How to Break a Fast: 10 Best Foods (Intermittent & Prolonged)

article based on science

Fasting | Intermittent | Prolonged | Breaking a Fast | Side Effects | Top 10 Foods | Foods to Avoid | How to Break a Fast | Intermittent | 24h | 3-Day | 7-Day | Vegan | Keto | Conclusion | FAQ | Studies

Throughout recorded human history, fasting has been integral to most cultures and their traditional health practices. Accordingly, you can apply this fact to practically all regions and religions of our world.

Intermittent Fasting 16/8 for Women Book

Since biochemistry unraveled some of the processes behind the health benefits of fasting, it has gained immensely in popularity lately.

After most people have forgotten about fasting traditions, we need to take a closer look at how to break a fast correctly without feeling uncomfortable or destroying the results.

Therefore, this article precisely answers this question based on science. Moreover, you will be introduced to the best foods to break a fast.

What Is Fasting?

Fasting means that you stop eating entirely for a specific time.

Widely used methods have a fasting period of 12 to 24 hours, but some last for days.

Although you aren’t allowed to eat, you can consume the following drinks during fasting:

  • Water and mineral water
  • Tea without milk, milk substitutes, and sweeteners
  • Coffee without milk, milk substitutes, and sweeteners

While these beverages cannot significantly impair fasting’s health, they are often restricted during religiously motivated fasts.

Not only that fasting used to be a traditional method for weight loss, but also the following purposes:

  • Improved mental focus
  • Prevention of dementia
  • Prevention of insulin resistance
  • Slowing down the aging process

This ancient healing tradition’s roots lie primarily in autophagy, an intracellular recycling process that science is currently unraveling.

The positive effects of autophagy are so far-reaching that the discoverer of the process, Yoshinori Ohsumi, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2016 (Levine et al. 20171).

While shorter “intermittent” fasts are more common, some prefer extended fasts.

48-hour fasting is the most extended duration that can still be within the boundaries of intermittent fasting. Accordingly, if we go beyond 48 hours of fasting, we refer to it as extended or prolonged fasting.

Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting (IF) is an eating pattern that alternates between fasting and eating periods.

There are different intermittent fasting schedules, but the most popular is eating within a time window of about 8 hours.

In this sense, this means that during 16/8 intermittent fasting, you fast for 16 hours per day. Nevertheless, it is also possible to fast for 14, 18, or 20 hours a day.

Since intermittent fasting yields health benefits such as increased insulin sensitivity or weight loss, it has gained popularity in the last few years (Halberg et al. 20052).

If you want to take back control of your health today, I highly recommend reading my book Intermittent Fasting 101: The Science-Backed Beginner’s Guide to Lose Weight Without Dieting and Working Out.

Prolonged Fasting

More extended fasts are different but in a positive way. Accordingly, they can deliver even more significant health benefits, such as (Jiao et al. 20173; Nakamura et al. 20184; Yang et al. 20175):

  • Detoxification of the body
  • Removal of pathogens
  • Renewal of old and dysfunctional cell parts
  • Reduction of bone and muscle atrophy
  • Prevention of neurodegenerative diseases (e.g., Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s)
  • Prevention of cancer, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes
  • Reversal of the aging process
  • Extension of life span

However, a prolonged fast lasting longer than 48 hours will probably reduce the digestive enzymes produced by the pancreas and intestines.

Therefore, resuming eating after a prolonged fast often requires more attention.

If we eat continuously, the body needs time to get used to fasting. But this is logical, natural, and not particularly alarming.

Fasting gives the entire digestive tract a particular time to recover, which it often lacks today.

Since the food industry educated us to continuously eat the whole day, our bodies frequently use metabolic energy to produce enzymes that can process food.

Accordingly, you may know the feeling when all the energy and blood flow into the stomach and digestive tract. As a result, you can’t think clearly after eating.

When we fast, the digestive enzymes are neither needed nor produced so that the body can supply the metabolic energy to other organs, such as the brain (Puigserver et al. 19856).

