Intermittent fasting is one of the fastest growing lifestyles for eating. And many people boast of losing scores of pounds by following an intermittent fasting style of eating.
If you gather enough information on the intermittent fasting way of eating, you are sure to come across the term “clean fasting” as well as the term “dirty fasting”.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our policies for more details.
What is Clean Fasting?
In its simplest form, clean fasting is consuming only black coffee, unflavored teas and unflavored water during the period of the fast. Added flavors, fat and artificial sweeteners will break a clean fast.
Clean fasting is more about flavors than it is calories. The goal is not to spike an insulin response from what you are consuming during your fast. Just because is it calorie-free does not mean it that will not cause an insulin response. Bone broth, lemon water, gum and flavored teas are considered off-limits during a true clean fasting window.
Is Clean Fasting Important?
I think it depends on what you hope to get out of intermittent fasting. There are huge benefits from this eating style that have nothing to do with weight loss. If you are looking for results, such as cellular repair, reduced inflammation and improved mental clarity, the clean fast is where it is.
If your end goal is weight loss, you can most likely achieve weight loss even if your fast tends to be on the “dirty” side. There are many success stories from people who have added cream to their coffee and still managed to lose many pounds. The secret here is to not continue eating after having your “break fast” food item.
One of the biggest barriers to clean fasting is having to eliminate creamers or sweeteners from your coffee. Some IF participants suck it up until they get used to black coffee and others concede and add a little bit of their favorite creamer/sweetener.
Remember, making changes in your life is a process. You can begin one way and gradually work your way up to your goal whether it is a clean fast, a zero-calorie fast or a fast of 50 calories or less.
Since I don’t drink coffee, it is pretty easy for me to clean fast. If ensuring your fast is clean is important to you, set a date to begin weaning yourself off the nonclean items that you are eating during your fasting time. Many people begin to enjoy black coffee or unflavored water just by becoming used to the taste after drinking it for a few weeks.
What is Allowed on a Clean Fast?
As I said above, clean fasting includes unflavored water, unflavored black coffee and unflavored teas. The flavors are what cause an insulin response which is something we are trying to avoid during our fasting time.
If plain water is not your favorite, you can supplement it with mineral water, soda water or seltzer water if it is unflavored.
When it comes to tea, anything that is brewed from the actual leaves is a clean choice. Black tea, green tea and other bitter, unflavored teas in bags are okay as well.
Unflavored minerals/electrolytes/salts are allowed if necessary, during the clean fast. Prescribed medication is also allowed.
As you can see, the list of items allowed during a clean fast is quite simple.
What is not Allowed on a Clean Fast?
The answer to this question is also amazingly simple. If it is not on the above list, it is not allowed on a clean fast. But with that said, there are some things that fall into somewhat of a grey area. You have to choose whether your fast will include these items.
They are peppermint essential oil (for breath freshening ONLY), herbal teas with a bitter taste and vitamins and supplements. To avoid issues with supplements and vitamins breaking a fast, you can move the time you take these to a time after you begin your eating window.
Clean Fasting FAQs
There are a few intermittent fasting FAQs that are asked often when it comes to clean fasting. The most common questions have to do with items to be consumed that are not on the “allowed” food list.
Some of these items are foods that flavor coffee, such as: sugar, artificial sweetener, creamer and flavored creamers. Most people do not like the taste of black coffee and are hoping they will not break a clean fast by adding a zero-calorie flavoring food.
Another commonly asked question has to do with consuming alcohol during the fasting window. The nice thing about following an IF plan of eating is nothing is considered forbidden. But the plan suggests that you have an eating window and a fasting window.
Alcoholic beverages will break a fast and they are high in carbs as well. As I said, nothing is off-limits and that includes your favorite adult beverage. You just need to plan your day so that you have the cocktail during your eating window.
Clean fasting is a very simple concept and it is something that most people can do if they put their mind to it. It is important to discuss your intermittent fasting plan with a medical professional before you begin.
If you want to give clean fasting a try and think it will be difficult for you, ease into it. If you are a water and black coffee drinker, you are halfway there. If you are drinking water or coffee with “additives”, take a few weeks to transition yourself to clean liquids.