Breaking a fast properly is critical for maintaining energy levels, controlling appetite, and supporting metabolic health. The refeeding stage requires careful consideration regarding timing, portions, and food choices. When it comes to the best foods to break a fast, there are a few key factors to keep in mind.
Gradually Increase Calorie Intake
After prolonged periods without food, it’s important to ease back into eating to avoid digestive issues or sudden spikes in blood sugar. Start with smaller portions of gentler foods and slowly increase calories over a period of a few hours. Going from zero to a large meal can shock the digestive system.
Focus on Whole, Nutrient-Dense Foods
Choose foods that provide nutrients like protein, healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Processed and refined foods lack nutritional value and can cause a rapid rise in blood sugar. Whole foods help replenish important nutrients.
Include Lean Protein
Protein helps stabilize blood sugar levels and provides a steady supply of amino acids needed for muscle repair and enzyme production. Good post-fast protein sources include eggs, yogurt, nut butters, beans, fish, poultry, and lean meats.
Add Healthy Fats
Fats help control hunger signals and support the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. Avocados, nuts, seeds, coconut, olive oil, and fatty fish like salmon contain beneficial fats. Limit saturated fats found in fatty meats, butter, and cheese.
Incorporate High-Fiber Foods
Soluble fiber slows digestion, prevents blood sugar spikes, and improves gut health. Oatmeal, beans, lentils, chia seeds, berries, and non-starchy vegetables are great fiber choices when breaking a fast.
Ideal Foods and Meals for Breaking a Fast
Here are some of the top foods and simple meals to break your fast safely and effectively:
Warm bone broth makes an excellent first food to break your fast due to its liquid form, mild flavor, and low protein and fat content. Bone broth delivers electrolytes, collagen, amino acids, and nutrients. Sip bone broth slowly when ready to start eating.
Fresh vegetable juices provide fluid, electrolytes, and antioxidants from produce like carrots, celery, spinach, kale, and tomatoes. Dilute green juices with water or consume small amounts at first when breaking a fast.
Fruits like watermelon, grapes, oranges, applesauce, and berries contain natural sugars and fiber. Start with peeled, seeded, cooked, or blended fruits before reintroducing raw fruits.
The creamy texture and healthy fats in avocado make it ideal for breaking a fast. Try smashed avocado on sprouted toast or blended into a smoothie. Avocado provides potassium and vitamins.
Scrambled, poached, or soft boiled eggs supply protein to help replenish muscle. Eggs also contain healthy fats and micronutrients. Those with egg allergies can opt for a vegetarian protein source instead.
Yogurt and Cottage Cheese
Plain, unsweetened dairy products like yogurt and cottage cheese offer protein, probiotics, calcium, and vitamin D. Top yogurt with fresh fruit and start with small portions after a fast.
Nuts and Nut Butters
A small handful of raw nuts or a smear of natural nut butter provides protein, healthy fats, and fiber. Soak nuts first or choose smooth nut butters to aid digestion.
Oatmeal contains soluble fiber to regulate digestion and slow the release of carbohydrates into the bloodstream. Cook oats with water or milk and top with fruit, nuts, or a drizzle of honey.
Soups and Stews
Warm, hydrating soups and stews that are rich in vegetables, beans, and lean proteins make stellar first meals after fasting. Go for low-sodium vegetable broth or tomato-based soups.
Start with lighter salads based on leafy greens, cucumbers, tomatoes, and sprouts. Top with avocado, nuts, seeds, and a lemon vinaigrette. Gradually introduce heavier vegetables and proteins.
|Bone broth||1 cup|
|Vegetable juice||4-8 oz|
|Fruit||1 small or 1/2 cup|
|Avocado||1/4 to 1/2 avocado|
|Cottage cheese||1/4 cup|
|Nuts/nut butter||1 oz / 1 Tbsp|
|Oatmeal||1/2 cup dry oats|
|Salad||2 cups greens + toppings|
Sample Meal Plan to Break a 16-Hour Fast
Upon Waking: 12 oz warm lemon water
Breakfast (Hour 17):
– 1/2 grapefruit
– 1 cup bone broth
Snack (Hour 18):
– 1 hardboiled egg
– 1 oz nuts
Lunch (Hour 19):
– Turkey & veggie soup (1 cup)
– Mixed greens salad w/ 1 Tbsp dressing
Snack (Hour 20):
– 1/2 cup cottage cheese
– Cucumber slices
Dinner (Hour 21):
– 4 oz salmon
– 1/2 cup quinoa
– 1 cup roasted vegetables
Foods to Avoid When Breaking a Fast
While most foods can be worked into a well-planned break fast schedule, here are some items to moderate or avoid completely after extended fasting periods:
Foods made with white flour, added sugars, and refined grains like bread, pasta, rice, baked goods, soda, juice, candy, chips, and cereals can cause spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels. These items lack nutrients and can irritate the digestive tract.