For this reason, some people report sharpened focus, mental clarity, and increased productivity when fasting, which I can also confirm.

What Is Breaking a Fast?

The definition of the word “breakfast” is the first meal of the day.

Accordingly, its origin lies in the late middle English verbs “break” and “fast.” And that means nothing else than to break the fasting period of the previous day.

With this in mind, it does not mean you have to fill up your belly within minutes after waking up.

Accordingly, breakfast, whether you eat it at 5:00 AM, noon, or 6:00 PM, is breaking the fast.

Only in the 15th century did people begin to recognize the word “breakfast” as a meal you eat shortly after waking up.

Since fasting is a natural process that has ensured humanity’s survival, most people have no problems breaking shorter fasting.

In our world of abundance, we have merely forgotten how to maintain a healthy balance between eating and fasting.

Nonetheless, with intermittent fasting over 16, 18, or 24 hours, hardly anyone has a problem breaking the fast.

Since fasting for religious purposes has been shared for centuries, people hardly thought about how to break a fast correctly.

Due to contradictory dietary advice and the conventional misconception of health, people increasingly welcome guidance when breaking a fast.

If people believe in losing weight by eating six meals a day and steadily eating highly processed food-like products due to lack of time, breaking a fast becomes more complicated.

Hence, it can require planning to start eating again to achieve physical comfort, long-term health, and weight loss goals.

breakfast means to break a fast

Side Effects of Breaking a Fast

When breaking the fast with the right food, shorter fasting periods can hardly cause side effects. But with prolonged fasts, that can be different.

Intermittent Fasting

Since intermittent fasting is much simpler than prolonged fasting, you should have little trouble breaking a fast.

Because the classic 16/8 intermittent fasting program has exactly two rules:

  • No breakfast
  • No snacks

Since breakfast is the most important meal of the day, your body will provide a hormone cocktail when you wake up, providing sufficient energy until lunch.

Believe it or not – within a maximum of two weeks, you will have forgotten about hunger in the morning.

Should you experience physical side effects during intermittent fasting, in 90% of all cases, it helps to include more salt in your diet. This way, you can prevent common symptoms, such as headaches.

Other mistakes that can cause side effects are:

  • Too little water
  • Too little movement
  • Processed food during eating periods

Additionally, no sweeteners or milk are allowed in your tea or coffee during intermittent fasting, as they can negate the benefits.

If you break the fast for the first time after an extended period, diarrhea can initially be wholly natural and reflect the intestine’s cleansing. However, if this continues, it might be due to refined carbohydrates in your diet.

Prolonged Fasting

If you fast for more than 36 hours, the body limits digestive enzymes’ production, leading to possible gastrointestinal problems if you break the fast with a meal.

Hence, possible complications may include:

  • Flatulence
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting (exceptional cases)

Due to the lower amount of digestive juices that break down food, the food can remain in the stomach longer.

Therefore, it may take several hours for the body to produce enough enzymes to break down the food.

For this reason, unless you are a fasting veteran, you may experience stomach problems or diarrhea during this time.

There are three methods to reduce these side effects of fasting:

  • Fasting more often
  • Shorter Fasts (Intermittent Fasting)
  • Use of best foods to break a fast (see below)

Eventually, the body gets used to the new circumstances during fasting and does not entirely stop producing digestive enzymes. Therefore, breaking the fast will be much more comfortable with the routine.

After three months, you will break your fast with almost any meal much more comfortably due to increasing experience.

Nevertheless, in the following exceptional cases, irritations might still be possible:

  • After culinary vacations
  • If you dare to go over new fasting durations (3-day or 7-day fasting)
  • If you consume a lot of carbohydrates before fasting

For this reason, bingeing on refined carbohydrates and sugar when fasting is not a good idea. Not only that, it can destroy health and weight goals, but it also induces a damn hard time fasting.

Carbohydrates and junk food before fasting increase cravings during the fasting period and can promote keto flu symptoms.

