Coffee is usually a staple for those who do intermittent fasting. It is delicious, it gives you energy, and it makes the fast easier. But sometimes black coffee can feel a little boring and you feel you would like a little flavor. Does flavored coffee break a fast?
It depends on its ingredients. Most flavored coffees contain ‘natural flavors’ which could sadly mean anything. They may be harmless ingredients that won’t break your fast, or they could cause an insulin response. That’s why most health enthusiasts advise against drinking flavored coffee.
So let’s take a closer look at this type of coffee, its benefits, and its side effects.
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What is flavored coffee?
Flavored coffee is coffee to which artificial or natural flavors were added. The fabrication process differs from company to company, there is no standard. Some contain a lot of artificial ingredients, while others claim everything is natural. Some may also contain sweeteners, to make the flavor stronger, others are not sweetened at all.
Keep in mind that natural flavors are not regulated by the FDA, so you never really know what those words really mean. Because artificial flavors are watched closely, we can assume there are no dangerous ingredients in those natural flavors. The problem is that just because it doesn’t impact your health in a major way, it doesn’t mean there aren’t any side effects for some people.
Does flavored coffee break a fast?
We already know that black coffee is allowed during a fast. With flavored coffee, the answer comes down to the extra ingredients. If it is just coffee with some harmless flavor, like vanilla extract, it will not break your fast.
If the list of ingredients is more complex and includes the phrasing natural flavors there’s no guarantee it won’t break your fast. That’s because even those natural flavors could end up causing an insulin response.
In short, if you’re unsure of how the coffee beans were flavored or you don’t have the exact list of ingredients, it would be safer to assume that it will break your fast. However, if you see there are no mysterious ingredients, no sweeteners, and especially no sugar, it probably won’t break a fast.
Another good way to make sure it is safe is to see if the flavor was added to the beans during the roasting process. In other words, buy the flavored coffee beans yourself and make your coffee at home. That way, you’re 100% certain of the ingredients and the coffee won’t break your fast.
If you’re at a coffee shop, avoid buying flavored coffee though, no matter how much they guarantee the flavors are all-natural. That’s because in those cases there’s usually syrup added in the coffee for extra flavor, and that almost always comes with sweeteners and calories.
Does hazelnut coffee break a fast?
Hazelnut coffee is probably the most used type of flavored coffee. Does it break a fast? The answer is the same as before and it comes down to the ingredients and the flavoring process. The more artificial ingredients and sweeteners included, the bigger the risk that it will break your fast.
Benefits of flavored coffee beans while intermittent fasting
Coffee, in any form, is an appetite suppressant, so it helps to make intermittent fasting a little easier.
If you’re fasting to manage blood sugar, coffee is also great to have. One study showed coffee is associated with better insulin sensitivity. However, intermittent fasting, in general, has the same benefit, so if you’re only an occasional coffee drinker, you don’t have to start having it daily.
Another study showed coffee triggered autophagy in mice. While we need more studies to say for certain if this effect happens in humans as well, the results are promising for those who fast for autophagy.
If the coffee you’re drinking was flavored during the roasting process and has only natural ingredients, you will get all these benefits by drinking it. Also, flavored coffee could help curb your sweet tooth, which can be extremely helpful during a fast.
Side effects of flavored coffee while intermittent fasting
Whatever type of coffee you’re drinking, you need to remember it is a stimulant. The goal of fasting is to allow your body and your digestive tract to rest. Stimulating it too much isn’t recommended, so try to drink at most 1-2 cups during a fast.
Coffee and flavored coffee especially can also stimulate the digestive tract. For some, that might be a good thing – for others, it may result in issues such as diarrhea or bloating.
After suppressing your appetite and your sweet tooth for a while, flavored coffee might actually make you feel hungrier. After all, the flavors will make your brain think of various foods and they may also tell it to expect some energy, carbs, as it normally would happen if you were eating those foods. Since the drink has no calories or carbs, you may soon find yourself with more cravings than before.
There’s also another issue. Some people warn that the coffee beans used in flavored coffee aren’t always of the best quality. The logic is fairly simple. Good quality coffee beans are sold without any flavor enhancements because they taste amazing on their own. Low quality coffee beans can benefit from a lengthier process and even natural flavors. While this won’t immediately hurt your health, it might not be the type of coffee you want to drink long-term.
The bottom line
Does flavored coffee break a fast? It all depends on how the coffee was flavored and what ingredients were used. When we’re talking about flavored coffee beans, that were processed during the roasted process, you’re usually safe. Check the ingredients nonetheless, to make sure there are no added sugars. The flavored coffee you may buy in a coffee shop is a different story. Often, in these cases, syrup is added to boost the flavor, and syrup almost always comes with calories and carbs that will break your fast.
And remember the benefits you get from drinking flavored coffee are the same as the ones you’d get from normal black coffee. However, you could expose yourself to more chemicals and coffee of lower quality. In other words, while you can drink some varieties of flavored coffee during your fast, don’t make it a daily staple.