5 Beverages To Consume During Your Fast
In case you hadn’t guessed based on the title of my new book Intuitive Fasting, I’m a big fan of intermittent fasting as a tool to optimize health. In fact, I recommend some type of time-restricted feeding plan — whether it be a 12-hour window or an 18-hour window between dinner and breakfast the next day — to basically every patient that comes into my functional medicine clinic.
Without fail, one of the first questions I get asked when I talk to my patients about fasting is:
What can I consume during a fast?
The short answer to this question is nothing — no food should be confused during your fasting window. That said, there are some beverages that you can enjoy during your fasting window. These are the five I most frequently recommend:
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Water, water (and more water)
The general rule for what’s okay to consume during a fast is that it has to be something that has zero sugar and zero calories, which makes water the ultimate choice. Water is important all the time, but especially during a fast because you are more prone to dehydration because you are not consuming fresh foods that contain water and help keep you hydrated. Water is even more important in the summer months and if you exercise frequent exercises since you lose water and electrolytes through your sweat. I recommend keeping your water intake around 64 ounces daily and sipping on it regularly during your fast.
Earl Grey Tea
If you’ve read any of my books or follow me on social media, you know that I LOVE tea. And that’s why it’s a big deal when I say that Earl Grey is my favorite tea. Earl Grey contains not only the benefits of black tea but also of bergamot oil, which is a common herb in Italy but also in Southeast Asia, Argentina, Morocco, Brazil, and Turkey. Bergamot oil has mood-boosting benefits and also acts as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial. (1) Plus, it tastes amazing!
Bone broth is another great option for a fast, especially at the end of your fast when you are about to ease into your eating window. Bone broth contains natural collagen, which is great for your hair, skin, and nails but also your joints and gut health. In fact, it’s one of the things I recommend most frequently to my patients with gut problems such as leaky gut syndrome, candida overgrowth, and SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth).
Remember when I said that I love tea? Well, I meant it. And while not technically from the tea plant, herbal teas are one of my favorite things to consume during a fast. You can choose any type of herbal tea as long as it’s got no added sugar, but some of my favorites are:
Chamomile — For a calming sensation
Ginger — For calming inflammation
Rooibos — For something nutty and soothing
Peppermint — For an energizing effect
Hibiscus — For something fruity
Valerian — For an evening treat if you’re already in your fasting window
Coffee (in moderation)
Last but not least, there’s coffee. It may have been wise to put this first on the list — because it’s the one I get asked about the most — but I decided to put it last instead because it’s my least favorite choice out of the five. Why? Because while coffee is a totally fine beverage to consume during a fast (as long as it’s black and has no added sugar) people tend to overdo it on caffeine when they first start to fast. This, unfortunately, can leave you jittery, anxious, dehydrated, and with a headache, which isn’t exactly a recipe for success with fasting. If you are going to consume coffee during a fast, do it in moderation, couple it with plenty of water, and choose an option that has lower acidity levels so it's gentler on your stomach.
When it comes to what to drink during a fast, these five beverages above are a pretty safe bet. Just make sure to turn to water first, coffee last, and make sure to enjoy the herbal teas, bone broth, and Earl Grey tea somewhere in the middle.
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Perna S, Spadaccini D, Botteri L, et al. Efficacy of bergamot: From anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative mechanisms to clinical applications as a preventive agent for cardiovascular morbidity, skin diseases, and mood alterations. Food Sci Nutr. 2019;7(2):369-384. Published 2019 Jan 25. doi:10.1002/fsn3.903
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BY DR. WILL COLE
Dr. Will Cole, IFMCP, DNM, DC, leading functional medicine expert, consults people around the world via webcam and locally in Pittsburgh. He received his doctorate from Southern California University of Health Sciences and post doctorate education and training in functional medicine and clinical nutrition. He specializes in clinically researching underlying factors of chronic disease and customizing a functional medicine approach for thyroid issues, autoimmune conditions, hormonal imbalances, digestive disorders, and brain problems. Dr. Cole was named one of the top 50 functional medicine and integrative doctors in the nation and is the best selling author of Ketotarian and The Inflammation Spectrum.