Can You Eat Anything While Intermittent Fasting? And What Kinds Of Things Break A Fast?

intermittent fasting food

intermittent fasting food

Martin Alvarez

Martin Alvarez
Nutritionist/Dietitian Professional Guide

Updated on 3/29/2023

Alternating between times when you eat and times when you don't eat is what's involved in intermittent fasting. But while you're on a fast, can you eat anything while intermittent fasting? What about that cup of coffee or tea you had in the morning? And just what is it that breaks a fast? There are several distinct approaches to fasting that fall under the category of intermittent fasting (IF), and the foods that may be consumed while on a fast vary depending on the selected strategy and the objectives sought after.

If you are fasting with time-restricted intermittent eating, you don't usually consume any food at all. But instead, you only drink fluids with a meager amount of calories to maintain your fast. Various beverages can be finished to achieve this goal, including water, unsweetened coffee and tea, and black tea, all good choices for this purpose. Maintaining a balanced, nutritious, and diverse diet that is beneficial for your body while you are not fasting is essential.

Many individuals who practice IF aim to enhance their physical well-being. When you go without food for some time, your body will transition from using sugar as energy to using fat instead. Some researchers feel that this may be to your benefit. Over 10,000 people have participated in the nutritional science study program, making it the most extensive program. According to the findings of our study, each individual's reaction to the meals they consume is unique. There is no guarantee that a successful strategy for someone else will suit you.

You are provided with individualized nutrition guidance via a program to assist you in locating the most beneficial meals for your body. You may learn more about how you can reach your long-term health objectives by taking our free survey and then continue reading to find out what foods and drinks you are allowed to consume when following an intermittent fasting schedule.

Variations On The Theme Of Fasting In Cycles

intermittent fasting food

intermittent fasting food

Intermittent fasting can be implemented in a variety of ways. Still, the primary focus of each method is on the timing of meals rather than on the foods themselves as the primary element of intermittent fasting. Alternating between periods of eating and fasting is a critical component of the time-restricted eating plan. This strategy is the most prevalent one since it entails doing nothing more than elongating the time of fasting that you already experience when you are asleep.

If you follow the 16/8 time-restricted eating plan, you will allow yourself to eat anything you want within eight hours each day and fast for the remaining 16 hours. For instance, you may eat from nine in the morning until five in the afternoon and then skip eating from five in the evening until nine in the morning the following day. Throughout the week, you are free to repeat this cycle daily or whenever you see fit. Various variations of time-restricted eating are known as the 18/6 and 20/4 plans.

A poll of people who take part  and also participate in IF found that:

  • Forty-six percent of respondents said that they used the 16/8 approach.
  • Twenty-one percent of the patterns followed an 18/6 format.
  • Eight percent of people used the 20/4 approach, which entails a fasting window of 20 hours long.

Other variations of intermittent fasting include fasting once every two weeks and every other day, sometimes known as the 5:2 approach. The 5:2 approach requires you to restrict your caloric intake to between 500 and 800 calories on two days of the week. You choose the days on which you will fast, but you should be sure to insert at least one day of normal eating between fasting periods. In alternate-day fasting, you consume around 25 percent of your daily calorie intake, often a little more than 500 calories. When you are not fasting using these ways, you consume food that is well-rounded and beneficial to your health.

During Times Of Fasting, What Kinds Of Food And Beverages Are Allowed?

intermittent fasting food

intermittent fasting food

Do you have to abstain from food and drink entirely during fasting? It is dependent on the approach that you choose to follow.

On the fasting days of the alternate-day fasting and the 5:2 regimen, you eat a lower quantity of calories than you usually would.

If you practice time-restricted eating, the fasting phase often entails abstaining from all forms of food consumption and limiting yourself to certain beverages.

I will explain why:

To generate energy, your body converts the food you consume into sugar, also known as glucose. In the absence of meals, and consequently glucose, for an extended length of time, your body will resort to breaking down fat to create ketones, which are a different energy source.

