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Does Chewing Gum Break a Fast?

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Kasparas Aleknavičius, MD November 9, 2022

Gum is one of those confectionary items that don’t offer many health benefits. However, chewing it can be handy when you need fresh breath.

Some people like to have gum when bored and need to satisfy the urge to chew. Not everyone realizes that this type of sweet actually contains calories, and eating anything above 10 calories may break your fasting window.

Some brands create sugar-free gum for people looking to lose weight. But, does gum break your fast, and can you find better options that don’t contain calories?

In this article, we explain if chewing gum breaks a fast.

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Does Chewing Gum Break a Fast?

Chewing gum won’t break a fast, but that depends on how much you have. One stick contains 10-12 calories, so keep that in mind when fasting. Most people recommend that you don’t have anything except water and other zero-calorie drinks or foods.

Let’s take a look at the nutritional value of gum per 3 grams:

  • Net Carbs: 2.8g
  • Total Carbs: 2.9g
  • Fats: 0.009g
  • Protein: 0g
  • Calories: 10.8
  • Fiber: 0.072g
  • Sugars: 1.98g
  • Glycemic Index: 1

Consuming over 2 grams of sugar while fasting can to shift your body into “fat storing” mode. This is because sugar spikes the hormone insulin, which shuts off those fat-burning mechanisms and slows down long-term weight loss results.

As you can see, one stick of gum has 1.98 grams of sugar. Chewing just one might not have much effect, but having more throughout the day can easily break your fast. People who want to chew this type of sweet should only have one a day.

Just be aware that gum can actually make you feel hungry. It tricks your body into thinking you’re about to eat, leading to more gastric juices in the stomach. The hungrier you feel during the fasting window, the more likely you’ll have binge eating episodes.

What About Sugar-Free Gum?

Sugar-free gum only contains artificial sweeteners and not real sugar. People looking to lose some body fat usually opt for this chewing gum. However, these non-nutritive sweeteners can still disrupt the fasting period and increase insulin levels.

Below, you’ll find the nutritional value of sugar-free gum per 2 grams:

  • Net Carbs: 1.8g
  • Total Carbs: 1.9g
  • Fats: 0.008g
  • Protein: 0g
  • Calories: 5.36
  • Fiber: 0.048g
  • Sugars: 0g
  • Glycemic Index: 0

So, does sugar-free gum break a fast? This gum is less likely to break your fast, as it contains fewer sugars and net carbs. You can probably chew sugarless gum around 2-3 times a day, but always remember that chewing gum doesn’t curb hunger.

Chewing sugar-free gum while fasting will still have the same effect on your insulin response. The body prepares to eat real food once you start chewing the gum. Non-nutritive sweeteners provide no benefits and can still increase those sugar cravings.

Are the Ingredients in Chewing Gum Safe?

Chewing gum is safe for people who have it once or twice a week. If you chew gum every day, this might cause teeth and digestive problems. Don’t forget that sugar-free sweeteners will still increase insulin levels outside of the eating window.

Here are some potentially unsafe ingredients:

Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)

A piece of gum usually contains butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) – a lab-made chemical that stops microbial growth in the product. This chemical may damage your health in the long term, as it increases the risk of certain kidney, thyroid, liver, and lung diseases.

Titanium dioxide

Gum also has titanium dioxide, a chemical-based powder that whitens these confectionary items. It might promote carcinogenicity in those who suffer from lung problems. However, more human studies need to be done on this particular ingredient.

Aspartame

Aspartame is a type of sweetener that is known to increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. This is because it raises blood glucose levels, leading to long-term problems like heart diseases, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and hormone-related cancers.

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Does Chewing Gum Have Any Side Effects?

Chewing too much gum can trigger short and long-term side effects. This can only happen if you chew gum for a long time or have more than 10 grams in just one day. You should consider the disadvantages of this confectionary product before buying it.

Some of the common side effects include:

  • Laxative effect: The sugar alcohols used in gum often have a laxative effect when consumed in large doses. You might experience severe constipation or diarrhea, so be aware of this if you usually suffer from digestion problems.
  • Bad for your dental and metabolic health: Chewing gum for too long can increase the amount of acid in your mouth, leading to weakened enamel. Gum also slows down your metabolism due to the effects of sweeteners.
  • Jaw problems: Of course, when you’re chewing gum so much, your jaw will begin to ache. The constant movement may even cause temporomandibular joint dysfunction or TMD – painful conditions that affect your jaw’s ability to move.
  • Constant headaches: Yes, gum can cause nasty headaches. This is because you’re continuously using the muscles in your jaw and face. Aspartame may also trigger head pain due to the overstimulation of neurotransmitters.

What Else Breaks a Fast?

Breaking a fast means you eat food again after the fasting period. People stick to the 10-calorie rule while fasting, so anything above that amount will break the fast. You should ideally have a small meal that won’t upset your digestive system.

Here are some foods that break a fast properly:

  • Dried fruits: Apricots, dates, and raisins.
  • Smoothies: Combine whole fruits with water or non-dairy milk.
  • Soups: Gentle soups containing easily digestible carbs, like lentils.
  • Vegetables: Soft and cooked starchy vegetables like potatoes.
  • Healthy fats: Eggs or avocados.

What Are the Alternatives to Chewing Gum While Fasting?

If you don’t want to chew gum while fasting, there are plenty of other options. Just make sure to choose products that don’t contain many calories. Strict intermittent fasting requires low-calorie beverages like herbal teas or plain coffees with no sweeteners.

Let’s take a look at some good alternatives:

Apple cider vinegar gummies

DoFasting has apple cider vinegar gummies that can feed your appetite. They contain key ingredients, like ACV and pantothenic acids, that naturally boost weight loss progress.

You can chew on one of these while fasting, as it can satisfy your urge to chew gum. Apple cider vinegar gummies also have a fruity and enticing taste.

Lemon water

Drinking lemon water is perfectly safe when fasting. Lemon is known to boost your metabolic rate, which encourages better fat loss results. A simple drink like this won’t dampen the insulin response or raise blood sugar levels outside of the eating window.

Teas

Certain teas are great for satisfying your sweet tooth.

A serving of green tea contains many antioxidants that eliminate free radicals in your digestive system. This can help reduce bloating while intermittent fasting. Green tea also benefits those with type 2 diabetes, as it regulates blood sugar throughout the fast.

Ginger tea is another good option to try. The ginger especially reduces inflammation, providing relief for people who have weak intestinal health.

Black coffee

A cup of plain black coffee is great for boosting your metabolism during a fast. It contains almost no calories, making it a perfect alternative. Black coffee is also rich in antioxidants – molecules that reduce your risk of cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

You can add cinnamon to the coffee for flavor. Cinnamon has anti-inflammatory properties that stop free radicals from damaging your cells.

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Conclusion

So, does chewing gum break a fast?

People can chew gum while fasting, but having too much might ruin your progress. Since gum contains around 10 calories, it can slow down the fat-burning rate when eaten in large quantities, so it’s best to have other low-calorie items.

Author

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Kasparas Aleknavičius, MD
  • Head of Medical Affairs at Kilo Health
  • Medical Doctor at Vilnius University, Lithuania
  • Partnering with the EU-funded Young50 and EUPAP projects

Kasparas Aleknavicius is a medical doctor that graduated from Vilnius University, working as head of medical affairs at Kilo Health. After nearly 5 years in the industry, Kasparas focuses on digital health and is looking for innovative ways to help people lead healthy lifestyles through digital health and wellness platforms.

You can find Kasparas on LinkedIn and follow his latest research on Medium.

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