I used to chew a lot of gum while fasting.
I don’t anymore, because a few months ago I quit artificial sweeteners.
Chewing gum didn’t seem to cause any problems for me while fasting. It didn’t really make it harder, or easier. I just liked the sweet taste.
That’s my experience, but everyone is different. So can you chew gum while fasting?
Here’s the bottom line.
For most people, chewing sugar-free gum while you fast is okay. You’ll still get a ton of health benefits, and if it makes fasting easier for you then it’s worth it.
However, chewing gum can increase hunger or cravings for some people, so if that’s the case for you you should obviously avoid it.
And if you really want to maximize all the health benefits of fasting, try to stick with just water and salt as much as possible.
For the whole story, read on.
What Sweeteners Are in Gum?
The sweeteners in chewing gum fall into three basic categories.
Sugar used to be in all the gum, until other sweeteners started getting more popular a few decades ago.
Now, it’s mainly used in kid’s gum, since adults are a little more health-conscious and tend to choose “sugar-free” gum.
Alternative names for sugar: glucose, sucrose, dextrose, corn syrup
Sugar alcohols are a slightly modified version of sugar, which means they are digested more slowly than sugar, and not completely absorbed into your bloodstream.
As a result, sugar alcohols don’t raise your blood sugar as much as sugar (though they will raise it a little bit).
The incomplete absorption of sugar alcohols can also cause bloating or loose stools for some people, especially at first.
Common sugar alcohols used in gum: sorbitol, mannitol, maltitol, xylitol
(Notice they all end in ‘ol’, like alcohOL.)
Both sugary gum and sugar-free gum usually have some artificial sweeteners added in. They put these in so they don’t have to use as much of the sugar, or sugar alcohols, to make it sweet.
If you read the ingredients, you’ll often see aspartame and acesulfame K at the end of the list. These are both artificial sweeteners.
Does Chewing Gum Break A Fast?
In general, whether gum “breaks” your fast depends on how strict you want to be, which depends on your goals.
It also depends on the type of gum.
Let’s break it down.
Can You Chew Gum While Intermittent Fasting?
Daily “intermittent” fasting means eating all your food within a relatively short window of time each day, like eight or ten hours.
For example, if you have all your meals (and snacks) between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., that would be a 10 hour eating window.
There are many benefits of intermittent fasting, including reduced body fat, lower blood sugar, and lower blood pressure, to name a few.
Will chewing gum interfere with these health benefits?
If you’re eating sugar, that’s basically the opposite of fasting. It raises your blood sugar (and insulin), and puts you into fat storage mode instead of fat burning mode.
So sugary gum is not recommended during any type of fasting.
When it comes to sugar-free gum, there are a few things to consider.
Sugar alcohols (like sorbitol or xylitol) can raise your blood sugar a little bit. But the tiny amount in a stick of gum probably isn’t a big deal.
Artificial sweeteners (like aspartame) are a different story. While they don’t raise blood sugar directly, they can stimulate hunger or cravings, which could ruin your fast.
They also have some other harmful health effects in the long run.
Chewing sugar-free gum while intermittent fasting is ok for most people (unless it increases your hunger or cravings). Just don’t overdo it.
If possible, avoid gum with artificial sweeteners, because they’re not good for your long-term health.
Can You Chew Gum While Extended Fasting?
I’ll call “extended” fasting anything over 24 hours.
This is generally done while drinking water (i.e. “water fasting”), and sometimes with other supplements. But minimal or no food intake.
Will chewing gum interfere with these benefits?
Sugary gum definitely will. As noted previously, eating sugar is the opposite of fasting, so anything with sugar is not recommended during a fast.
In contrast, when it comes to the basic benefits of fasting, sugar-free gum is probably okay.
For example, when I fasted for 10 days in 2018, I chewed a few pieces of sugar-free gum each day. It was a nice distraction, and didn’t seem to affect my blood sugar or ketone levels. I also didn’t notice any cravings.
When it comes to more “longevity”-related benefits of fasting (like stimulating autophagy, for example), no one really knows if gum will interfere.
As long as chewing gum doesn’t make you hungry or crave sweets–and as long as you’re not trying to stimulate autophagy (or anything similar)–chewing gum during a prolonged fast is probably fine.
As noted above, it’s better to use gum that doesn’t have artificial sweeteners (like aspartame and acesulfame k), since they’re not good for your health in the long run.
What Kind of Gum Can You Chew While Fasting?
Try to avoid sugary gum–if you’re eating sugar, I wouldn’t call it fasting.
Most other types of gum are fine, as long as you don’t overdo it.
For example, the sugar alcohols in gum can raise your blood sugar a little bit, but if you only chew a few pieces per day the effect will probably be insignificant.
Ideally, you would avoid gum with artificial sweeteners, because they’re bad for your long-term health.
Probably the best option is gum sweetened by sugar alcohols alone, and only use it in moderation.
Does Xylitol Gum Break a Fast?
Xylitol is one of the sugar alcohols used in gum. It’s also good for your teeth, which you might see advertised a lot.
Xylitol has a couple calories per gram, and will slowly raise your blood sugar (and insulin) if you consume enough of it…but that would take a lot of gum.
For most people, chewing xylitol gum while fasting is just fine, and does not “break” a fast–as long as you don’t overdo it.
It may even be the best option to use while fasting.
However, if you find that xylitol increases your hunger or cravings while fasting, then you should obviously avoid it.
Conclusion – Final Thoughts
Can You Chew Gum While Fasting?
Don’t chew sugary gum while fasting, because then you ain’t fastin’ no more.
Otherwise, here’s the bottom line:
If chewing gum makes fasting easier for you, go ahead. You’ll still get a lot of health benefits from fasting, and it’s worth using the gum if it means you’ll be more likely to get through your fast.
If chewing gum makes fasting harder for you, don’t use it.
For example, the sweeteners in gum can spur hunger and cravings for some people, so if that’s true for you you should definitely avoid it.
If you have a goal that requires very strict fasting (like stimulating autophagy or resetting the immune system, for example), then try to stick with just water and salt (and no gum) as much as possible.
Ideally, see if you can avoid artificial sweeteners (like aspartame) as well, since they’re just not good for you.
As time goes on, your body will adapt and fasting will get easier, with or without gum.
Looking to learn more about fasting? Here are some other posts to check out:
- Does Alcohol Breaks a Fast?
- My Experience Fasting While Working in the ER
- The Best Books About Fasting & Nutrition
Happy fasting! 🙂