Fasting is an ancient practice used in many religions, and , health groups, and has huge benefits. The practice involves going for a certain period of time without food and some religions also exclude beverages. So, how does coffee, and flavored coffee in particular, affect fasting?
Can you fast and drink flavored coffee without breaking the fast? Well, it depends on the rules of the type of fasting that you’re doing. The rules are different for Catholics, Muslims, Jews, and even for those fasting for health benefits.
If you’ve never heard of fasting, that’s okay, it’s easy to explain. You go without food or water for a period of time. Many people do this for spiritual or religious reasons, but there are some health benefits attributed to fasting.
Some research shows that fasting can help regulate blood sugar, help fight inflammation, among other things. It’s important to talk to a doctor if you’re looking to start fasting on a regular basis to see if it’s a good fit for you. Even for those fasting for religious reasons, there are exceptions for those who are obligated to fast and those that don’t have to.
Drinking black coffee on the regular is fine for some people but not for everyone. Some of us want (and need) some flavor in our morning cups. Flavored coffee is coffee that has been flavored with oils or some kind of synthetic flavoring after the roasting process.
The process usually starts with about 100 lbs of Arabica beans, which have low acidity. Then they’re gently roasted and have a chemical coating added to them so the flavoring can stick to them better. The final step is to add the freshly roasted beans to a giant tumbler where they get a nice, even coat of flavoring.
The great thing about this process is that it adds zero sugar to the coffee beans. The only thing that you’re left with is pure flavor.
The intermittent fast is probably the most well-known fast practice by people for health reasons. In this instance, flavored coffee would be fine as long as no (or very few) calories are added to the drink.
People who fast for the health benefits look to not break what’s called a “metabolic fast”. Eating a small number of calories, even a few dozen, could break that state. This is why many people who practice intermittent fasting love drinking flavored coffees—they get the flavor without the calories.
How much flavored coffee can you drink before breaking a fast?
For intermittent fasting, you can drink as much flavored coffee as you want but this probably isn’t a good idea. Just use your common sense and drink just enough to get you through the day without having too much. As long as you don’t add cream, sugar, or any calories to it, then you should be fine.
Does flavored coffee have calories?
We already covered that adding flavor to coffee beans doesn’t add sugar, but does it add calories from other sources? The quick answer is no and that’s great for people who fast. So, don’t worry about any extra calories sneaking into your diet and breaking your fast, they just aren’t there.
Coffee is allowed according to the rules for fasting in Catholicism. Fasting, according to Catholics, means not eating meat or solid foods for a given period of time. They are allowed to eat one full meal and two smaller meals that don’t add up to a full meal.
Liquid foods and drinks like coffee are permitted, but things like protein shakes are not. Let’s look at the rules for fasting before holy communion as an example.
Catholicism states that a person between 18 and 60 must fast one hour before communion. During this fast, a person is to have no food or drink with the exception of water or medication. In this example, you could have a cup of french vanilla, and black coffee before communion, but you could have solid food with it.
The quick answer to this is no. The fasting rules for Muslims are a lot more strict than for Catholics. The rules for fasting in Islam require a Muslim to fast from the Fajr prayer all the way to the Maghrib prayer, so sunrise to sunset. A Muslim is allowed to eat before Fajr and after Maghrib.
During the fast, a Muslim can’t eat or drink anything (including coffee!). Some Muslims even include taking medication during the fast. Most Muslims fast during the holy month of Ramadan but many Muslims fast on a regular basis outside of Ramadan. Individuals who are sick, women on their periods, and children don’t have to fast.
Fasting and flavored coffee are a great pair for the right person. Individuals who intermittently fast are allowed flavored, black coffee to help manage their fast. As long as they avoid adding calories, they’re fine. Flavored coffee doesn’t add sugar or calories in the flavoring process so it’s a great addition to a fast.
Now, religious fasting and coffee can get a bit complicated. Catholics are allowed to drink flavored, black coffee during their fasting periods before communion and on their holidays. Muslims, on the other hand, are not allowed any food, drink, or even medications (in some cases) during their fast.
Keep in mind the rules of your type of fasting and flavor coffee can make a great ally. So go ahead and pour yourself a hot, or cold, cup of french vanilla to start your fast off right!