DOES MCT OIL BREAK A FAST?
The short answer: NO -- MCT oil will not break your fast.
The long answer...
- Any caloric intake will break a fast.
- Clinically -- a small dosage of MCT will not.
- Taking 1 tsp of MCT Oil will keep you in your fasted state.
- More research needs to study the effects of using MCT oil during IF -- but there is no question that MCT be used simultaneously.
MCT OIL DURING A FAST...
A small dose of quality fats, such as MCT oil, won’t significantly disrupt your intermittent fast. By keeping the dosage to a minimum, it ensures that your blood sugar levels do not spike and that your total caloric intake is not affected.
When you are not fasting, a typical serving size for an MCT oil supplement is 4-6 capsules per day. However, if you are looking to use MCT oil during your fast, you want to decrease your intake to stay in a fasted state.
The reason being is that using a small dose of MCT oil won’t cause an insulin induced response in your body. Meaning, if used appropriately, MCT oil won’t spike your blood sugar and break your fast. In fact, using MCT oil may even help you fast longer.
HOW TO USE MCT OIL WHILE FASTING?
If you are following the traditional 16:8 IF routine - and your fasting period is between 8 PM and 12 PM of the next day, one of the easiest ways to add MCT oil into your IF routine is to take your capsules with your morning coffee or other non-caloric drinks when you wake up.
For most individuals this seems to be the most helpful time to use MCT oil. It gives individuals an extra boost to finish off the last several hours of their fast until they break it.
It is important to note that every individual is different and has different IF experiences. Most individuals find that using MCT oil in the morning is the most helpful. The best time to use MCT oil in your fast is when you feel like you need an extra boost to get through those last hours of fasting.
HOW MUCH MCT OIL SHOULD YOU TAKE WHILE FASTING?
To avoid breaking your fast, it is recommended to use 1 tsp of MCT oil with coffee or a calorie free beverage.
The use of MCT oil in your fast is not meant to provide calories because that would break your fast.
The purpose of using MCT oil during your fast is to give you an extra boost and to take advantage of the other additional benefits that MCT oil has to offer. If you are concerned about getting the full dose of MCT oil for the day, just remember that the remaining dose can be taken during your eating period.
WHAT IS MCT OIL?
MCTs, short for medium chain triglycerides, are concentrated fats that are more easily digested than longer-chain fatty acids.
Commonly extracted from coconut or palm oil, MCTs are a great source of energy and a key source of ATP energy that your muscles use for fuel.
MCTs have been shown to support cardiovascular health, improve digestion, increase mental clarity, and boost metabolic functions.
Flavorless and odorless, MCTs are an easy and quick way to supplement your mental clarity, fuel your muscles, and keep your mind sharp.
BENEFITS OF MCT OIL
- Converts to Ketones to send fuel to your brain and increases metabolism.
- Improved Mental Clarity and Sharpness
- Prolonged Satiety
- Sustained Energy
MCT Oil has also been shown to support cardiovascular health and improve digestion.
WHAT IS INTERMITTENT FASTING?
So how does using MCT oil fit in to your IF routine?
Intermittent fasting (IF) has recently become a very popular diet in the health and fitness world. The cyclic eating pattern that alternates between periods of fasting and eating has proven to be very effective for more than just weight loss.
Research has found that IF can be beneficial for:
- Improving Blood Sugar Levels
- Enhancing Longevity
- Increasing Brain Function
- Reducing risks Heart Disease, Diabetes, and Alzheimer's
If you are new to IF, you may be wondering if there are certain foods that are acceptable to consume during your fasting period. After all, fasting for 16 hours is a long time.
Unfortunately, if you are looking to do a traditional fast, any type of food or beverage with any caloric value is off limits. However -- there are exceptions.
One of these exceptions is the use of MCT Oil during your fast.
BENEFITS OF FASTING...
- Increased Weight Loss
- Increased Energy Expenditure
- Improved Blood Sugar
- Improved Brain Function
Though more research needs to be done on the effects of combining the use of MCT oil while intermittent fasting, there seems to be a lot of potential benefits with any use of MCT oil.
WHAT BREAKS A FAST?
There is a significant divide on what breaks a fast according to experts, but generally speaking, any intake of calories would be considered “breaking,” a strict fasting period. However, if you are looking to maintain a state of ketosis, staying under 50 grams of carbohydrates experts agree is a reliable threshold.
However, there may be a temptation to continue to eat and exceed that benchmark, so many fasters may not be comfortable even approaching that. Luckily, there are many calorie-free, carbohydrate-smart options for keeping you on track.
