Our bodies can go through some pretty dramatic changes during a fast. After all, eating is something we all do. It’s something that our bodies have grown accustomed to.
When we decide to stop eating for a while, it’s obvious that our bodies will feel a change of pace.
Ultimately, if you decide to go on a fast, that means you’ll be abstaining from food and drinks for a set period. Most fasts last for 24–72 hours; however, you can opt to fast for as long as you want. Just remember, the longer you choose to do it, the more you need to be careful with your future food choices.
But the question is, do you know how to break a fast?
There are several ways to break a fast; however, not all of them are healthy. Obviously, eating junk food and take-out isn’t the way to go, so in this article, we’re going to focus on how to break a fast the right way.
How to Break a Fast the Right Way
Breaking your fast with liquids is possibly the best solution, as it will help your stomach get used to receiving nutrients. However, there are some solids you can consider as well. Here are some suggestions to get you started.
1. Fruit and Vegetable Smoothies
By this, I mean freshly-made smoothies — not the store-bought kind. You can choose practically any fruits and vegetables you like, but here are some of the best ones:
Kale has a mild flavor that goes well with any fruit or vegetable. Additionally, drinking kale juice can help reduce the risk of heart disease and bad cholesterol.
Carrots are chock-full of vitamin A, potassium, biotin, carotenoids such as beta-carotene, lycopene, alpha-carotene, and lutein, which act as antioxidants in your body. If that’s not enough, they’re also pretty low in calories, and they taste great!
Beets have plenty of potassium, folate, manganese, and nitrates. Beetroot juice can also help improve blood pressure.
Broccoli is an excellent source of micronutrients, including potassium, vitamin A, B6, and C, and it contains a compound called kaempferol that helps decrease inflammation.
Cucumbers contain plenty of water, and they’re low in calories. They’re also loaded with vitamins K and C, potassium, and manganese. By adding a few slices to your smoothie, you’ll stay well-hydrated throughout the day.
Tomatoes contain vitamin C, folate, potassium, and lycopene. They’re a fantastic choice for breaking a fast due to their taste and health benefits.
Bananas give every smoothie a creamy texture, and let’s not forget how delicious they are! But that’s not all; they’re also full of vitamin B6, potassium, magnesium, vitamin C, and manganese.
2. Bone Broth
If you’re looking for a tasty solution, you should consider making some bone broth. Even if you weren’t a big fan of this food before your fast, afterward, I can guarantee that just the smell will make your mouth drool!
Simply put, bone broth contains a ton of electrolytes that you need in order to keep your body functioning smoothly. They play a vital role when it comes to keeping you hydrated, conducting nervous impulses, muscle contraction, and they help regulate your pH levels.
Furthermore, bone broth is an excellent source of calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium ― essential minerals you won’t be receiving during your fast.
In short, bone broth has all the necessary nutrients you need after a fast.
- Bone broth contains anti-inflammatory acids
- It can help improve your quality of sleep due to the fact that it’s rich with glycine
- It’s full of collagen that helps keep your bones, teeth, and nails healthy
- Bone broth is high in protein and low in carbs
If you decide to break your fast with yogurt, your digestive tract will thank you! Yogurt helps repopulate your digestive tract with enzymes and good bacteria that were stripped during your fast. Here’s how that works:
People (that aren’t fasting) tend to graze food throughout the day, so their cells don’t really get much of an opportunity to clean out the toxins and waste your body produces. On the other hand, when you decide to go on a fast, your body has time to get rid of everything, including bacteria.
Unfortunately, it will also get rid of the good bacteria your body actually needs in order to digest food and absorb nutrients.
For that reason, yogurt is an excellent probiotic that helps with digestion, which makes it a perfect food option for breaking a fast.
However, don’t immediately reach out for fruit yogurts since they’re full of sugar. Instead, choose the regular kind.
Everyone knows that you either hate avocados or you’re addicted to them. Luckily, for those of you who love them, avocados are low in calories, and they’re full of omega-6 and omega-3 fat (in other words, healthy fats).
Furthermore, Avocados are full of vitamins (vitamin K, B6, E, C), minerals, antioxidants, copper, folate, and potassium.
You can opt to eat an avocado raw, or you can add it to a smoothie. Either way, it’s a superfood that’s fantastic for breaking a fast.
5. Steamed Vegetables
Steamed vegetables are a great choice if you’re not a fan of smoothies. You can steam broccoli, cauliflower, kale, etc. If you want to add a bit of flavor, add some lemon juice and salt.
If you’re more into cooked vegetables, consider mashing them into the water you boiled them in, and you’ll get porridge/soup.
If you’re a fan of proteins, then fish is an excellent choice. It’s full of healthy fats, and it has plenty of vitamin D. Consider eating salmon since it’s a reliable source of essential amino acids that can help repair your body.
During a fast, your growth pathways (IGF-1 and mTOR) are suppressed. Amino acids serve to stimulate those pathways and activate them.
However, keep in mind that if you choose to go for solid food over liquid, you will need to be especially careful not to overdo it since your stomach will have shrunk.
How to Break a Fast: Foods You Should Avoid
As promised, I’m going to give you a brief overview of some food you should avoid entirely after a fast. Don’t worry; you won’t have to say goodbye to your favorite foods forever — just for a few weeks until your stomach gets used to receiving nutrients.
Highly Processed Food
After fasting, you need to avoid spiking your blood sugar levels. Highly processed foods contain a lot of carbs, and carbs have plenty of added sugars that will send your insulin spiraling.
