Certainly, the biggest challenge of any type of fasting, whether you are following a time-restricted intermittent fasting diet or trying to take on prolonged water fasting such as a 24-hour water fast or an advanced 5-day water fast, is the fact that you cannot eat while fasting and you cannot consume caloric beverages either.
Although you cannot technically eat anything during fasting, you are encouraged to drink non-caloric beverages such as water. The body always needs to be well hydrated, and water does not contain any calories, so it will not induce metabolic changes that take you out of the fastest state.
But are there other things you can drink while fasting? Can you drink tea when fasting? Are there certain types of tea that you can and cannot drink during intermittent fasting?
In this article, we will discuss the “rules” surrounding intermittent fasting tea drinking to help answer the question: “Can I drink tea while fasting?”
We will cover:
- Can You Drink Tea When Fasting?
- Benefits of Drinking Tea While Fasting
- What Kind Of Tea Can I Drink While Fasting?
Let’s get started!
Can You Drink Tea When Fasting?
Depending on our habitual dietary patterns, almost all of us are accustomed to eating and drinking consistently, giving our bodies and brains routine access to energy availability and giving our stomachs something filling to satiate the otherwise empty void that can cause growling, rumbling, and uncomfortable hunger pangs.
However, technically, you should not eat or drink any caloric food or beverages while fasting.
With that said, there isn’t a ton of research about exactly how many calories are necessary to induce metabolic changes that take you out of the fasted state.
Some fasting “experts” online say that you need to stay under 50 calories, but there isn’t really any evidence to substantiate this, nor do these experts say under what timeframe you can have 50 calories (50 calories in 1 hour, 50 calories in 24 hours, etc.).
So, that said, let’s answer your burning question, “Can I drink tea while fasting?”
In general, the good news is that you can drink tea while intermittent fasting.
Pretty much any type of unsweetened tea contains either zero or a negligible number of calories and will, therefore, not induce any type of metabolic changes that interfere with fasting and shift your body out of the fasted state.
Therefore, intermittent fasting tea drinking is not only permitted but also encouraged, as tea is basically just hot flavored water with some herbs and antioxidants that can help you stay better hydrated.
It is important to note that with some of the stricter or more spiritual approaches to water fasting regimens, such as certain intensive 7-day water fasting protocols, caffeine is supposed to be avoided in all forms.
This is typically done to help the body “detox“ or withdraw from the tolerance built up by habitual caffeine consumption, whether from drinking caffeinated tea, coffee, colas, energy drinks, or otherwise.
If you are trying to reset your caffeine sensitivity and decrease your body‘s reliance on this stimulant, you can still drink tea while fasting, but you should opt for herbal teas or decaffeinated teas.
Along these lines, again, because there are no hard and fast “rules“ or laws surrounding fasting, you can make your own choices about what works best for you.
However, most experts suggest eliminating all artificial sweeteners while intermittent fasting. This means that even non-caloric sweeteners such as Stevia, Splenda, Sweet and Low, sucralose, monk fruit extract, erythritol, and other sugar alcohols and noncaloric sugar substitutes should be avoided while fasting.
This is entirely up to you. The research is quite mixed on the metabolic effects of consuming non-caloric sweeteners.
Therefore, it is largely unclear how drinking tea with non-caloric sugar substitutes while fasting will affect your body and metabolic state.
With that said, there is quite a bit of evidence to suggest that these types of products, in general, are deleterious to your health, so if you are taking on intermittent fasting or prolonged fasting for health benefits, it is probably best that your intermittent fasting tea does not include these type of sweeteners.
Try to drink your tea plain.
Benefits of Drinking Tea While Fasting
Not only can you drink tea while intermittent fasting, but it is also recommended. It is certainly acceptable to drink plain water, but there can be added benefits to drinking tea.
Many people find that drinking plain water gets boring, and they may not be able to keep up with their hydration needs.
Dehydration is associated with many adverse health symptoms, including headaches, dizziness, fatigue, lightheadedness, difficulty concentrating, low blood pressure, reduced metabolic rate, and increased hunger.
While all of these consequences are deleterious to overall health, the last two, in particular, combat some of the benefits of fasting.
Moreover, if your appetite increases because you are simply dehydrated, it will be more difficult to abstain from eating and drinking while fasting.
Therefore, drinking as much fluid as possible while fasting can be an effective way to get through the hours more comfortably.
Drinking tea is a good way to vary the flavors and reduce the palate fatigue of drinking plain water, encouraging you to stay better hydrated while fasting.
There are so many different types of tea, from varieties of green tea, black tea, white tea, oolong tea, rooibos tea, and a nearly endless array of flavored herbal teas.
It would essentially be possible to drink a cup of all the different types of tea even during a full 7-day water fast without needing to repeat a single cup.
The other benefit of drinking tea while fasting is that many types of tea, particularly green tea, are rich in antioxidants and vitamin polyphenols.
These powerful compounds can help your body combat free radicals, decrease oxidative damage, and decrease inflammation, supporting many of the same benefits of fasting.
What Kind Of Tea Can I Drink While Fasting?
So, we answered the basic question, “Can you drink tea while fasting?” but let’s get a little more specific.
What kinds of tea can you drink while intermittent fasting?
Basically, as mentioned, drinking any type of unsweetened tea is permitted during fasting unless you are following a stricter protocol or otherwise trying to detox from caffeine, in which case you should only drink herbal or decaffeinated tea.
Because the varieties of tea are so vast and basically all of them are permissible, it is easiest to discuss which types of tea you cannot drink while fasting. These include the following:
Sweetened Iced Tea
Sweet tea or sweetened iced tea is not permitted during fasting as this is a sugar-laden beverage that contains quite a number of calories.
Tea With Caloric Add-Ins
The only other type of rule surrounding drinking tea during fasting is that the tea should not contain any type of caloric add-in.
This would include tea made with milk or plant-based milk, tea with cream, tea with honey, tea with agave syrup, tea with maple sugar, tea with regular white table sugar, tea with brown sugar, tea with “Sugar In the Raw,” or tea with royal jelly.
In most cases, you can drink tea with a squeeze of lemon juice while fasting.
Even one whole medium-sized lemon contains only about 11 calories and 1.2 grams of sugar, so over the course of the day, if you drink numerous cups of tea with a healthy squeeze of lemon, you will not be getting an appreciable number of calories or grams of sugar that should induce any type of metabolic effects that take you out of the fasted state.
A single lemon wedge contains about one calorie.
Therefore, even just drinking hot lemon water or cold lemon water while fasting should be completely fine, and there are quite a number of potential benefits of drinking lemon water.
Studies even suggest that drinking lemon water may further support weight loss. This may be due to the fact that lemons may help suppress body fat accumulation and may increase metabolic rate.
In this way, drinking tea while fasting with lemon may actually be more effective for weight loss than drinking plain tea without inducing enough of a metabolic change to counteract the benefits of fasting or your body‘s perception of being in the fasted state.
Overall, not only can you drink tea while intermittent fasting, but drinking tea while fasting is a great way to ensure that you are staying well hydrated without getting bored of drinking plain water.
Tea also provides numerous antioxidants, which can help support some of the benefits of fasting, such as decreasing inflammation and reducing oxidative stress.
However, the most important takeaway is that you need to make whatever type of diet you follow work for you. If this means giving yourself a little bit of latitude on the “rules“ of intermittent fasting tea drinking— such as adding calorie-free sweeteners or adding a very small splash of fat-free milk or a small stir of honey—that is fine.
You’ll still get the benefits of fasting in a manner that is sustainable and workable for you.
For a complete list of the benefits of drinking lemon water, check out our full guide here.