It seems many people are adopting intermittent fasting as part of their lifestyle change. By doing so, they witness many health benefits, such as fat loss, longevity, and increased energy levels.
The most popular types of intermittent fasts include a 16/8, 18/6, and 20/4 fast. A 16/8 fast includes eating for 8 hours and fasting for the remaining 16 hours in a day; on the other hand, an 18/6 fast is an alternate day fast that calls for a 36-hour (18-hour fast + 18-hour feed) window.
With those kinds of fasting periods, you might be wondering if it’s okay to use any kind of sweetener, such as stevia, during your fast.
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What Are Artificial Sweeteners?
Artificial sweeteners are sugar substitutes that provide sweetness without calories. They are typically used to sweeten foods and drinks, such as sports drinks, candy, gum, and baked goods.
Artificial sweeteners have been around for more than 100 years, but their popularity has increased significantly in recent decades. As a result of this increased usage, researchers have raised concerns regarding their safety.
There is little evidence to support concerns about artificial sweeteners’ safety in people who consume them within the recommended amounts.
The six low-calorie sweeteners currently approved for use in foods in the U.S. and Europe (stevia, acesulfame-K, aspartame, neotame, saccharin, and sucralose) have been extensively studied and deemed safe.
However, people who regularly consume artificial sweeteners may experience negative side effects when they fast (or restrict food intake).
The reason for this is that artificial sweeteners are often used as a way to replace calories in foods and drinks. When people consume foods or drinks with artificial sweeteners, they do not feel as satisfied as if they consumed the same amount of calories from sugar.
This may lead them to eat more than they normally would in order to get their “sweet fix” and make up for the loss of calories.
Do (Artificial) Sweeteners Affect Fasting?
This is a common question, and the answer is not as simple as you may think. In fact, the answer will vary depending on the type of artificial sweetener you use.
The general consensus is that any zero-calorie sweetener will not affect your fast.
However, there are two caveats:
1) Sweeteners with a very low glycemic index (GI) do not cause a spike in blood sugar or insulin levels. Examples include stevia and monk fruit extract. If you’re using one of these sweeteners instead of sugar in your coffee or tea, it won’t affect your fast at all.
2) If you’re using a high-GI sweetener like sucralose or aspartame, then yes, it will probably affect your fast negatively because these sweeteners raise blood sugar and insulin levels significantly compared to sugar or stevia/monk fruit extract.
Do Artificial Sweeteners Affect Blood Sugar Levels?
The effect of artificial sweeteners on blood sugar depends on the type of sweetener you use. Some sweeteners increase blood glucose levels, while others do not affect them at all. For example, sucralose does not affect blood glucose levels when used alone.
However, if you mix sucralose with another sweetener such as fructose or glucose, it can actually raise your blood glucose levels more than sucrose (table sugar) would.
Aspartame also does not cause an increase in blood glucose levels when it is consumed alone. However, when it is mixed with carbohydrates or proteins that contain amino acids like phenylalanine and tyrosine (which are found in foods like dairy products), then aspartame may raise your fasting plasma glucose level by about 15 mg/dl over 3 hours after consumption.
Other artificial sweeteners such as acesulfame potassium (ACEK), saccharin, cyclamate, and neotame do not appear to raise blood glucose levels when consumed alone. However, many of these sweeteners are also metabolized by the body into chemicals that have been implicated in cancer development.
Can I Use Stevia During Intermittent Fasting?
Stevia is a natural sweetener that has been used for centuries in South America. It contains compounds called steviol glycosides, which are 300–400 times sweeter than sugar. However, the stevia plant isn’t actually sweet itself.
Stevia has been studied extensively in humans and has been found to be safe when consumed at doses up to 4 mg per kg of body weight. Stevia has also been shown to have beneficial effects on blood pressure and cardiovascular health. However, there are conflicting results regarding its effects on blood sugar and insulin sensitivity.
Intermittent fasting involves eating normally one day and then taking in only water or calorie-free drinks for the next 24 hours. This can be repeated several times a week or month, depending on your preferences.