Here is a list of highly processed food to avoid:
Apart from yogurt, you should avoid dairy for the time being. You’ll especially need to avoid milk and ice cream. Lactose is difficult enough to digest on a normal diet, and it’s even harder after a fast.
A Brief Guide on How to Break a Fast
After reading my suggestions on how to break a fast the right way, I’m guessing you’ve got a general idea of what food you should consider eating. However, this part of the article will help you get into the right mindset before you ultimately decide to start eating again.
How to Break a Fast: The Do’s and Don’ts
If you’ve already tried fasting, then you probably already know about the do’s and don’ts of breaking a fast. However, if you’re new to the whole idea of fasting, then you should know that breaking a fast actually takes way more planning than it does to actually start one.
I mean, during a fast, you don’t have to think about what you can and cannot eat, so there’s no prepping involved. Well, to be fair, you do need to prepare yourself for the inevitable hunger you’re about to feel.
All jokes aside, here’s what you need to know about how to break a fast.
Do Make a Food List
Make a food list a few days before you decide to break your fast. Divide the list into two columns and write do eat and don’t eat on each, respectively. On the do eat side, write down all the food you plan to eat right after your fast. You can use some of the suggestions I made in this article to get you started.
On the don’t eat side, jot down everything you plan to avoid after your fast. You can use the suggestions I made for you as well.
Don’t Fall Into Old Habits
Most of us choose to go on a fast to improve our health, whether it’s to lose weight or to fix some unhealthy habits. For instance, I used to be a big fan of snacking. I would get home from work, open a bag of chips, and snack on them while preparing food for the family. After dinner, my husband and I liked to watch a movie together, so popcorn was inevitable. And let’s not forget about those office snacks I used to keep in my drawer!
One day, I finally decided it was time to break old habits by going on a fast.
I can honestly say I never felt better, but I really had to be extra careful to avoid snacking, as it was always my biggest weakness. I didn’t give up movie nights with my husband, but instead of popcorn, I’d make myself a glass of sugarless lemonade. The good news is, after a few nights, my husband decided to do so as well!
Do Prep Your Meals
If you want to stick to your guns and avoid making any mistakes after fasting, meal prep is key. My advice is to cook weekly meals since you’ll most likely be changing your diet week-by-week.
Shop for all the foods on your do eat list in advance, so you don’t risk running out of essentials last minute.
Once you decide to break your fast, don’t stuff your face. It sounds silly, but some people tend to overeat just because they miss eating.
Limit yourself to 4–6 meals a day, and pay special attention to your portion sizes. By eating smaller portions throughout the day, you will control your appetite easier, which, in turn, will keep you from over-indulging.
Do Thoroughly Chew
I’m not telling you to count how many times you chew, but if you choose to break your fast with solid food (as I mentioned above), you’re going to need to chew your food until it practically melts in your mouth.
It’s going to be difficult to eat your food slowly, especially after starving yourself, but it’s essential that you do so. Otherwise, you’re going to have severe stomach cramps at the least.
Don’t Drink Alcohol
You probably already guessed this, but alcohol is a big no. Here’s why.
Between your stomach and your intestine, there is a valve that opens and closes as you eat, called the pyloric valve. While you’re fasting, that valve is completely open. That means all the food and (in this case) drinks you consume will go directly into your small intestines.
The stomach absorbs nutrients slowly, while the small intestine has a larger surface and can absorb them much faster. With the pyloric valve wide open, instead of going to your stomach, the alcohol will go straight to your small intestine. That means you will get drunk faster. That may seem like it’s not all that bad. However, your body will definitely disagree.
Furthermore, your liver is going to metabolize the alcohol first. That means the food you consume after drinking won’t be processed properly.
If you’re still not convinced that alcohol is a bad choice, consider this: fat-burning effects you’re supposed to get from fasting come from stimulation of your central nervous system. Adrenaline is a part of your nervous system alcohol slows down your adrenaline. In short, your fasting efforts will have been in vain.
Do Drink Apple Cider Vinegar
Drinking apple cider vinegar after a fast comes with many benefits. Namely, it helps lower insulin and blood sugar levels, gets rid of bad bacteria in your gut, and keeps you full after a meal. Simply add two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to your water and drink.
You can also drink apple cider vinegar during your fast. However, keep in mind that it does have a few calories, so if you’re on a strict fast, stick to drinking it afterward.
Don’t Mix Foods
Keep in mind that your stomach has grown accustomed to not eating for some time. That means you need to slowly and carefully re-introduce it to one food group at a time. That means you shouldn’t mix proteins with carbs, but rather choose one or the other. You will need to do so for at least a week.
However, everyone’s body is different, so you may have to persevere for longer, especially if you experience symptoms such as nausea and stomach cramps.
Most people think that the most difficult part of fasting is the fact that you’re not supposed to eat anything. However, that’s not the case.
With all the rules on how to break a fast, including what to eat after fasting and what to avoid entirely, breaking a fast properly probably seems like it’s the most difficult thing in the world. Yes, it’s hard, but it’s far from impossible. And just think of all the benefits!
For example, you can lose a lot of weight, lower your insulin levels, get rid of unhealthy habits, etc. Some studies have even shown that it can improve our brain function.
All it takes is willpower and planning. On that note, if you follow my tips on how to break a fast the right way, you’ll ease into regular eating without a hitch, and you’ll be able to stick to your new and improved lifestyle.