Breaking the Fast Before the Feast

If you’re reading this, it’s likely that you’re gearing up for your big feast with a big fast. Whether your fast lasts a few hours or a few days, you’re already being deliberate about your eating choices, and that’s commendable. You’ve taken the first step to extricate yourself from the typical standard American food environment—making a declaration that food serves you, not the other way around.

Now it’s time for some tough choices: how are you going to break your fast? You’re probably fantasizing about your Thanksgiving feast… pie, potatoes, stuffing. Yum. However, you also know you want to be kind to your body, and break your fast with a little tenderness and care. Our recommendation? Choose a day-before-feasting fast-breaker meal that’s gentle on your stomach and kind to your metabolism.

Here are the key things to look out for in fast breaker foods:

Foods to Avoid

Processed, High-Glycemic Carbs

Look for foods that don’t have a lot of junk carbs. As you’re exiting a fast, be kind to your blood sugar, and avoid big blood sugar spikes. Your body can be extra sensitive to carbohydrates immediately following a fast, so a lot of added sugars or processed carbohydrates could send your insulin spiking through the roof.  

Highly processed, high glycemic, nutrient-deficient carbohydrates, such as those found in pastries, crackers, pastas, chips, and candies, provide little benefit to us and more importantly, can trigger events in our bodies that may eventually lead to chronic disease. These types of foods can lead to post-prandial spikes in blood sugar and lipids, which have been shown to elevate markers of disease such as oxidative stress and inflammation, as well as increase your risk for heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.

Lactose

You’ll probably want to avoid high-lactose dairy immediately following a fast. This includes milk, yogurt, and ice cream. Lactose is already difficult for a lot of people to digest, especially with aging, and may be more troublesome following a longer fast.  So, start with dairy free products, or at least low lactose dairy such as butter, hard cheeses, and lactose-free milk.

Cruciferous Vegetables

Health-food staples like broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts may actually make you unnecessarily uncomfortable immediately following a fast. These veggies contain plenty of fiber, plus a trisaccharide called raffinose that humans have difficulty digesting. Our small intestines lack the a-Gal enzyme needed to break it down, so all that vegetable matter ends up in the large intestine where it ferments. This can cause gas and bloating, which might be especially uncomfortable following a fast. Raw cruciferous vegetables will be especially difficult to digest, so consider steaming or sautéing the veggies first, which may be a little easier on your gut.

Now, fermentation of these veggies in the large intestine can ultimately promote a healthy microflora, so once you’ve returned to your normal diet they should be back on the menu. Just make sure to re-introduce slowly to avoid gas and bloating.

Foods to Eat

Protein

We like to poultry or fish following a fast. Having a small portion of protein at your first meal such as salmon or chicken can be a good option because they provide essential amino acids to help rebuild and repair the body. When you fast, growth pathways such as IGF-1 and mTOR are suppressed. Amino acids stimulate both of these, so once you reintroduce amino acids from protein sources post-fast, you then activate this beneficial growth period.

Just be careful not to overdo it! Your stomach will have decreased in size over the course of your fast, so you’ll want to avoid binging. Just make sure you don’t eat so much food that you stretch out your stomach. This can be very uncomfortable.

Vegetables

Aim for less-starchy, non-cruciferous vegetables, and cook them in healthy fats (avocado oil, grass-fed butter, etc). You’re bound to to be in ketosis after a longer fast, so these fats will serve as fuel, and the sautéing will break down the structural elements of the vegetables, making them easier to digest.

Avocado

Although it’s got plenty of fiber, it also has plenty of fat for your fat-adapted body to dig into following your fast. Go easy on the avocado so you don’t overload yourself on fiber, but this is a great way to get healthy fats and keep yourself feeling full and energized.

Bone Broth

Bone broth can be a tasty addition to incorporate on your first day breaking the fast. Bone broth contains numerous vitamins and minerals, as well as amino acids and other components that can help the body and gut function optimally post-fast. Bone broth contains the essential nutrients calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and sodium, as well as gelatin, which has been shown to improve intestinal permeability and provide anti-inflammatory effects.

The Bottom Line

A meal of sautéed vegetables with some chicken or fish, or a non-starchy salad with chicken and avocados are both great ways to ease your body back into eating, especially with a nice warm mug of bone broth.

And there’s one more thing you can do to help your digestive system get back into the food groove: Chew, chew, chew. The act of chewing food activates enzymes in your mouth that begin breaking down your food. So do your GI tract a favor, and get some of the digesting done before that food even enters your stomach.

The longer you fast, the longer you’ll want to take it easy. Experts in the field generally recommend starting at about  500 kcal or 50% of your normal intake and working your way up from there.

The further out you get from your fast, the more you can relax these rules and return to your diet of choice—whether its keto, paleo, low carb, Mediterranean, vegan, low-fat, you name it. Your diet choices are up to you, but however you eat, it’s smart to ease back into post-fast feeding with easier-to-digest foods.

Check out our post on Instagram, and let us know what foods you’ll be breaking your fast with, or comment below!

31 comments on “Breaking the Fast Before the Feast

    • I’ve read no regarding alcohol immediately following a fast, but hopefully an expert will weigh in. I can say for certain I got pretty snockered after drinking following a 60 hour fast. I’m glad I Ubered that night.

