Intermittent Fasting and The Million Dollar Question: Does Coconut Oil Break a Fast?
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Most popular diets emphasize what foods you should or should not be eating, instead intermittent fasting prioritizes when you should eat. Fast participants eat only during designated timeframes, otherwise abstaining from any caloric intake. Intermittent fasting has become an increasingly popular weight loss or weight management strategy, and for good reason. Human bodies are hardwired from millenia of evolution to go without food for hours, even days in extreme cases. Intermittent fasting works by extending the period of time by a few hours between meals. As a result your body will begin to burn stored fat rather than work off of the calories consumed in your last meal. To put it simply, intermittent fasting is not a diet. It’s an eating pattern that rotates between eating and fasting.
*Pro-tip: do not go days without food, our bodies need sustenance to thrive. Avoiding food consumption is unhealthy and not a sustainable weight loss option.
Intermittent Fasting Plans
There are several approaches to consider when deciding the right plan for you. Fasting plans vary based on the amount of time spent without consuming food. The most popular, and easiest to adhere to are daily plans, what is known as the five-to-two plan, or the alternate-day fasting plan.
Daily plans restrict eating to one specific time block per day. This usually breaks down to sixteen hours of fasting followed by an eight hour period where normal eating is resumed. Time blocks can vary up to an even split (12 hours eating, 12 hours fasting) and still be effective.
Alternatively, the 5:2 plan may be the right fit for you. This strategy involves no restrictive eating five days per week and limiting yourself to consuming between five and six hundred calories the remaining two days. The alternate-day fasting plan is similar to the 5:2 plan in that it requires a complete (zero calorie) or partially complete (500-600 calorie) fast, every other day. Normal eating is resumed during the in-between days. Most people agree that the most difficult part of sticking with intermittent fasting is deterring hunger. Experts recommend choosing an approach that best aligns with your existing schedule, making the adjustment easier and more likely to stick.
Breaking Your Fast
Now that you understand what intermittent fasting is and how it works, it’s time to answer the question “does coconut oil break a fast”? To find the answer to this question, you first need to know the nutritional value of coconut oil.
Coconut oil, virgin or refined, is pretty far off from being calorie free. Even small amounts are high in caloric content. One tablespoon of coconut oil clocks in at roughly 120 calories and approximately 13.5 grams of fat, 11.2 of which are saturated. From a strictly calorie point of view, the answer is simple: coconut oil does break a fast. Fortunately, using coconut oil in a fasting period will not negate the benefits of intermittent fasting. If you choose to include coconut oil in your fast, be sure to use a small amount to stick to the fast as closely as possible.
Using Coconut Oil During Fasting on a Daily Plan
Depending on the fasting approach you opted for, you can use coconut oil in fasting. Now that you know you can, should you do it?
If a daily fasting plan is the right choice for you, try to avoid breaking your fast. Zero calories is a hard and fast rule. Remember, you already have the answer to the question: does coconut oil break a fast? Food consumption during the zero calorie fasting period, including oils, technically will break your fast. Stick to non-caloric drinks during your fasting period. However, during your normal eating time block feel free to incorporate coconut oil into your diet. Coconut oil is a great alternative ingredient for essentially any recipe. It has a ton of benefits and is a great vegan substitute for butter and other cooking oils. An added bonus, coconut oil is diet-friendly. It works well as a part of popular lifestyles and trends in dieting, such as veganism or the keto diet.
A great way to introduce coconut oil into your regiment while fasting is by adding it to non-caloric drinks like tea or black coffee. Thanks to the high caffeine content, coffee is thought to be a natural appetite suppressant. Adding a bit of oil to your coffee can help with managing your weight in general and preventing hunger while fasting. Using coconut oil doesn’t break a fast when small amounts are consumed.
Using Coconut Oil During Fasting on Alternate Day Plans
If you are an avid user of coconut oil and adjusting your daily intake doesn’t work for your routine, fear not. Both the Alternate-Day fasting and the 5:2 plans allow room for low calorie intake, even during the fasting phases. This means that coconut oil does not break a fast when following plans that allow for partial fasts.
Coconut oils are largely made up of Medium Chain Triglycerides or MCTs. These are a form of saturated fats that are absorbed by the body differently than other fats. MCTs are quickly converted into a source of energy. Research suggests that because of their fast acting absorption, *MCTs may help your body burn fat by increasing the rate at which you burn calories. MCTs can also help reduce hunger because they are not stored like other fats, regular use of coconut oil may help you to extend the period of time between meals.
Intermittent Fasting and Coconut Oil
Intermittent fasting is a lifestyle modification that can help manage weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Coconut oil is a versatile, beneficial oil that when used regularly can help to support fasting.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.