By far, THE most common question I get from people considering intermittent fasting is whether they can still have their morning coffee. And I get why.

Some people asking this question have already started their fasting journey and simply want to make sure they aren’t doing anything to sabotage it. Most, however, are investigating whether fasting is a viable option for their life. They’re interested, but they can’t give up their morning coffee.

I’m not here to tell you to buck up, knuckle down, and forget about your cup of Joe. In fact, I think this is a reasonable concern.

So, can you drink coffee while fasting? Let’s break it down.

Does Drinking Coffee Break Your Fast?

The answer isn’t as straightforward as you might think, and the first determining factor is this: What kind of coffee are we talking about?

If you like a nice, plain cup of black coffee in the mornings, then you’re in luck. On its own, coffee is nearly calorie free, and it won’t interfere with your fast.

The complications arise for those who enjoy their coffee with a little something extra. For instance, what if you take cream in your coffee?

The answer: Technically, yes — cream introduces calories that interrupt true fasting, which is by definition zero caloric intake. But practically speaking, that’s not the whole story.

Graphic #2: Can You Drink Coffee While Fasting?

Clinically Insignificant Coffee

In medicine, we have a helpful term that applies here: clinically insignificant. This means something may be technically outside certain defined boundaries, but it has such a minor effect that it doesn’t really matter.

That splash of cream in your morning coffee? Clinically insignificant. As long as you keep it under 50 calories, it’s an insignificant interruption to an otherwise fasted lifestyle — one that won’t undermine your health goals.

I like to think of it as similar to finding a penny on the ground. Yes, a penny has greater monetary value than zero. But in practicality, it’s so insignificant that it’s probably not even worth your time to pick it up. The same goes for that splash of cream in your coffee during a fast.

However, if you prefer more creamer than coffee (or if your coffee reads more milkshake than java), that’s equivalent to a small meal. At that point, your fast is definitively over, as your body has to metabolize and digest all those calories.

The point here is, don’t get hung up on technicalities. The calories in a little cream won’t derail you. But that 300-cal latte from Starbucks? It might as well be breakfast.

Graphic #1: Can You Drink Coffee While Fasting?

What This Means for You

I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not willing to give up my daily coffee either. But the truth is, you can have your coffee and your fast, too.

A little cream won’t undermine your fasting rewards; you’ll still see tremendous advantages for your health journey.

Remember, too, that intermittent fasting isn’t a rigid, dogmatic practice. It’s a flexible and versatile discipline adaptable to your unique needs and goals. For some, it clicks instantly; for others (myself included!) it takes persistence to discover a sustainable routine.

My best advice here is to give yourself the gift of patience. Experiment to find what works for you. You can absolutely discover how to fit fasting gracefully into your lifestyle for the long term.

It took me about six months to grasp how fasting could fit into my lifestyle. Five years later, I’m still enjoying the freedom it brings. Besides delivering many clear health benefits, it also saves me decision fatigue and releases my time and mental energy for other pursuits instead.

Can You Drink Coffee While Fasting? A Closing Thought

If you’re new to fasting, focus first on the big picture, not on perfection around minor technicalities. Yes, your morning coffee may break your fast in fact, but not in effect.

So, if the question of whether you can drink coffee while fasting has been holding you back from embarking on the journey to a fasted lifestyle, consider this your green light. Enjoy your coffee, and your fast too.

Disclaimer: Content found on the Brentwood MD site is created and/or reviewed by a qualified concierge physcian. We take a lot of care to provide detailed and accurate info for our readers. The blog is only for informational purposes and isn't intended to substitute medical advice from your physician. Only your own physician is familiar with your unique situation and medical history. Please always check with your doctor for all matters about your health before you take any course of action that will affect it.