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What to eat and drink while intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting is one of the most popular dietary trends of the moment. Whether you follow the 5:2 plan or prefer the 16:8 pattern, it’s easy to see why this way of eating can be so appealing. With fewer rules than other nutrition plans and a simple structure, it can be a great way to help with weight loss and improve overall health.1 While intermittent fasting is quite simple, there are some rules you need to stick to for it to work correctly. Whichever plan you follow, the fasting window restricts your food intake. That means you generally won’t eat anything until it’s time to refuel with a healthy meal. That’s pretty clear, right?

What isn’t so clear is how drinks affect your intermittent fast and whether there are certain fluids you should avoid. Plus, it’s not always easy to know the best way to break a fast. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your intermittent fasting plan.

What drinks to avoid when fasting

There are some fasting plans, like the warrior diet or dry fasts, that limits the amount and what you can drink during a fast. However, most intermittent fasting plans let you drink as many fluids as you like – as long as they are calorie-free.

During a fast, it’s best to avoid:

  • Alcohol
  • Soft drinks like soda or squash
  • Fruit juice
  • Dairy products or milk substitutes
  • Sugary or sweetened drinks
As a rule of thumb, it’s usually best to avoid anything that contains a lot of calories, sugar, flavourings, or add-ons2.

What drinks are ok during fasting?

Drinking plenty of water or calorie-free options during your fasts is a great way to keep the hunger at bay. Thankfully, there are a lot of intermittent fasting drinks to choose from.

  • Water and sparkling water, which you can flavour with fresh lime, lemon, or a splash of sugar-free juice
  • Coffee (usually best enjoyed black)
  • Tea (usually best enjoyed without milk or sugar)
  • Bone broth
Some plans recommend enjoying around 100ml of unsweetened almond milk during a fast, as this milk substitute has few carbs and calories. It could be a great way to upgrade your tea and coffee options if you usually take them with milk 3. You could also look for other diet drinks to add variety to your intermittent fasting drinks menu.

The best ways to curb hunger when intermittent fasting

Even someone who has followed an intermittent fasting plan for a while can feel hungry at times. The first step is to look at the meals you’re eating during your refuelling window. Try to include plenty of protein, healthy fats, and good carbohydrates in your food to keep you feeling fuller for longer.

Some other intermittent fasting tricks include:

  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Having a cup of black coffee
  • Getting plenty of sleep
  • Keeping busy
  • Removing temptation4
If you’re consistently feeling hungry during your fasts, it could be worth thinking about changing your pattern so that it feels more comfortable.5

The best ways to break intermittent fasts

Coming out of a fast can lead to uncomfortable digestive problems It could be a good idea to avoid food that’s high in sugar, fat, and fibre. Try to opt for small portions instead, using easy-to-digest ingredients like:

  • Soups and smoothies
  • Dried fruit
  • Eggs
  • Vegetables
  • Yoghurt6

It’s always a good idea to avoid overeating during your refuelling windows, as this could have an impact on how well your intermittent fasting plan works. Be sure to incorporate plenty of healthy and nutritious meals to keep your body at its best.

Last Updated: 28th September 2020