These are headaches caused by your body flushing out stored water and electrolytes. Keto flu symptoms can occur if you deplete your carbohydrate stores for the first time with fasting.

Best Foods to Break a Fast

Here are the Top 10 foods (in order) to break intermittent as well as more extended fasting periods without feeling unpleasant:

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1. Bone Broth

Let’s start with the evergreen among the best foods to break a fast. Who doesn’t know bone broth as a healthful food after a bowel disease?

For a good reason, it has been prescribed by doctors over and over again:

  • It is full of electrolytes,
  • Is liquid and easily digestible,
  • And contains healthy fats helping to absorb nutrients.

Due to the natural fatty acids, it also tastes great.

Since the body loses water and electrolytes when fasting by depleting carbohydrate stores, bone broth might be the best food to break a fast.

Bone broth contains the essential electrolytes magnesium, potassium, calcium, and sodium.

After fasting, organic bone broth helps absorb nutrients more efficiently, not only those in the broth but also in other foods.

Moreover, bone broth can:

  • Supply collagen for skin, hair, muscles, and bones
  • Improve sleep through anti-inflammatory amino acids, such as glycine
  • Stabilize blood sugar and improve insulin sensitivity
  • Calm the gastrointestinal tract
  • Deliver healthy fats without carbohydrates

2. Apple Cider Vinegar

While apple cider vinegar is hyped as a panacea today, the Babylonians already used it for its health benefits 7000 years ago.

For many reasons, organic apple cider vinegar with the mother is among the best foods to break a fast:

Furthermore, apple cider vinegar supports digestion in many ways. For example, apple cider vinegar can improve stomach acidity, gall bladder function, and fat digestion.

Accordingly, it helps people who have problems digesting fats to break the fast. Additionally, it supports those people who cannot produce enough stomach acid.

Therefore, the addition of apple vinegar can help when breaking a fast.

Moreover, apple cider vinegar helps fasting beginners integrate healthy fats into their diet more comfortably.

Therefore, supporters of low-carb diets such as the keto diet swear by apple vinegar.

Apple cider vinegar is incredibly popular since it supports gut flora, neutralizes the pH value, and provides energy.

Not only as a health elixir but also for breaking a fast, you can prepare this diluted apple vinegar drink:

  • One glass of water (250ml)
  • 1-2 tablespoons apple vinegar

Just dilute the vinegar with water and stir once. Then the drink is ready.

Since diluted apple cider vinegar is not everyone’s cup of tea, you might use it as a salad dressing. If you break a prolonged fast, ensure the salad does not contain raw cruciferous plants (see below).

Good apple cider vinegar is:

  • Unprocessed,
  • Unfiltered with vinegar mother,
  • And organically farmed.

3. Chicken

One of the most popular protein sources is also one of the best foods to break a fast. Accordingly, it is no secret that most people can easily digest chicken.

That’s why chicken is the most proven meat you can use to break a fast. Moreover, you can consume it as chicken soup, which is ideal for breaking extended fasts.

You can move on to the chicken as soon as the stomach has calmed down after sipping some broth.

Even when breaking the fast, I always eat it with the skin because the collagen supporting hair, skin, muscles, and joints hides there.

Furthermore, chicken provides vitamins and minerals such as (*):

  • Vitamin B6
  • Niacin
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Selenium

4. Fish

Fish is an excellent protein source, which you can consume when breaking a fast or as the first solid meal afterward.

If you want to play it safe when breaking the fast, you can also try it with a bowl of fish soup at the beginning before you switch to fish meat.

Nevertheless, fish should not be too much of a problem at the first meal since it hardly strains the digestive system in most people.

Also, especially fish like wild salmon or organic mackerel provides the following nutrients (*):

  • Omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA)
  • B- and D-Vitamins
  • Calcium
  • Potassium
  • Selenium
  • Niacin

5. Avocados and Avocado Oil

Often mistakenly called a vegetable, avocado is probably the fattest fruit in the world.

Besides being an excellent fat source for weight loss, avocado is among the best foods to break a fast.

