15 Drinks to Consider (or Avoid) During Intermittent Fasting

In this video, Dr. Ekberg discusses which drinks are acceptable to consume during intermittent fasting, depending on your goals. He mentions that water is always a safe choice, as long as it is clean and free from additives. Herbal tea, apple cider vinegar, and certain types of tea and coffee are also considered acceptable. Bulletproof coffee and cream are okay in moderation, but he advises against skim milk and milk alternatives with added sugar. Bone broth is good for reducing insulin resistance but may not be ideal for autophagy due to its protein content. Alcohol, store-bought juice, and coconut water should be avoided. Diet soda may have an impact on insulin levels, so it is best to monitor blood sugar levels after consuming it.

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Key Insights:

  • Water is the best choice as it is a neutral fluid and is acceptable for any fasting goal.
  • Herb tea, such as green tea, is generally acceptable, but high consumption may have an impact due to caffeine.
  • Apple cider vinegar is completely fine as it has no nutrients or energy value.
  • Tea and coffee are generally acceptable, but excessive consumption of caffeine may affect blood sugar and insulin in some individuals.
  • Bulletproof coffee is acceptable in moderation, but excessive intake may provide too many calories and hinder weight loss.
  • Cream is okay in small quantities as it is low in carbohydrates and stimulates only a slight insulin response.
  • Skim milk should be avoided as it is high in sugar and protein, both of which stimulate insulin significantly.
  • Milk alternatives like almond milk and cashew milk are okay as long as they don’t have added sugar or artificial additives.
  • Bone broth is generally acceptable for weight loss and insulin resistance, but its protein content may hinder autophagy if consumed in excess.
  • Alcohol should be avoided as it is not good for the liver, which is crucial for various fasting goals.
  • Fresh-squeezed homemade green juice may have some health benefits, but the insulin response varies based on quantity and timing.
  • Coconut water, while mineral-rich, is high in sugar and should be avoided during fasting.
  • Store-bought juice, including orange and apple juice, is full of sugar and should be avoided for any fasting goal.
  • Soda, even diet soda with artificial sweeteners, may trigger a cephalic response and stimulate insulin in some individuals.
  • Testing blood sugar before and after drinking sweet beverages can help determine individual responses.


Hello Health Champions. The number one question I get about fasting is which drinks are okay to have during intermittent fasting? Which ones are acceptable for you to drink and which ones will sabotage your progress? Coming right up.

Hey, I’m Doctor Ekberg. I’m a holistic doctor and a former Olympic decathlete. If you want to truly Master Health by understanding how the body really works, make sure you subscribe and hit the notification bell, so you don’t miss anything.

So, I want to go over 15 different drinks, and I want to also talk about how they affect you depending on what your goal is. And if you stick with me all the way to the end, I’m going to have a little bonus for you, something that a lot of people wonder about that I think that you will really enjoy.

So, there are four primary goals that people have when they’re doing intermittent fasting. One would be weight loss, one would be insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Even though weight typically comes along with some insulin resistance, there are some people who have insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes who are not overweight, so that can shift things a little bit. There are some people who want to be in ketosis because ketones have certain benefits, and there’s a lot of people who don’t feel like they have much of a health issue but they want to optimize things with autophagy.

The first drink we’re going to talk about is water. And it’s the obvious choice because water is what the body is made of. It’s the neutral fluid medium of the body, and because it’s neutral, it is perfectly okay no matter what your goal is. The only thing you want to be sure of is that it’s clean. You don’t want to drink tap water. You don’t want to drink things with artificial additives. So, you want to get a good home filter, or you want to get a good quality bottled water. A lot of the bottled water is reverse osmosis, and that’s okay for temporary things, for temporary use, but in the long run, it’s a little too clean. It has a tendency to rob your body of minerals. So, if you use reverse osmosis water, like a lot of the most popular bottled waters are, then you want to add a little bit of minerals or a salt sprinkle to it when you drink it.

