In the US, 40% of the population above the age of 20 is reportedly obese, with another 30% percent in the ‘overweight’ category. This poses a serious health hazard for a significant percentage of the population. Intermittent fasting is considered as one of the more effective methods for achieving weight loss. Consequently, a large number of obese and overweight individuals take up intermittent fasting to get rid of flab. Individuals who practice this method apparently share similar doubts about permitted dietary intake during these sessions. The most common doubt among individuals is – does stevia break a fast? This is because of the apprehensions about calorie intake that can play spoilsport to well-planned dietary restrictions. We therefore dive deep into the subject of intermittent fasting and properties of stevia to understand if there is merit to the doubts.
What is intermittent fasting and does stevia break a fast?
As the name suggests, intermittent fasting refers to the practice of following a meal schedule that involves alternating cycles of eating food and fasting. Commonly abbreviated as IF, intermittent fasting involves the practice of abstaining from food for a specific duration, after a cycle of eating a particular diet. The whole idea is to control the intake of calories and to bring about a change in hormone levels that will help to reduce weight over a period of time. The number of meals consumed by a person during intermittent fasting is considerably lesser than the number of meals consumed by a person normally. This brings about a reduction in calorie intake naturally, which in turn helps to reduce weight. Before we look at the question – does stevia break a fast – it is necessary to understand more about intermittent fasting.
Are there different types of intermittent fasting?
While the goal of intermittent fasting is to reduce calorie intake, different approaches within intermittent fasting help individuals according to different needs. The three different types of fasting commonly practiced include alternate-day fasting, time restricted feeding and periodic fasting. Experts have opined that the practice of intermittent fasting helps to reduce weight, in addition to bringing down the risk of certain diseases. Individuals who belong to younger age groups are more suitable for intermittent fasting, as the risk of impacting health due to restricted calorie intake is lesser. Studies have concluded that intermittent fasting brings about results that include lowering insulin resistance and inflammation. The popularity of the practice is seen in the fact that it is one of the most popular fitness trends practiced globally.
A we get closer to the information pertaining to the question – does stevia break a fast – it is not out of place to highlight that the whole concept of intermittent fasting is pretty simple. Normal routines involve consumption of food during the day, with the body fasting during the time of rest. Intermittent fasting involves extending the gap between meals, effectively increasing the periods of routine fasting. For instance, individuals may resort to skipping breakfast, and opting for lunch directly, followed by early dinner. This effectively extends the fast from the time of dinner to midday. Similarly, other intermittent fasting schedules are designed to extend the gap between meals in a systematic manner, aimed at reducing calorie intake in a calculated manner.
The reason for the common question – does stevia break a fast – on the minds of individuals following or aiming to take intermittent fasting is really simple. Consuming lunch and dinner during a seven or 8 hour window effectively makes the person fast for as much as 16 to 17 hours in a day. During this period some individuals are known to take beverages with artificial sweeteners in an attempt to ensure reduced calorie intake. The reason for the question – does stevia break a fast – is to ascertain if stevia delivers calories when used as an artificial sweetener in beverages typically consumed in the morning. It is therefore necessary to look at stevia to understand more about the action of the leaves and the calorie value.
What is stevia used for and does stevia break a fast?
Stevia is a non-nutritive sweetener belonging to the plant family of ragweed. While there are differences between the Stevia leaves grown at home and the Stevia purchased off the shelves, the mechanism is pretty much the same. It is a replacement for sugar and is typically used in various beverages and food products as a sugar free sweetener. Stevia in different forms is used to sweeten coffee, tea, cereal, smoothies and yoghurt, among others. The powder extract of Stevia, like the leaves are potent, with studies revealing that Stevia powder can be 200 times sweeter than sugar. One of the reasons for the popularity of Stevia is the fact that it has almost nil calories, making it one of the most natural options for controlling weight gain. As we inch closer to the answer to the question – does stevia break a fast – it is important to look at evidence backed studies. Though Stevia does have an impact on weight loss, studies have not been able to conclusively identify the amount that is to be consumed, or the most suitable timing of the day to use Stevia.
Are there any side effects from using Stevia and does stevia break a fast?
Stevia in different forms is generally recognized as safe, which explains its widespread use. The potency of Stevia leaves makes it necessary to use with caution, especially when individuals have certain health complications such as impaired renal capabilities, weak cardiovascular system or low blood pressure. The mechanism of action of Stevia increases the possibility of interacting adversely with mediations used for controlling blood sugar levels. Stevia is safe for young and healthy individuals, while it needs to be used with caution by the aged and by individuals with certain health complications.
