Intermittent fasting has become a popular, if not somewhat controversial subject over the years. Some critics believe that the act of limiting food intake to certain windows of the day is akin to an eating disorder. Of course, much of the world is also overweight, depressed, and shackled to daily routines meant to comfort them rather than improve their lives. So when the world zigs, it’s often smart to zag, instead.
We believe that fasting is an ancient and sacred practice that can boost your physical, mental, and emotional health. You’ve heard of starving a fever, right? Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, agreed, and saw a logical connection between planned starvation and optimal wellness. “To eat when you are sick, is to feed your sickness,” he said, because he understood that positive momentum is often borne of negative circumstance.
In other words, just like mental health requires a change in fundamental attitude from cynicism to optimism, so, too, does the body often require a shift from comfort to exertion in order to evolve. And if you can learn to reframe that shift from comfort to exertion into a positive experience — a celebration of strength, an adventure of the soul — then you become unstoppable, both mentally and physically.
For those who don’t know, intermittent fasting is a decision to consume all of the day’s calories in a specific timeframe. Sometimes folks will narrow the eating window down to eight hours, to four hours, or even one hour and just one large meal. When done the right way, fasting can produce therapeutic results in the form of weight loss, mental clarity, and even a sense of spiritual satisfaction. To compare fasting to an eating disorder is to entirely miss the point of the practice — it’s not about the body image, it’s about the journey of self-discovery.
Does coffee break a fast?
During a fast, hydration is key. Oftentimes during the day when you feel hungry, you’re actually just thirsty; so when purposefully limiting calories, it’s doubly essential to fuel the body with plenty of water. The body can live much longer without food than water.
Coffee often confuses people who are learning about fasting because it is essentially a fortified water. Will it help or hurt the fast, given it both hydrates and dehydrates simultaneously?
Bottom line: don’t sweat the cup of coffee while fasting. Black coffee has been shown to enhance fatty acid mobilization from adipose tissue, as well as enhance cognitive alertness and metabolism. Many biohackers like to add some good fats like grass-fed butter, coconut oil, or MCT oil to their morning coffee; but those additives will break the fast. A plain cup of black coffee will temporarily boost your energy levels due to the caffeine, and will likely suppress your appetite.
Basically, if it had calories, it will break your fast. If it doesn’t, then it won’t. And that goes for any flavored liquid. Again, though, the body craves and requires pure water more than any other substance that you can put in your mouth, so don’t veer too far away from our ancestors when trying to fast like them.