So you know that tea is an acceptable beverage to have during a fast. You may even know that adding sugar or milk to your beverage could potentially break your fast. And because you want this fasting thing to work, you steer clear. Instead, you decide to add some cinnamon to your tea to boost the flavor, but just when you thought you were safe, some Facebook fasting guru tells you that cinnamon is a big NO and will break your fast.
Confused by the conflicting information? I’ve got you covered! In this article, I will break down if cinnamon is safe to consume during your fasting window.
What is cinnamon:
To understand why cinnamon is so controversial, you have to look at its nutritional profile. According to the US Department of Agriculture, cinnamon contains the following per teaspoon:
- Energy (calories): 6.42
- Protein: .104 grams
- Fat: .032 grams
- Carbohydrates: 2.1 grams
- Sugars: .056 grams
When looking at this information at face value, cinnamon does contain nutrients that are responsible for spiking our insulin and potentially breaking a fast. Many would see these numbers, despite them being fairly low in all categories, and assume that cinnamon will break a fast.
But wait! Before you click off convinced of this, let’s take a look at the science.
What the research says:
According to research, cinnamon is a powerful antioxidant that has been shown in many studies to lower blood sugar levels; especially for those who suffer from type II diabetes. Another study showed how cinnamon reduces insulin spikes when consuming foods that contain sugars.
Therefore, based on research alone, cinnamon is a spice that may actually boost the effects of a fast by keeping insulin low. So you don’t need to worry about insulin spiking from a little cinnamon in your tea. But what about those calories? Don’t calories break a fast?
Things to consider:
The answer to this question really depends on a few things. What is the source of the calories? How many calories are you consuming? What is the intent behind fasting? Let’s look at each of these individually.
- How many calories are you consuming?
Even though any amount of calories will technically break a fast, a general rule is that consuming anything under 50 calories will not knock your body out of its fasted state.
- What is the source of the calories?
If you do choose to consume calories during your fast, it is best to make sure that the source of the calories doesn’t have the potential to spike your insulin. For example, 3 calories of pure sugar would be less ideal than 3 calories of heavy cream.
This is because heavy cream is essentially fat and doesn’t contain any carbs. Fat, in low amounts, won’t spike your insulin and knock you out of ketosis, the state where your body is burning fat as it’s the primary fuel source.
This is why some people drink a little cream in their coffee during their fast. As a general rule, avoid calories from alcohol, carbs, and proteins at all costs. For more information about how protein can break a fast, read my article on collagen. (Note: Even though cinnamon does contain a small amount of protein, the amount is so low that it will not trigger an insulin response).
- What is the intent behind fasting?
Fasting in its strictest definition is abstinence from all food and drink.
There are many reasons why people choose to fast; such as medical, spiritual, or mental reasons just to name a few.
You are likely reading this article because you want to use fasting as a tool to lose weight. If that is the case, strict fasting rules don’t necessarily apply to you. Drinking water would not be allowed in some religious fasts, but I would strongly encourage it if you are fasting for weight loss or maintenance.
The bottom line:
A little wiggle room is allowed for this type of fasting so things like a few calories, low-to-no calorie beverages, creamer, or cinnamon don’t need to be a huge concern because your body will still burn fat if you stay within the guidelines listed here.
So when we look over the information above, it is clear that adding a little cinnamon to your tea is not only safe but also beneficial for you to consume during a fast. It is a low-calorie spice that has antioxidant properties and works to prevent insulin spikes.
While eating a whole container of cinnamon will likely break a fast and cause a number of other issues, putting a dash in your tea should be a worry-free decision.
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I hold an undergraduate degree in Nutrition and Dietetics, and am currently pursuing my masters degree in Positive Psychology. I am also member of The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics so I can stay up to date on all the latest nutrition news and research. I am dedicated to sharing what I have and am learning both personally and professionally with women seeking to lose weight and improve their lifestyles.