Intermittent fasting has become an incredibly popular diet and health trend in recent years. By cycling between periods of fasting and eating, intermittent fasting aims to help people lose weight, improve metabolism, and experience other health benefits. But one common question for those new to intermittent fasting is whether drinking fruit juice during your fasting window will break your fast.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting involves alternating between periods of eating and fasting. One of the most popular approaches is the 16:8 method, where you fast for 16 hours per day and restrict eating to an 8-hour window. So if you finished dinner at 8pm, you would not eat again until noon the next day. Other common approaches include alternate day fasting, where you fast every other day, and the 5:2 diet, where you restrict calories to 500-600 for two non-consecutive days per week but eat normally the other 5 days.
No matter the specific intermittent fasting plan, the general idea is to spend a significant portion of time in a fasted state to reap the health and weight loss benefits. During the eating window, most people aim to follow a nutritious diet, but there are no major restrictions on what or how much you can eat during that time.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Research has shown that intermittent fasting can:
- Lead to weight and body fat loss
- Reduce inflammation
- Improve blood sugar control
- Enhance heart health
- Increase longevity
- Improve brain function and mental clarity
In addition to these health perks, many people find intermittent fasting easier to stick to than traditional, restrictive diets since there are no complicated rules other than when to eat and when not to eat.
Guidelines for Fasting
To reap the rewards of intermittent fasting, it’s important to follow the plan correctly. This means abstaining from food and caloric beverages for the entire fasting period. But does fruit juice count as breaking your fast?
Unfortunately, the answer is generally yes. Here are some guidelines on what you can and cannot consume during your fasted hours on an intermittent fasting plan:
- Unsweetened coffee and tea
- Non-caloric beverages like diet soda (in moderation)
- Very low calorie broths and bouillon cubes
- Fruit juice
- Milk, cream, creamers
- Juices with pulp or fiber
- Bone broth
- Any beverage with calories
As you can see, fruit juice is one beverage that would be prohibited during fasting hours. This is because fruit juice contains calories and sugars that could trigger insulin production, take you out of a fasted state, and interrupt the benefits of intermittent fasting.
Calories in Fruit Juice
To understand why fruit juice is not allowed on intermittent fasting, let’s take a look at the calorie content of some common fruit juices:
|Fruit Juice (1 cup)||Calories|
|Cranberry juice cocktail||136|
As you can see, even 1 cup of fruit juice contains 90-130 calories. Consuming these liquid calories during your fasting period could negate some of the health and weight loss benefits.
Sugars in Fruit Juice
In addition to calories, fruit juices contain natural sugars. While natural sugars are healthier than added sugars, they can still spike blood sugar and insulin when consumed.
Here are the grams of sugar in 1 cup of some popular fruit juices:
- Orange juice: 21 grams
- Apple juice: 28 grams
- Grapefruit juice: 22 grams
- Pineapple juice: 27 grams
- Cranberry juice cocktail: 33 grams
Consuming 20-30 grams of sugar without any fiber or protein to balance it out can cause a rapid spike and crash in blood sugar. This stimulates hunger and interrupts ketosis for those following a keto intermittent fasting plan.
In addition to calories and sugar, fruit juice triggers the release of the hormone insulin. Insulin helps cells absorb and utilize glucose from the bloodstream. When you drink fruit juice, the sugars quickly enter your blood, causing your pancreas to secrete insulin.
This insulin spike is problematic because one of the goals of intermittent fasting is to maintain low insulin levels. Sustained elevated insulin can contribute to weight gain and problems like insulin resistance over time. Even if the fruit juice technically fits into your allotted calories for the day, it can disrupt your fasted state.
Tips for Staying Hydrated
Now that you know fruit juice is not fasting-friendly, here are some tips for staying hydrated during your fast:
- Drink plenty of water, ideally 8-12 cups per day.
- Try sparkling water or mineral water for variety.
- Drink unsweetened tea or coffee.
- Add sliced lemon, lime, or cucumber to your water for flavor.