For most people, avocado is easily digestible and keeps them full longer than other foods.

Accordingly, even 5 hours later, people who ate avocados are still a third less hungry than after eating other foods (Wien et al. 201311).

Hence, avocado is ideal for preventing overeating after fasting. Especially after fasting for days, this can come in incredibly handy.

Furthermore, avocado, rich in water-soluble fiber and fats, increases the absorption of nutrients from other foods after fasting.

For example, avocados or native avocado oil on salad lead to the absorption of about 3-5 times more antioxidants and carotenoids (Unlu et al. 200512).

This is a great base to start if you want to replenish your body with nutrients after fasting. Also, avocados supply rough amounts of nutrients by themselves (*):

  • B, C, E, and K vitamins
  • Folates
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Copper

6. Olives and Olive Oil

Like the avocado, the olive is a superfood with plenty of healthy fats boosting nutrient absorption.

In like manner, it is packed with monounsaturated linoleic acid, which is widely known for its health benefits. Moreover, olives and extra virgin olive oil have anti-inflammatory effects due to many bioactive substances.

These polyphenols have antioxidant effects and reduce cancer risk (Notarnicola et al. 201113).

Accordingly, olive oil is perfect as a salad dressing when breaking a fast or rounding off cooked vegetables. However, I prefer ghee, butter, or coconut oil for frying as these fats have a higher smoke point.

Nevertheless, olive oil is the first choice to slow down the aging process through autophagy if this is your primary goal. Because of its numerous bioactive substances, olives provide proven anti-aging effects:

  • Oleuropein strengthens the skin through antioxidant and UV protection (Cañuelo et al 201214)
  • Tyrosol increases life expectancy and stress resistance (Rahmani et al. 201415).
  • Olive oil counteracts age-related bone loss and contributes to bone formation in older people (Fernández-Real et al. 201216).
  • Furthermore, olives are the best snack after fasting, as they bring back plenty of salt into the body, besides the healthy fats and polyphenols.

However, purchase a first-cold pressed extra virgin olive oil to maximize health benefits.

7. Grass-Fed Butter and Ghee

Since healthy fats are essential for nutrient absorption, grass-fed butter and ghee should not be missing from the best foods to break a fast.

Since butter contains very little lactose, it is the only dairy product you can safely use to break a fast. Because ghee also lacks milk proteins, the clarified butterfat is an even better option.

With both foods, species-appropriate feeding with herbs and grasses makes the difference. Therefore organic grass-fed ghee and butter are packed with nutrients, such as:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin K2
  • Beta-carotene
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Butyrates

The esters of butyric acid, butyrates, are short-chain fatty acids that serve as food for your gut bacteria, helping to restore balance within your gastrointestinal tract.

Additionally, grass-fed milk contains about six times more conjugated linoleic acid than milk from grain-fed cows.

While this unique fatty acid helps reduce body fat, it can also preserve muscle mass, supporting the fasting goals (Dhiman et al. 199917McCrorie et al. 201118).

8. Coconut Oil

Due to its high lauric acid content, coconut oil is not only one of the most suitable fats for frying but also helps you lose weight (Liau et al. 201119).

Besides, it is lesser-known that coconut oil also has strong anti-inflammatory properties (Intahphuak et al. 201020).

Accordingly, coconut oil can help build up healthy bacteria and other intestinal microbes after breaking the fast.

Moreover, lauric acid in cold pressed virgin coconut oil fights harmful bacteria and viruses such as flu, HIV, measles, or herpes.

Since coconut oil is not the same as coconut fat, you should only put virgin, cold-pressed coconut oil from organic farming into your shopping cart.

If you’re fasting to lose weight, coconut oil is the ideal fat for frying a meal when breaking a fast.

9. Sauerkraut

Fermented foods are rightly known to support gut bacteria.

After days of fasting, fermented foods help you recolonize the digestive tract with healthy bacteria and reduced enzymes during the fasting cleanse.

