Fasting has been a common practice for thousands of years in numerous cultures. In the last decade, the knowledge behind how to break a fast and intermittent fasting has become more well-known and used. Some people practice time-restricted eating. This involves limiting how many hours per day you can eat.
- Bone broth
- Cooked vegetables
- Fermented foods
- Does coffee break a fast?
- What are the benefits of fasting?
For example, 18/6 intermittent fasting would entail fasting for 18 hours per day, typically overnight, then doing all of your eating during a six-hour window in the daylight hours. In this scenario, you might have your first meal of the day at noon, finish your last meal at 6 p.m., and then fast overnight until the following day at noon.
Other people practice alternate-day fasting, which essentially involves a 24-hour water fast followed by a full day of regular eating in a cyclical pattern. Others just do an occasional 24-hour fast when they feel comfortable doing so. As the name implies, this means you won’t eat for a full 24-hour window. Keeping hydrated with water intake is always allowed in any safe fasting program.
When you’re practicing intermittent fasting or engaging in occasional fasting, the focus is typically on getting through the fasting window until it’s time to eat again rather than what you will actually eat when the fast has lifted.
What are the best foods to break a fast? Keep reading to find out.
Bone broth isn’t particularly filling, so it might not be the most satisfying food to break a fast, but it’s often a great place to start. It’s extremely easy to digest and high in some key nutrients your body needs after fasting.
For example, it’s rich in electrolytes like potassium, sodium, magnesium, and calcium. Electrolytes are important minerals for all kinds of vital physiological processes, such as maintaining fluid balance, conducting nerve impulses, and initiating the contraction and relaxation of muscles. They also improve hydration and are required for the digestion and absorption of nutrients like carbohydrates.
After fasting, the main macronutrient the body needs is protein. Although there are storable forms of carbohydrates and fat in the body in muscle and liver glycogen and adipose (fat) tissue, the only protein storage is skeletal muscle. Prolonged fasting can break down muscle tissue because the body constantly needs protein for many basic functions and biochemical processes. When you’re fasting and not taking in any protein, your body has to break down muscle tissue to access the protein it needs to sustain normal life functions.
Many protein-rich foods, particularly animal flesh, are fairly hard to digest because the proteins have complex, three-dimensional structures that require much work to digest and absorb the individual amino acids. Bone broth is great for breaking a fast because the proteins are already partially broken down, reducing the work the body has to do on its own. The protein here is absorbed easily, particularly compared to the protein found in animal flesh; the long cooking process of bone broth partially degrades the protein into a more digestible form.
Additionally, much of the protein in bone broth is collagen. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body and forms a structural component in everything from teeth and skin to muscles, cartilage, and tendons. The body can synthesize collagen by combining the amino acids proline and glycine in a synthesis process that requires vitamin C, zinc, and copper. However, eating foods rich in collagen negates the need for this process, allowing the protein to be readily available for use.
Try to eat natural, organic bone broth; homemade is best. Otherwise, look for pre-packaged organic bone broth without added cream, fat, or excessive salt. You can also simmer it with vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, and dark, leafy green vegetables to add more vitamins and minerals.
As another high-protein food, eggs are one of the best foods to eat after fasting. Eggs are a complete source of protein, which means that they contain all nine essential amino acids. They also contain several important vitamins and minerals.
According to the USDA’s FoodData Central, one large, whole, hard-boiled chicken egg contains 78 calories, 6.3 grams of protein, 5.34 grams of fat, negligible carbohydrates and sugar, and small amounts of sodium, calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, iron, and selenium.
Eggs also contain a decent amount of vitamin A, vitamin D, folate, and the antioxidants choline, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which support eye health. Antioxidants can reduce inflammation, so breaking a fast with eggs may help augment the potential anti-inflammatory benefits of fasting.
Fruits are high in water, so they can be rehydrating after a fast. Even though you should be drinking throughout your entire fast, most people end up being a little bit dehydrated after fasting because it can be hard to keep up with your fluid needs through drinking alone.