Can I use stevia during intermittent fasting? – Stevia doesn’t contain any calories and is unlikely to cause significant metabolic changes. Thus, a moderate intake of stevia is likely alright during a fast.
However, if you have diabetes or pre-diabetes, it may not be advisable for you to use stevia since it can lower blood glucose levels after meals.
Is Stevia in the Raw OK for Intermittent Fasting
Stevia in the Raw® is a great-tasting, all-natural sweetener that contains no calories, no carbohydrates, and no artificial ingredients. The leaves are dried at low temperatures to preserve their natural sweetness
When you fast, you’re typically only supposed to eat water and black coffee or tea. But some people will add other liquids like unsweetened almond milk or stevia in the raw to their meals.
If you’re going to use stevia in the raw during intermittent fasting, make sure that you don’t add too much of it to your food because this can cause digestion problems like gas bloating and diarrhea.
Can I Put Sweetener in My Coffee During Intermittent Fasting
Sweeteners are commonly used in coffee and tea. But can you use them during intermittent fasting? The short answer is yes. The simple answer is that it depends on your goals.
The longer answer is that it depends on the type of sweetener you use. Some sweeteners, like stevia and monk fruit, contain no calories or carbs. So if you’re following an intermittent fast where you consume only water or black coffee for 16 hours, then you can use these types of sweeteners with no problem.
The problem comes when you add sugar to your coffee or tea. Sugar contains both calories and carbohydrates, which means that it will break the fast for some people (depending on how strict their IF protocol is).
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use artificial sweeteners while intermittent fasting?
If you’re following a very strict intermittent fasting protocol, then the answer is no. You should only consume water or black coffee for 16 hours each day. However, if you’re not as strict with your IF protocol and allow yourself to eat during an 8-hour window on certain days, then you can use artificial sweeteners.
How much sugar can I consume while intermittent fasting?
The amount of sugar you should consume during a fast depends on your goals. If you’re looking to lose weight, then it’s best to avoid artificial sweeteners altogether. If you’re simply trying to get through the day without any hunger pains, then there are some options that won’t break your fast.
Can I drink coffee while intermittent fasting?
Yes, you can. The key is to avoid adding sugar to your coffee or tea. If you’re drinking black coffee, then that’s fine as long as it doesn’t contain more than 50 calories per cup (which should be easy if you’re drinking an espresso).
Can I eat fruit while intermittent fasting?
Yes, you can. As long as it isn’t processed or made with sugar, then it’s okay to eat fruits during a fast. Just be sure to avoid bananas and other high-sugar options.
Can I drink diet drinks while intermittent fasting?
Yes, you can. Just be sure to avoid adding sugar or artificial sweeteners to your beverage. If you want to drink something other than water during a fast, then try unsweetened tea or coffee.
In the end, most artificial sweeteners shouldn’t be a problem for the IF diet. They should be consumed in moderation, but they won’t throw off your fasting routine.
Artificial sweeteners may be better for you than real sugars, but their effect on your weight and waistline is still up for debate. Artificial sweeteners like stevia may be a better choice for those who are trying to lose weight or simply maintain healthy body composition.
If you’re looking to live an intermittent fasting lifestyle, it’s probably best to skip the artificial sugar substitutes and stick with natural ones like honey.
- The Truth About Sweeteners: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/food-types/are-sweeteners-safe/
- Sugar Substitutes: Health Controversy over Perceived Benefits: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3198517/#ref4
- Popular Artificial Sweeteners Found to Raise Blood Sugar: https://www.diabetes.co.uk/news/2022/aug/popular-artificial-sweeteners-found-to-raise-blood-sugar.html
- What You Should Know About Sucralose and Diabetes: https://www.healthline.com/health/diabetes/sucralose-and-diabetes
- Artificial Sweeteners and Cancer Risk: Results from the Nutrinet-santé Population-based Cohort Study: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35324894/
- Natural Sweeteners in a Human Diet: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26400114/
- Stevia, Nature’s Zero-Calorie Sustainable Sweetener: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4890837/