Water is the to-go drink during intermittent fasting. It keeps you hydrated, it’s calorie-free, and it helps slightly curb your appetite. But let’s be honest. Drinking only plain water and nothing else each day for several hours can get very dull. What if you flavored the water a little? Cucumber is a popular way to do it – it tastes delicious, and it is refreshing. But does cucumber water break a fast?
The answer depends on the type of fast you’re on. If you’re following the strictest form of intermittent fasting methods, then yes, cucumber water will most likely break a fast. These methods are typically used in religious fasts, or some therapeutic cases when you need to have no calories for a certain period of time. Most other fasts will allow about 1 gram of carbs, in which case, you may be able to add a bit of cucumber to your water.
So let’s explore this topic in-depth and find out whether you should dirty fast, if it can help your fast water and what are its benefits.
However: it won’t break a fast if you are dirty fasting
Dirty fasting allows for more calories during the fast. How many? There’s actually no set rule, but the maximum will usually be 25 calories. These diets are usually for those who just want to lose weight or break a plateau without much interest in other benefits such as autophagy or gut rest.
If you’re dirty fasting, some flavored water (and also flavored coffee) is allowed. How much depends on the maximum calories you allow yourself and also how many carbs you’re ok having. Some people prefer to take their calories mostly from fat and not carbs, to minimize the insulin response. But most people allow themselves to just have anything, as long as they remain under their set maximum calories.
Those who want to add just a bit of flavor without a lot of carbs can start with about 1/8 of a medium-sized cucumber. This will keep your calories under 1 gram of carbs which is allowed in not strict intermittent fasting diets (like 16:8 or 5:2), not just dirty‘ ones. Of course, if you’re ok with more calories, you can easily add more cucumber.
What about autophagy or gut rest?
Fasting isn’t just about weight loss, strict medical reasons, or religion. Some people do it for its long-term health benefits, such as autophagy or providing your gut a well-deserved rest.
While we don’t have any medical studies to tell us for sure, we can assume cucumber water risks to break autophagy and gut rest. That’s because it contains carbs, which can cause an insulin response. In turn, this response can break autophagy. And since it is a vegetable, cucumber is broken down in the gut, so it will stop gut rest.
You can flavor your water if any vegetables, as long as it is low-calorie. Make sure to pick one of the 8 Best Vegetables for Intermittent Fasting.
Can cucumber water help your fast?
If you find that your fasting method allows cucumber water, the next question that might come up is ‘are there any benefits to drinking it while fasting?’. The short answer is yes, cucumber water can help your fast.
Firstly, because it has a few carbs, it is a great solution when you start getting very hungry or even have mild low blood sugar symptoms. Cucumber water could be a gentle way to slightly raise your blood sugar and curb your appetite.
Secondly, because it has a refreshing taste, it can help curb cravings. Sometimes during a fast, even if we don’t feel very hungry, we can start craving unhealthy foods, usually sweets. Plain water can help, but when flavored with cucumber, the effect will be even greater.
Cucumbers are also high in vitamin K, which helps keep your bones healthy. Muscle and bone density loss is a frequent concern among those who fast for extended periods of time. By adding vitamins to your fast in such a simple and easy way, you help maintain your bones and muscles healthy.
Is cucumber water good for breaking a fast?
Absolutely! Cucumber water is a gentle way of breaking a fast. If you went for an extended period of time having nothing but unflavored water and unsweetened tea or coffee, you’ll need to be careful how you break the fast.
Eating too much or a heavy meal immediately following your fast can put you at a risk for some serious digestive upset, not to mention issues with blood sugar levels. Starting your eating window with something gentle, such as cucumber water, will start an insulin response, and will put your digestive system to work, without causing issues.
The bottom line
Whether cucumber water does break a fast depends on the type of fast you’re on. Cucumber water has carbs, so if you follow a strict fast and your intermittent fasting method requires you to have no carbs while you fast, you should avoid this flavored water. On the other hand, if you allow yourself to have a maximum of 1 gram of carbs, you can add a few slices to your water without worrying.
Those on a dirty fast will find more liberty because they can consume up to 25 calories during a fast. As cucumber water calories are well under that number, you can have it without any worries. Finally, if you’re fasting for autophagy or gut rest, regardless of the number of calories, you should probably stay away from cucumber water. That’s because the carbs in it will cause an insulin response that can break autophagy and stop gut rest.