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Does Tea Break a Fast? Tea and Intermittent Fasting Decoded

a cup of tea in a glass teacup with a flower beside it, does tea break a fast

Key Takeaways:

  • Tea doesn't break a fast if consumed plain, without additives like milk or sugar.
  • Adding dairy or sweeteners to tea can increase calorie intake and potentially disrupt fasting benefits.
  • Plain tea offers various health advantages during fasting, such as alleviating initial side effects like headaches and nausea.
  • Tea can help with hydration but is not a substitute for water or low-calorie fruit juices.
  • Be cautious of potential side effects like stomach upset or allergic reactions to herbal teas.
  • Moderation is key; limit tea consumption to less than 3 to 4 cups a day to avoid negative effects.
  • Different types of teas offer unique health benefits; choose according to your fasting goals.
  • Avoid teas with laxatives or additional caloric ingredients like milk, cream, and sugar.
  • Always read the ingredient list on herbal teas to ensure they align with your fasting protocol.

Structured fasting methods like intermittent fasting have become increasingly popular over the years because of how effective they are for weight loss and their health benefits. But before starting a fasting protocol, it's normal to have all kinds of questions about the types of foods and beverages you can and cannot consume without derailing your fast.

Foods like proteins, fruits, vegetables, and nuts are a no-brainer. But what about tea? Is it safe to drink tea during intermittent fasting? Or, is there a way to drink tea during a fast that piles on the calories? We will cover all your most pressing questions about drinking tea during a fast next!

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Does Tea Break A Fast Like Intermittent Fasting? | The Real-Quick Low Down

The simple answer is NO. Tea does not break a fast. But there's a caveat.

You can consume plain tea when you're on a fast. However, adding other ingredients like dairy (cow milk, almond milk, soy milk, and so on) or sweeteners like sugar, jaggery, aspartame, etc. can increase your calorie intake.

These unnecessary extras can also affect your fast in more ways than one. Adding milk and sugar can add fat/carbs to your diet and spike your blood sugar levels, which is not the most desirable effect when you're trying to lose weight. Plus, the extra calories can derail your best efforts to lose the extra pounds!

Plain tea without the extras can actually provide a number of benefits for your body and mind when you're fasting. It's also a guilt-free indulgence. An average 8-ounce (240ml) cup of freshly brewed black tea (without dairy or sugar) contains as little as two calories!

Benefits of Drinking Tea During a Fast

It's normal for people to experience side effects such as tiredness, headaches, and nausea at the beginning of the fast, as well as the dreaded hunger pangs.   But these typically start to lessen and dissipate over a month as the body adjusts to the new diet pattern, allowing you to fully experience the benefits of fasting.

In terms of the benefits of tea during fasting, to start with, drinking tea can help alleviate some of these symptoms, which may be especially helpful when fasting for 16 hours.

It can also help make you feel satiated so you're not feeling as hungry or less capable of coping with your intermittent fasting schedule.

Aside from this, drinking tea during a fast can also help with the following:

  • Improve levels of hydration: While caffeine is known for its diuretic effects, causing increased urination, teas containing caffeine are unlikely to significantly dehydrate you unless consumed in excessive amounts—specifically, more than 6 to 13 cups. But, of course, your best bet for hydration is still to drink water or low-calorie fruit juices.
  • Helps you maintain a healthy diet: A single cup of tea (approximately 240ml) contains just two calories, provided you haven't added milk, creamers, or sweeteners. This makes tea an excellent choice for feeling satiated longer without the burden of extra calories.
  • May help you sleep better: Certain teas, such as jasmine and chamomile, possess soothing and calming properties. These teas are beneficial for relaxation and can aid in falling asleep more quickly.

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Side Effects of Drinking Tea During a Fast

Regardless of whether you're fasting or not, some people may experience stomach upset when drinking tea on an empty stomach.

Some people may also be allergic to the ingredients in some herbal teas (especially floral teas). Read the full list of ingredients on the label to ensure you're not consuming anything to which you're normally allergic.

Generally, drinking tea in moderate amounts is safe for otherwise healthy adults and can provide a number of health benefits. If you drink more than 3 to 4 cups of tea a day, then you may start to experience side effects such as:

  • The tannin in tea may hinder the absorption of iron in your body.
  • Drinking more tea means an increase in the amount of caffeine you're consuming. You may experience increased anxiety, restlessness, and insomnia.
  • Increasing your intake of tannin present in the tea could irritate your digestive system. You may experience stomach upset or nausea.
  • An increase in caffeine consumption may cause heartburn.

