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Does Monk Fruit Break a Fast?

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Kasparas Aleknavičius, MD December 8, 2022

Sugar cravings can make an appearance during both fasting and eating periods. What should you do if your sweet tooth strikes when you’re fasting?

There are various sugar alternatives that will not break your fast. One of the latest trends is monk fruit.

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Does Monk Fruit Break a Fast?

No, monk fruit does not break a fast meaning you can consume it during an active fasting period.

Intermittent fasting causes your insulin levels to drop which, in turn, allows your body to burn fat for energy. Since monk fruit is a zero-calorie and zero-to-low-carb sweetener, it has no effect on insulin levels.

This makes monk fruit sweeteners a great option for those who have a sweet tooth.

What Is Monk Fruit Sweetener?

Monk fruit sweetener is a natural sweetener extracted from the monk fruit plant. Monk fruit, also known as swingle fruit or Lo Hun Guo, is a small green fruit native to southern China.

What makes monk fruit so special is its contents. A packet of monk fruit sweetener holds zero calories and contains:

  • Carbohydrates: 0.8g
  • Sugars: 0g
  • Protein: 0g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Fat: 0g

As you can see, monk fruit is a low-carb sweetener that’s 200 times sweeter than sugar meaning that you need to add less of it to achieve the same results. This makes monk fruit a popular choice among individuals who are trying to lose weight or are on a keto diet.

The monk fruit extract itself doesn’t have any carbohydrates, however, most branded monk fruit sweeteners (like the one above) will have additives responsible for that extra carbohydrate content. That’s why you should always check the ingredient list before buying this sweetener.

So, where does the sweet taste of monk fruit come from? Since it doesn’t contain any carbohydrates, monk fruit provides sweetness with the help of antioxidants called mogrosides.

Health Benefits of Monk Fruit

Monk fruit is more than just a sweetener. In fact, substituting sugar with monk fruit will not only help you minimize your sugar intake but will also improve your overall health and help you reach your weight loss goals.

Good for weight loss

Monk fruit is calorie-free and may promote weight loss by reducing your calorie intake.

You can use monk fruit as a sugar substitute to sweeten up various drinks and foods including:

  • Coffee and tea
  • Smoothies
  • Lemonade
  • Yogurt
  • Sauces and salad dressings
  • Frosting
  • Oatmeal and other breakfast meals

When buying this unique sweetener, make sure it doesn’t have added sugars as they will cancel out the benefits of monk fruit.

Another practice you should incorporate into your routine when trying to lose weight is to track your journey. DoFasting is a mobile app that allows you to track your calorie intake by logging your meals. Moreover, it will help you keep track of the impact that monk fruit has on your body by reminding you to regularly update your weight.

Doesn’t increase blood sugar levels

Monk fruit sweetener is safe to consume by people with diabetes. It has a glycemic index (GI) of zero meaning it allows diabetics to satisfy that sweet tooth without affecting blood sugar levels.

It’s important to keep in mind that not all monk fruit sweeteners are made the same. Again, check the ingredients list and make sure that your sweetener of choice doesn’t have added sugar as it might raise your blood sugar levels and spike insulin production.

Opting for an alternative sweetener instead of sugar is not just beneficial to diabetics. For instance, cutting excess sugar out of your diet may improve insulin sensitivity and reduce insulin resistance. It’s a great tool to add to your blood sugar management kit.

Has anti-inflammatory properties

Mogrosides, the antioxidants responsible for the sweetness of monk fruit, can reduce free radical damage, prevent oxidative stress, and, in turn, fight inflammation. It’s important to note that the majority of these studies were done on animals.

Introducing monk fruit into your fasting window may reduce inflammation on a bigger scale as one of the main benefits of intermittent fasting is reduced inflammation.

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Downsides of Monk Fruit That You Should Be Aware of

It’s clear that monk fruit can be an amazing alternative to sugar that also offers some health benefits. Unfortunately, monk fruit is not for everyone as it has some serious downsides.

Isn’t easily accessible

One of the main problems with monk fruit sweetener is that it’s hard to find in supermarkets.

Monk fruit is difficult and costly to grow making it more expensive to import and process into a sweetener. Your best bet is to look for monk fruit sweeteners at online specialty stores. You may also find monk fruit sweetener and even the dried fruit itself at Asian markets, however, it’s never guaranteed.

Can be expensive

As mentioned above, it’s not easy or cheap for companies to obtain monk fruit for processing. It’s not possible to grow monk fruit outside of its region at the moment meaning it must be imported from south China and other regions that grow it. This, in turn, translates into a higher price tag for the consumer.

Has an aftertaste

Just like all sugar alternatives, monk fruit has a distinct sweet taste that’s different from sugar. However, some people claim that monk fruit sweetener doesn’t have such a strong bitter aftertaste that some other sweeteners do.

Keep in mind that you’ve probably used sugar all your life and this new taste is just something you have to get used to.

May cause an allergic reaction

An allergic reaction to monk fruit is rare but possible nonetheless.

Monk fruit is considered to be part of the gourd family. This means that if you have an allergy to these types of fruits or vegetables such as squash and melons, it’s possible that monk fruit may induce an allergic reaction.

Other Natural Sweeteners for Intermittent Fasting

If monk fruit is out of your reach, there are various other sweeteners that might be the perfect fit for you.

Do all sweeteners break a fast? No, however, it’s best to avoid popular artificial sweeteners as they may alter gut bacteria, negatively affect gut health, and impair the entire digestive system.

Stevia

Stevia is a zero-calorie sweetener made from the leaves of a plant called Stevia rebaudiana. A teaspoon of stevia contains one gram of carbohydrates which is 99 times less than sugar. Moreover, stevia is 200-400 times sweeter than sugar meaning you will only need a pinch to achieve the same level of sweetness.

It’s really no wonder why stevia is one of the most popular sugar substitutes. Unlike regular sugar, stevia will not break a fast and will help you cut your calorie intake during eating windows.

Erythritol

Erythritol is a type of sugar alcohol without any calories. Sugar alcohols are carbohydrates derived from sugar. Unlike the name suggests erythritol doesn’t contain sugar or alcohol.

This sweetener mainly consists of carbohydrates, however, their content is extremely low. Consuming erythritol while fasting will not break your fast.

Generally, erythritol won’t raise blood glucose levels, even though it contains carbohydrates.

Xylitol

Xylitol also belongs to the class of sugar alcohols. It’s a sugar alternative that actually resembles the taste of sugar. This is an important aspect considering that most sweeteners have a strange aftertaste.

Xylitol has fewer calories than sugar and, funnily enough, can help you maintain good oral health. Its calorie content is low enough that it doesn’t break a fast.

Yacon syrup

Yacon syrup is a sweet substance made from the yacon plant. Its flavor is reminiscent of caramel making it perfect for satiating sugar cravings.

Keep in mind that a teaspoon of yacon syrup has around 20 calories. This means that you shouldn’t go over one teaspoon of yacon syrup per fasting period as too much yacon syrup can break your fast.

Yacon syrup is generally safe for people with diabetes. Some studies have shown that it can improve insulin resistance.

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Does Monk Fruit Break a Fast: Final Thoughts

You can add monk fruit sweetener to your drink without having to worry about it breaking your fast.

Monk fruit will not break your fast as it does not contain calories or carbohydrates. It won’t raise blood sugar levels and help you avoid an insulin spike. Other benefits offered by monk fruit include antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Its sugar-free content will not interfere with your weight loss journey.

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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