Among the many concerns of beginners, intermittent fasting and chewing gum is a topic seen countless times in forums and throughout the fasting community. A lot of beginners wonder if chewing gums are acceptable during the fasting period. After all, nobody likes the smell of bad breath brought by an empty stomach despite regular use of mouth washes. And to make things easier to bear, chewing gums can also help ease hunger pangs during the first few weeks of adjustment.
But the question remains, are these allowed during intermittent fasting? Or will it break the rules and eventually break the fast?
In order to answer that it’s important to understand the purpose of intermittent fasting in the first place.
Intermittent Fasting And Chewing Gum: Is It Allowed Or Not?
As you read in our article “the benefits of fasting”, you can see this approach is done to achieve 2 main things:
- Lose weight by enhancing fat burning effects through increase cortisol levels and decrease insulin (the most common reason why people do IF)
- Stay healthy by decreasing inflammation and take a break from food digestion
Now that we know the purpose, let’s look at the effects of (sugar free) chewing gums on the body which are sweetened using either xylitol, sorbitol, or other similar sugar alcohols.
Effects on insulin:
The glycemic index of most sugar alcohols is pretty low. Compared to sucrose (table sugar) with a GI of 60, xylitol and sorbitol have a GI of 9 to 13. This means that insulin release is minimal, thus having only a tiny impact on the mechanism of fat burning during the fasting period.
Effects on general health:
Xylitol has been known to provide benefits to human health, such as dental caries prevention, ear infection, and food for gut bacteria. Research in rats has also proved its antioxidant properties.
Since calorie count is the number one factor for weight loss, it’s important to keep in mind that the calorie content of xylitol too.
Compared to sucrose, xylitol contains 40% less calories, with sucrose standing at roughly 4 cal/gram while xylitol and sorbitol at approximately 2.5 cal/gram.
So going back to our original question, is chewing gum allowed during intermittent fasting?
Yes it is, for 3 good reasons: it doesn’t have a big impact on insulin release, it’s healthy, and contains fewer calories than conventional sugar.
So if you’re primarily practicing IF for weight loss and healthy, 2-3 pieces of sugar-free chewing gum is a good alternative to keep off hunger pangs without breaking the rules.