Breaking a Fast: Post Fast Eating Strategies
As you all know, I’m a huge fan of fasting, and all the amazing health benefits. Fasting is one of the best ways to heal the body from the inside out, and part of my Multi-Therapeutic Approach (MTA) to good health. I intermittent fast daily, but I also believe block fasting is something most of us should do at least once per year. However, how does one go about safely breaking a fast?
The majority of healthy people reading this are able to fast. However, I don’t recommend fasting for pregnant women or women that are nursing because there needs to be a certain caloric intake during this critical time in their lives.
We were designed to fast!
From a historical perspective, both intermittent and block fasting were a way of life for our ancestors.
I believe ancient cultures were forced into times of famine because they literally had to hunt for their food. During these fasts, their bodies went through many positive changes:
- They reset their DNA and microbiome
- Developed new stem cells, immune cells, and muscle cells
- The body rid itself of damaged cells via cellular autophagy
The problem for us today is we’re not being forced to fast, like our ancestors were. As a result, we don’t get that precious time to reset our bodies. Breaking a fast has not been a concern, because we just don’t typically fast.
During a fast, our cells down-regulate inflammation, and the receptors on the cells become very sensitive to hormones. That’s a really good thing, because it helps to treat conditions like thyroid activity, diabetes, and others naturally. Fasting helps every hormone in the body function better and more efficiently, which I call hormone optimization.
As a person gets deeper into the block fast, that’s when the magic happens. For example, on day five, you get the highest rise in growth hormone, which is used to protect muscle and good tissue in the body. The only protein or muscle that you would lose during this time is the bad stuff, which enables you to build a better, stronger foundation on a cellular level.
That’s how intelligent the body is.
How long do I fast before breaking a fast?
Five days is a perfect amount of time for people to fast. Some people arguably would do better with longer fasts, but five days should suffice for most people. I always found that clinically, on day four, you make the transition and become an incredibly efficient fat burner. Your brain’s using ketones and you feel better.
It takes three days of fasting to reach this point, so I’d say if you can ride it out one more day to five days, that’s the perfect amount of time. You get the most dramatic rise the fifth day into a fast, and by eating healthy foods on day six, it feeds these stem cells, and you get the most out of them.
These are just a few benefits of fasting. They say knowing is half the battle, so I like to explain why a person should fast, especially block fast. I believe when a person understands the benefits, they will be more inclined to give it a try and stick with it. Now let’s get to the “meat and potatoes” of how to break a fast, what foods to eat, and when!
One of the most common questions we receive is “how do we break the block fast?”
Best Foods to Eat When Breaking a Fast
When breaking a fast, go slowly by eating very soft, easily digestible foods such as berries, soft avocados, and veggies that are steamed or blended. A little coconut oil or olive oil can be good as well, but consume just a little bit at a time.
Remember: it will take the body time to adjust to eating again. Patience is key.
Ease back into eating by consuming very basic foods instead of big, heavy meals. Your digestive enzymes will be sluggish after the fast. It’s also beneficial to wait a few days before adding meat back into your diet. Your digestive system has just rested for a very long time and needs time to adapt back into processing food again.
Here are a few of the top foods to eat when breaking a fast:
How many calories do I consume when breaking a fast?
This is one of the few times you want to pay attention to calories, as you don’t want to consume too much too fast. (Intermittent fasting is a great way to break the fast as well.)
Bonus post-fast eating strategy: Intermittent Fasting
One of the best times to intermittent fast is when you are breaking a fast. With intermittent fasting, you still get some autophagy, which is critical to good health. You don’t get as much as you do with longer fasts, but you still reap many of the benefits.
Contrary to popular belief, fasting does not lower your metabolism. This is due to the growth hormone rise that you get, which in actuality protects your metabolism. On the other hand, cutting calories can cause your body to go into starvation mode, which makes the metabolism slow down and force your body to hang on to every calorie consumed.
In ancient cultures, they ate less by eating less often. Intermittent fasting lengthens the telomeres (remember, telomeres wrap the ends of our chromosomes and protect our DNA making us live longer). Through intermittent fasting, we can really see a dramatic difference in these telomeres.
Intermittent Fasting Tips:
- Eat within a specific window of time
- Skip all the snacks. Remember, the more meals you eat, the more you are stressing your mitochondria and cells. This is what ages us, and could cause an earlier death.