Drink number two is herb tea, also totally okay. Just make sure that you get something that doesn’t have anything artificial. Now the vast majority of herbal teas are going to be totally fine, but just make sure that they don’t put anything funky in there.

The third drink is apple cider vinegar, and this one also is totally okay. It has no nutrients; it has no stimulatory effect, no energy value, so therefore it doesn’t affect your body, it’s neutral. Alright, so all these three, totally okay.

Next, let’s talk about tea and coffee. So, green tea is the one that has the least caffeine, but it does have some. It has about 25 mg per 8 oz, so it’s not a whole lot, but if you had 10 or 15 or 20 cups throughout the day, that’s still a lot of caffeine. So, I would give it a green check mark, but for some people, it may make a difference. And because caffeine is a stimulant, it can stimulate your adrenals, you can stimulate your adrenals to make adrenaline and cortisol, it could affect blood sugar and insulin in some people.

And for the most part, you don’t have to worry about this, but if you feel like your body is super sensitive, or you have some adrenal fatigue, or if you’re just really, really stubborn weight, then this might be something that you want to watch for. So, if you’re drinking green tea and you’re drinking less than six to eight cups, I’d say you’re totally fine.

Black tea, same story, but black tea might have about twice as much caffeine on average, there’s a bigger range on that, so you want to have maybe half as much. Don’t drink 6 to 8 cups, maybe limited to three or four.

And with coffee, again we’re getting and basically a doubling of the caffeine. On average, there’s a huge variety, so I would say one or two cups is probably okay, but don’t be drinking coffee throughout the day if you’re sensitive. Alright, there are some people that it will make absolutely no difference for these goals, but it’s something to be aware of.

Next up is everyone’s favorite, bulletproof coffee. What would fasting be without bulletproof coffee, right? Well, this is also something that we give a green checkmark, but we have a little question mark next to it. Because even though it has virtually no impact on insulin and there is no protein or sugar, if you do it right, so it’s also safe for autophagy in moderation. We want to understand that bulletproof coffee can still provide a lot of energy. It fuels the body to some degree, so you can put two tablespoons of fat in there and you make about 300 calories, or if you put 3 or 4 tablespoons of fat in there now you’re talking five or 600 calories, and if you had one of those, that’s probably okay. But if you’re one of those people who have two or maybe three, now you could get almost a full caloric intake for a day just from having a few bulletproof coffees. So, just understand that it’s alright from an insulin perspective, but you don’t want to turn it into a meal. Because if you put that much fuel into the body, the body has no reason to burn the fat on your body.

Then what about cream? Is cream okay? Yes, because the vast majority of calories in cream come from fat. It’s over 90% of calories from fat. So, it has a very, very slight insulin response, and as long as you keep it to maybe a couple of tablespoons, then it is not going to mess up your goals. So, cream is okay. What does that say about other forms of dairy, like skim milk? Well, there’s a big difference because whereas cream has virtually all the calories from fat, skim milk has virtually all the calories from sugar and protein, both of which are going to stimulate insulin significantly. Cream is so rich that just a little bit is going to turn your coffee white, whereas skim is so lean, it is so low in fat that you have to put a lot in there before it looks like you added anything. So, if you use it as a creamer, the tendency will be to use a whole lot more of the skim milk, and because it triggers insulin, it is a really bad idea. It has about three and a half percent protein and a little over 5% sugar and almost zero fats, so almost all the calories come from protein and sugar and it’s going to stimulate insulin.

