While you fast, your body adapts. No food is coming in, so digestion shuts down.
In other words, your stomach and intestines get a rest. So does your liver.
That’s why it’s important to carefully consider what to eat after fasting — especially if you’re doing an extended fast (24 hours or more).
Today I’ll share 3 key principles about how to break a fast, as well as 7 specific examples of the best foods to break a fast.
Let’s get started.
If you prefer, here’s a video I made about what to eat after fasting. The main difference is I listed 5 foods in the video (instead of 7), but otherwise the info is similar.
3 Rules for How to Break a Fast
First, here are 3 key strategies to consider when breaking your fast.
Whether you’re fasting for 24 hours, 3 days, 7 days, or even longer, these principles can help you prevent some of the potential hazards after a long fast.
1. Start with Low Carb
First of all, if you fast for more than a day or two, your body kind of “forgets” how to metabolize carbohydrates.
In other words, since you haven’t had to digest any carbs during your fast, the “machinery” that does that becomes dormant. After you end your fast, it takes a day or two to ramp that process back up.
That’s why it’s best to start with low carb food when you break your fast. At least for the first meal or two.
2. Start Low, and Go Slow
After a few days of fasting, your stomach will probably shrink a little bit, since there hasn’t been any food coming in to stretch it out. So when you start eating again, it’s easy to get an upset stomach.
This has happened to me more than a time or two. I rarely have the patience to hold off from eating a big meal right after my fast, so I usually end up with a tummy ache.
Hopefully you can be smarter than me. 🙂 The key here is to be patient.
How can you be patient?
Eat something reasonably small, then wait at least a couple hours. See how you’re feeling, and go from there.
Starting slowly is the most important principle to keep in mind when you break a prolonged fast.
3. Don’t Go Crazy with the Junk Food
If you’re fasting, you’re probably hoping to improve your health. Or to burn some body fat, which is also a way to improve your health.
So when you’re done, don’t go out and binge on a bunch of junk food.
Personally I don’t have a hard time with this principle. After a long fast, I’m usually in the mood to eat healthy food. My main issue is wanting to eat too much food (see above).
But I know some people like to “reward” themselves by going out and eating a bunch of pizza, sweets, or some other kind of junk food. If you’re going to do something like that, at least give it a little time. Ideally, wait until the next day.
As I explained above, your body isn’t ready to handle all the sugar and carbs. Perhaps even more importantly, you don’t want to undo the health benefits you’ve been working towards during your fast.
There are times to indulge, but the very first meal after an extended fast isn’t one of them.
Instead, eat a small amount of something low in carbs, wait a while, and take it from there.
The 7 Best Foods to Eat After Your Fast
In reality, you can pick basically anything that’s fairly low in carbohydrates, and probably be fine as long as you take it slow.
But here are some specific foods I like to use after a long fast.
(For more options, check out my list of 47 Simple & Easy Keto Food Options.)
One option I like is a handful of olives.
For example, sometimes after fasting for 7 days or 10 days I’ve used a few olives with a slice of cheese as my “mini meal”, and it worked really well.
Olives are low in carbs, they contain healthy fats, and they’re not the type of thing that most people would binge on. They also have a little extra sodium, which is a plus.
Try eating a handful of olives, wait a couple hours, and then see how it goes.
Nuts can also be a reasonable option when breaking your fast.
Almonds are high in healthy fats, fairly low in carbs, and the carbs they do have are the type that you’ll digest slowly. So they won’t spike your blood sugar or insulin.
Have a handful of almonds–maybe about ½ to 1 serving–and then wait a couple hours and see how you’re feeling. Take it from there.
3. Half an avocado
An avocado is another great food option when breaking a long fast. Avocados are loaded with healthy fat and fiber, and the carbs they do have are slowly digested.
Initially I would start with just half an avocado, since the goal is to start small. Unless it’s a really tiny avocado, then you could eat the whole thing. 😉
Feel free to add some salt to your avocado, since it’s generally helpful to get a little extra salt before, during, and after your fast.
A can of sardines is another reasonable option to use when you break a long fast. They have no carbs, lots of healthy omega-3 fatty acids, and a moderate amount of protein.
A typical sized can of sardines would be about the right amount to eat. Then as usual, wait a couple hours and see how you’re feeling. Go from there.
I typically use the Wild Planet brand because they have pretty reliable quality, and they’re sustainably sourced.
Non-starchy vegetables can be a good option to use when breaking your fast. That includes basically anything besides potatoes or sweet potatoes.
Celery is a reasonable example, but there are a bunch of others as well.
Have a handful, wait a while, and go from there.
Eggs have a nice mix of protein and fat, and basically no carbs.
Start with one or two eggs, cooked however you like. Add a little salt, eat up, then wait a bit.
I like to fry my eggs with coconut oil for a little extra ketone boost.
A fatty meat cut like salami is another reasonable option to use when you break your fast. Pepperoni is similar.
Salami basically doesn’t have any carbs, so that’s a plus. It also has a nice mix of fat and protein. And usually a fair amount of added sodium, which can be beneficial after fasting.
As with everything else, don’t go crazy. Just have a few slices, then wait a couple hours and see how your stomach is feeling.
Take it slow, ease into it, and go from there.
Summary and Final Thoughts
If you fast for more than a day or so, it’s important to consider what to eat after fasting.
The three main principles to consider are:
- Start with low carb
- Start low and go slow
- Don’t go crazy on junk food
As long as you follow those three points, it’s pretty hard to go wrong.
The most difficult part is to be patient. After a long fast, you may want to eat a whole bunch of food, but instead you need to eat just a little bit, and then wait a while and see how your stomach is doing. Otherwise you’ll probably get a stomach ache.
In contrast, if you follow the principles above, you can smoothly ease out of your prolonged fast and keep up the healthy momentum.
I also shared 7 of the best foods to break your fast. But there are tons of similar options you could try. So mix, match, and see what works for you. 🙂
Hope it helps!