- Advance to skipping breakfast
- Advance to eating (2) meals in an 8 hour window (AKA 16 hour fast)
- Advance to eating (2) meals in a 6 hour window (AKA 18 hour fast)
- Advance to eating (1-2) meals in a 4 hour window (AKA 20 hour fast)
Key Takeaways of Breaking a Fast/Intermittent Fasting:
- Go low and slow when reintroducing foods
- Do not limit calories, but rather restrict eating to a certain window of time
- Don’t eat less, eat less often (INTERMITTENT FASTING)
- Each subsequent fast will get easier as the body becomes more efficient
How do you know which eating window to choose?
A person may be confused as to which method of intermittent fasting is best for them (16, 18, or 20 hour fast). Here is one way to make that decision:
In the morning, measure your glucose and ketones. Before you consume your first meal, measure them again. You should see a slight drop in glucose and rise in ketones. This indicates that you are using fat in that specific window of time.
If that doesn’t happen, push your eating window back. Most autophagy starts in 16 hours, so as you decrease your eating window and do more block fasts, your efficiency will begin to improve. Doing this while following a ketogenic diet is key.
In addition to ketosis, these post fast strategies help to optimize our hormones, and allow the cells to become more hormone sensitive. Fasting gives ketosis the extra leverage it needs, driving up ketones and utilizing autophagy. When breaking a fast, remaining in ketosis will help extend these amazing benefits.
Both intermittent and block fasting are the premier ways to harness our bodies’ innate ability to heal itself naturally. However, breaking a fast and refueling your body is just as important, if not more so. You don’t want to throw all the hard work you’ve done out the window. Remember to go low and slow when breaking a fast, and your body will thank you. Want to learn more about fasting and join an amazing community of people who are on a similar journey? Join my Fasting for a Purpose facebook page!
I answer: is it ok to drink coconut water during the 5 days fast?
Not if you are doing a water ONLY fast.
Coconut water contains sugar so you will break your fast!
Remember to drink water with electorlytes. Salt and potassium are vital and will help avoide headaches body aches, fatigue. You can use a nu-salt or no-salt alternative found in supermarkets in the salt aisle.
In the last paragraph talking about eating windows, the ideal is for glucose reading to drop between rising and the first meal of the day. If not, the article says “push your eating window back”. Does this mean eat earlier in the day or eat later in the day?
Thanks for your clarification
Pushing back your eating window means to eat later in the day than you normally would.
Do you recommend fasting if you are in menopause and taking bioidentical estrogen and progesterone?
It can absolutely be done effectively. I recommend working under the care of a trained practitioner who is an expert in womens’ hormones, though.
when can i start taking MCT oil again ? Day 3?
Day 3, but go slow. Smaller amount than you’re used to.
Whoops.. I can’t have MCT oil? I thought a tablespoon of MCT oil in my black coffee was OK in the AM as I’m finishing my fast around 11? (16 hour fast from 7PM-11AM)
MCT oil at 11, when you break your fast is fine.
if i fast only for 2 days, do i have to follow these rules to break the fast?
It’s recommended to go easy after any fast. 🙂
Wished I’d read this this before lunch. I was just ending 3.75 day fast. I stopped and got me 4 chicken legs and thighs and ate them all (I am doing keto, 1 meal a day). That chicken ripped my stomach up give a bad case of the runs. We live we learn.
Arrena Sanford Esquivel
Lol, me too. I just finished my first fast (80 hours) and I broke it with eggs, bacon and cheese cooked in coconut oil. Boy is it running right through me!!!
I just finished a 4 day fast only water and black coffee. I had 1 cup of home made broth and since I had some chicken gizzards and hearts alreadyy cooked, I put a handful in the broth. It was delicius but now I feel really full. Do you think I should’ve had just the broth? So I know next time. Thanks, I would appreciate your reply.
that might have been too high in protein, but you live and you learn. Just broth with maybe some olive oil drizzled in, or a 1/2 avocado would be perfect.
OMG! Ashley…..you are so smart
Well thanks! 🙂
I am type 2 diabetic managed by diet since my gastric surgery I am on day 3 of water only fast and my blood sugar is only 60 so I am making vegetables and super bummed because I wanted to do a 15 to 20 day fast I’m concerned because of the shakiness and fatigue from the low blood sugar any recommendations out there for type 2 diabetics not on insulin? Much appreciated!
I recommend working 1:1 with a skilled practitioner. HERE.
What can you take to avoid constipation?
Bind is great to take for constipation and it won’t break your fast.
I am reading the comments and here is another great advice from Ashley. I purchase Bind last week, but i am finishing up a supplement taken at night called Adrenal nightly restore. Bind supplement advices not to take other medicines or supplements within a 2 to 3 hour window before the Bind is taken.