What Type of Tea Can You Drink During A Fast?

different types of tea, does tea break a fast

There are so many different types of teas available that avid tea drinkers are spoilt for choice. Black or green tea are popular options. You can even explore "fasting teas" made for people who are following time-restricted fasting or any other type of intermittent fasting plan.

Here are other teas worth exploring if you'd like to try out some new flavours. Remember, the key is to not add dairy, sweeteners, or other artificial ingredients to avoid breaking your fast.

  • Green tea or matcha tea:  Green tea contains flavonoids that are great for heart health. They help lower bad cholesterol and blood pressure. Green tea is a great anti-inflammatory agent which means it helps protect against inflammation (think clear, glowing skin!). It may also help protect the body against cancers of the liver, breast, prostate, and colorectum.
  • Herbal teas or Tisanes: Herbal teas include such varieties as Rooibois, chamomile, hibiscus, ginger, and peppermint tea, to name just a few. They consist of fruits, spices, herbs, and flowers. The teas have different benefits depending on the key ingredient. For example, ginger and peppermint are great for calming nausea and soothing an upset stomach.
  • White tea:  White tea has the least amount of caffeine. It contains antioxidants that may be beneficial in fighting cancer. It's also known to help strengthen teeth and protect it from plaque.
  • Oolong tea: Oolong tea may have anti-inflammatory and cancer-fighting properties. It's perhaps best known for containing L-theanine, which has shown potential benefits in fighting diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.

Which Types of Teas Should You Avoid During a Fast?

Generally, avoid detox teas that may contain laxatives. Also avoid flavoured teas that may contain additional ingredients like milk, cream, and sugar. Bubble teas are also to be avoided as they're short on nutrition and high on empty calories.

Consume tea plain to avoid breaking your fast. You can add spices and condiments like cardamom and ginger to improve the flavour and taste. If you want to make your tea a little thicker, you can add a teaspoon of coconut oil.

Conclusion

Making fasting protocols like intermittent fasting work for you is all about trying things out and paying attention to how your body reacts.

While tea can be helpful and beneficial during your fasting periods, remember to incorporate it into your eating plan in a way that suits your lifestyle and health goals.

Sip plain tea moderately—less than 3 to 4 cups a day—to help you stay hydrated, maintain weight loss, and feel full for longer.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. Does tea break intermittent fasting?

Tea can either break or not break intermittent fasting, depending on how you prepare it. If you drink it plain without adding extra ingredients like milk, creamers, or sweeteners, it's unlikely to break up your fasting protocol.  On the other hand, dairy like milk or creamers can add extra fats and carbohydrates, while sweeteners can add extra calories. Consume plain tea so as not to thwart your intermittent fasting efforts.

Q2. Will tea with milk break a fast?

Plain, unsweetened tea will not break a fast. However, the addition of milk does contribute to breaking a fast. Milk brings in carbohydrates and fats together with additional calories, and therefore can be considered a meal (minuscule as it is) by itself. Avoid adding milk, creamers, or sweeteners, and have your tea as is, and it will not break your fast!

Q3. Does Indian tea break a fast?

If you're referring to traditional masala tea, flavoured with spices like cinnamon, cloves, and ginger, it won't break your fast if you have it black without adding sugar or dairy. Adding milk and sugar can add extra calories, which will break your fast and defeat the purpose of structured fasting protocols like intermittent fasting.

Q4. Does tea without milk break a fast?

Tea without milk won't break a fast, provided you don't add extras like sweeteners or other dairy products such as creamers. Plain tea is safe to consume during a fasting protocol as it doesn't add unnecessary calories and typically does not cause the side effects of adding other ingredients like sugar, which can increase your blood sugar levels and hamper weight loss.

Q5. Does herbal tea break intermittent fasting?

If you enjoy your tea without adding other ingredients like dairy or sweeteners, it won't break your intermittent fasting protocol. Milk can add fats and carbs, while sugar adds additional calories, neither of which is beneficial when you're following a fasting regime.

Darcy Ogdon-Nolan

Holding a Bachelor Of Science (Hons.) combined with close to a decade now in the health food and wellness industry, I believe I'm uniquely positioned to provide a depth of knowledge and first-hand experience on emerging health products, trends and ideas! From greens powders and medicinal mushrooms through to protein powders and workout nutrition - I'm particularly interested in what modern science can uncover about what human cultures have been using to treat ailments for millennia!

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