While organic sauerkraut is a prime example of fermented food, it’s also the world’s most vitamin C-rich food.

Accordingly, sauerkraut contains probiotics, good bacteria that act against toxins and harmful bacteria. Thus, sauerkraut is an excellent food for recovering the intestinal flora after prolonged fasting, which boosts the immune system (Quigley et al. 201821).

Probiotics in sauerkraut can help to overcome a bacterial imbalance in the gut. For this reason, it can prevent or reduce diarrhea (Johnston et al. 201222).

Furthermore, probiotics can also help with other side effects, such as flatulence and constipation (Hungin et al. 201323).

10. Green Vegetables (Cooked)

Most green vegetables, such as broccoli or brussels sprouts, are cruciferous plants rich in fiber, nutrients, and vitamins.

On the one hand, the nutrient profile of cruciferous plants is ideal for fasting. On the other hand, they are hard to digest if eaten raw.

Therefore, I only eat them cooked when breaking a more extended fast.

Of green above-ground vegetables, broccoli is probably the most digestible. Especially in combination with a protein like chicken or fish, you can use broccoli to complement a solid meal for breaking a fast.

Healthy fat such as grass-fed butter or olive oil can round out the vegetables and help absorb nutrients. Also, salt them sufficiently after fasting.

Although spinach and cabbage are excellent sources of nutrients, you should only reach out for them when breaking shorter fasts. When prolonged fasting, you can eat these vegetables at the earliest as a second meal after breaking the fast.

However, all these green vegetables are excellent sources of minerals and vitamins, like (*):

  • Iron
  • Folates
  • Potassium
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Manganese
  • Vitamin A, B2, B6, C, E, K

Hence, non-starchy green vegetables are a great way to replenish your body with nutrients after extended periods of fasting.

boil green vegetables when breaking a prolonged fast

Worst Foods to Break a Fast

When you start fasting, the body may mistake the unfamiliar state for a stressful situation.

Accordingly, you should avoid foods you know to be more stressful for your digestive tract than others.

Hence, only reach out to meals you know are easy to digest for you to break a fast comfortably.

Also, some foods and drinks are problematic for many people and should, therefore, be avoided when breaking a fast:

  • Any dairy products
  • Seeds, nuts, and nut butter
  • Eggs
  • Alcohol
  • Raw cruciferous vegetables
    • Broccoli
    • Cauliflower
    • Kohlrabi
    • Radishes
    • Radish
    • Brussels sprouts
    • Red cabbage
    • Arugula
  • Foods high in lectins
    • Bakery goods
    • Grains (esp. whole grain)
    • Eggplants
    • Beans
    • Chili
    • Cashews
    • Peanuts
    • Potatoes
    • Soy
    • Tomatoes

Lectins are plant toxins that harm the gut and can damage its intestinal wall. For example, the most prominent lectin, gluten, is known to cause a leaky gut (Sturgeon et al. 201624).

For this reason, we want to avoid lectins after fasting as a precautionary measure.

Although conventional wisdom blames red meat for being problematic, few people have problems with it.

After all, meat has been in our food cycle much longer than most of today’s fruit and vegetables, which is why our microbiome can handle it well.

However, 6-8 hours after breaking a fast, people usually can eat more problematic foods and meals, as long as they generally feel comfortable eating them.

How to Break a Fast

Because you might risk overeating, make sure you drink enough before breaking a fast.

Afterward, it would be best to break the fast with real food. Therefore, even when breaking intermittent fasting periods, don’t eat the following highly processed foods:

  • Chips
  • Dressings
  • Fast food
  • Ready-made sauces
  • Ready Meals
  • Cookies
  • Cake
  • Bars (incl. protein)

Those who fast to legitimize highly processed junk food will miss results.

On the other hand, it is just human to not strictly stick to diets on special occasions.

If exceptions do not become the rule, they can be justifiable. With this in mind, you can use 36-hour fasts to recover from them in no time.

How to Break an Intermittent Fast

Breaking 16/8 intermittent fasting doesn’t have to be a drama. Avoid dairy products, nuts, and raw cruciferous plants in the first week.