Next, people wonder about the milk alternatives: the cashew milk, the oat milk, the almond milk, the rice milk, etc. And here’s the rule, they are okay as long as they don’t have sugar added. So, the two best ones that I’ve seen are almond milk and cashew milk because a whole cup of that stuff has 22 to 25 to 30 calories, and it has virtually zero protein and zero carbohydrate. So, most of those calories are coming from fat, and you have to drink a whole cup to get like 20-30 calories‘ worth. That means if you put in 3-4 tablespoons into your coffee, it’s going to have basically a zero effect. The thing to make sure, though, is don’t get the stuff with sugar or anything artificial added. I would also keep it to less than two cups a day, but don’t drink it all at once because now you’re kind of giving the body a sense that you’re getting a meal. I’d probably keep it under a cup. So, if you’re having three cups of coffee or three cups of tea, and you put like a quarter cup or 1/3 of a cup in each, then I think you’re still okay. Two cups would be really on the high end, and definitely don’t have them all at once.

So, what about bone broth? That’s almost synonymous with fasting. And bone broth is fantastic. It is virtually zero sugar, zero carbohydrate, it has a lot of fat also, it has mostly protein, has some fat and virtually zero carbohydrate. It’s also full of healing nutrients like collagen and a lot of gut-healing nutrients, and it has a ton of good minerals. So, it’s a fantastic food, and I would say that it’s okay if you’re looking primarily to reduce insulin, then it’s going to have a very slight insulin response. However, this is the one that’s going to be a little different for autophagy because autophagy is mostly sensitive to protein. It’s the lack of protein and calories that drive autophagy. And autophagy is, of course, when your body is… has few nutrients, and it upregulates its cleaning, its immune system, its recycling. It recycles viruses and bacteria in dead cells and garbage and debris in the body. And if you add a bunch of proteins, then it’s not so eager to recycle anymore. So, you want to keep your proteins below 20 or 18g in order to be in autophagy. That’s the protocol recommended by the fasting-mimicking diet. And bone broth has as much as 10 grams of protein per cup. So, if you had two cups, then that bone broth alone would probably push you over the edge where you start affecting autophagy. As far as the others go, insulin resistance, I think you’re still okay. If you’re looking for autophagy, then limit the bone broth, you’re probably okay up to maybe a cup.

Alright, drink number 12, alcohol. Is that a good idea? Well, I’m going to say no, even if it doesn’t stimulate insulin a whole lot, and even if it doesn’t necessarily kick you out of ketosis, it is just not good for your liver. And all of these goals depend on your liver. There is non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and there is alcoholic fatty liver disease, so if you have insulin resistance, then the liver is struggling as it is, and if you’re trying to engage autophagy, which is a cleanup process, it’s the liver that does most of that cleaning. So, whether you have one or more of these goals, if you’re trying to take care of your liver, alcohol is not the friend of a liver. So, if you’re trying to get through weight loss, insulin resistance, keto, autophagy, I would say to stay away from alcohol.

Number 13, green juice. Juice in general is not great, but green juice, now that’s something you squeeze yourself from fresh greens, fresh leafy greens, and it can have a lot of good health benefits. But we’re going to put a question mark on that because it’s going to depend on your goal, it’s going to stimulate insulin, so it’s going to depend on how much you have and when you have it is also going to be important. So, if you have an intermittent fasting pattern, let’s say you’re doing 18:6 or 16:8 or something like that, if you have green juice during your fasting period, it will break your fast because it’s going to create a bit of a sugar spike. But if you’re in ketosis for low-carb and you have a carb budget so to speak of maybe 30 grams, and you have that green juice close to a meal, like say, let’s say you have it 20 minutes before a meal, if you have it somewhere between your two meals, now it’s not going to create a tremendous amount of damage, right? It’s going to create a little bit of an insulin spike right before your meal when you would have an insulin spike anyway. So, I would encourage grape quantities, but if you’re looking to supercharge your body with some nutrients and you feel like green juice is really beneficial for your body and it does well, then I would say have a little bit but count the carbs, make sure you know how much sugar is in there, and I wouldn’t go over maybe 5 grams of sugar in that juice, and then have it close to a meal so that you don’t create additional insulin spikes in addition to your regular meals. And as far as autophagy goes, autophagy is super sensitive to both sugar and protein, so I’m pretty sure that it would break whatever trend of autophagy you have going on if you have any kind of concentrated sugar like juice. So, when we’re fasting, we’re doing coconut oil, we can do coconut cream, we can do coconut milk to some degree, what about coconut water? Isn’t it still sort of the same thing, and it’s full of all these good minerals? Well, not really, because the coconut water portion has no fat and no protein, but it has a lot of sugar. And it’s very, very easy to drink a lot of that stuff, so it’s basically sort of like the green juice, but it doesn’t necessarily have all that much benefit, so yeah. It’s sort of like the green juice, if you had just a little bit like a cup or half a cup close to a meal because you just love it and you feel those minerals would do some good, then maybe. But other than that, I would really stay away from coconut water. It has a lot of sugar. It’s 2.6% sugar, and most of the time people are probably going to drink at least a pint or half a liter, so now you’re talking 12 to 15 grams of sugar.

