Caffeine and fasting are controversial in some circles. Is it truly fasting if you have coffee or other liquids during your time of abstaining from eating? Some people say to be a pure fast, one must drink only water and eat nothing. Others maintain that having coffee and/or other liquids is healthier and ensures you don’t become dehydrated.
In an article on Mercola.com by Steve Kamb, he says it’s OK to drink any zero-calorie beverages during an intermittent fasting routine. “Zero-calorie beverages are okay,” he writes. “As previously stated, I drink green tea in the morning for my caffeine kick while writing. If you want to drink water, black coffee, or tea during your fasting period, that’s okay. Remember, don’t overthink it – keep things simple! Track your results, listen to your body.”
People fast for various reasons, including religious, physical or medical ones. You’ve heard of the Hippocratic Oath that requires medical practitioners to act ethically? The oath dates back to Hippocrates of 4th century BC Greece, who recommended fasting to promote self-healing.
Another healer, Paracelsus, of the 16th century in Austria, wrote, “Fasting is the greatest remedy, the physician within.”
This may be true especially today with so many food additives, GMOs, high-fat and high-sugar ingredients in our diet. Taking a break from all those substances may help re-set the body’s natural balance, say a number of websites.
Remember, do not undertake a fast without the advice of a doctor, especially if you abstain from food for more than a day.
True Activist gives a list of 10 reasons why fasting is thought to promote a healthier body, including:
Dr. Joseph Mercola has a long article on fasting and its many benefits. He writes:
Fasting, it turns out, has a number of health benefits that most people seek: from improved cardiovascular health and reduced cancer risk, to gene repair and longevity. It’s true that severe calorie restriction promotes both weight loss and longevity in animal models, but this kind of “starvation diet” is not a very appealing strategy for most people. However, newer research shows that you can get most if not all of the same benefits of severe calorie restriction through intermittent fasting, i.e. an eating schedule where you feast on some days, and dramatically cut calories on others. This effectively mimics the eating habits of our ancestors, who did not have access to grocery stores or food around the clock. They would cycle through periods of feast and famine …
As for spiritual reasons, an article on How To Fast does a round-up of various religions’ reasons for abstaining from food for various periods of time, including the extreme of Baha’i, where people fast annually for 19 days from dawn to dusk; and in Islam during Ramadan, where observant Muslims must fast for 30 days all day, from dawn to sundown.
In fact, fasting during Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, meant to move Muslims closer to God and remind them of the suffering of less fortunate people. Even one sip of water is considered a breaking of the fast in Islam. So coffee is definitely out of bounds during Ramadan days for Muslims.
Others religions’ fasting practices include:
One reason people fast that we haven’t covered so far is in case you are getting a blood test ordered by a doctor. Mayo Clinic Medical Laboratories a llows some drinking of coffeeup to two hours before some tests:
Is having black coffee fasting? Doctors keep telling patients it is all right to have black coffee before fasting blood work (fasting sugar, fasting lipid panel).
It depends to some extent on what test is being performed, but for many tests that require fasting, intake of non-carbohydrate containing liquids a few hours before testing will not impact results. We have worked here to make 1 standard definition of “fasting” that encompasses most test requirements. We allow clear liquids (water, black coffee) up until 2 hours before a test or procedure. The definition of fasting should be clarified for all procedures in your institution if possible.
Whatever your reason for fasting, you may find it leads you to a healthier physical or spiritual state. Some people even fast or starve themselves to make political statements.
It seems in all but the most extreme fasts, coffee and tea are allowed, though sugar- and caffeine-containing drinks like sodas and fruit juices may be considered breaking a fast. That said, if you fast for a long time (again we emphasize you should fast for lengthy periods only with a doctor’s guidance) pure fruit juices may be one way to take in some calories and needed carbohydrates.
There are sources of caffeine other than coffee, tea and soda. Viter Energy Mints contain ingredients that might affect blood test results and that might nullify a spiritual fast. However, No-Doz and some types of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs contain caffeine, but again, check with your doctor before have blood drawn.
Here’s a toast to your health!
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Is there a big difference between synthetic and natural caffeine? Apparently, synthetic caffeine is much more powerful than the caffeine found naturally in plants. The question is, is synthetic caffeine harmful?
Some fairly ominous-sounding chemicals are used to process synthetic caffeine. Websites are unclear as to whether the ethyl acetate and methylene chloride (and carbon dioxide) used to process urea to manufacture synthetic caffeine remain in the product. Ethyl acetate is used as a flavoring in some foods, though, so perhaps it is not harmful and may remain in synthetic caffeine.
Why does soda have caffeine in it? Caffeine does add to the complex flavors of the various types of caffeinated soda. In fact, the taste of caffeine is bitter and has to be balanced with sugars or sweeteners and other flavors. Caffeine also adds a boost in energy to the drinkers of soda.
But what reason do the manufacturers give for adding caffeine to soda pop?
Some research has suggested that caffeine may stimulate thermogenesis - a scientific name for the way your body generates heat and energy from the calories in your food; but nutrition experts say that this effect probably isn't enough to produce significant weight-loss. Caffeine may also reduce your desire to eat for a brief time, but again, there's no good evidence over the long-term that this effect leads to weight-loss. To date, no conclusive clinical studies have been done to determine the long-term effect of caffeine on weight loss, and the smaller studies that have been done show a lot of variability in the outcomes.