Intermittent fasting (IF) has proven to be one of the most popular lifestyle choices and dieting techniques being used today. IF has one huge advantage. Unlike other diets, you can eat whatever you like and calorie counting is not the focus! The goal of IF is to simply limit the times you eat and regulate nutrition by balancing food groups, not necessarily to restrict calories or specific foods.
But does this dieting freedom include drinking? This is a frequently asked question among new intermittent fasters.
Drinking while IF can impact your results. However, just as IF requires a balance of nutrition, there are various ways to maintain a space in your diet for alcohol. Through this article, we’ll explore the creative ways alcohol can impact your lifestyle with IF.
This post may contain affiliate links. My full disclosure policy is sort of boring, but you can find it here.
Can You Drink Alcohol While Intermittent Fasting?
IF revolves around several natural body processes our bodies use to lose or regulate weight in a healthy, easy way. Eating healthy foods, specifically, will help your program be more successful, as well as make you feel incredible! There are no rules or requirements, however, to eliminate certain food groups. This also includes alcohol.
Alcohol is high in calories, and can lead to various health consequences depending on how much and how often you drink. While it is perfectly acceptable to drink while intermittent fasting, this article covers the information you need to include alcohol safely and healthily within your IF diet.
Remember: Consuming any alcoholic beverage during your fasting window breaks your fast, similar to how drinking a smoothie or a glass of orange juice would. If you want a glass of wine, make sure you are consuming those calories during your eating window.
So, drinking alcohol will not break your fast or ruin your diet! Enjoy that glass of rosé or that ice-cold beer! Just have that cocktail during your eating window.
Still, drinking has consequences. So, let’s take an in-depth look at what this means.
How Does Alcohol Impact Intermittent Fasting?
The consumption of alcohol has been shown to have effects on the body’s fat-burning metabolism and other weight-related functions. To fully understand the implications of those changes, you need to know why and how IF works.
IF only works if you stick to a strict schedule and limit the amount of time you’re eating, as limiting times of consumption also regulate calorie consumption. Because alcohol is calorie-dense, it can easily make up for calories you’re not eating during your fasting days.
It’s a good idea to do a reality check to make sure you’re not making any of these common mistakes if you’re not losing weight on intermittent fasting.
Increasing your calorie intake on occasion is okay, and usually, it won’t obstruct the progress of your diet. This being said, drinking may still send you over your ideal calorie consumption.
You’ll find the most success in your IF if you moderate your alcohol consumption. But drinking alcohol won’t, by itself, prevent IF from being effective!
Alcohol Consumption and Fat Burning
There are theories that explain that alcohol may have a direct impact on fat burning. But, studies on the relationship between alcohol consumption and metabolism are currently inconclusive, due to a lack of direct human trials.
We do know that moderate to heavy drinking is often correlated with weight gain and obesity in humans, but again – that correlation is not well understood. In a study conducted by Gregory Traverse City and John Philip Chaput, conflicting data is explored, and the authors recommend further study on the subject.
Alcohol does alter body metabolism, and there is a possibility that drinking alcohol will prevent your body from entering cellular autophagy. Short-term cellular autophagy helps your cells recycle old proteins and optimizes cellular renewal.
Completing this autophagy process regularly improves weight loss outcomes. Controlled cellular autophagy (of the type seen through IF) can also be associated with improved energy levels and reduced inflammation.
It is also worth noting that alcohol decreases inhibitions and raises the chances of engaging in other diet adverse behaviors. For instance, you’re more likely to choose to continue eating or drinking into your fast when under the influence of alcohol. I know that when I’m drinking, I am way more likely to snack even if I’m not hungry.
What’s the Best Alcoholic Drink while Intermittent Fasting?
So, what types of alcohol can you drink while fasting? Some drinks are healthier in terms of sugar and calorie content, even though any alcoholic beverage will have some impact on your diet and short term metabolism.
Dry wine and hard spirits are less dense in calories than sweet wines, beers, and hard cider or lemonade. If the beverage has more sugar, it may have more calories – so try a dryer drink!
If caloric intake is a concern while your drinking, avoid mixed drinks, dessert wines, and alcoholic desserts. Mixing drinks with club soda and lime will be much more calorie friendly than a fuzzy navel or a Long Island Iced Tea.
Reducing the calorie count of your drinks doesn’t always mean you can or should drink more. Reducing calorie count only makes the alcohol less likely to put you over your calories goal for the day!
How Much Alcohol Can You Drink While Intermittent Fasting?
The amount of alcohol you can drink varies quite a bit from person to person. According to the NIH , heavy drinking for men is more than four drinks in one day.
For women, heavy drinking is described as having more than three drinks per day. Even if you only drink on occasion, you should try to stay at or under these limits while intermittent fasting.
Regular drinking has slightly different limits. Regular drinking over time is measured as 14 or more drinks per week for men and seven or more drinks for women. While the NIH guidelines are helpful, alcohol does affect individuals differently. You may experience symptoms and health consequences of heavy drinking, even if you don’t meet NIH qualifications.
Because there is no safe level of alcohol consumption per WHO guidelines, any level of alcohol consumption comes with some risk. Limiting drinking does two things. It limits the calories you receive from the alcohol and allows your body to return to normal functioning sooner. The sooner you’re functioning normally, the sooner you’re likely to receive the benefits of IF.
Bottom line: Does Alcohol Interfere with Intermittent Fasting
Alcohol consumption always impacts health regardless of whether you’re intermittent fasting or not.
Because IF does not directly limit the foods or beverages you consume, alcohol isn’t treated differently than other foods or beverages in your daily diet.
While intermittent fasting, you should avoid drinking on an empty stomach and never replace meals with alcohol. This can increase the risks associated with drinking.
The intake of alcohol may make your diet less effective, and lower your inhibitions when it comes to healthy eating.
When you do drink, choose a dry wine or hard alcohol with a mixer like seltzer water. Stay away from sugary mixers.
Hopefully, this article will help you make an informed decision about including alcohol in your IF lifestyle. Remember, moderation is key!