Intermittent fasting is a great diet for both weight loss and overall health. But let’s face it. Living on water, unsweetened coffee, and tea during your fast can get pretty dull. Adding more taste may seem like a good idea, but how does that affect fasting? Does bouillon break a fast?
The answer depends on several factors: why you’re fasting, the quantity and the type of bouillon you want to have. Some bouillon cubes only have about 5 calories per serving, so drinking bouillon made with those cubes will be fine for most types of fast. Other types can have up to 50 calories per serving, and they’ll be excluded from most fasts.
So let’s dive deeper into this topic and see when is it ok to have bouillon and what are its effects on fasting.
Does bouillon break a fast?
To answer this question, you first need to answer another question: why are you fasting?
If you’re doing it for weight loss, blood sugar, insulin management, or metabolic health in general, several types of bouillon could be ok, depending on your chosen fasting method. Most bouillon cubes and powders contain up to 5 calories per serving, which usually come from carbs. Many fasting methods will allow this number during your fast, though some are stricter and limit you to only 1-2 calories. In that case, you can simply use less bouillon or drink only about half of it or less to stay within the allowed number of calories.
Those who are only looking at the insulin response will find it difficult to get a proper answer as there are no studies on how bouillon affects insulin production. Looking at the composition, we know the calories come from carbs and the cubes and powders usually contain preservatives and other ingredients that might cause an insulin response.
If you’re fasting for gut rest, drinking bouillon is most likely a ‘no’. Bouillon, like broth, needs to be digested in the gut, so it will break this fast.
As far as autophagy goes, there are no studies that can give a definitive answer. Some say it is ok, others advise against it during the fast. If autophagy is your goal, you may want to avoid drinking bouillon while fasting. You can instead use it during your eating window or even break the fast with it.
Does chicken bouillon (cubes) break a fast?
Chicken bouillon cubes are higher in calories than other similar cubes. Depending on the manufacturer, they have anywhere between 10-20 calories per serving. In other words, it all comes down to your fasting method. How many calories can you have during your fast? Are you on a more “relaxed” method, that allows up to 50 calories? In that case, chicken bouillon cubes are ok.
In all the other cases, the same logic applies. You should stay away from these cubes if you’re fasting for gut rest. And if you are interested in autophagy or insulin management, you’re probably safer stay away from all types of bouillon, as there are no studies to show the effects it has.
Does “better than bouillon” break a fast?
“Better than bouillon” has about 15 calories per serving and 1 gram of sugar. Some variations may occur depending on the flavor you choose, but it is not significant. In other words, for fasting, it will all come down yet again to your fasting method and goals.
Since most fasts advise staying under 5 calories during your fasting window, one serving of “Better than bouillon” is a no. Does that mean you should avoid drinking bouillon made with “Better than bouillon” altogether during your fast? Yes and no. If you’re fasting for gut rest, yes, you should avoid it. But if you’re like most people and are interested in weight loss, you may be able to have a very small serving.
Remember though, there are no definitive studies done to show what its effects are on insulin, so the best we can do is to check the ingredients.
Bouillon benefits and side effects
Regardless of the type you choose, whether you prefer cubes, powder, or the popular “Better than bouillon”, you should know they are all fairly high in sodium. This can be a benefit, but could also cause some side effects.
Bouillon is a great source of electrolytes due to its high sodium content. This is a huge benefit for people who are on a keto diet for instance. It is also beneficial if you sweat a lot, either due to environmental conditions or due to working out intensely for extended periods of time.
Bouillon can also help curb your appetite during a long fast. It may help decrease your risk of overeating, though this depends a lot on the other ingredients it has on top of sodium.
Remember though, you can achieve the same benefits with things like homemade vegetable broth or electrolyte drinks, which have fewer questionable ingredients and are overall healthier.
Most people should avoid high sodium foods. They can lead to water retention, kidney issues, and they can even be detrimental to your cardiovascular health.
On top of that, bouillon cubes and powders contain a lot of questionable preservatives and additives. While most companies are constantly trying to improve their recipes and include less dangerous ingredients, the fact remains that some of these ingredients might be carcinogenic. If you want to have some, make sure you chose a brand you trust, one that makes efforts to ensure all the ingredients it uses are safe.
Drinking bouillon on an empty stomach may also cause some digestive issues such as bloating or diarrhea. If you know you have a sensitive digestive tract or if you suffer from conditions like IBS or IBD, you may want to avoid having bouillon during your fast.
The bottom line
Does bouillon break a fast? Yes and no. Yes, if you’re fasting for gut rest. Maybe, if you’re fasting for autophagy and blood sugar management. Not necessarily, if you’re fasting for weight loss and are following a method that allows 5 calories or more during a fast.
Remember bouillon is very high in sodium which isn’t beneficial for most people. It can also contain questionable ingredients that carry a risk of side effects. In short, even if your fasting method allows you to have bouillon, it may be best to limit your intake or choose healthier alternatives like homemade broth.
How to make homemade broth: