As a savvy intermittent faster, you’re always on the lookout for new ways to help yourself handle hunger. The other day, you spotted a Juicy Fruit advertisement, and a lightbulb went off in your head. Could chewing gum be an option?!?
So now you’re wondering: can you chew gum while intermittent fasting?
Does gum spike insulin — and even if so, does that matter? What about artificial sweeteners? Will chewing even sugar-free gum break a fast?
Let’s unpack all of this. Maybe chewing gum is one of the intermittent fasting mistakes people warn you about. Or perhaps it’s a smart part of your hunger-stemming toolbox. By the time you’ve read this SIMPLE article, you’ll know for sure.
What is intermittent fasting?
First, let’s look at what intermittent fasting is — and why we might choose to do it.
Fasting is a way to structure your daily diet that involves eating during a set time period. Outside of that time window, you don’t eat or drink anything that contains calories. (For a deeper dive into how this all works, check out “What is intermittent fasting?”)
So, you might think that chewing gum is fair game. There can’t be that many calories in gum, right? And sugar-free gum is for sure good to go. After all, it’s calorie-free!
However, it’s a little more complex than that because the answer lies, in part, in your reason for fasting.
Many people fast because it’s a simple way to eat fewer calories overall, and that helps with weight loss. Others have the specific goal of being in ketosis. And for some, the aim is to be truly fasted, perhaps for blood sugar lab work or other medical reasons.
Each of these goals will dictate a different answer to the question, “Can I chew gum while fasting?”
So, will chewing gum break a fast?
Will chewing gum break a fast? Well, like the answer to the question “What breaks a fast?” it depends. There are no “chewing gum while fasting” rules that apply to everyone all the time. So the real question here is:
Does chewing gum break YOUR fast?
To answer that, let’s look at some facts about gum, the human body, and the goals you have for intermittent fasting.
What’s your goal for intermittent fasting?
Goal 1: Eating fewer calories
Many people fast to eat fewer calories overall so they can lose weight. In this case, items with a few calories are no big deal.
Are there any calories in gum?
You might be surprised (we were!) to know that all types of gum have calories.
Chewing gum with sugar has about 11 calories per piece. Sugar-free gum — i.e., with artificial sweeteners — has about five calories per piece.
Because the calories are so low, chewing gum — whether sweetened or sugar-free — likely won’t matter much. If you’re still eating less energy than you burn over the course of a day, you will lose weight.
Goal 2: Being in ketosis
When we fast, around 6–12 hours after we last ate, our body runs out of energy from that meal and needs to shift into using stored body fat for fuel. Through the magic of biochemistry, fat can be converted into ketones, which our body can use to power our brain and other important physiological functions. This is known as ketosis. It’s a natural backup mechanism our bodies have for when food is scarce.
(Check out the Metabolic Status feature in your SIMPLE app to see when your body shifts into “fat-burning mode” during a fast. Not got the app yet? Take our SIMPLE quiz and set up your free account!)
One key feature of ketosis is that insulin — a hormone released from our pancreas when we eat carbohydrates (or, to a lesser degree, protein) — is low.
Some people speculate that having this intermittent but regular period of low insulin levels can benefit our health and help us lose weight more effectively.
At SIMPLE, we consider that consuming anything over single-digit calories — i.e., 10 and up — will break your fast and knock you out of ketosis. That means that if you’re fasting with the specific goal of being in ketosis, chewing sugar-sweetened gum will, indeed, break a fast.
What about sugar-free gum?
As sugar-free gum doesn’t contain sugar, its fasting-friendliness might seem like a no-brainer.
But … (Why is there always a but??)
You may have heard that it’s not just actual sugar that prompts an insulin response but that the sweet taste alone — i.e., from artificial sweeteners, like those found in sugarless gum — might theoretically raise insulin. However, large, high-quality research studies suggest that artificial sweeteners don’t raise your insulin levels, and studies on sugar-free gum specifically show the same findings. (In fact, replacing sugar-containing gum with sugar-free alternatives may possibly support insulin levels, but we need more evidence to confirm this.)[3,4]
Going back to calories, then — as we’ve seen, sugar-free gum does contain five calories a piece, and 10+ calories worth of gum (or anything else) will break your fast. So, if you want to chew sugar-free gum, stick to two pieces per fast.
Bear in mind, too, that all sweeteners — whether artificial like sorbitol or natural like stevia — are ultra-processed foods with no nutritional value. They don’t bring anything positive to your body if consumed in large quantities, so limiting your gum to two pieces per day also makes sense from a health perspective.
Goal 3: Being truly fasted
Here, the goal is to consume zero calories, perhaps to:
- learn about hunger;
- take a break from eating;
- explore the experience of fasting; or
- prep for a medical appointment (such as lab tests) where your doctor has asked you to fast.
If this is your goal, it’s best to avoid gum altogether. The act of chewing, even with sugar-free gum, can stimulate salivation and, in some cases, increase feelings of hunger, making it a less-than-ideal fasting companion.
Health benefits of chewing gum while intermittent fasting
There aren’t any direct health benefits of chewing gum while intermittent fasting, but that’s not to say it doesn’t play a role in supporting your health outcomes. For some people, chewing gum could actually be helpful for fasting.
Hunger and cravings
Chewing gum could help you to get through your fasts more easily because it can stave off hunger and minimize cravings, two of intermittent fasting’s gnarliest side effects. Studies show that it increases feelings of fullness and can help you consume fewer calories during your eating window.
So if your hunger and cravings are raging like a toddler having a tantrum in the candy aisle, and it feels like your fast could come crashing down before it’s even started, a piece of sugar-free gum might help.
