The end of your first fasting window is approaching – you’re salivating at the thought of donuts and pancakes (or maybe that’s just me anytime I hear “break” and “fast” in a sentence?).
But wait – it’s your first time! Do you know how to optimally break your fast?
If not, don’t just wing it! Diving headfirst (or mouth first) into a meal at the end of your fast will stress your gut and digestive system.
Nobody wants an angry belly to interfere with an otherwise happy, healthy relationship with intermittent fasting.
So for your first time, slow down, take it easy, and make sure your body is ready before you get busy (busy eating, that is).
Plus, depending on your overall goal in fasting, you’ll want to eat foods that optimize results. Want to know what foods give you the biggest bang? I’m sharing all the secrets in this article!
Breaking Your Fast: A Step-by-Step Guide
A quick note before we get started. The amount of time you’ve spent fasting has a huge impact on how you break your fast.
This guide is aimed primarily at anyone whose fasting period lasted 24 hours or less.
As you approach the end of your fasting window (about 30 minutes to one hour before it’s time to get your grub on), you should drink something that gently gets the digestive system going but that doesn’t necessarily have calories (so it won’t cause your body to release insulin).
Apple cider vinegar is my go-to beverage choice for this.
As I mentioned in my previous article, apple cider vinegar keeps your pH levels balanced and stabilizes your blood sugar levels as well, making it a great drink during your fast.
But it’s even better at this stage as you approach the end of your fast.
Here’s my recipe for the secret sauce. Stir 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar into hot water, along with a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of sea salt.
You can add a dash of cinnamon as well if you need a little more flavor. This combination will get your gut going and ready to digest food again.
And it’s lip-smacking good!
While apple cider vinegar is a great boost for any type of fasting, there are other food and drink hacks you need to know to reach your goals.
Keep reading – I’ll talk about this a little later.
Time to wait. Give your gut about 30 minutes to absorb the nutrients and get to work creating digestive enzymes. It’s the final countdown…
Hallelujah, it’s time for food! Ok, I got you excited. My bad. You actually don’t want to gorge yourself – a massive meal will cause an upset stomach.
Give your system a little time to get back to normal, or you may experience stomach cramping or nausea.
Ideally, you should aim for around 500 calories for that first meal.
What should you eat for your first meal? Again, that will depend on what you’re trying to achieve by fasting. Keep reading – I’ve got you covered.
The first time you break your fast, begin with small meals every 2 hours or so.
Then, you can gradually progress toward larger meals that are more spread out.
This will give your body time to adjust and get back in the digestive groove.
Again, this also depends on the length of time you’ve been fasting – the longer you fast, the slower you go with your eating.
Breaking Your Fast for Optimal Weight Loss
If you’re fasting to shed unwanted pounds, break your fast with MCT oil to extend the fat burning even longer.
MCT oil contains fast-acting fatty acids that zoom through your body and straight into your bloodstream.
This signals to your body that it should keep using fat for fuel.
Consume around 3 tablespoons of MCT oil immediately after your fast to optimize the fat burning benefits.
An easier option is using AMP-V from ATP Science to break your fast and continue burning fat.
This supplement offers a powerful combination of essential fatty acids and Omegas to help you burn fat more effectively and give you an energy boost to boot.
For weight loss, your first small meal should include a combination of protein and fats.
This will also help extend the fat burning.
Salmon is an awesome combination of protein and healthy fats, Avocado, nuts, or seeds are a few great healthy fat options.
Breaking Your Fast for Optimal Muscle Growth
A lot of people worry about losing muscle while fasting, so I’m here to tell you – stop worrying!
You can actually gain muscle with intermittent fasting if you choose the right carbs at the right time.
For optimal muscle growth, you want to break your fast with high glycemic index carbs – or carbs that get the sugar into your bloodstream quickly.
For example, a rice cake is an ideal snack to get sugar to your cells as fast as possible and shut down any breakdown of muscle.
Plus, your cells will be primed and ready to absorb protein, the building block of muscle.
Breaking Your Fast for Optimal Health
Health rejuvenation fasting should be broken with bone broth or collagen protein.
I should note here that bone broth and collagen are great for ANY type of fasting, but they’re especially effective when it comes to maximizing health benefits.
Bone broth is high in collagen, which helps protect the lining of your gut and primes that lining to absorb nutrients when you start eating.
Check out this bone broth from Meadow & Marrow – it contains 10 times more collagen than anything you can buy in the store!
Just can’t stomach bone broth? Or looking for a more convenient option? Then you’re in the same boat as me.
I prefer to take a supplement as a quick and easy alternative, and my go-to collagen protein is Noway Protein from ATP Science.
Important tips on Breaking Your Fast
- Make a meal plan to keep yourself on schedule – and to keep you from grabbing junk food when your tummy starts to rumble. Meal prep your first 1 or 2 meals to make sure you’re on track with a nutritious meal right off the bat.
- Don’t break your fast with highly processed sugars, lactose, cruciferous vegetables or fruits. While you fast the intestinal tract loses some of the mucosal protective layers temporarily, these foods ferment in the gut and cause excessive gas or irritate the gut. Another important factor is processed sugars and fruits should be avoided because your cells are most receptive after fasting and the body may try and store as fat.
- Avoid combining carbs with fats in your first meal. Pair either carbs and protein (especially beneficial for muscle growth) or fat and protein (if your goal is weight loss. This approach prevents your body from absorbing both the carbs and fats at the same time due to carbs causing an insulin spike. At this point the cells open and are very receptive to retrieving what you consume, signaling the body to possibly store as fat.
- Chew your food really well. Sounds weird, I know, but it helps immensely with digestion.
- Add live enzymes and bacteria (the good kind) to your gut. You can take probiotics for this or focus on eating fermented foods like yogurt or sauerkraut.
- Don’t go for a ton of variety when you first break your fast. Stick to basic, nutritious foods that are easy to digest. I know the temptation will be to go wild, but you’ll regret it! Over time, you can add in more variety, but for now, simplicity is the name of the game.
- Through this whole process, it’s super important to listen to your body. If you’re moving too quickly, your body will let you know (read: angry belly) that it’s time to pump the brakes, killer.
- As I mentioned before, your first meal should be relatively small – unless you just finished a workout (spoiler alert: I’m covering working out while fasting in my next article!).
- I’ll say it one last time – the length of your fast affects how you break your fast. For longer fasts, you’ll want to set aside a significant amount of time to break your fast and ease your body back into regular eating habits.
Ok, you’re ready to get down to business and break your fast. For all newbies getting ready to break your fast for the first time, all this info is super important to save you from an angry belly disaster.
But once you get past the first time (or two), it gets a lot easier! Soon you’ll be transitioning in and out of fasting without any negative side effects.
So this article covers most people’s favorite part – eating. But next time, we get to my favorite part – working out. Yeah buddy, it’s time to hit the gym and learn all about how to train while fasting.
Lilli a regular Contributor & Editor who is a weight training enthusiast with a background in both CrossFit and powerlifting. She lives on a ranch in Texas where she has built an amazing home gym right in her own backyard (err, garage). When she’s not working out, Lilli works as a freelance writer and travels as often as possible.