Last Updated on October 18, 2023
Intermittent fasting has gained significant recognition as a dietary approach for weight management and overall health. Many people who follow this eating pattern wonder whether they can enjoy Diet Coke, Coke Zero, or other sodas while practicing intermittent fasting. So, does Diet Coke break a fast?
In this article, we will explore the impact of diet sodas and particularly Coke on fasting, including their effects on autophagy, and shed light on whether they truly break the fast. Grab your favorite drink (that is if you are not fasting), and let’s dive in!
Understanding intermittent fasting
Before we delve into the diet soda dilemma, let’s briefly understand what intermittent fasting entails. Intermittent fasting is a dietary pattern that involves alternating periods of eating and fasting. It does not dictate specific foods but rather focuses on when you eat.
Common fasting schedules include the 16/8 intermittent fasting plan, where you fast for 16 hours and have an 8-hour eating window. You can learn the best suitable fasting plan for you from Kompanion fasting tracker.
Does Diet Coke break a fast?
Now, let’s address the burning question: Does Diet Coke break a fast? The answer is not as straightforward as a simple yes or no.
While Diet Coke and Coke Zero have zero calories and are sugar-free, they may still impact your fasting goals in several ways, including the long-awaited reward of fasting — autophagy. The same applies to other diet sodas.
Let’s find out what happens to your body when you drink a Diet Coke, Coke Zero, or a diet soda in general during your fasting hours:
One of the primary reasons people fast is to reduce calorie intake. Diet Coke and Coke Zero have zero calories and other diet sodas are very low in calories. So, from a caloric perspective, they are unlikely to break a fast.
Intermittent fasting is known to enhance insulin sensitivity and promote fat burn. However, even though Diet Coke and Coke Zero lack calories and sugar, they may trigger an insulin response due to their artificial sweeteners like aspartame, cyclamates, saccharin, acesulfame-k, or sucralose, because the taste of sweetness signals to the body that calories are incoming.
Plus, regular consumption of aspartame could stimulate your gut and decrease insulin resistance. Not to mention aspartame has recently been declared carcinogenic by the World Health Organization. Sucralose (Splenda) can also potentially impact your glucose metabolism negatively.
When your insulin response fluctuates during the fasting state, autophagy, a cellular process that helps remove damaged cells and promote cellular renewal, also gets interrupted.
Gut health and microbiome
Emerging research suggests that the artificial sweeteners present in diet sodas can negatively impact gut health and the diversity of the microbiome, too. A healthy gut is essential for overall well-being and any disturbances in gut health and the microbiome may hamper the cellular cleanup process and interfere with autophagy.
And although artificial sweeteners have been known to not be absorbed by the digestive system, recent studies have shown that some sweeteners like acesulfame-k, sucralose, steviol glycoside, and saccharin can be absorbed and this activity in the digestive system breaks your fast.
Hunger and cravings
One of the primary benefits of intermittent fasting is its appetite-regulating effects. Some fasting practitioners report that consuming diet sodas during fasting periods increases their hunger or triggers cravings for sweet foods. This may undermine the intended benefits of fasting, as excessive cravings and hunger might lead to overconsumption of foods.
Fasting is not only about the physiological aspects but also involves psychological discipline. For some individuals, consuming diet sodas during fasting can create a slippery slope that leads to indulging in other foods or beverages that break a fast. It’s important to maintain a strong mindset and stick to your fasting goals.
Does diet soda break a fast?: Reddit discussions
Opinions on whether diet soda breaks a fast vary among experts and individuals who practice intermittent fasting. While some experts argue that the minimal impact of diet soda on insulin levels allows it to be consumed during fasting, others advocate for avoiding it altogether to maximize the fasting benefits, including autophagy.
Reddit, a popular online community, also offers various perspectives, experiences, and anecdotes on this topic. Here are a few of them:
Whether Diet Coke or any other diet soda breaks a fast is a topic of debate among experts and can depend on the goals and type of fasting you’re following. While they do not break a fast in terms of caloric intake, they can potentially affect insulin response, hunger, gut health, the autophagy process, and psychological aspects of fasting.
Even so, if you’d like to drink Diet Coke or another diet soda while intermittent fasting, know that there’s a risk of breaking your fast because of the sweeteners and additives inside these beverages. We recommend that you carefully read the labels, but it’s best to avoid any drink but water during fasting hours for the safest fasting experience.