting a little easier., by helping you feel fuller It won’t provide you with enough calories to break your fast, and if we’re honest about it, a splash of almond milk per day isn’t very nutritious either. However, by enriching your favorite drink even with just 0.5 grams of carbs, you could give yourself the boost of energy you need throughout your fast.
Adding more almond milk to your diet in general, during your eating window, will bring additional nutritional benefits that can make fasting more effective and easier.
Despite being very low in calorie, unsweetened almond milk is very nutritious. For instance, it is high in vitamin E providing about 37% of the daily requirements in just one cup. Vitamin E is a great antioxidant and combats oxidative stress, thus helping prevent heart disease and cancer.
Almond milk is also a good source of calcium, one cup contains about 7% of the daily requirements. Most store-bought almond milk is also enriched with vitamin D, which, along with the calcium is great for bone health, and more.
It is low in phosphorus and contains only a moderate amount of potassium. Excess of both of these can lead to irregular heart rhythm, heart attack, and even death. Too much phosphorus also leads to thyroid issues and bone disease, so you never want to go over the recommended daily intake.
Too much almond milk, especially the store-bought variety can have some downsides. Of course, if all you consume is a little bit in your coffee, the chances of any side effects are extremely small.
In larger quantities, the main worry you should have is about the preservatives and additives almond milk often contains. Sugar or other types of sweeteners, flavors, gums, and carrageenan are some of the most common ingredients. They are generally safe when consumed in small amounts. However, when you’re consuming them in a fasted state, there’s a risk your body will be more sensitive to all ingredients. In other words, consume moderate to small amounts of almond milk while fasted. Alternatively, opt for a homemade version, where you know all the ingredients that have been used are safe.
The bottom line
Does almond milk break a fast? It certainly can. Classic almond milk, as well as flavored varieties, will break a fast even in small quantities. Unsweetened almond milk though contains very few calories and carbs, so adding a bit in your tea or coffee most likely won’t break the fast.
If you want to do a very traditional and strict intermittent fasting diet, you should probably avoid all types of almond milk, no matter how few calories they have. But, with most versions of this diet, 50-100 ml won’t hurt.
Remember to be careful about the type of almond milk you buy and look out for additives and preservatives, as you may be more sensitive to them when you’re in a fasted state. If in doubt, stick to the homemade type, with few and simple ingredients.