Two big reasons to add intermittent fasting to your routine include weight loss and improved health. While an extended fasting window is a great way to help with both, you may want to find ways to keep your mind off of food during your fasting period.
This leads to the common question – Can you chew gum while fasting?
Keep reading to find out if chewing gum breaks a fasted state, and whether a stick of gum helps or hurts when it comes to the benefits of fasting for weight loss.
How Intermittent Fasting Helps with Weight Loss
Before you learn whether chewing gum while fasting is a good idea, you have to understand the basics of how extended hours of fasting helps you reach your weight loss goals in the first place.
While most health experts will have you believe intermittent fasting only works because you end up eating fewer calories, that’s not the entire story.
It’s true that you may end up eating less overall calories when implementing a proper intermittent fasting plan, but eating less calories isn’t where the weight loss magic happens.
One of the major reasons intermittent fasting works so well for weight loss is it can help balance hormones. More specifically, intermittent fasting keeps insulin levels low. When your insulin response remains low, your body has the ability to tap into stored fat.
And just like that – good things happen with very little effort on your part! (I’m talking about easy weight loss here).
What Raises Insulin?
This leads to another major question – what causes the dreaded release of insulin that we’re all working to avoid with an intermittent fasting plan?
You already know eating – especially foods that are high in grams of carbs, is the quickest way to spike insulin, while also raising blood sugar levels. Even though many fasting experts say otherwise, it’s been shown that even small amounts of low-calorie foods are enough to break a fast and negate the benefits of intermittent fasting.
And while consuming a meal filled with calories is one way to raise insulin, that’s not the only way.
Here are a few surprising ways you can spike insulin, which could break your fast:
- Small Amounts of Calories: Many fasting experts tell you it’s A-OK to consume small amounts of calories, including a small amount of carbohydrates, during your fasting window. Whether you’re sucking on sugar-free mints, or nibbling on other bites of food with a low calorie content, this can trick your body into believing more food is on the way. In turn, your body may increase insulin in preparation for the feast that’s bound to happen.
- Artificial Sweeteners: Whether you’re adding sweeteners to a seemingly innocent cup of coffee, or even if you only drink non-caloric beverages during the fasting period – that sweet taste can cause insulin levels to rise. While some swear by dirty fasting with sweeteners, it’s not recommended for best results.
- Too Much Stress: Believe it or not, over-stressing your body with things like over-exercising or a lack of restful sleep can lead to weight gain, no matter which forms of intermittent fasting you follow. As a general rule of thumb, start with light exercise when you first begin a fasting routine. You can increase to a moderate pace as your body adapts. Always focus on sleep quality for improved weight loss results. Many experts argue that if you don’t get quality sleep, weight loss will be difficult no matter what other lifestyle factors you add to your routine.
- Chewing: Did you know just the act of chewing can cause an insulin response? Chewing signals your body that food is on the way, so your body prepares by releasing insulin to help get the nutrients where they need to go.
Does Chewing Gum Break A Fast?
Now that you understand other ways an insulin spike can occur beyond eating a large meal, you may be coming to your own conclusions relating to the question – can you chew gum while intermittent fasting? After all, chewing a piece of gum touches on three of the four insulin inducing activities we just discussed.
In case you’re not quite convinced, let’s talk about the ingredients and nutrition in most chewing gum. This will shed more light on the question at hand – can you chew gum while fasting?
Regular Chewing Gum Ingredients and Nutrition
Beyond the gum base, that’s typically made out of resin, wax and elastomer, most chewing gums also include sweeteners, softeners, flavorings, and a polyol coating.
Caloric sweeteners used in regular chewing gum include:
- Glucose / Corn Syrup
- Beetroot Juice
A piece of gum with a form of sugar listed above contains up to 25 calories per piece, which includes up to 6 grams of carbs.
When asking does gum break a fast – consider those 6 grams of natural sugar you get with each piece. Considering both the sweet taste, as well as small amounts of calories, are both enough to break the fasted state – yes, chewing regular gum is wreaking havoc on your fast.
You should also consider how that sugar adds up throughout the day, which could be enough to kick you out of the metabolic state of ketosis. If you’re someone who aims to keep your daily intake of carbs below 20-30 total grams per day, a few pieces of this kind of gum can add up to make a dent in that total.
Does Sugar Free Gum Break A Fast?
Now that you know the type of gum that contains sugar is out, you’re probably wondering – Can I chew sugar free gum while fasting?
In order to get a sweet taste, sometimes sugar alcohols are added to sugar-free chewing gum. Some of these include:
Other popular synthetic sweeteners used in sticks of gum include:
Hopefully you cringed as much as I did while reading that list of sweeteners. If not, you may not understand how these sweeteners work, or the health problems they can cause.
Furthermore, even though they may contain zero calories, most artificial sweeteners are 200 – 13,000 times sweeter than natural sugar. Remember when we talked about surprising ways to spike insulin? A sweet taste topped that list.
Sometimes getting even just a little bit of the sweet stuff can trick your body into believing nutrients are on the way – which can result in an insulin spike. What kind of damage can happen when consuming a sweetener at least 200 times sweeter than sugar?
While the insulin spike that results may not make a significant difference for everyone who chews gum while fasting, the studies that show artificial sweeteners can break a fast are enough to give me pause.
One more thing to note about sugar-free gum is it still contains both calories and carbs. One piece of gum contains 11 calories, which includes nearly 3 grams of carbs, with 2 grams of sugar per piece. Yikes.
I would never consider eating food with carbs while fasting, so I’m not sure why chewing gum would be much different.
Can You Chew Gum While Intermittent Fasting?
If by this point you’re still confused and asking, so what’s the deal – can I chew gum while fasting? Unfortunately there is no one answer that works for everyone.
There are plenty of people who swear by chewing gum while intermittent fasting for weight loss. If you happen to get results chewing gum while water fasting, I’d never advise you to change what’s working.
At the same time, chewing gum while fasting for weight loss can and does make the process harder for some people. Let’s quickly refresh some of the reasons chewing gum breaks a fast:
- Chewing starts the digestion process: this often causes your body to release insulin in preparation for a meal. If your stomach contents remain empty, this may trick your body into believing a famine is happening.
- A sweet taste breaks the fast: Artificial sweeteners are 200-13,000 times sweeter than natural sugar. Chewing on sweet gum is an ongoing reminder of that sweet taste, which could lead to an insulin spike. Consuming too many sweeteners in your diet can also lead to cravings.
- Small amounts of calories: Small amounts of calories while fasting can lead to a weight loss stall. Even sugar-free gum contains 11 calories per piece, which could be enough to kick sensitive people out of a fasted state.
If chewing gum while intermittent fasting helps you keep your mind off of eating, you may choose to continue this habit. While I personally don’t recommend it, sometimes you have to do what works for you.
Here are some reasons to quit chewing gum while fasting:
- You experience slow or no weight loss after adding intermittent fasting to your routine.
- You’re stuck in a weight loss stall after previously losing weight while fasting.
- You experience hunger spikes or cravings while chewing gum, or within a short time period.
- After checking your fasted blood glucose, you notice a rise soon after chewing gum.
Conclusion: Does Chewing Gum Break A Fast?
Even though dirty fasting helps some people with an initial weight loss, a clean fast is what truly takes your results to the next level. Chewing gum is considered part of a dirty fast since even sugar-free chewing gum contains both calories and sweeteners.
If you’re ready to get the best fasting results, do your best to stick with plain water and black coffee during your fasting period. Some people can also get away with non-herbal teas, such as plain green tea. Just keep those drinks plain since even small amounts of cream can break your fast.
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Can You Chew Gum While Fasting?