- Take small sips throughout the day rather than guzzling large amounts at once.
- Drink a glass of water when hunger hits to ensure you’re not confusing thirst for hunger.
- Use a motivational water bottle to help you reach daily intake goals.
Popular Intermittent Fasting Methods
There are several different ways to practice intermittent fasting. Here are some of the most common:
This involves fasting for 16 hours per day and restricting eating to an 8-hour window. For example, skipping breakfast and eating between 12pm-8pm.
Alternate Day Fasting
Fasting every other day, eating normally on the days in between. Some modify this by restricting calories to 500 on fast days rather than fasting completely.
A full 24 hours without food once or twice per week, such as fasting from dinner to dinner or breakfast to breakfast.
Eat normally 5 days per week. On 2 non-consecutive days, restrict calories to 500-600.
A 20-hour fast followed by a 4-hour eating window in the evening.
Decide which method works best with your lifestyle before getting started.
Should You Drink Fruit Juice at All?
Given the calorie, sugar, and insulin impact, it’s best to avoid fruit juice during intermittent fasting completely. But should you drink juice at all if you’re pursuing a healthy diet?
Some drawbacks to frequent fruit juice consumption include:
- High natural sugar content without fiber
- Oxidation and loss of nutrients during processing
- High calories leading to weight gain
- Damage to tooth enamel
For these reasons, it’s best to limit juice intake and focus on getting nutrients from whole fruits and vegetables. Juice should not replace water as a thirst quencher.
However, an occasional small glass of 100% fruit juice can provide some nutrients. Just be mindful of portion size and frequency to avoid adverse health effects.
Healthy Alternatives to Fruit Juice
Instead of fruit juice, consider these healthy hydrating options:
- Water: Always the healthiest choice for hydration.
- Sparkling water: Try flavored versions like La Croix for variety.
- Unsweetened tea: High in antioxidants, opt for herbal and green tea.
- Coffee: Provides energy and focus, just avoid excessive sugar.
- Diluted juice: Mix a small amount of juice with water.
- Coconut water: Refreshing electrolyte-rich option.
- Milk: Dairy or plant-based milk like almond milk.
Sample Intermittent Fasting Schedule
Here is an example 16:8 intermittent fasting schedule of when to drink fluids to stay hydrated during fasting hours:
|6pm||Unsweetened Iced tea|
|8pm||Dinner including juice and other beverages|
As you can see, sticking with water, tea, coffee, and other no-calorie beverages throughout the morning and afternoon can keep you hydrated without disrupting your intermittent fast.
Typical Intermittent Fasting Meals
Here are some examples of nutritious meals to eat during your feeding window when intermittent fasting:
- Eggs, avocado, and fruit
- Greek yogurt with berries and nuts
- Smoothie with protein powder, milk, greens, and nut butter
- Cottage cheese and sliced tomatoes
- Grilled chicken salad
- Vegetable soup and whole grain toast
- Leftover stir fry over cauliflower rice
- Tuna salad wrap
- Shrimp fajitas with veggies
- Turkey burger with oven fries
- Stir fry with tofu, vegetables, and rice
- Portobello mushroom pizza
Be sure to include lean protein, healthy fats, fiber-rich carbs, and plenty of vegetables in your meals.
Final Tips for Success
Here are some final tips to help you succeed with intermittent fasting:
- Stay hydrated with non-caloric beverages
- Manage hunger with water, coffee, tea, and sparkling water
- Distract yourself from food cravings by staying busy
- Include protein and fiber in meals to stay full
- Break your fast gradually with a small snack
- Listen to your body and modify your plan as needed
- Talk to your doctor, especially if you have any medical conditions
The Bottom Line
While fruit juice may seem like an innocent choice, it does contain calories and sugars that can interrupt your fasted state. Stick with plain or sparkling water, unsweetened tea and coffee, and other no-calorie beverages during your intermittent fasting hours for best results. Staying properly hydrated will help you power through your fast while reaping all the benefits.