Does Stevia Break a Fast? (Plus, Other Sweeteners)
Intermittent fasting can be hard for those of us with a sweet tooth. But, does stevia break a fast? If you want to enjoy sweeteners while also not breaking your fast, it’s important to learn about the properties of your favorite sweeteners (such as stevia, monk fruit, splenda, sucralose, etc.) to determine whether or not they will break your fast.
In this article we’ll focus first on stevia, then on monk fruit and a couple of other common sugar-free sweeteners.
What It Means to Break a Fast
Before we start, there are a few different reasons that people fast. The three most common include resting the digestive system, metabolic health, and autophagy (or more often than not, all three of these reasons).
Since all these benefits are great, we consider breaking any category as breaking the fast. However, you might not consider minor stimulation of the digestive system as breaking a fast if you’re only doing it for weight loss.
Does Stevia Break a Fast?
Short answer? No – stevia hasn’t shown to break any main aspects of fasting.
Stevia is a natural sugar-free sweetener that actually contributes to better blood sugar and insulin levels. Moreover, it doesn’t limit your body’s ability to break down fat or stay in a state of ketosis. That means that, for the purpose of fat loss, adding stevia to your food won’t break your fast.
Various medical reviews seem to show that stevia (along with monk fruit) improves your glycemic control and insulin sensitivity. Although the results of these different studies are not entirely conclusive, it’s safe to assume that stevia, by nature of its properties, doesn’t inhibit ketosis.
In terms of its effect on digestion, various studies have shown that stevia does not seem to be absorbed by your GI tract. Instead, it moves through the GI tract and into the colon, where it is broken down by bacteria. That means that stevia does not stimulate your gut and is a sweetener you can use to allow your gut to rest (if that’s the reason for your fast).
If you’re fasting for longevity, stevia is a great option because it has zero calories and no protein, so it has no impact on autophagy.
In summary, pure stevia does not break your fast if you’re fasting any of the most common reasons (including metabolic health/weight loss, gut rest, and longevity).
Does Erythritol Break a Fast?
Erythritol is a common sugar alcohol. Generally, sugar alcohols present a chemical structure similar to sugar and alcohol, but because they are neither, your body will metabolize it differently.
Erythritol itself provides only 0.24 calories/gram, which is very minimal. However, stevia has 0 calories per gram, which might make it a better choice.
Since erythritol has very low calories, it might not affect the body’s ability to stay in ketosis or burn fat. However, it will stimulate your digestive tract, because about 90% of it is absorbed in your gut.
Various studies have shown that consuming erythritol causes the body to secret two gut peptides for nutrient intake. Thus, if you consume erythritol, your gut will need to work to absorb it, even if it doesn’t significantly add to your calorie intake.
Research remains limited on erythirtol’s impact on longevity. However, because erythritol is a protein-free substance and provides the body little in the way of energy, it is generally safe to assume that it doesn’t affect autophagy.
Thus, in summary, erythritol will not break a fast for metabolic health or for longevity, but it will break a fast if you’re fasting for gut rest. Overall, the gut rest aspect of fasting is a great benefit, so it’s best to play it safe with stevia.
Does Sucralose Break a Fast?
Sucralose is another common sweetener that many people use to add some flavor to their food.
Unlike stevia, sucralose is an artificial sweetener. Professionals all throughout the nutrition industry continue to debate whether or not consuming artificial sweeteners is good or bad for your health. Due to all this controversy, it might be generally better to avoid artificial sweeteners and opt for natural sweeteners like Stevia instead.
As far as fasting goes, although sucralose is calorie-free, there’s evidence that it might still have a negative impact on fat loss and your metabolism. Derived from sucrose, sucralose has a different chemical structure, so your body doesn’t know it's a carbohydrate. Because of this, your body will not metabolize sucralose for energy, and there is no insulin response when you intake sucralose.
In terms of gut health, however, there is some evidence to indicate that consuming sucralose on a consistent basis can alter your gut microbiota and/or lead to negative effects. Sucralose causes you to secrete hormones in your gut; thus, even though your gut doesn't metabolize sucralose, it also gives your gut a rest.
If you’re fasting for longevity, the research on sucralose is unclear; however, since your body does not metabolize sucralose for energy, it’s safe to assume that ingesting sucralose does not inhibit autophagy.
In summary, sucralose will likely break your fast if you’re fasting for health and weight loss, and if you’re fasting to rest your gut. On the other hand, if you’re fasting for the purpose of longevity, sucralose is not likely to break your fast.
Bottom Line – Does Stevia Break a Fast?
Overall, stevia (and monk fruit) checks all the boxes when it comes to fasting and seems to be the best options. You can be confident that you’ll remain in ketosis and continue burning fat, while giving your digestive system a rest and promoting autophagy.