Intermittent fasting has been around for a while but its popularity has grown significantly of late. Initially, a technique used by athletes and fitness addicts, it is now common among the masses of people looking to lose weight. Although not particular to a specific diet, it is associated often with various types of nutrition plans. This is because it is often used in conjunction with such eating plans. Diets such as Bulletproof and Ketogenic have often recommended periods of Intermittent Fasting.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Before discussing teas, it’s important to understand exactly what Intermittent Fasting or IF as it is often referred to is. IF is a pattern of consuming food in cycles. These cycles consist of fasting periods and eating windows. It’s not so much about what foods to consume but rather when to do so. Therefore, it is not a diet but rather an eating pattern. Although, its recently popularity may seem new, intermittent fasting is actually something that has been around for centuries. Common in most of the monotheistic religions, fasting is practised at various holidays throughout the year. Also, if you look back through human evolution, fasting was a necessary part of life between meals. When humans had to hunt and gather their food, fasting was a fact of life.
Today, for health reasons intermittent fasting is generally a daily twelve to sixteen hour fast or sometimes fasting for twenty-four hrs twice a week. The most popular and easy to stick to fast is the 16/8 fast. This involves an 8 hour eating window and a 16 hour fasting period. If 16 hours are difficult at the beginning some people start by 12 or 14 hours and work their way up to 16. It is by reducing the number of calories that your body consumes that generates weight loss. Obviously providing you don’t gorge yourself during the eating window. The idea is to eat nutritious foods in moderate amounts during the eating window.
What are the health benefits of IF?
Weight loss is the first and most obvious answer but there are more. Here are some of the benefits that have been connected to IF.
- Reduction of belly fat
- Insulin resistance
- Reduction of oxidative stress and inflammation
- Lower bad cholesterol and lowers risks of heart disease
- Potential to prevent certain cancers
- Anti-aging effects and extend lifespan
- Improved function of cells, genes and hormones
- Potential to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease
With all these benefits how can you not try it out? It certainly seems worth the effort when you examine the health benefits.
What can you drink during a fasting period?
Fasting means no calories. However, that doesn’t mean that you not allowed anything to drink. While fasting you can have water, coffee and tea. Just as long as you don’t add anything like sugar, cream or milk to these three non-caloric beverages. Basically, as long as you follow the rule of thumb that says to stay beneath fifty calories during your fasting period-the you will remain in a fasted state.
Water is easy, coffee is plain and black but you have more options when it comes to tea. Teas come in many flavours and they can make your fasting experience much more enjoyable and manageable. How does this work? Read on to find out.
What are the benefits of teas during intermittent fasting?
- Helps to increase satiety
During the first few days and even weeks of intermittent fasting, hunger pins are very common. In order to get into the fasting state, you must wait four hours after eating. This ensures that you have digested all your food and then the body can begin fasting. However, when you are used to eating all the time, your body will also give off huger pains after four hours just because it is used to it. Here is where tea can be a huge help. Tea can help keeping those hunger hormones in check and avoid the pains that tell you to eat. It’s actually referred to as regulating your ghrelin levels. Often these hormones act up even though the body is not really hungry. Tea will help to regulate them and decrease hunger pains -real or otherwise.
- Supports cell health
One of the interesting things about tea is that there are polyphenols inside the tea leaves. Polyphenols are the antioxidants that fight free radicals in the body. These amazing antioxidants help support gut health, good digestion, healthier skin, higher energy levels, as well as improve metal focus and clarity. It doesn’t get much healthier than that list! And all with zero calories!
- Increase in calming energy
The caffeine in tea can give you a clean energy boost. Clean because of the different way that caffeine works in tea versus coffee. Black, green and white teas are synergistic blends of caffeine and I-theanine. What is I-theanine? Well, if you’ve never heard of it, it’s an amino acid that promotes a state of calm awareness. It removed the jittery, jolted and eventual crash often associated with coffee. This is an amino acid that boost a state of mindfulness.
What teas should I be drinking during Intermittent Fasting?
Here’s the quick list of some of the best teas for Intermittent Fasting.
- Green Tea
- Black Tea
- Ginger Tea
- Hibiscus Tea
- Roobios Tea
- Mint Tea
- Dandelion Root Tea
And now for more details on each of these teas.
Green tea is actually considered to be the healthiest drink after pure water. Green tea is often associated with weight management due to the catechins that are present in it. These catechins together with the caffeine work as a team to promote weight loss and boost energy. They are also powerful antioxidants, which support cell health and immunity.
Did you know that black tea and green tea actually are derived from the same plant? The difference is in how the tea leaves are processed. Black tea leaves are fermented while green tea leaves are not. Black tea leaves unlike the green ones though are also a prebiotic which makes them excellent at promoting gut health! They also give a bit more caffeine than green tea which can help if you are feeling sluggish at the beginning of your IF process.
Ginger is great for soothing an upset stomach but in tea it can help increase satiety. As well, it has the ability to support digestion and increase the hardiness of the immune system.
The hibiscus flower has been known for centuries for its vitality benefits. It has properties that enhance clear, glowing skin and give an overall youthful appearance. Not to mention that it is also a tea that helps to detox the liver. It also does not have the caffeine that some of the other teas have. It can be a great snack as it is crisp, refreshing and filled with antioxidants.
This is another tea that is caffeine-free, making it a great tea to drink in the evening. Roobios tea also is a great fasting support tea as it helps the body metabolize fat better.
Mint has calming effects on the stomach because it improves digestion, reduces pain and inflammation. It can also relax the mind while it improves bad breath and boost immunity.
Dandelion Root Tea
This tea has a natural diuretic effect which enables the liver to eliminate toxins more quickly. It also strengthens the immune system while balancing blood sugar levels. Dandelion Root tea can also relieve heartburn and help ease digestive issues.
How many cups of tea a day are recommended when fasting?
If you are brewing your tea in hot water then you will need approximately three cups a day to really have access to all the benefits. However, heat and oxidation do destroy a good amount of those polyphenols and catechins that were mentioned earlier as benefits. So what other ways can you enjoy the benefits associated with teas? Cold brewing is the answer! Yes! Cold brewing actually allows the polyphenols and catechins to be extracted without destroying them. Hence why one cup of cold brew tea has everything in it you need. One cup versus those three cups we mentioned by steeping your tea in hot water. Having said this, when fasting for 16 hours, having multiple cups of tea can be beneficial on a mentally level. That feeling of constantly putting something to your mouth and filling your stomach can be very mentally satisfying. So really, it’s about what works best for you.
Not to mention hydration! While fasting it is important to remain hydrated. Drinking tea also makes IF much easier and really, there’s never a reason to allow yourself to get dehydrated. Headaches and other ailments will ensue if you do become dehydrated. Being able to drink tea as well as water during your fasting period can help with this.
Tea allows for variety of flavour and temperature -which can also be helpful. It might be harder to stay hydrated if it was only cold water you were permitted to ingest-especially if you live in a cold climate during winter! Teas provide a warmth and coziness that is unparalleled. And with the added bonus of all the health benefits, you really can’t go wrong!
Initially, a sixteen hour fast may sound incredibly long and difficult. However, when it’s broken down into the number of hours you will spend sleeping and the amount of time where you can and should drink water, coffee and tea -it’s really not that bad. Will it take getting used to? Of course. But with several cups of tea throughout the day, it will also be manageable. And the benefits of intermittent fasting are worth a few habit changes here and there. So use your IF wisely, combine it with a healthy diet and stock up on your favourite teas to help you get through those first few challenging days or weeks.