We’ve all done it—spent days purifying our digestive tract through a fast only to guzzle down a keto quarter pounder, cheese straws and a protein shake the second our fasting window is up.
But eating a big meal right after a fast is a bad idea. And if you’ve ever made the mistake of breaking your fast with a feast fit for a low-carb king, you know exactly why.
After a fast, your digestive system is super sensitive. Eating too much (or choosing foods that are hard to digest) can give you a serious stomachache or even send you sprinting to the bathroom.
So, what’s a better way to break your fast? One that satisfies your hunger without upsetting your stomach or undoing all your hard-earned digestive cleansing?
Break Your Fast Smarter
The answer’s simple. When you’re finishing a fast and getting ready for that exciting moment when you can put your taste buds to good use again, remember the sage advice of easy-listening, classic rock icons The Eagles: take it easy.
In other words, start slow. There are plenty of times in life to go big or go home (like when you’re running the 100-meter dash or shopping at Costco), but your first meal after a fast isn’t one of them. In fact, fitness and fasting expert Thomas DeLauer says you should break your fast with something simple and small.
If you’re doing a prolonged fast up to 72 hours, DeLauer recommends breaking your fast with a small piece of lean protein – maybe four to eight ounces. And remember The Eagles – take it easy on the seasonings, too. If you can, plan to break your fast in the evening, when you can eat your miniature protein dinner and call it a night. Then, the next morning, your body will be ready for you to get right back to your typical healthy breakfast.
Why Start Small?
It may seem crazy to restrict yourself to a tiny bit of protein when you feel like you could take down a 20-ounce steak no problem. But here’s why you want to start out slow.
Giving your digestive system a tiny bit of food at first prevents it from getting overwhelmed. It’s like when you’re sipping margaritas in Cancun for ten days and you go back to work. Would you rather your boss tell you to spend the day catching up on emails? Or ask you to deliver a high-stakes presentation to the C-suite of a multimillion-dollar company? You get the picture.
Now, eating lean protein is the best way to break your prolonged fast because it doesn’t trigger an immune response. A fast is kind of like an extreme elimination diet – you’re cutting out lots of foods you may be sensitive to. When you start eating those foods again, it could ignite your immune system and cause inflammation. And that would be bad news for you, because it would mess up the benefits of your fast.
If you’re breaking an intermittent fast, something less than 24 hours, you don’t have to be as strict. But you still want to take it easy. Start with bone broth, a protein shake, a small amount of chicken or a tiny bit of rice to warm up your digestive tract. Then an hour or two later, you can tackle a regular meal.
So, there you have it! Your guide to breaking your fast without triggering digestive distress. Hopefully now, breaking your fasts will give you a peaceful, easy feeling… one that won’t let you down.