While chewing sugar-containing gum will break a fast, chewing (a little) sugar-free gum could make a fast.
Better dental health
When you chew gum — in general, not just when fasting — you produce more saliva, which can protect your teeth and gums from decay. Some sugar-free gums contain xylitol (a sweetener), which is known to fight harmful bacteria that can lead to bad breath and tooth cavities.
Check it out with your dentist and see what they recommend.
More brain power and boosted mood
Chewing gum has been linked to having better concentration and alertness and reducing symptoms of stress and anxiety.[7,8]
Less stress often leads to fewer cravings and less stress-related snacking. If your goal is to eat fewer calories through fasting — or just to eat for hunger and energy rather than emotional reasons — gum could be a good bet!
Alternatives to chewing gum while intermittent fasting
Say you don’t like gum. (All that chewing gives you gas, for a start, and you’re powerless to resist the urge to snap it like a snarky teenager at inopportune moments.) What then?
Are there other ways to help you last through your fast? Good news: of course there are! Let’s check ‘em out.
PS For even more support getting through your fasts — as well as making great food choices, getting more exercise, breaking an emotional eating habit, and so on — take our SIMPLE quiz. Our app is packed with everything you need to reach all your health goals.
Yes, really! If you’re craving a sweet hit, drinking a couple of sugar-free sodas will not break your fast — or harm your health.
Any calorie-free drink
Herbal tea, fruit tea, black coffee, fruit-infused water — you have so many options for adding a bit of flavor to your fast without bringing any calories through the door. Check those options out in our guide: What can you drink while fasting?
Maybe it’s not sweetness or flavor you need, but texture. In that case, bust out the bubbles and get some sparkling water into your day. Fizz can work wonders to break up the monotony of plain old H20.
Drink more water
Controlling your hunger and cravings can come down to one very simple action — staying hydrated. To last through a fast, drink plenty of water (and all those other drinks we’ve mentioned above). It’s also a recipe for great skin and clear thinking.[10,11] Hydration is the bomb, seriously.
Engage your brain
One A1 tip for moving through hunger or cravings is to get distracted. Keep your mind busy. That way, it won’t wander off into the fridge or pantry looking for mischief and snacks. With this, the world is your oyster — try anything and everything you think might help! Some tried and true options are:
- playing a game
- listening to music
- taking a bath
- writing, painting, crafting
- being with friends
Having a range of go-tos here is a great thing, as you never know when and where a craving might hit (and it’s pretty hard to take off for a massage when you’re meant to be writing a report for your boss).
Eat food that nourishes you
What you eat during your eating window has a huge impact on how easy it’ll be to manage your appetite during your fast.
Check out our “What to eat during intermittent fasting” guide for ideas on how to eat to feel full, stay full, and stop potential cravings in their tracks. (Think: plenty of lean protein, lots of fibrous veggies and fruits, whole-grain carbs, and healthy fats.)
Frequently asked questions about chewing gum while intermittent fasting
Gum is unlikely to be the reason why intermittent fasting is not working for you. If you’re not losing weight, the reason is likely to be one of the bigger habits, like what you’re eating, how you’re exercising, whether you’re sleeping well, and so on. Check out our guide above to learn more.
- Dhillon KK, Gupta S. Biochemistry, Ketogenesis. In: StatPearls. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023.
- Freeman AM, Acevedo LA, Pennings N. Insulin Resistance. StatPearls Publishing; 2023.
- Zhang R, Noronha JC, Khan TA, McGlynn N, Back S, Grant SM, et al. The Effect of Non-Nutritive Sweetened Beverages on Postprandial Glycemic and Endocrine Responses: A Systematic Review and Network Meta-Analysis. Nutrients [Internet]. 2023 Feb 20;15(4).
- Xu J, Xiao X, Li Y, Zheng J, Li W, Zhang Q, et al. The effect of gum chewing on blood GLP-1 concentration in fasted, healthy, non-obese men. Endocrine. 2015 Sep;50(1):93–8.
- Miquel-Kergoat S, Azais-Braesco V, Burton-Freeman B, Hetherington MM. Effects of chewing on appetite, food intake and gut hormones: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Physiol Behav. 2015 Nov 1;151:88–96.
- Nasseripour M, Newton JT, Warburton F, Awojobi O, Di Giorgio S, Gallagher JE, et al. A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of the Role of Sugar-Free Chewing Gum on Plaque Quantity in the Oral Cavity. Front Oral Health. 2022 Mar 30;3:845921.
- Miquel S, Haddou MB, Day JEL. A systematic review and meta-analysis of the effects of mastication on sustained attention in healthy adults. Physiol Behav. 2019 Apr 1;202:101–15.
- Luo J, Xia M, Zhang C. The Effects of Chewing Gum on Reducing Anxiety and Stress: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. J Healthc Eng. 2022 Jan 31;2022:8606693.
- McGlynn ND, Khan TA, Wang L, Zhang R, Chiavaroli L, Au-Yeung F, et al. Association of Low- and No-Calorie Sweetened Beverages as a Replacement for Sugar-Sweetened Beverages With Body Weight and Cardiometabolic Risk: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA Netw Open. 2022 Mar 1;5(3):e222092.
- Akdeniz M, Tomova-Simitchieva T, Dobos G, Blume-Peytavi U, Kottner J. Does dietary fluid intake affect skin hydration in healthy humans? A systematic literature review. Skin Res Technol. 2018 Aug;24(3):459–65.
- Masento NA, Golightly M, Field DT, Butler LT, van Reekum CM. Effects of hydration status on cognitive performance and mood. Br J Nutr. 2014 May 28;111(10):1841–52.