Liquids You Can Still Drink While You're Fasting

Fasting is the practice of giving up food and sometimes liquids for a certain period of time. While this practice can offer some health benefits, it can be difficult for people to give up all liquids for several hours or more. Is it possible to stay hydrated while fasting? Here's what you should know.

Let's start with the benefits of fasting. While some people fast for days at a time due to religious or spiritual reasons, the most common type of fasting is called intermittent fasting. "Intermittent fasting is a different schedule of eating where you're giving yourself long periods of time between consuming food," Meryl Pritchard, a nutritionist based in Los Angeles, told Byrdie.

The idea behind intermittent fasting is that it gives your body, and specifically your digestive system, a break from food so it can focus on other things, like burning fat and eliminating toxins. People who practice this eating plan typically fast for 12 to 16 hours at a time. For example, if someone only eats between 12:00 pm and 8:00 pm, they are fasting for the 16 hours in between that time period every day.

Intermittent fasting can potentially help you lose weight, improve blood sugar levels, decrease inflammation, and reduce the risk of heart disease (via Greatist). There are also potential downsides to fasting, including an increased risk of eating disorders, low blood sugar, difficulty conceiving, and malnourishment (via CNET).

There are several things you can drink while keeping the benefits of intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting gives your body a break from digesting foods, so most zero-calorie drinks will not affect any progress. "The basic idea of intermittent fasting is that you want to have periods where you are not consuming calories in the form of foods or beverages," Katherine Brooking, MS, RD, co-founder of Appetite for Health, told The Healthy. "Your beverages should be calorie-free or very close to it."

Water is the best thing to drink during this time because it contains no calories and will help you stay hydrated. Lemon water should be fine too. Unsweetened tea and coffee will also not affect any health benefits of intermittent fasting. However, you should limit your intake of these drinks. "Too much caffeine can cause poor sleep and irritability," Leigh Merotto, RD, told The Healthy. "This is especially true if consumed on an empty stomach."

If you are fasting before a medical procedure, check with your doctor before drinking anything. Water is generally okay before procedures or tests, but even this liquid is sometimes prohibited by doctors before a specific medical event.