Does heavy cream break a fast? — Explained by SIMPLE
Some say you can have anything that doesn’t break ketosis (i.e., foods with no carbs or sugar), and some (like us) say anything with a significant amount of calories breaks a fast. Your decadent morning cup of coffee with heavy cream just came to the forefront of your mind –– wait, does heavy cream break a fast?!
Before we answer all your heavy whipping cream and intermittent fasting questions, let’s make sure you’re in the best place for you. If you fit into any of these categories, we recommend you skip trying intermittent fasting:
- Are you pregnant, breastfeeding, or trying to conceive?
- Do you live with type 1 diabetes?
- Are you on prescription medications?
- Are you under the age of 18 or 80 years or older?
- Are you extremely active?
- Do you have a body mass index (BMI) < 18.5?
- Do you have an eating disorder or a history of one (or are at risk of developing one)?
If you answered yes to any of those, we recommend you check in with your doctor for a different type of strategy to reach your wellness goals. If you don’t fit any of those, we still recommend you check in with your doctor, then take our SIMPLE quiz for a personalized plan and resources to help you get started.
Ok, now that we’ve pointed you in the safest direction, let’s start with the basics to answer your question, “Does heavy cream in coffee break a fast?”
What is heavy cream?
Heavy cream (also known as heavy whipping cream) is a milk product with a high content of milk fat. When milk is in its natural (just milked) state, the fat will separate from the rest of the milk by rising to the top. In lighter milk products, the fat is skimmed off before homogenization (the process of blending the milk with the milk fat). In heavy cream, the full fat is kept.
Heavy cream includes at least 36% milk fat and roughly contains 50 calories and 5.5 g of fat per tablespoon. It also includes a small amount of carbohydrates, protein (~0.4 g per tablespoon), vitamins, and minerals.
Will heavy cream break a fast?
“What breaks a fast?” is a common question around here. Intermittent fasting can trigger ketosis (aka when the body uses fat burning for energy instead of carbohydrates), and people often pair intermittent fasting with a keto diet because some feel that as long as you maintain ketosis, you’re still fasted. In other words, if a food doesn’t increase your blood glucose or trigger an insulin response, it hasn’t broken your fast. Eh –– we feel a little differently. At SIMPLE, anything over 10 calories breaks your fast. At ~50 calories per tablespoon, heavy cream will break your fast.
Health benefits and possible drawbacks of using heavy cream while intermittent fasting
- Nutrients — Heavy cream has fat-soluble vitamins like A and D and small amounts of E and K. It also contains minerals like phosphorus, calcium, and potassium.
- Satiety — You no longer need to ask, “Will heavy cream in my coffee break my fast in the morning?” But did you know the fat content can help you feel full faster and for longer, supporting the relationship between intermittent fasting and insulin resistance and, ultimately, weight loss? Well, now you do!
- Low carb — Although heavy cream will break intermittent fasting, it can help you stay in a fat-burning state for a little longer and support intermittent fasting’s effect on blood sugar control.
- Low calorie-to-nutrient ratio — Because of the high saturated fat content, using enough heavy cream for the vitamins and minerals to be significant is not recommended.
- Saturated fat — Although heavy cream does contain some healthy fats, it’s high in saturated fats, which have been shown to be associated with an increased risk of heart disease.
Tips on using heavy cream during a fast
- Use it during your eating window.
- Add it to increase palatability and satiety in nutrient-rich foods, like topping your fruit with some whipped cream or adding a little cream to tomato soup.
- Keep portions small and infrequent, and if you have or are at risk of having cardiovascular disease, it may be best to opt for low-fat dairy products instead.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central [Internet]. January, 2019 [cited 2024 Feb 13].
- Kim Y, Je Y, Giovannucci EL. Association between dietary fat intake and mortality from all-causes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer: A systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Clin Nutr. 2021 Mar;40(3):1060–70.