Number 15, store-bought juice. So, one, we can make an argument for some benefits of fresh-squeezed homemade juice from fruits or vegetables. I don’t see any reason to ever buy store-bought juice because it has to be pasteurized in order to be sold in a store, and now you’re destroying most of the benefits. Most of the enzymes and the alive factors and the phyto factors polyphenols and whatever else might be in that juice, you’re destroying it with that pasteurization, so we put a big red X on that because all you’re really getting now is sugar water. Yeah, it’s a little bit better than Coca-Cola, but not a whole lot. Orange juice is about 8% sugar, apple juice is about 10% sugar. So, if you have a cup, you’re already getting about 25 grams of sugar in there. Absolutely not a good idea for any of these protocols, no matter what your goal is for weight loss or reducing insulin resistance, stay away from store-bought juice.

Thanks for sticking with me through this, and now that you understand some of these principles, let’s talk about soda. Because a lot of people love soda. So, we’re not going to just dismiss very quickly the regular soda that has the sugar and the high fructose corn syrup because that’s a no-brainer. That’s, for the most part, that’s the reason most people got in trouble in the first place. But then, there is diet soda, so now we want to start understanding a little bit because most people think, „Well, that should be totally fine because it has no calories, it has no sugar, and if I do caffeine-free version, now it has no stimulants, so it’s sort of like an herb tea, right?“ No, because the sweet taste can trigger something called the cephalic effect, the cephalic response. And what does that mean? It means that anytime that you put something in your mouth and you taste it, your body, the intelligence of your body, starts preparing your digestion for the food that is about to come. And if you taste something sweet, then your body thinks it’s about to receive nutrients, and it may, in some cases, start producing and releasing some insulin. They’ve done some studies on this, and they haven’t been totally conclusive. Some studies say that certain artificial sweeteners will trigger it, but Stevia won’t, and I wouldn’t put too much faith necessarily in those studies. The fact is, if you taste something sweet, there is a possibility that your body starts anticipating and starts preparing a digestive response and releasing some insulin.

So, how do you know if this is going to affect you? Well, here’s how you check it, and this is opposite to what most people think. They think that if they drink something sweet, the blood sugar should go up, but it’s the other way around. If you drink something sweet but there’s no sugar, there’s no actual nutrients, and your body produces insulin, your blood sugar will go down. So, you check your blood sugar before you have a drink, you check your blood sugar after, if it drops a point or two, I wouldn’t worry about it. But if you see that you’re dropping 5 or 10 points, now you know that your body is responding to this, it is producing more insulin, and that is driving your insulin resistance. So, we put a question mark on this because it’s going to be okay for most people. I would again not recommend the artificial sweeteners, but I have checked this on myself on Stevia drinks, and it has no impact for me, so most people are going to be totally fine. But, again, everyone is different, so you want to figure out, you want to understand the principle and the mechanism, and then figure out and test how it works for you.

If you found this helpful, make sure you also check out that video. Thank you so much for watching. I’ll see you next time.