This phenomenon is referred to as the metabolic switch. Evidence indicates that alternating between utilizing glucose and ketones for energy — or eating and fasting — might be helpful.

To use a technical term, breaking a fast is consuming any food or beverage with calories. This indicates that it is typically OK to have black coffee or tea that has not been sweetened in addition to water.

However, some of the possible advantages of fasting periods may have as much to do with avoiding specific metabolic reactions as with the potential health benefits of not eating. One example of this would be a spike in blood sugar levels. What exactly does this imply in terms of whether or not you should include milk in your morning beverage?

Although everyone reacts to food differently, the statistics show that, for the vast majority of individuals, the quantity of milk consumed in tea or coffee is insufficient to cause a jump in blood sugar levels.

You should avoid using artificial sweeteners when you are in the fasting phase since there is some evidence to suggest that they may affect your body's blood sugar levels while you are fasting.

What Kinds Of Foods Are Allowed When Following The IF plan?

intermittent fasting food

intermittent fasting food

When you are not engaging in fasting, you are not bound by any limits regarding the kinds of meals you may consume.

According to our study's findings, we know that maintaining a healthy gut, keeping responses stable to blood sugar and fat, and avoiding dietary inflammation depends on the quality of the food consumed.

An individual's health will benefit significantly if they consume a nutritious and diverse diet. If you eat various plants throughout the day, you will not only be able to ensure that your body receives the nutrients it requires, but you will also provide food for the healthy bacteria that dwell in your gut.

You may have a more prolonged feeling of fullness if you consume high-quality sources of fiber and protein.

Make an effort to include:

  • Entire grains
  • fruits
  • veggies
  • Chicken, fish, nuts, seeds, and legumes such as lentils and peas are examples of lean protein sources.

What you decide to consume when practicing intermittent fasting may also be influenced by the goals you have set for yourself with this method.

Diet And The Health Of The Heart

Diet And The Health Of The Heart

Diet And The Health Of The Heart

You should keep in mind that if you want to improve the health of your heart, you should choose a diet that contains a lot of healthy fats and fiber, as well as limit your consumption of salt. Among the available choices are:

Oils are extracted from plants, such as olive, canola, or sunflower.

Many whole grains are available, including brown rice, wheat bread, and other grains.

fresh and unprocessed fruits and veggies

Foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, like fish, as well as other sources of protein, such as beans and legumes

Herbs and spices, which are low in sodium, are examples of salt-free seasonings.

What To Eat To Reduce Inflammation In The Body

If reducing inflammation is one of your goals, you should concentrate on managing unfavorable reactions to your blood sugar and fat by picking one of the following:

  • Foods that are both whole and include fiber, such as fruit, vegetables, and grains that are still in their complete form
  • Various foods are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish, nuts, and seeds.
  • Foods have anti-inflammatory characteristics rich in bioactive compounds, such as polyphenols, which may be found in various fruits and vegetables with a colorful appearance.

The PREDICT program, the world's most considerable nutrition research of its type, investigates how the foods you consume might create inflammation in your body and looks at the correlation between diet and disease.

In continuation of our research, an at-home test examines the reactions of your blood sugar and blood fat and the bacteria found in your gut. It utilizes the most recent findings in scientific research to assist you in locating the foods that are most beneficial to your health.

Take this quick and easy test to learn more about how an individualized nutrition program may benefit you.


The timing of meals, as opposed to the foods themselves, is the primary emphasis of the eating strategy known as intermittent fasting.

Intermittent fasting can be defined in various ways, the most common of which is time-restricted eating, or more precisely, the 16/8 method of intermittent fasting.

During the fasting phase of time-restricted intermittent eating, you don't consume any food and instead stick to drinking beverages with very few calories, including water or unsweetened black coffee or tea.

When you can eat, prioritize consuming a nutritious diet abundant in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean protein sources.

The findings of the study indicate that there is no universally applicable dietary intake method. You may locate the meals that work best for you and your long-term health objectives with the assistance of personalized nutrition advice based on your metabolism and gut microbiota. Now, can you eat anything while intermittent fasting?