High-Fat Meat and Cheese
Fatty cuts of meat, bacon, salami, sausage, fried foods, and full-fat cheese are heavy and difficult to digest after fasting. These foods can trigger indigestion, stomach pain, and diarrhea.
Caffeine and Alcohol
Caffeinated coffee, tea, soda, and energy drinks can disrupt hydration status and cause jitters or anxiety after a fast. Alcohol acts as a diuretic, causing further dehydration. Both substances can irritate the gut lining.
Consuming large portions immediately after fasting can expand the stomach, deliver more calories than needed, and result in discomfort. Gradually work back up to normal portions.
Raw Vegetables and Fruit
While nutritious, raw fruits and vegetables contain insoluble fiber that requires more digestion compared to cooked varieties. Save raw produce for later in the refeeding schedule.
Heavily spiced or chili-laden foods can irritate the GI tract after a fast. Build back up to spicy foods slowly over a few days. The same applies to very salty foods which can cause bloating.
|Foods to Avoid|
|Very spicy food|
|Very salty food|
Supplements and Alternatives
In some cases, supplements may help ease the transition out of fasting or provide nutrition when slowly reintroducing foods.
Fasting can deplete essential electrolytes like sodium, potassium, and magnesium. These minerals control hydration, nerve impulses, energy production, and other functions. Electrolyte supplements or mineral-rich fluids can restore levels.
Over-the-counter digestive enzymes containing amylase, protease, and lipase help break down carbs, protein, and fat during digestion. Enzyme supplements may improve initial food tolerance.
Replenishing gut microflora with probiotic supplements supports healthy digestion and immunity. Target broad spectrum probiotic blends to diversify strains. Fermented foods offer probiotics too.
Liquid Meals and Shakes
When transitioning slowly, meal replacement shakes and liquid nutrition supplements provide protein, carbs, essential fats, vitamins, and minerals without solid food. Examples include bone broth protein and organic vegetable and fruit juices.
|Electrolytes||Coconut water, miso soup, sports drinks|
|Digestive enzymes||Fermented foods, apple cider vinegar|
|Probiotics||Kefir, kimchi, yogurt, fermented vegetables|
|Shakes/liquids||Fresh vegetable juice, bone broth, smoothies|
Tips for Breaking a Fast
Follow these tips to help make the transition smoother:
Hydrate Well Before and After
Drink increased fluids like water, herbal tea, and broth leading up to fasting and during refeeding. Proper hydration supports digestion and energy.
Take It Slow
Rushing the process usually backfires. Go at a comfortable pace over 6-24 hours based on length of the fast. Light snacks work better than large meals at first.
Chewing starts the digestive cascade. Over-chew foods to maximize the early phases of digestion and reduce strain on the stomach.
Avoid Strenuous Exercise
Give digestion priority by avoiding exhaustive or high-intensity workouts immediately after fasting. Light movement aids the transition.
Stay Near a Bathroom
The first bowel movements after fasting may come on suddenly. Stay near a restroom until the digestive system re-adjusts. Bloating and gas are common too.
Get Plenty of Rest
Honor feelings of fatigue, rest often, and go to bed early. Fasting and refeeding take major energy, so ample restorative rest enhances recovery.
|Tips for Breaking a Fast|
|Hydrate well before and after|
|Transition slowly over 6-24 hrs|
|Chew food thoroughly|
|Avoid intensive exercise|
|Stay near a bathroom|
|Get plenty of rest|
Breaking your fast properly is vital to maintaining energy, providing nutrition, stabilizing blood sugar, and supporting gut and metabolic health. Start slowly with hydration and mild foods, progressing gradually back to your normal diet over several hours or days. Pay attention to your body’s signals when easing out of a fast. With a thoughtful approach, you can transition successfully and continue benefiting from your fasting regimen.