Whether you’re on an intermittent fasting journey to manage blood sugar, for longevity, or to lose weight, you probably find yourself wondering what breaks and what doesn’t break a fast. The general rule with intermittent fasting is to abstain from any caloric foods or beverages during your fasting window. So, will LaCroix break a fast?
In theory, no. If you look at the nutritional label, you’ll see LaCroix has no calories. In other words, it should have no impact on your fast or your insulin levels. However, there have been claims that LaCroix may lead to weight gain and destabilize blood sugar levels.
Can a zero-calorie beverage really do that? Let’s explore the topic in-depth.
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What is Lacroix?
LaCroix is a zero-calorie flavored sparkling water. The producers claim it contains no sugar or artificial sweeteners and the flavor is all-natural, non-GMO. They further explain the flavors come from natural oils extracted from fruits.
The problem is ‘natural flavors’ aren’t well regulated by the FDA so there’s no way of knowing exactly what ingredients are used. As a result, over time there have been a few health worries surrounding LaCroix. For instance, because it is both flavored and carbonated, it can be very acidic and damage tooth enamel. There is, however, a general agreement that flavored sparkling water like LaCroix is a healthier alternative to sodas, even diet sodas, which contain sweeteners and a lot more questionable flavors.
Will Lacroix break a fast?
LaCroix has zero calories, so in theory, it will not break a fast.
Two problems arise though. The first is that the flavors may increase appetite. This is a natural reaction of the human brain and it can be seen in the case of artificial (like Monk Fruit, or Aspartame) and natural sweeteners (like Stevia) as well. You taste something sweet and fruity, which means your body is expecting energy or carbohydrates.
But because you’re having something with zero calories, you aren’t giving it any of that. Once these expectations appeared though, cravings could start increasing. While the cravings in and of themselves won’t make you gain weight and won’t break your fast, they can certainly make it harder to fast. If you abstain, the cravings could grow and when your eating window finally starts, you could find yourself overeating.
The second problem is the acidic nature of beverages like LaCroix. Most worry only about tooth enamel, but this acid could cause stomach ulcers and make you feel hungrier, which again is going to make fasting more difficult.
Does LaCroix spike insulin?
There are no studies to suggest that LaCroix spikes insulin. If you need to closely monitor your insulin levels, then be sure to check how you react to LaCroix. Since it has no carbs, you should be safe. But as you can’t know for sure what ingredients make up the natural flavors, you also can’t be 100% certain how you’ll react to it. In the absence of more studies, it is up to each person to monitor how they’re feeling.
Is flavored sparkling water while intermittent fasting allowed?
Sparkling water that has no calories, sugar, or artificial sweeteners is allowed while intermittent fasting. However, that doesn’t mean it is ideal.
Two experiments, one on humans and one on rats, regarding the effects of various types of water and soda, concluded that carbonated water increased appetite level in rats without affecting satiety. In humans, carbonated drinks increase ghrelin levels. The ghrelin levels of those who drank sparkling water were up to 6 times higher than the levels of those who drank plain water. The ghrelin levels were also 3 times higher than those of the people who drank uncarbonated soda!
Why is that bad? Because ghrelin is the ‘hunger hormone’. Its main role is to stimulate your appetite. The more ghrelin you have, the hungrier you are. Normally, ghrelin levels rise when the stomach is empty and drop when it is full. In other words, during a prolonged fast, you already have fairly high ghrelin levels. In time, your body may adjust and you can easily fast regardless of those levels. But if during the fast, you add a carbonated drink that will increase ghrelin levels, the result may be far from what you want.
How to drink sparkling water during a fast to avoid an increase in appetite
Do all these studies mean you have to stick to plain water with maybe some tea and coffee? Not necessarily. As we established, LaCroix in and of itself doesn’t break a fast. From there, it is up to each individual to figure out if the increase in appetite is severe enough to affect their fast.
Drink it in moderation. Don’t use it to replace regular water. If you’re thirsty, reach for water first and keep LaCroix as a treat. Also, watch out for how you feel when you do drink it. Not just during your fast, but also during your eating window. Do you find your appetite is increased? Do you eat more on those days, do you maybe crave more unhealthy foods? If your answer is yes, then you may want to reconsider drinking LaCroix during your fast.
And remember there are really no benefits to drinking LaCroix instead of plain water. Since all it contains is carbon and flavors, you get no electrolytes, so it doesn’t hydrate you better than regular water. It may curb a craving for something sweet for a few minutes, but your appetite will increase later, so you don’t win in this department either.
The bottom line
Will LaCroix break a fast? No, it won’t, because it has no calories and no carbs. However, that doesn’t mean it is the best drink to have during your fast. Sparkling flavored water increases your appetite, making it harder to fast. It may also make you more prone to overeating during your eating window, throwing your weight loss efforts out the window. If you want to have it, drink it in moderation, as a treat and not to replace regular water. Even if you’re one of the lucky people who don’t get an increase in appetite from it, you shouldn’t replace plain water with something flavored that may or may not contain questionable ingredients.