One of the most common sugar substitutes, Stevia is used by individuals on weight loss programs and individuals on specific fitness goals. This is precisely why individuals attempting intermittent fasting are commonly known to raise this question – does stevia break a fast?. A straight answer to the question is no. Stevia does not technically break a fast because by itself Stevia does not add calories to the body. In other words, Stevia in coffee/sugar or any beverage does not add calories to the body. However, the other ingredients in the beverage will add to the calories, and individuals with a craving for sweetened products are more likely to end up taking more than just one cup of beverages.
The reason behind the question – does stevia break a fast – is the permitted and restricted dietary intake of intermittent fasting. Individuals on intermittent fasting are not permitted to consume food during the fasting period. However, during this period, liquids and beverages in moderate quantities are permitted. For instance, individuals are permitted to drink water, tea, coffee and other beverages that do not add to the calories. Consequently, individuals who drink coffee/tea or beverages are more likely to sweeten their beverages, and this gives rise to doubts about the impact of stevia on calorie intake. Additionally, individuals who are unable to rein in their craving for sweetened beverages also find it irresistible to stay off from artificially flavored drinks during fasting.
So, does stevia break a fast?
While the technical answer to the question – does stevia break a fast is no, it is necessary to also look beyond the technical answer. As a zero calorie sugar substitute, Stevia will not add to your calories. However, individuals who cannot do without a cup of artificially sweetened coffee or tea, the risk goes beyond the ingredient. It is the taste that is the risk. Individuals who use sweeteners are rewarding their minds and building desire for sweetened products. Beyond a particular point, this becomes irresistible, and push becomes shove. This is where participants in weight loss regimes are known to reach out for a snack or some food product that adds to the calories and undoes all the hard work up to that point.
All that it takes is a little weakness to succumb to a sweet desire, and the whole intermittent fasting plan ends up ruined. It is therefore necessary to ensure that the desire for sweetened products is controlled effectively and this includes cutting down on the use of artificially flavored beverages and food products. As mentioned earlier, while the ingredient is not the risk factor, it is the taste delivered by the ingredient that is the risk in intermittent fasting programs. Therefore, while the answer to the question – does stevia break a fast is no, it does not end with no. The use of Stevia for sweetening drinks during fasting period can results in the addition of calories to the body through other desires linked to the sweetening flavor of Stevia.
Is Stevia in the same category of healthy sugar alternatives?
In addition to answering the question – does stevia break a fast – we also highlight an important difference between sugar substitutes and alternatives. Stevia does not belong to the category of other sugar free sweeteners and healthy alternatives. For instance, individuals are caught up in a craze for so-called natural alternatives and organic products such as cane juice and brown sugar. While it is indeed true that the products are natural and healthy, the fact remains that both the products raise blood sugar levels in addition to adding to the calories. The impact of these natural products and the impact of Stevia are different. Stevia does not add to the calories and also does not result in increased blood sugar levels, unlike the other products.
Is there a difference between natural/extracted Stevia, and does stevia break a fast?
There are differences between natural Stevia and extracted Stevia. Organic green leaf Stevia and extracted Stevia are different. In fact extracted Stevia is more likely to have very little of the plant extract. However, the action and impact of both natural and extracted Stevia are more or less the same. Extracted Stevia powder has the same impact as natural Stevia with almost 200 times the power of Sugar powder when matched spoon for spoon. To answer the question – does stevia break a fast – it is safe to state that neither natural Stevia nor extracted Stevia powder will break a fast, if the product is pure and unadulterated.
Caution to be used when purchasing Stevia extract
Certain Stevia powder brands are known to contain glucose and sugar alcohols. It is therefore necessary to ensure that you pick reputed brands and products when purchasing Stevia powder. A better option would be to choose Stevia green leaves. This will prevent the possibility of adulterated products ending up on your table. As listed out in detail above, the question – does stevia break a fast – has a clear and conclusive answer. The use of Stevia in beverages will not be considered as breaking a fast. However, regardless of the properties of the product, it is essential to limit consumption to moderate levels. The most important dimension of intermittent fasting or any weight loss program is to break the habit of consuming food and drinks that are sweetened – naturally or artificially. This narrows down to the simple logic – it is not the ingredient that matters here, but the taste that matters. Succumbing to the taste of sweetened food and beverages is akin to squandering away all the benefits of training or fasting.