Ask Joe: Will adding milk to my coffee break the fast? (Stevia, honey, gum?)

Another common question I see come up on the intermittent fasting subreddit:

Can I add milk to my coffee?

Or its many other variants like:

Can I add a low or zero calorie sweetener to my tea?

Will diet soda break the fast?

What about gum?

It's a common and reasonable concern. Coffee, tea, and seltzer water are often advised as an option during the fasting period and folks are worried they'll put an end to all the glorious benefits of intermittent fasting if they choose make their decidedly nasty black coffee a bit more palatable.

There's a two main answers to this.

Watch the video or keep reading below it.

First, the fasted state isn't an instant on/instant off switch

As long as you are staying under roughly 50 calories for your entire fasting period, you are good to go. Something I learned from Martin Berkhan's LeanGains page is that the fasted state isn't an instant on/instant off switch, so all you nerds grasping for the variety of physiological benefits of fasting are in the clear for adding a touch of honey to your tea.

A total amount of up to about 50 calories (50 is Martin's suggested upper-limit) during your fasting period isn't going to lose you much if anything.

Second, as long as it helps you put ~97% of the day's calories in the eating window, you are still getting what I believe to be the primary benefit of intermittent fasting

The answer I like to give in this situation has to do with what I believe is the main benefit of intermittent fasting (making the caloric deficit easier). In that vein, I think sprucing up your beverage is perfectly fine, provided that it helps you get through the fast so that the great majority of your calories are still being eating in the eating window.

Go ahead and put that milk in your coffee, y'all.

I get that intermittent fasting (and dieting in general) can seem overwhelming since there's so much conflicting info out there. Be sure to sign up for my list below so you can get early access to these articles. You can also reply to me personally if you need more clarification.