Intermittent fasting has become one of the most popular diets in the past few years. It is relatively easy to do, as there are no strict lists of foods, and it comes with a lot of benefits such as weight loss, blood sugar management, improved cognitive function, and more. The biggest downside is the hunger and the cravings that make their way into your fasting window, giving you a hard time. Water and coffee are great, but sometimes you just wish you could add some flavor. But does flavored sparkling water break a fast?
The answer depends on several factors. Firstly, it depends on what exactly is in the flavored sparkling water. Does it have sugar or other artificial ingredients that could affect insulin? How many calories does it have? Secondly, it depends on your fasting method and the number of calories you can have without breaking your fast.
So let’s explore this topic in-depth and see when it is ok to have flavored sparkling water, what are its benefits, and more.
How flavored sparkling water can help your fast
Flavored sparkling water, like LaCroix or water enhancers like Mio are tolerated when intermittent fasting and can even help you.
1. It keeps you hydrated
Hydration is essential during a fast, so try adding as many liquids as possible. Coffee and some teas may have the opposite effect, so choose water whenever possible. Flavored sparkling water is a great way to break the monotony that plain water brings, while also staying well hydrated.
2. It may curb your appetite
It is no secret that dehydration is often perceived as hunger, so drinking more water helps prevent this issue. Also, while fasting, cravings will inevitably start happening. Sure, eating a good diet and staying hydrated will help minimize them, but some are inevitable every now and then. Adding some flavored sparkling water will help curb those cravings for a short while.
Do pay attention though, because zero-calorie beverages come with a twist: the flavor may help curb your appetite for a while, by fooling your taste buds, but after that, you may be left feeling hungrier than ever. That’s because your body usually expects to receive carbs, in other words, energy, whenever you taste something sweet. But since you’re just having a zero-calorie beverage, that energy isn’t coming, so you might experience an increase in appetite after an hour or two.
Naturally-flavored water could be a better option: it will curb your appetite, but the risk of a rebound in cravings is smaller. It does, however, contain a few calories, so you need to make sure your fasting method allows it.
3. It may help replenish electrolytes quicker
This depends on the sparkling water itself, as not all of them have the same ingredients. If you’re interested in boosting your electrolytes, check the label of your flavored sparkling water and make sure it contains electrolytes.
Does flavored sparkling water break a fast? (Detailed)
Yes and no. Flavored sparkling water can contain sugar and other artificial ingredients or sweeteners (like Xylitol or Aspartame) that will cause an insulin response. This will break your fast under most methods.
Those waters marketed as zero-calorie, usually contain artificial ingredients. While claims are that these are healthy, studies show they have the potential to worsen insulin sensitivity, especially in people with type 2 diabetes. These types of waters may not break a fast, but that doesn’t mean they are truly healthy. A drink every once in a while won’t hurt, but try not to make them a habit.
Flavored sparkling water when dirty fasting
Regular fasting will allow very few calories during a fast, usually under 5, and some even recommend no more than 1-2 calories. These fasts are usually recommended for those interested in gut rest, autophagy, or those who need to fast for various medical reasons.
Dirty fasting is an alternative where you can eat up to 50 calories during your fasting window. It may have fewer health benefits overall, but it is a great option for those who are simply looking to lose some weight or break a weight loss plateau. As you may expect, in this fast, you can have your flavored sparkling water without much worry, but you should still read the label.
Why? Because believe it or not, some flavored waters can have up to 150 calories per serving! Don’t believe that those marketed as ‘healthy’ are any better. In fact, it is usually the vitamin waters that fall in this category, because, on top of the vitamins and minerals and the added flavor, they’re also loaded with sugar. So yes, you may have more flavored sparkling water during a dirty fast, but that doesn’t mean you can drink it mindlessly.
Is naturally flavored sparkling water different?
Yes, naturally flavored sparkling water is different when it comes to breaking a fast. It usually has no sugar or sweeteners, and you can control the number of calories it has. For instance, one squeezed lemon will give you about 11 calories. There is, of course, the issue of the type of fast you’re on.
Even naturally flavored sparkling water can break a fast that is aimed for gut rest. With autophagy, things will vary from person to person. Some claim that 5-10 calories won’t break autophagy, but the truth is, there aren’t enough studies to show the exact number of calories required to disrupt it. In other words, in both of these cases, you may want to be cautious with how much flavored sparkling water you’re having.
The bottom line
Does flavored sparkling water break a fast? Yes and no. Zero-calorie beverages will not technically break a fast. However, they might increase your appetite and make your cravings worse in the long-term. With all other flavored waters, the answer depends on your type of fast and the reasons for fasting. Gut rest and autophagy could be disrupted by most of them, but a simple weight loss fast is more permissive, as it usually belongs in the category of ‘dirty fasting’. In short, you should aim to choose naturally-flavored sparkling water with as few calories as possible and avoid artificial sweeteners.