Many people go on fasts to enjoy various health benefits, such as weight loss, decreased blood pressure, improved exercise performance, and enhanced brain health. Fasting can also be a way to find spiritual fulfillment.
Whatever your reasons for fasting, getting used to fasting can be a challenge, especially as you try to extend your fasting period. As you fast, you’re learning to be more disciplined and intentional with your diet. Your body is entering a state it’s rarely experienced, so it’s important to be patient and realistic with your body.
Many people focus on getting into a fast without considering what happens next. The same care you apply when entering a fast should be taken when you exit it. Doing so may prevent any discomfort during your eating window. So, be sure to break it the proper and safe way.
Is There A Wrong Way to Break a Fast?
Yes, you can break a fast incorrectly by eating foods that are hard on your digestive system. This is particularly true if you have been fasting for a prolonged period of time (>24 hours).
Even though you might be very hungry after your fasting period ends, jumping right out and gorging on whatever is nearby is a mistake. Eating foods high in carbohydrates, fat, sugar, and fiber could overwhelm your digestive system. This applies to any variation of intermittent fasting – 18:6, 16:8, 14:10, as well as alternate-day fasting.
As you fasted, your body went through a temporary restriction of food and calories. As a result, your body produces fewer digestive enzymes, which are critical in breaking down the food you consume. The longer you fast, the less digestive enzymes you have.
So, when you eat a cheeseburger to break your fast, you may not have enough enzymes to digest those foods quickly. This may lead to diarrhea, as well as gassiness and bloating, which is not how you want to reintroduce your body to the world of food.
The bottom line is when exiting a fast, avoid high-calorie meals and in particular processed, carb-heavy, fatty, and fried foods.
What’s The Best Way to Break A Fast?
The best way to break a fast is to ease out of it. Start slow and gradually work your way back to your regular diet. Eat foods that are easy to digest, like whole foods. This will help replenish your body with essential vitamins, minerals and electrolytes while still being gentle on your digestive system.
Depending on the length of your fast, it may take a few hours before your digestive enzymes return to pre-fast levels. Afterward, you can safely enjoy your favorite foods without discomfort.
Again, more care needs to be taken if you are exiting a longer-term fast, such as a complete fast for one or more days. If you are following a standard regimen of intermittent fasting and each day you allow yourself 6-8 hours of eating, with only a 16-18 hour fasting period, being ultra-selective with food choices for the initial meal of the day is of less concern—as the body will quickly adapt to your approach.
8 Things to Eat and Drink to Break a Fast the Right Way
Whether you’re doing an extended or intermittent fast with an extended fasting period (e.g., 20 hours), the general principle of easing out of a fast remains the same. These foods and drinks provide a perfect starting point for your first meal after breaking your fast.
Bone Broth & Soup
Bone broth and soups are two of the best foods to eat when breaking a fast. They’re easily consumable foods rich in nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes. Both are perfect for fasts of any length, as they can quickly replenish lost electrolytes from fasting.
Fruits like bananas, watermelon and berries are great to eat when breaking your fast. They’re a sufficient source of natural sugars and vitamin C, while being gentle on your digestive tract. Plus, they have a high water content, which can help you stay hydrated.
Raw vegetables provide significant nutrients but can be hard on the stomach. That’s why it’s better to cook or steam them to soften the fiber content for easy digestion while keeping their nutritional value intact. Aim for leafy green and non-starchy veggies like spinach, kale, zucchini, carrots, or broccoli.
Avocadoes are a nutritional powerhouse. They’re rich in healthy fats, folate, vitamins, antioxidants, and potassium. Plus, they’re easy on your digestive system.
Fish are a good animal protein because of their easy digestion. In addition, they’re nutrient-heavy – containing lots of healthy fats, protein, and vitamin D.
You can never go wrong with eggs. They’re a protein monster that can help with muscle growth and repair. They also contain vitamin D, folate, and antioxidants that aid your overall health. Plus, eggs are friendly to your digestive system.
If you’re looking for a drink to break your fast, a freshly blended smoothie is the way to go! They’re a great way to consume fruits and vegetables that are easy on the stomach. You can add protein power to make this a complete macronutrient-balanced meal. Smoothies can sometimes be better than raw fruits and veggies because of the lower fiber content.
Fasting Done Right
Breaking your fast the right way is all about finding natural and easily digestible foods. These foods are gentle on your digestive system and can refill vitamins, minerals, and energy lost from fasting.
It’s always a good idea to be intuitive when fasting so you don’t overdo it or cause undue stress to your body. Listen to your body. If you’re a woman, make sure you are fasting in alignment with your cycle, as fasting can impact women’s hormones differently than men’s hormones.. Finally, remember to stay hydrated as you fast. Drink plenty of water (e.g., 2-3 liters per day for women; 3 or more liters per day for men) and consider adding Tecton ketones to extend your fast while staying focused and energized.