What is Bind exactly? Google search nets me 0.
An activated carbon binder that acts as a catcher’s mitt and grabs the toxins in your gut, making sure they’re properly eliminated. https://revelationhealth.com/products/bind-systemic-formulas-ids-system
I see that gelatin is used as one of the ingredients for the binder do you have any vegan friendly binders?
You can open the capsule and just put the binder in water.
hi just wondering, can you break a fast with tinned fish like plain tinned sardines or tinned tuna? i love tuna and sardines so it’s something i crave often and i hope it’s healthy enough to be ok to break a long water fast
Not on day 1… animal protein isn’t ideal on day 1 of breaking your fast. Try for day 3. 🙂
Also watch the source of the fish — can be high in mercury is not properly sourced.
When resuming intermittent fasting after doing a 5 day fast, would drinking lemon water/celery juice/cucumber juice in the morning bring you out of ketosis? I usually have my main meal in the afternoon.
Yes, juice will break your fast and possibly end your ketosis. Best to test.
I am breaking a seven day water (3 cups of coffee during) fast on Tomorrow. I would like to take this opportunity to help rebuild my Gut biome.
a. What are your suggestions?
b. I don’t have any GI issues. (just a little gassy if I have too much dairy or nuts. lol)
I have been on a LCHF Keto diet for 13 months. Down 60lbs!
Restore is the best for your microbiome.
I was having extreme heart palpitations on day 2. So I made a home made electrolyte with honey, salt and lemon. Was this counter productive to my fast?
Yes, you won’t want the honey next time. That will break your fast really quick. Salt is great though!
I’m a 56-year old post-menopausal woman. Started doing IF daily about one month ago. Started on 16/8, daily. Sometimes, I go longer because after dinner, I just don’t feel like eating again. Just concerned because I am reading that women shouldn’t do IF or only go 12-hours. However, most articles say go at least 16 hours for benefit.
I started initially because of high cholesterol and wanted to adjust my insulin levels. Love the 10 lbs I lost but am getting concerned because of negative feedback regarding women,
Everybody is different. Women need to be careful, but if you’re having positive results with 16 hours, then you’re fine. Make sure to have a feast day or two every week. That is key.
Marco Da Costa
5 days!? 3rd day and I feel like I’m about to die ???? nothing but black coffee, Tea and water. Brain is foggy can’t focus at work for longer than 4 hours ????????????
I just came off a 57 hour fast and made bone broth and tofu. Should I have had the tofu? Plus one boiled egg. Yikes!
Soy of any kind is never a good idea. Next time… 🙂
Are you saying Soy is never a good idea when breaking a fast or ever? Thank you.
That is correct. 🙂
I am on day 6 of my fast, feeling great, work fulltime, taking a 1.5 hrs walk every day. How long should I fast if I am feeling good? Thanks, Silvia
Go until you feel ready to break your fast. While we don’t recommend longer than 5 days without discussing with your health practitioner, it sounds like you’re in a deep state of autophagy. As soon as you feel hungry or tired, please break your fast.
I plan to break my 60 hour fast with celery juice, apple cider vinegar and lemon juice in the morning. Then 6 -8 hours later a blended soup from a combination of avocado and celery juice. Any thoughts?
Best to break it with the soup instead of a raw juice.
Is it recommended to break a fast with a banana and amino acid supplement drink? If so, what benefits will I experience?
I’m a 24 year old extremely active runner, 25-50 miles per week. In the last 6 months I’ve worked up to cycling through 16, 18 and 24 hour Interminent Fasts on a weekly basis. Usually 18 hour IF (3-5 days), at most 1 day of 24 hour IF, and the other possible days it’s a 16 hour IF. I tend to do my workout/running near the end of my IF (14-16 hours in), what advice do you have to maintain optimal performance and recovery?
It’s best to break a fast with fat. An avocado would be a better choice than a banana. 🙂
Is it no protein or no meat? I am on day 4 of a 5 day fast and just purchased grass fed bone broth. I was going to do bone broth and avocados for day 1 of my fast break but now I’m questioning if that is ok.
No meat. Bone broth is great though! Avocados too. Perfect break-fast meal.
when can you exercise after breaking a 4 day fast?
Days 4 and 5 are optimal. Raises stem cells right around the time you’re eating food again.
Are sweet potatoes a good food to break a 5 day bone broth fast with?
No, too high carb. Stick to lower glycemic veggies the first day. Fats too.