Among its many benefits, it is pretty widely known that coffee is a fantastic way to suppress appetite and increase energy. This is especially true for those following an intermittent fasting lifestyle when coffee is consumed during the fasted state.
There are many different approaches to incorporating coffee with intermittent fasting such as drinking multiple cups a day during the fast, only using it to suppress appetite late into the fast, or even pairing it with coconut oil or butter (Bulletproof Coffee) to *supposedly* kick fat burning into overdrive and kill cravings.
Here is a short list of my personal experiences with a few approaches, all of which could benefit from a long-term test (such as one month or longer). However, even with my limited experimentation, this information might be helpful. I have also listed references to individual advocates of each method for you to do your own research.
Alright, let’s talk coffee.
Coffee Throughout the Fast:
I absolutely adore the process, aroma, taste, and experience that is built into a cup of coffee. It is without a doubt the very first thing I think of in the morning, and I genuinely look forward to the quiet time I can spend cuddling with my warm mug. Needless to say, drinking coffee throughout the morning has always been my preferred approach to incorporating coffee with intermittent fasting.
To minimize calories consumed during the fast, I limit the amount of additives to a splash of cashew milk and/or 1 sweetener packet (I generally only add the milk to 1 cup per day). Sometimes I’ll even drink it black. Overall, from morning to first meal, I would probably consume about 2-3 cups of coffee using this method.
Even though I am naturally more alert and focused during my fast, I found that this approach only strengthened those side effects. Unfortunately, as expected with any stimulants, the results wear off over time and I found myself slowly increasing my coffee consumption to feel the same effects.
One proponent of this method is Martin Berkhan from leangains.com.
Coffee to Suppress Appetite:
The idea behind this method is that you only consume coffee when you feel yourself getting hungry in attempts to prolong your fast.
Long story short: My body is pretty routine and if I am hungry, coffee alone doesn’t help much. In fact, I found it gave me this weird, empty stomach, almost-nauseous feeling if I drank it when I was hungry. Although I did normally find myself prolonging my fast for about an hour after drinking a cup.
To be fair, I do use this technique if I have back-to-back meetings at work in the afternoon and can’t sit down for my first meal for a few hours. It helps me keep my focus throughout meetings when I am nearing the end of my fast. I also like that this approach reduces the amount of caffeine I consume on a daily basis compared to the previous approach since I don’t have that initial cup in the morning just for funsies.
One proponent of this method is Greg O’Gallagher from kinobody.com.
Coffee + Coconut Oil
Lately, I have been experimenting with the aforementioned appetite suppression concept paired with incorporating 1 Tbs. of coconut oil to my cup of coffee. There is so much information out there about the benefits of adding coconut oil to coffee, and I thought it could also aid in appetite suppression during the fast since I’d be adding about 140 calories of fat. Yes, this technically would break the fast, but there is also some interesting research that suggests there are some fat-burning effects of consuming medium-chain triglycerides during the fasted state.
When I drink coffee with coconut oil, I do not add any milk or sweetener. Just the coffee and the coconut oil. I also like to blend this up and it creates a frothy, creamy consistency that reminds me of a latte.*
So far, I can say that I definitely love the taste combination of coffee with coconut oil. It adds decadence to the coffee (without cream) and mitigates the bitterness I would taste if I just drank it black. I also feel that it helps to suppress my appetite much more than the coffee alone. The only downside I can say is that it reduces the amount of fat I consume from my food later in the day. However, if the benefits are as real as people make them out to be, I think I can forego that extra avocado or peanut butter.
One proponent of this method is Dave Asprey from bulletproofexec.com
*Note: I first attempted blending hot coffee with coconut oil in a small personal-size blender. I immediately regretted that decision when the steam and heat caused the lid to pop off and coffee to spew all over the kitchen. I now use my Vitamix blender (which is significantly larger in size) with no issues.
All in all…
Personally, these are all great methods to incorporate coffee into your fasting lifestyle, and I choose the option that works for me that day. If I wake up feeling like death, you better believe I am starting my morning with my beloved caffeine fix. If I know I am going to have a super busy day at work, I’ll probably opt for some coconut oil in my coffee to keep me going throughout the day until I can sit down for a meal. Do what works for you, and definitely do your own research on the benefits of each approach.