If you’re going to fast with food, it’s important to know how to break your fast. In general, it’s best to eat healthy foods that are rich in nutrients, but there are also some specific things you should be aware of when fasting and breaking your fast, whether you’re doing so through an intermittent fasting approach or another type of fasting diet. This guide will take you through the best foods and drinks to consume when breaking your fast, as well as what not to eat if you want to stay healthy and fit during the process.
If you’re trying to fast with food only (that is, no oils or supplements), then oil is something you should avoid. Oils are a source of fat that may impede your body’s ability to burn through fat during fasting periods. Avoid using oils in your cooking—but do make sure that any pills or supplements you take don’t have added fats!
Meat & Eggs
Some diets suggest avoiding meat during a fast. Meats do contain some protein and minerals, but all that animal fat can keep you from losing weight quickly. If you’re looking for an occasional vegetarian day, eating eggs is recommended instead of other meats. To maximize results during your intermittent fasting period, it’s best to avoid all animal products during your fast days. On non-fasting days eat as much low-fat animal protein as you like; one or two servings are fine in a pinch.
While dairy products may be great in moderation, they can cause bloating, gassiness and make it difficult for your body to absorb water. I’ve found that most people who struggle with intermittent fasting find that they get better results if they cut dairy out of their diet during a fast. I usually tell clients to try their intermittent fasting without any dairy for a few weeks and then add it back in slowly after seeing how things go.
If you feel bloated while breaking your fast or throughout your day, try cutting out dairy for a week or two and see if that helps. Do keep in mind that many cheeses are loaded with sodium so swapping for lactose-free versions is another option (or just eat less cheese). Don’t give up on all dairy though!
Nuts & Seeds
In addition to making a tasty snack when fresh, nuts are also one of nature’s best sources of vitamin E. These powerful antioxidants can help fight cell-damaging free radicals that lead to skin aging and wrinkling. And they may help reduce inflammation too! Walnuts in particular are rich in these anti-inflammatory compounds.
However you eat them—whether as a sandwich spread or sprinkled over cereal—you’ll enjoy all of nuts’ heart-healthy benefits along with their delectable flavor. Just be careful not to indulge too much: An excess of calories from any food source can spell weight gain. The good news is that nuts are extremely satiating due their high protein content (which keeps us feeling full longer) so go ahead and chow down!
Legumes (beans & lentils)
One of your fasting-safe foods! Just keep in mind that legumes have a lot of carbs. So when you eat legumes with other food you may still not be able to enter ketosis depending on what else you’ve eaten that day. Also if you are following a strict vegan or vegetarian diet it is important to note that legumes contain trace amounts of animal proteins.
For example soy beans contain conglycinin which has been shown in some studies to increase cancer risk for women. You’ll need to avoid these foods at least 6 hours before bedtime if not more, unless otherwise advised by your doctor.
If you’re on a fast with food (i.e., fasting for 16 hours), starchy vegetables are your friend. Many vegetables have more calories than their non-starchy counterparts; for example, sweet potatoes are about 30% higher in calories than carrots—calories that you may find harder to burn off. If you eat too many starches at one time during your fast, your body will start converting those calories into fat and break your fast in spite of itself. Save starchy veggies for after an hour or two into your fast so they don’t kick off any extra fat burning while you’re sleeping!
Fruit & Berries
Many people find that they can fast with food by eating fresh fruit or berries on an empty stomach. While it may be easier to fast with liquid if you want to take advantage of a more solid source of nutrition on your fasted days, reach for some fresh fruit instead. The key is not only eating something with no calories but also choosing fresh fruits or berries over-processed snacks.
Beverages (nut milks, coffee/tea etc.)
Starting a fast is simple. You can have any beverage you like; it’s just not recommended that you fill up on coffee or tea. That’s because caffeine causes insulin production (which inhibits your body from breaking down fat), and can also increase cravings for sugar. We want to break your fast with food, not sugar! Make sure whatever you choose—even water—is calorie-free if possible. If that’s not possible, limit yourself to no more than 50 calories per drink.
Sweets and snacks
In many cases, these are fine in moderation while you’re fasting. But be aware that foods like fruit juices (even naturally sweetened ones) have natural sugars that might add up quickly. Other non-fasting foods you’ll want to avoid include dairy products and caffeinated beverages (yes, even a cup of coffee), as well as any detox teas or other supposedly healthy drinks that promise to help you lose weight fast—some may contain calories or caffeine.
Not sure where these fit in? Consult your doctor before proceeding! Fast with food only until your next meal. What are some of my favourite choices during a fast? Check out an extended list of things you can eat when going on a fast here.