So, you want to know, “Do Mints Break Intermittent Fasting?”
I get it, intermittent fasting is tough.
And there are countless times during your fasting window that you can hear your stomach rumbling and you feel as though you’re literally going to die of starvation.
These feelings typically lead us into trying to find something that we can consume, but that won’t break our fast.
So, how exactly do mints fit into the intermittent fasting equation?
Let’s find out.
Do Mints Break Intermittent Fasting?
Unfortunately yes, in the vast majority of cases, mints will break intermittent fasting. Most mints contain sugar, which will provoke an insulin response inside the body. This immediately switches your body from a fasted to a fed state. Even mints that are sugar-free and calorie-free will still cause an insulin response due to the use of artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohol.
1. Calories Aren’t the Only Thing That Break Intermittent Fasting
As I’ve mentioned, I totally understand the need to eat something during your intermittent fasting window.
In fact, often it’s not even specifically for sustenance, but rather something to provide motivation to keep you going.
So, you’ve probably spent hours trying to determine what you can and cannot eat during your fasting window, without actually breaking your fast.
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And this usually entails finding something that is calorie-free or extremely low in calories.
Firstly, I have to say that there has been a rumour doing the rounds online for a number of years now.
It claims that if you consume something that is fewer than 50 calories then you won’t have broken your fast.
Unfortunately, I have to tell you that this is completely false, and even one calorie will break your fast.
Basically, while you are in a fasted state, your aim is for your body to eventually start burning fat stores for energy, as opposed to the usual stores of glycogen.
This can actually take a few days to kick in, but whatever form of intermittent fasting you’re using, as long as you stick to the rules, then you will eventually be burning fat stores for energy.
That being said, it isn’t only calories that can break your fast.
Plus, mints are likely to be one of the worst culprits for “calorie-free food” that will break a fast.
You see, anything that spikes your insulin levels will in effect break your fast.
So, whereas a mint will generally have no more than 5-15 calories, they do typically contain sugar.
And sugar is one of the main offenders when it comes to spiking insulin levels.
Then again, you may opt for a calorie-free and sugar-free mint in the hope that it won’t affect your fast or your insulin levels.
However, once again, even a calorie-free and sugar-free mint is likely to break your fast.
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Typically, most products labelled as “sugar-free” will contain sweeteners or sugar alcohol.
They will generally contain none or very few calories, and obviously no sugar, but they are extremely sweet.
This may cause your insulin levels to spike, but there is something a little more untoward at play here.
As soon as we taste something sweet on our tongue, this often causes receptors to signal to the brain that we have just been fed.
And unfortunately, even a simple “brain trick” can force your body out of a fasted state into a fed one.
2. Beware of Stomach Pain From Mints
Now, this is something that I assumed was just affecting me, but it appears there is a scientific explanation behind it.
Basically, whenever I’ve eaten mints, even sugar-free and calorie-free, as well as chewing gum, in a fasted state, I notice it causes issues with my stomach.
This is usually something like stomach cramps or even pain.
In fact, it typically also makes me feel hungrier.
Well, as I’ve mentioned, in the absence of sugar, most mints will contain artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohol.
And it is these ingredients that can cause digestive problems.
Firstly, you tend to inhale and swallow a lot of air whenever you’re sucking on a mint.
In effect, you’re taking on more oxygen that you usually would, which can have an impact on your digestive system.
However, much worse is sugar alcohols, which are a form of carbs.
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Sugar alcohols are never completely absorbed by the body, plus their absorption rate is extremely slow anyway.
You’ll find that some sugar alcohols will pass into the bloodstream, but the vast majority will settle unabsorbed in the intestines.
The sugar alcohol in your intestines then comes into contact with gut bacteria and starts to ferment.
This causes a release of gas, which typically leads to stomach cramps, bloating, pain in the stomach, and even diarrhea.
So, it could be a case that eating mints is not only breaking your fast, it’s also likely to cause you digestive issues.
You can usually tell if mints contain sugar alcohols, as most of them end in “ol”.
Admittedly, some sugar alcohols may not end in the letters “ol”, but as I say, the majority do.
You can of course check the list of ingredients to see if specific mints contain sugar alcohol.
However, for me, I would much rather avoid mints altogether during my fasting window.
What Are Sugar Alcohols & Are They Healthy?
So, I hope you understand that in most cases mints will break intermittent fasting.
It’s important to remember that calories aren’t the only thing that will break your fast.
In fact, any insulin response will typically break your fasting state.
One of the main causes of an insulin spike is sugar, which of course many mints contain.
That being said, even the sugar-free varieties contain artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohol, which once more can cause your insulin levels to spike.
Furthermore, the sugar alcohols contained in mints can also cause digestive issues, as they are not fully absorbed and tend to sit in the intestines.
So, this will usually take you from a fasted to a fed state, plus you may also experience bloating, stomach cramps and pain, or diarrhea.
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Hi, I’m Partha, owner and founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I am a Level 3 Personal Trainer and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the Register of Exercise Professionals, United Kingdom. I have been a regular gym-goer since 2000 and coaching clients since 2012. My aim is to help you achieve your body composition goals.