No matter how you structure your fasting dietary practices, an important question to answer is, “What should you eat after a fast?” or “What are the best foods to break a fast?”
In this article, we will take a look at the best foods to break a fast to give you some ideas for what to eat after fasting to feel your best and maximize your results.
More specifically, we will cover:
- What Are the Worst Foods to Break a Fast?
- What Are the Best Foods to Break a Fast?
Let’s dive in!
What Are the Worst Foods to Break A Fast?
Before we get to the best foods to break a fast, it is worth mentioning that the worst foods to eat after fasting are those that are particularly difficult to digest, namely processed foods and fatty foods like meat, fried food, and sweets, along with alcohol and some dairy products like cheese, ice cream, and full-fat milk.
When you fast, the digestive system gets a break from needing to process, digest, and absorb all the different foods and drinks you normally consume, so jumping right back into your normal diet after a period of prolonged fasting can be an unwelcome shock to your gut.
Additionally, depending on how long you fasted, it may also be helpful to avoid food such as raw cruciferous vegetables, legumes, seeds and seed bladders, and nuts and nut butters.
Although these are typically considered healthy foods and should be incorporated as part of your everyday diet, they can be difficult to digest.
What Are the Best Foods to Break A Fast?
Here are some of the best foods to break a fast:
#1: Bone Broth
Bone broth may not seem like the most satisfying way to break a fast, but it is actually one of the best foods to eat after fasting because it is very easy to digest while still being quite nutritious.
Bone broth is rich in electrolytes like potassium, sodium, magnesium, and calcium, which makes it very hydrating and can help restore low electrolyte levels after fasting, particularly something prolonged like a 24-hour water fast.
There is also protein in bone broth, but unlike the protein in animal flesh, the proteins in bone broth are already partially degraded into much more absorbable forms.Moreover, much of the protein in bone broth is collagen, which is extremely beneficial, especially after fasting, since it is the most abundant protein in the body.
Although the body can synthesize collagen protein naturally by combining proline and glycine (two amino acids) in a synthesis process that also requires vitamin C, zinc, and copper, eating collagen-rich foods bypasses the need for this process, making the protein readily available for use.
As collagen forms a structural component in everything from bones and teeth to skin and tendons, the body can almost always use more collagen, especially after prolonged fasting where there was no new influx of amino acids.
In fact, arguably, the one macronutrient the body needs most is protein.
Prolonged fasting can potentially be deleterious to health, largely due to the fact that the body constantly needs protein for all sorts of basic functions and biochemical processes in the body, so if you’re fasting and not taking in protein, the body has to break down muscle tissue to access the protein it needs.
Unfortunately, many protein-rich foods are fairly difficult to digest (since protein is inherently hard to process), so although the body desperately needs protein after fasting, high-protein foods are often not the best foods to break a fast.
Bone broth, however, is certainly in the exception category, so drinking bone broth can be nourishing yet gentle on the stomach after fasting.
Try to eat natural, organic bone broth; homemade is best. Otherwise, look for organic bone broth without added cream, fat, or excessive salt.
If you are looking for what to eat after fasting that will be filling yet not too difficult to digest; fish can be a great choice.
Unlike most other animal proteins, fish is fairly easy to digest, especially if you choose lean white fish like cod, flounder, or haddock.
Fish is also rich in other nutrients, such as potassium, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Eggs are generally considered to be a healthy food, if not “nature’s perfect food,” since they are natural, high in protein, and contain numerous vitamins and minerals.
According to the USDA’s FoodData Central, one large, whole, hard-boiled chicken egg contains 78 calories, 6.3 grams of protein, 5.34 grams of fat, negligible carbohydrates and sugar, and small amounts of sodium, calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, iron, and selenium.
Eggs also contain a decent amount of vitamin A, vitamin D, folate, and the antioxidants choline, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which support eye health.
Fruits are among the best foods to break a fast because fruit is high in water and carbohydrates to restore blood sugar. Most fruits also contain some fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Bananas are one of the best fruits to eat after fasting because they are also rich in electrolytes like potassium and magnesium and are high in carbohydrates while being gentle on the stomach; no fruit is quite like it, banana substitutes are hard to find.
Watermelon is high in potassium and vitamin C. It’s also 95% water, so it is easy to digest, and the sugars are readily absorbable.
#6: Fermented Foods
Fermented foods like yogurt, kefir sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, tempeh, and pickled vegetables are among the best foods to eat to break a fast.
Fermented foods are a natural source of probiotics, which are the beneficial bacteria that inhabit your gut microbiome and help you digest food and decrease gut and systemic inflammation.
By fortifying your gut microbiome, eating fermented foods after a fast can help improve the digestibility of other foods that you eat subsequently.
Berries such as raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries are high in fiber, water, and antioxidants.
They also contain natural sugar to help restore blood sugar levels and energy after fasting.
#8: Quinoa and Oats
Whole grains like quinoa and oats can be good to eat after fasting. Quinoa is a complete source of protein, rich in fiber, and naturally gluten-free.
Oats and oatmeal can also be nourishing, filling, and not particularly hard to digest.
Oats are also high in beta-glucan, a type of prebiotic fiber that feeds the beneficial bacteria in your gut.
Therefore, eating oats after a fast can improve digestion by nourishing the microbes in your digestive tract that help you digest and absorb other nutrients that you may eat.
Avocado seemingly bucks the trend that the best foods to break a fast are those that are low in fat and fiber, yet avocado is very high in monounsaturated fats and dietary fiber.
However, avocado is typically very well tolerated after fasting.
Furthermore, avocado is a very satiating food, so you can eat a small amount in terms of volume yet feel full for quite a few hours.
For example, one study found that people who ate avocado were significantly less hungry after five hours than people who ate other foods.
One of the common problems with eating after fasting is the tendency to overeat or binge eat.
Overeating after fasting is especially common if you consume processed foods and high-glycemic carbohydrates such as breakfast cereals, white bread, pasta, bagels, cookies, pastries, and jelly.
These foods can cause a rapid spike in blood sugar, and it is very easy to consume a lot of the food quickly and not feel particularly full, leading to overeating.
In contrast, eating filling, nourishing food like avocado can provide the satiety you need without increasing the likelihood of binging.
In addition to being a great source of healthy fats and fiber, avocado is one of the best sources of potassium, and it also contains vitamins B, C, E, and K, along with other minerals such as magnesium and copper.
#10: Cooked Green Vegetables
Raw, fibrous veggies can be tough on the stomach after fasting, but cooking vegetables breaks down some of the cellulose and makes it much easier to digest.
Cooked green vegetables are among the best foods to eat after fasting because they are very high in essential vitamins and minerals and contain antioxidants to support cellular health and decrease inflammation.
Boil or steam your vegetables, or sauté them lightly in coconut oil.
Coconut oil contains medium-chain triglycerides, so it may promote weight loss and has been shown to decrease inflammation and support gut health.
Overall, the key to choosing what to eat to break a fast comes down to general sound principles of nutrition: focus on natural, unprocessed foods.
Try to eat slowly and in small quantities to gently guide your digestive tract back into operation without overwhelming your body or undoing all of the hard work from your fast.