    • I broke a fast once with a glass of wine. I felt awful for a full day after. Wine is keto friendly. But alcohol dose cause your cortisol levels to spike. I’d recommend going easy on the alcohol at first. But you can always try a little and see how it effects you.

  • I’m gonna have a salad, bacon and egg, a green veggie, and a glass of wine to celebrate my longest fast to date ~68 hours.
    I feel really good at around 62 hours in. This gives me confidence to go longer.
    👊

    • Today was my longest fast too at 65 hours! I just was going crazy at the end after I tortured myself by smelling cookies. I did have a salad though.

  • I started my 72 hour fast at 7:45 on Sunday and I have been fine up until this morning. I woke up with a terrible headache.

    Does anyone else workout on a long fast like this?

    • My 72 hr fast will be over in a 2 hours. Did fine but woke up this morning feeling light headed and weak in the knees. But after about 1/2 mile walking I felt better but did not push the workout. FWIW I’m 65.

    • You need electrolytes, especially if you’re working out. Google snake juice recipe. I pound that stuff back and fly through 5 day fasts. I would recommend a bowl of broth (1 bullion cube) with potassium chloride post workout. But only one billion cube, I had 3 in an evening once and had to retire to the toilet for a good portion of the night.

    • During my first 72hr fast b4 the feast I did do my daily workout (light swimming, yoga with resistance bands) and felt wonderful.
      After 41 consecutive intermittent fasting days of 20:4, I’ve competed my first 72hr water fast, dropping the 2kg I most wanted and giving my gut, liver & kidneys a much needed break. My fasting glucose dropped from a normal 5.2 to a low 3.6. During the 3 fasting days I had an abundance of energy, caught up with 3 deep sleep nights, felt perfectly healthy. I’m 56yrs young.

  • Nice job everyone that participated!

    I’m still going strong. I did have a kombucha late yesterday afternoon, but otherwise water and caffeine only since Sunday evening. 🙂

    I’m considering having a small salad shortly so I can ease my digestive system back into play before an evening meal tonight.

  • I started my Fast 11:30 Sunday until 11:30 today. I broke the Fast with a spinach salad with no dressing. Will eat grilled chicken and vegetables early evening. Feeling great!

  • There is a significant amount of misinformation above. Anyone who advises others to consume animal products now days will eventually feel as great about themselves as the doctors who advised their patients and the public to smoke cigarettes in the 1950s. With all of the easily accessible and free medical studies (See NutritionFacts.org to get the facts) that aren’t funded by animal product industries showing there is only harm to be had by, and nothing healthy about, consuming animal flesh, liquid flesh (milk that contains morphine and turns into a stronger opiate once processes into cheese) or embryos (eggs), there’s no reason to negate our health and well being for a few moments of mouth pleasure. I understand this fasting app doesn’t want alienate users, but if they are going to post information on nutrition and health, please make sure it’s not based a decade or more old report that was bought and paid for by the animal product industry that’s been recently disproven.

    • Couldn’t disagree more. I’m 69 and have been all meat and no barbs fir over 30 years. The no meat prophets are wrong about it. BTW I lift weighs and run sprints during The week. Blood work is perfect and at 5’9” and 163 I feel and move like I’m in my 20’s. People do not need carbs of any kind to survive. I’m not against vegetarians or those who eat very little animal protein. Happy thanksgiving.

    • If you want your 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, non-alcoholic cirrhosis, or any other of a myriad of medical issues the sad diet as well as a vegetarian diet will cause be my guest. But keep your pseudo science veggie bullshit to yourself. Oh yes by the way, Have a nice day.

    • Thank God somebody pointed that out! Totally agree same thing when doctors in the 50’s advising smoking was good for you. Intermittent fasting on a plant base diet is phenomenal. Thank you for your post.

    • A significant amount of misinformation??
      What a load of codswallop, F.
      Anyone who doesn’t eat animal products ‘now days’ is free to do so, but equating consuming animal products with cigarette smoking sounds quite desperate!
      It is great to observe the improvements in health that come with fasting. NutritionFacts.org’s “plant-based diet facts” are lop-sided.
      Give me Zero’s up to date advice any day ♥︎

    • Yes, thank you for pointing this out as that suggestion seemed surprising to see to me, as well. Breaking a fast with animal protein/fat sounds awful and potentially counter productive. I think Longo has discussed the benefits that can be had during post-fast refeeding as including some protein (and I believe he is generally a fan of fish like salmon), but I prefer to get my amino acids from non-animal sources that don’t come packaged with all the adverse stuff you get consuming animal products (including “grass fed,” antibiotic free, pasture raised, etc. and self-hunted)–especially post fast. Vegan athlete for decades here.

  • I ended a 48 hour fast last night with dinner of sautéed kale, avocado, and a chicken “patty”. It was my longest fast to date and I felt great while fasting. Water only. The moment I broke it I felt exhausted. And my ketone readings are still in the “8” range.
    I’d like to go longer but would love hearing from those who do 48-72 or longer on any concerns.

  • Has anyone else been drinking Coca-Cola-Zero during their fast? I was told it’s fine and helps actually fast longer without te headaches.

    • The aspartame in the Coke Zero is toxic to your good gut bacteria as shown in a couple recent studies. If there is a Stevia alternative, that would likely be a better option, although going without soda is probably even better. 😉

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