After that, your body will gradually adjust to the fact that you don’t eat breakfast until noon. Therefore, there should be enough digestive enzymes, and you will eventually break the fast with regular food.

Whenever you take a step further and, for example, fast for 20 hours, it is advisable to be careful again – just as you were in the first week of 16/8 fasting.

Soups, salads, meat, or fish with cooked vegetables can usually be eaten without complications when breaking an intermittent fast. The less junk food you are used to, the easier it is.

Moreover, adding salt and healthy fat such as grass-fed butter or olive oil to your food makes sense, especially since you have no problems digesting fat.

If you are used to a diet rich in refined carbohydrates, it might take two to four weeks until you no longer feel slight discomfort during fasting.

How to Break a Fast After 24 Hours (OMAD)

If you fast for 24 hours or do the 23/1 schedule “One Meal a Day” (OMAD), you need to be more careful than with shorter intermittent fasting periods.

However, bone broth is a harmless breakfast in any case. If you are starting with OMAD or 24-hour fasting is an exception, you can also start with a small tuna-avocado salad:

  • Dice avocados
  • Strain tuna (can) from its water and chop
  • Add olive or avocado oil and apple cider vinegar
  • Season with Pink Himalaya or Celtic Sea Salt

With this in mind, sufficient salt will help to fast beginners prevent headaches. If you already have more experience with fasting, chicken and cooked vegetables are generally not a problem.

If you want to practice OMAD permanently, your digestive tract will adjust to it, and after about a month, you can also break the fast with your favorite foods.

intermittent fasting for beginners book

How to Break a 3-Day Fast

When fasting for more than 48 hours, we are already in the zone of prolonged fasting. Accordingly, 72-hour or 3-day fasts are probably the most popular duration for fasting cures.

To play it safe when going over this considerable fasting duration, break the fast with bone broth or a diluted apple vinegar drink. Or also with a combination of these.

Thus, the digestive tract is supported and not overtaxed if the enzymes are still sufficiently present. Furthermore, the chicken or beef used to make the broth can supply the body with lost electrolytes when breaking the fast.

Afterward, you should pay attention to your body. You can move on to tuna-avocado salad or chicken with cooked vegetables if you feel well.

If you are not sure but hungry, eat some avocado pieces or olives. After 1-2 hours, you can try chicken or avocado salad.

How to Break a 7-Day Water Fast

Every year at Easter, I use Holy Week to schedule an annual cleansing for my body.

I do this not because I am religious but because it takes a fixed date to be consistent and tackle this prolonged fasting challenge. So why not use the traditional easterly fasting time?

To me, 7-day fasting represents the justifiable maximum of autophagy fasting, detoxing, renewing broken cells, and contributing to higher life expectancy.

And often, old traditions do have a meaningful background. In my homeland, you traditionally break the Easter fasting with a “smoked broth.”

Accordingly, this is a broth cooked from smoked Easter meat. Do you think it’s a coincidence that Christians traditionally break a fast with an easily digestible soup packed with electrolytes?

Since religious fasting has always been aimed at mental cleansing, and we now know that it improves cognition through autophagy, the broth is probably no coincidence (Raefsky et al. 201725).

Accordingly, I suggest the following procedure for breaking the 7-day water fast:

  • One tablespoon of apple vinegar diluted with 5 ounces of water
  • Afterward, bone broth (without meat) with a good pinch of sea salt
  • If hunger remains: Avocado with salt and olive oil or olives
  • 1-2 hours later, avocado and tuna salad, if hungry
  • 2-4 hours later, 200g of chicken or fish fried in ghee with cooked broccoli

However, it is essential to listen to the body. If you don’t feel well after breaking the fast, give your gastrointestinal tract more time to rest. Eventually, taking some more time after 168 hours won’t hurt.

The next day, probiotic foods, such as sauerkraut, can support recovery. Nevertheless, keep your hands off industrial probiotic products like yogurt drinks.