Additionally, fruits contain vitamins and minerals. The carbs in them are easy to digest, yet the fiber slows the digestion somewhat so that your system isn’t suddenly inundated with huge amounts of sugar.
Eating processed foods or foods high in simple carbohydrates, particularly if you consume too much too quickly after prolonged fasting, can lead to refeeding syndrome, which is when fluid imbalances occur following a period of fasting. The water and fiber content of fruit helps release a slow, steadier stream of glucose into the bloodstream to help limit the chance of refeeding syndrome.
The best fruits to eat after a fast are low-sugar fruits such as berries, melons, and grapefruit. These fruits are high in vitamin C and water.
Compared with most other animal proteins, fish is fairly easy to digest, making it one of the best foods to eat after fasting. Fish is packed with protein and other nutrients, such as potassium, vitamin D, and healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
Although raw, fibrous vegetables can cause digestive distress after fasting because they contain a lot of fiber, cooked veggies —particularly stewed or sautéed greens — can be among the best foods to eat after fasting.
The cooking process breaks down some cellulose, making the veggies much easier to digest without destroying the essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Yogurt, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, tempeh, and pickled vegetables undergo fermentation. During fermentation, the natural bacteria in the food break down the sugars and produces lactic acid. This is why fermented foods have a tangy or sour flavor to them.
Fermented foods are a natural source of probiotics, which are the healthy bacteria in your gut microbiome that help digest food and decrease gut and systemic inflammation. When you eat fermented foods, you help fortify your gut microbiome. This can help improve your digestion.
Because the digestive system can be a little sluggish or may struggle after fasting, fermented foods are among the best foods to eat after fasting to get things moving again. They can also help make everything else you eat more easily digestible.
Although foods high in fat and fiber are inherently difficult to digest and can therefore be some of the worst foods to eat after fasting, avocado is an exception. Avocado is high in monounsaturated fats, dietary fiber, potassium, magnesium, and copper, and vitamins B, C, E, and K. All these are essential nutrients after fasting.
Additionally, avocados can be very satiating. This may help prevent overeating after a fast; people tend to eat too much too quickly after fasting, particularly if they consume processed foods and high-glycemic carbohydrates such as white bread, pasta, bagels, breakfast cereals, cookies, pastries, and jelly.
As a general rule of thumb, the best foods to eat to break a fast are the same ones in any healthy diet. Focus on natural, unprocessed foods. Eat slowly, chew your food, and let your digestive system guide you towards what foods feel satiating but tolerable. After all, there’s no point pushing through a tough fast and then undoing all your hard work by going hog wild with an enormous, highly processed, calorie-laden meal.
Many wonder how many calories break a fast and whether coffee breaks a fast. Although fasting technically involves abstaining from caloric intake, most people consider black coffee to be fine to drink without breaking a fast.
One cup (240 ml) of black coffee only contains about three calories and trace amounts of protein, fat, and minerals. Therefore, drinking one or two cups of black coffee while fasting won’t really induce any metabolic changes or take you out of a fasting state. However, adding caloric sweeteners or cream, MCT oil, milk, or grass-fed butter to your coffee will break your fast because these add-ins contain an appreciable number of calories.
There is no scientific research or consensus among the medical community about how many calories break a fast, but if you’re trying to be strict in your fasting, aim to consume virtually no calories aside from a trace number in black coffee and herbal tea.
Some intermittent fasting gurus say that you can consume up to 50 calories and still keep your body in the fasting state, although there is no readily available scientific evidence to either confirm or disprove this idea.