CALORIE FREE LIQUIDS MAY BE YOUR BEST BET FOR SATIATING YOURSELF DURING A FAST:
- LEMON WATER: a classic favorite for controlling weight, lemon water does not break a fast despite containing lemon. This is partly because the juice of the lemon contains little to no calories itself, and in fact directly affects body metabolism, reducing hunger and mitigating weight gain.
- BONE BROTH: generally speaking, it is best to avoid dense and thick soups that call for meat, veggies and high amounts of sodium, but bone broth does not meet the 50 grams of carbs necessary to stop ketosis. Bone broth shouldn’t break a fast, and in fact, is a quick way to consume nutrients while in a fasted state. Research is still unclear how much benefit bone broth confers through its gelatin and collagen content, but it’s still a good, flavorful addition to a fasting routine.
- COFFEE: completely black coffee does not break a fast, and its appetite suppressive properties can improve your fasting success by leaving you satiated longer.
- APPLE CIDER VINEGAR: ACV or apple cider vinegar is a popular choice for losing weight, mainly because, like coffee, it suppresses feelings of hunger. Apple cider vinegar won’t break your fast, and won’t break ketosis, but it’s not particularly pleasant-tasting, so consume it sparingly.
The common thread on each of these is that they do not have a sufficient amount of calories to break a fast in the broadest sense; all of them have, at most, under 15 calories total per serving. However, this begs the question of just how many calories break a fast.
Answering this depends a lot on your goals for fasting, whether that be to induce autophagy, ketosis, mental wellness, the list goes on and it’s important to weigh which of these is most important to you for undertaking intermittent fasting.
Anything that exceeds 0 calories is, technically, breaking your fast.
Anything exceeding 50 grams of carbohydrates may halt ketogenic processes.
Consuming anything besides water, some fasters report, reduce the subjective feelings of mental clarity.
Each person is different, and your goals for what exactly you wish to accomplish from a fast should be ironed out before deciding to start one.
HOW TO BREAK A FAST
Fasting sounds easy on paper and you may find yourself excelling at fighting off the occasional hunger pang and completing your fasting period without a cinch. Now comes the tricky part -- resuming normal eating fresh off of your fast.
Understanding how to break a fast is just as important as understanding how to complete one successfully.
Eating a large meal after a fast is a bad idea for several reasons. When you break a long fast with a large meal -- you run the danger of causing refeeding syndrome. The phenomenon where individuals who have not eaten for a long time suddenly shock their metabolic cycle from eating too much too soon.
Refeeding syndrome results from when your body, which in its fasted state has become accustomed to using fats as its primary energy source, switches back to its reliance on glycogen and sugars. The rapid insulin spike causes the production of glycogen to ramp up, depleting the body of phosphates, potassium, and magnesium, which are critical substances for our nervous system function. Electrolytes and ATP are depleted, and this causes failure of the lungs, heart, and nerves.
Luckily, the risks of refeeding syndrome are unlikely during most fasts, and most issues from it are reported in people who have been starved for greater than four days, to the point of malnourishment. Thankfully, malnourishment is not too common in the general population.
Depending on if you completed a long (> 24 hours) or short (<16 hours) fast, your reintroduction to food intake may look different.
IF YOU ARE COMING OFF A SHORT FAST:
- Consume whole foods
- Stay hydrated
- Avoid processed sugars and carbs
- Eat small portions at a time
- Low-Risk of Refeeding Syndrome
Common side effects from breaking a short fast include: potential feelings of fatigue, possible gastrointestinal sensitivity, and a reduced appetite.
IF YOU ARE COMING OFF A LONG FAST:
- Have a plan -- plan and prep your meals and portions
- Consume whole foods
- Fresh greens such as spinach, kale, and lettuce are easy on the gut.
- Avoid processed sugars and carbs
- Avoid foods high in fat and protein when first coming off your fast. These foods can worsen GI symptoms.
Common side effects from breaking a long fast include: diarrhea following a fast and refeeding is surprisingly common, and this has to do with the body’s reduced capacity to process food in the gut after a long time of restricted food intake.
As your system recognizes the need to produce crucial digestive enzymes again, these symptoms should subside.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The overall effect of using MCT oil during IF is in favor of weight loss, and it may also provide other additional health benefits. Using MCT oil while intermittent fasting is a great way to obtain the health benefits associated with IF and MCT oil use.
However, it is important to note that for some individuals using MCT oil, especially during a fast, may increase the production of your hunger hormones. Though this research is limited to animal studies, it is important to notice how you are feeling when you use MCT oil during your fast. If it does not seem to work in your favor, simply save the MCT oil for your eating period.
For most individuals, MCT oil does not have this effect. In fact, majority of people acknowledge that using MCT oil while intermittent fasting is not only helpful, but also beneficial.