Furthermore, you can reintroduce leafy greens, various non-starchy vegetables, and more healthy fats into your diet.

How to Break a Fast Vegan Style

If you want to break your fast the vegan way, I recommend staying away from anything your gut might have trouble with, such as:

  • Legumes
    • Beans
    • Lentils
    • Peanuts
  • Cashews
  • Nightshades
    • Eggplants
    • Chili
    • Potatoes
    • Tomatoes
  • Soy
  • Grains
    • Bakery
    • Cereals
    • Esp. whole grains
  • Processed foods
  • Raw cruciferous vegetables (cooked is fine)

Most of these plant-based foods show a very high lectin content, so you don’t want to expose your gut to them after an extended fast.

With this in mind, you might have experienced mood swings after overloading with high-lectin foods since the gut microbiome has difficulty dealing with it.

However, in my opinion, the best foods to break a fast on a vegan diet are (in order from more prolonged to intermittent fasting):

  • Diluted apple cider vinegar
  • Avocado (salad) with sea salt and olive oil
  • Cooked broccoli with sea salt and olive oil
avocados are among the best foods to break a fast

How to Break a Fast on Keto

When fasting in combination with a ketogenic diet, one gets faster and deeper into autophagy and ketosis.

Also, ketosis is a new-fangled expression of our body’s ability to burn fat for energy. Therefore, fasting harmonizes with keto.

So if you break a fast on keto, you will aim to stay as deep in ketosis as possible. For this reason, you want to break your fast with a high content of healthy fats.

Accordingly, you should have no problems with fat digestion if you are already fat-adapted. If you’re starting with keto, stick to the discussed guidelines of breaking fasts conventionally.

Since healthy fats are the main focus of keto, the following options for breaking a fast are particularly useful:

  • Bone broths in any variations
  • Avocados or avocado salads with plenty of olive oil
  • Fatty fish, such as salmon or mackerel, fried in coconut oil, butter, or lard

These dishes will certainly keep you in ketosis. Once you get used to intermittent fasting, you can experiment with various healthy fats and low-carb foods.

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Best Meal to Break a Fast

If you only fast for shorter periods, you don’t need to worry too much about how to break a fast. After all, it is not rocket science, as you might initially think.

Nevertheless, intermittent fasting cannot legitimize highly processed carbohydrate-rich foods. If you reward yourself with donuts after fasting, the fasting period’s health benefits are nullified.

Therefore, the best foods to break a fast are low in starchy carbohydrates and rich in healthy fats that promote nutrient absorption.

However, you should not overeat when breaking the fast.

Especially after extended fasts, take up eating again with a small meal and eat slowly. Furthermore, traditionally known remedies such as bone broth or diluted apple cider vinegar are the best foods to break a fast.

On the one hand, they activate your gut microbiome. On the other hand, these foods supply your body with those essential nutrients lost during extended fasts.

If you’d like to learn how to fast correctly in a playful way, get my free 30-Day Intermittent Fasting Challenge PDF printable.

How to Break a Fast FAQ

What is the best food to eat after fasting?

The most traditional and best food to break a fast is bone broth 🥣. While it supports the gut microbiome, it also provides the body with essential electrolytes.

How do you break intermittent fasting fast?

The fastest way to break a fast is to start eating. After getting used to intermittent fasting, you can break the fast with almost any dish, except fast food. If you want to play it safe instead, get some bone broth 🥣.

Are eggs a good way to break a fast?

Since many people have trouble digesting it after fasting, eggs 🥚 are food to avoid when breaking a fast. If you have been on an intermittent fasting schedule for months, you might also comfortably break a fast with eggs.

How do I break my 7 day fast?

To play it safe, I usually break 7-day fasts with bone broth 🥣 or diluted apple cider vinegar. After some time, I follow up with avocado or easily digestible protein like chicken or fish.

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This Post Has 34 Comments

  1. Patee Gutee

    I have just completed a 3-day prolonged fast and have just finished bone broth with some beef meat. