Heard of intermittent fasting? It’s one of the latest dietary trends that has some good research to support it. There are some great benefits to intermittent fasting including balancing of blood sugars (1), decrease cardiovascular risk (2), and improved brain health (3)… and it can be an easier way to reap these benefits, than a more restricted diet such as ketogenic diet or calorie counting. Turning your favorite teas into a Fat Bomb, can be a great way to support intermittent fasting.
The goal with intermittent fasting is to extend your nightly fast. As you sleep your body uses up glucose stores in your body, and by the time you wake up your body is starting to metabolize fat stores. Your body will use the fat on your body, and convert it to ketones, which are an alternative fuel source for your cells. The goal is to keep using energy from your own fat cells, which is one of the reasons this approach is so great for weight loss. By waking up, and continuing to fast (not eat), you encourage the continual burning of stored fat into ketones as a source of energy for your body. As it happens, your brain cells really like ketones too, so even if you aren’t trying to lose weight, intermittent fasting will do a great job of fueling your brain, and it’s a great way to support neurological health.
One of the favorite drinks amongst intermittent fasters is Bulletproof coffee. This drink was popularized by Dave Asprey, who has created the Bulletproof brand. Many people refer to the blend of ingredients in this coffee as Bulletproof coffee, even if they aren’t using the Bulletproof brand. The formula is pretty simple. Good quality brewed coffee + MCT (medium chain triglyceride) oil + grass-fed butter. You put your hot coffee into a blender with the oil and butter, and blend on high speed to emulsify the ingredients into a creamy beverage. This beverage is consumed in the morning as breakfast. The MCT oil rapidly converts to ketones in the liver, which supports the body’s continuation of using ketones to fuel your cells. Typically people will try to fast for 14-16 hours (or longer), and not eat a meal until mid-morning, noon, or even later. Bulletproof coffee can help sustain your energy until your first meal of the day. Typically intermittent fasting is done in conjunction with a low carb diet such as a Paleo or gut-healthy diet that removes grains and legumes.
But what if you are on a dietary protocol that doesn’t recommend coffee, such as an AIP diet, GAPS diet or other protocol focusing on gut health. While coffee is rich in antioxidants and polyphenols, it can be problematic for many people. For a detailed look at the complexity of coffee’s affects on the body read Sarah Ballantyne’s recent blog article Coffee and Autoimmune Disease. If you don’t know how coffee is impacting your health condition, it is always a good idea to remove it for a period of time.
The good news is that tea can be the perfect replacement, or if you are like me and dislike coffee, then tea can provide a morning beverage to support your intermittent fasting.
Tips Before Starting
You’ll need to make a strong tea. I recommend using 3 times the amount of tea you usually use, otherwise the flavour of the tea will get lost when you add your choice of fat.
If you are new to this type of drink, then make sure you start with a small amount of the fats, and slowly work your way up. If you get diarrhea, or start to experience stomach upset, then you have more fat than your system can handle. Use the amount that works for you. You may find that later you are able to tolerate greater amounts of fat, but you need to listen to what your body can handle now. Remember: start small and slowly build up (trust me on this!)
If you have an allergy or sensitivity to dairy, you may be able to use grass-fed ghee instead of butter, but you know your body best. If you know you react, then don’t use dairy fat.
Initially you may only be able to extend your fasting period for an hour or two, but as you slowly increase your fat intake, and your body gets used to using ketones as a fuel source, you’ll be able to go for longer periods of time without a solid meal.
You cannot add any kind of sugar, including honey to your drink. If you do, then your body will preferentially start using the glucose, and it won’t continue using ketones. If you need a bit of sweetness for your Tea Fat Bomb then try mixing in a bit of monk fruit.
3 Ways to Create Tasty Tea Fat Bombs
1. Follow the same formula as a Bulletproof coffee. Start by adding 1 teaspoon each of MCT oil, and grass-fed butter or ghee to your strong tea and remember to blend at high speed to emulsify those fats into a creamy drink. You can gradually build up the amount of oil and butter to 1 tablespoon each, but doing so too quickly can cause diarrhea, so it’s important to start slowly and gradually build up the amount (I can’t emphasis this point enough!)
2. Blend full-fat coconut milk or coconut oil into your tea. Coconut milk and coconut oil are rich sources of MCTs. Try a spoonful of coconut oil blended into your favorite tea, or try blending in some full-fat coconut milk. If you like the milk, look for a brand that is carrageenan free (I like Natural Value, which is available at health food stores.) As with the previous formula, slowly build up the fat content to avoid diarrhea. 1/3 cup of full-fat coconut milk is roughly the equivalent of 1 Tablespoon of coconut oil. Start small! You can also add the grass-fed butter or ghee to this if you want.
3. If you tolerate dairy, and know you don’t have a food sensitivity toward it (word of caution – many people have a hidden sensitivity), then you can add heavy cream or whipping cream. The nice thing about this option is that it doesn’t require blending, but the fats in dairy also won’t convert to ketones as easily as MCT oil, so you may not get the rapid energy that you need to support your fasting.
Black teas are good choices if you have troubles stopping caffeine consumption. Since black teas are traditionally consumed with milk or cream, this can be a comforting, familiar beverage. Try an Earl Gray, English Breakfast, or other traditional flavour. There is evidence that caffeine supports the production of ketones (4), so you might find black tea works well for you with intermittent fasting.
Chai teas are also excellent choices, and there are a wide variety of these teas. Some include black tea, but there are herbal varieties as well for those trying to avoid caffeine.
Rooibos teas can also be great options depending on the flavours. Try a plain rooibos, or something like a vanilla or Earl Grey rooibos.
If you love herbal teas, there are some great possibilities. One of my favorite tea shops in Calgary is The Naked Leaf. I love the Herbal Chai, and am excited to try creating a Fat Bomb with their new Powerhouse Tea, which has some medicinal mushrooms.
Have you tried turning your favourite hot drink into a Fat Bomb? Try this with your favourite tea, and let me know how it works out for you.
Happy, Healthy Drinking!