Can you eat during intermittent fasting?

The obvious answer would seem to be “no.” The whole point of fasting is that you don’t eat any food, right?

But according to recent research, you may actually be able to eat a small snack during a fast without missing out on any benefits—in fact, the snack could actually help you fast for even longer. 

You can’t eat just anything though; the food has to fit certain criteria. Let’s take a look at what the research says, how to incorporate a snack into your fast, and what foods you can eat during intermittent fasting. 

You Can Eat During a Fast (It Just Has to Be the Right Food)

Back in 2020, researchers ran a study on intermittent fasting for weight loss. Overweight participants were split into two groups: the first group ate normally, while the second group followed a pretty 14/10 daily fasting protocol (that’s 14 hours of fasting with a 10-hour eating window).

However, the fasting program had an unusual addition: every day, at hour 12, participants ate a “fasting snack”—a small, low-carb, high-fat snack designed to curb their hunger. Researchers wanted to know if eating something small would negate the benefits of fasting. 

As it turns out, the snack did NOT negate any fasting benefits. Participants in the fasting group still showed significant weight loss and improved blood sugar levels, and their results were better than those in the standard diet group[*]. 

The researchers concluded that you can eat a small snack during a fast and still get all the benefits of intermittent fasting. It may help with hunger and actually allow you to fast longer.

However, the snack you eat during fasting has to fit a certain set of criteria. 

What Can You Eat During a Fast?

The snack used in the study was carefully designed to be four things:

  • Low-calorie
  • High-fat
  • Low-carb
  • Low-protein

Essentially, participants ate a small amount of food (under ~150 calories) that was mostly fat, with little else. 

The researchers chose this type of food for a reason. When you fast, your metabolism burns through available carbohydrate stores, and once they’re gone, it shifts into a state called ketosis—that’s when you burn fat for fuel instead of carbs[*]. 

Ketosis is at least partially responsible for a lot of the benefits of fasting, including stable blood sugar, increased mental clarity, decreased inflammation, and hunger suppression. But if you eat something that may spike your blood sugar, like carbs or protein, it will kick you out of ketosis. 

For that reason, researchers chose to give participants a high-fat, low-carb snack, and if you choose to eat something small during a fast, you should probably do the same. 

3 “Fasting Snacks” that Won’t Disrupt Your Intermittent Fast

I often eat a fasting snack on days when I have a lot to do, or when I want to push my fast further than usual. Here are three of my favorite things to eat:

1. Half an Avocado

Avocados are almost entirely fat, as well as healthy fiber that your body doesn’t digest (meaning it won’t affect your fast). They’re high in nutrients and low in carbs and protein.

That means half an avocado is an ideal fasting snack. I usually slice one up and add some sea salt to it for extra electrolytes. 

2. A Spoonful (or Two) of Nut Butter

Nut butter is another good choice for a fasting snack. It’s nutrient-dense, high-fat, and low-protein, with almost no carbs. I like almond butter, macadamia butter, pistachio butter, and pecan butter the best, and will often have a couple spoonfuls in the middle of a fast.

Just make sure the nut butter you choose has no added sugar or carbs. You may also want to avoid peanut butter—peanuts are actually legumes, and are thus higher in carbs than many true nuts. 

3. Bone Broth

Bone broth is a good fasting snack as well. It contains a few grams of collagen, which is protein, but is overall quite low in calories and is mostly fat, especially if you make it at home (some commercial brands may have the fat removed). 

I like bone broth because it’s filling and warming. It’s a great way to satisfy your hunger and get a few more hours out of an extended fast. 

Final Thoughts

It turns out you CAN eat during fasting! Having a small, high-fat snack won’t prevent any fasting benefits, and is actually a great strategy to use if you want to extend your fast longer than usual.

Just make sure you choose something high-fat, low-carb, and low-protein, and keep your snack under about 150 calories. Fasting snacks are a great tool to keep in your fasting toolbox for those days when you want to stick to your fasting schedule but are particularly hungry. 

Give this a try and see what you think—and if you want to get even more benefits from fasting, try my 15-Day Metabolic Reset. It’s a free program designed to help you fast better, increase your metabolic flexibility, and become a leaner, more energetic version of yourself.