Although it has only become a trend in the past few years, kombucha has been consumed for thousands of years. It is a fermented tea with a lot of health benefits, so it’s no wonder that people are talking about it a lot nowadays. If you’re doing intermittent fasting, a question you probably have about it is “will kombucha break a fast?”.
The answer depends on several factors such as why you’re fasting, what type of fasting method you’re following, how many calories and carbs you’re allowed during your fasting window, and how much sugar is in your kombucha. One cup of kombucha typically has around 50 calories and the majority come from carbs and sugar. Most intermittent fasting diets don’t allow for this many calories and carbs, but if yours does, you may be safe. Brewing your own kombucha gives you more control over the sugar quantity, so consider this if you want to drink it while fasting.
Let’s explore this topic in-depth and see when can you drink kombucha without breaking your fast, the benefits, as well as the side effects of this interesting beverage.
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Will kombucha break a fast?
The answer comes down to the quantity of sugar in the drink and the number of calories you’re allowed per your fasting method.
Typically, 100 ml of kombucha have about 10 grams of sugar. Store-bought kombucha may have more, as the quantity increases with the length of time of fermentation. The more you ferment your kombucha, the more sugar it will have.
So, the question you need to ask yourself is: will eating 10 grams (or more) of sugar break my fast? For most intermittent fasting methods, the answer will be yes. That’s because they only allow a maximum of 1 gram of carbs during your fasting window and anything that causes an insulin response breaks your fast.
However, some methods, like the 5:2 method allow for more carbs even on fasting days, as long as your total number of calories doesn’t go over a certain number, usually 500-600 kcals per day of fasting,
If you’re fasting more for overall health and detox, kombucha could be ok regardless of your method. In fact, this drink contains a lot of probiotics and antioxidants, which helps your body get rid of toxins quicker.
In case you’re fasting for autophagy or gut rest, there are no studies to show the effects kombucha will have on your fast. However, given that there is sugar in it, we can assume it might stimulate the gut, breaking the fast, so you should stay away from it until your eating window begins.
Will kombucha help my hunger?
The caffeine and sugar in kombucha can help with hunger and low energy. That being said, this can vary from person to person. Some people react well to a drink like a kombucha, while people who are more prone to blood sugar imbalances will not. Instead, they will get a quick rise in blood sugar, which may help for a moment, giving them more energy. However, their blood sugar could drop just as fast, leaving them hungry and sluggish.
In other words, this is a question each person needs to answer for themselves. If you know you don’t have blood sugar issues, kombucha could be very helpful. Otherwise, stay away from it during your fasting window or drink it very close to when you want to start eating. That way, if you do get low blood sugar soon after drinking it, the first meal of the day is close enough.
Benefits of kombucha
Kombucha is made through a process of adding specific strains of bacteria, yeast, and sugar to black or green tea. Afterward, you need to allow it to ferment for about a week, during which a mushroom-like film is formed on its surface. This fermentation process allows the formation of probiotics that help maintain gut health.
Kombucha also contains plenty of antioxidants. While there are currently no human studies, research on rats shows that regular consumption of kombucha helps decrease liver toxicity even by 70%.
Despite its high sugar content, kombucha may be beneficial in managing type 2 diabetes. Studies on rats showed positive results for the management of blood sugar as well as liver and kidney health. The other benefits are thought to be similar to those of green tea, which has been proven to reduce the risk of diabetes by 18%.
Kombucha side effects
Despite its many benefits, kombucha does have some side effects. For instance, it is not good for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding or anyone with a sensitivity to alcohol. That’s because the fermentation process does lead to small amounts of alcohol. While most people won’t be sensitive to it, some may find themselves reacting negatively to kombucha because of it.
Store-bought kombucha often has added sugar to help it taste better. That’s going to reduce a lot of its benefits and add several potential side effects including blood sugar management issues.
Prolonged consumption, or drinking high quantities of kombucha could lead to an excess of sugar and caffeine, even if you’re drinking a home-made variety.
Finally, the acidity and even the large quantity of gut-friendly bacteria may cause digestive issues in some people. Though rare, kombucha can cause gas, bloating, and even diarrhea. So if you’re not used to drinking it, start with a small portion and preferably don’t drink it during your fast until you make sure you react well to it.
The bottom line
Will kombucha break a fast? If you’re on a strict fasting diet that requires you to stay away from all calories, then yes, kombucha will break the fast. You can drink kombucha while fasting as long as you know your diet allows for about 10 grams or more of sugar during your fasting window.
Otherwise, drink it during your eating window or at least, use it to break your fast.
Remember that while it has many benefits, such as improved gut health, liver, and kidney health, some people may not react so well to kombucha. If you start experiencing digestive issues or if you know you have a sensitivity to alcohol, consider cutting back on the amount you’re drinking.