While fasting may not be for everyone, it can potentially deliver some great benefits if you are consistent! Check out the following perks of fasting:
- Weight loss
- Reduction in inflammation
- Improved blood sugar control
- Better athletic performance
- Normalizes insulin sensitivity
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Fruits are among the best foods to break a fast because fruit is high in water and carbohydrates to restore blood sugar. Most fruits also contain some fiber, vitamins, and minerals.What is the best thing to eat or drink after fasting? ›
Fruits are among the best foods to break a fast because fruit is high in water and carbohydrates to restore blood sugar. Most fruits also contain some fiber, vitamins, and minerals.How do I replenish my body after fasting? ›
Including protein in your first meal after a fast can help you feel fuller for longer, preventing excessive overeating or snacking later on. During a fast, your body may break down muscle protein to use as an energy source. Consuming protein after fasting can help replenish and repair muscle tissue.What is easy on the stomach after fasting? ›
Start with bone broth, a protein shake, a small amount of chicken or a tiny bit of rice to warm up your digestive tract. Then an hour or two later, you can tackle a regular meal. So, there you have it! Your guide to breaking your fast without triggering digestive distress.What is the best food to eat after a 16 hour fast? ›
Go For Foods With A Lower Glycemic Index
So when breaking the intermittent fast, I recommend consuming smoothies with greens, avocado and/or nut butter, protein powder and low fruit content; or an omelet cooked in a healthy fat with low-starch vegetables and eggs; or a salad with protein and nuts and seeds.
Raw vegetables, beef, and occasionally eggs and nuts can be difficult for some people immediately post-fast, says Fung. And anything fried or greasy should also be avoided until you get your digestion revving with gentler foods.What not to do after fasting? ›
Eating too big of a meal after fasting
Eating a big meal immediately after a long fast will cause your blood glucose and insulin levels to spike. “It's better to introduce food that is easy to digest and with a low glycemic index in a reasonable amount,” says Holm.
Fruits are proven to be the best fasting food. Fruits have fibre, vitamins, minerals, and a lot of water which prevents dehydration and provides essential nutrients as well. Fruits like bananas are rich in carbohydrates and protein which helps the body to gain instant energy.How do you get electrolytes after fasting? ›
You can break your fast with bone broth – ideally homemade – to supplement your intake of essential minerals, vitamins, and electrolytes. Bone broth has been used for many centuries to improve health or even cure colds, so adding it to your regular diet may help you boost nutrition.How do you reintroduce food after a fast? ›
Eat soups and smoothies for the first 48 hours after a fast. Focus on vegetables and healthy fats and avoid all processed foods during the grace period.
For example, not eating won't cause your stomach to shrink over time. And eating small amounts of food won't “shrink your stomach” either.Does fasting flatten your stomach? ›
Intermittent fasting generally causes you to eat fewer calories with little effort by restricting your eating window. It's effective at reducing belly fat and may be easier to stick to than other diet plans.Why is my stomach getting bigger after fasting? ›
It was found that when in a fasted state, the belly fat adapted to protect its energy stores. During fasting, the fat tissues provide energy to the rest of the body by realising fatty acid molecules. However, the belly fat became resistant to this release of fatty acids during fasting.What not to eat after a 16 hour fast? ›
You should stay away from foods that are calorie-dense and contain high amounts of sugar, fat and salt. “They won't fill you up after a fast, and can even make you hungrier,” Maciel says.Are eggs good for breaking a fast? ›
Eggs are a great way how to break a fast.
It can be a great way to start with eggs because they can make you feel full quickly. They are natures SUPERFOOD, with am amazing amino profile and fats to help fuel your brain. Eggs are easy to cook; you can go for a boiled egg, scrambled egg, or an omelet.
The first foods that you consume upon breaking a fast are critical to nourish the body, and should not expend much energy to digest. Fruit juices and fruits contain water content and are easily digested. Try watermelons, grapes and apples! Minimise citrus fruits as they may be too acidic for your stomach.When should I eat after fasting? ›
Afterward, it's important to gradually reintroduce food. That way, you avoid overstimulating your gut, which may lead to bloating, nausea, and diarrhea ( 5 ). Your first meal post-fast should be a light snack, such as a handful or two of almonds. This would be followed by a small meal one or two hours later.How do you drink water after fasting? ›
It is okay to drink water to break the fast but not cold water immediately after the fast. Generally, warm water is the best for digestion and for getting rid of toxins in the body.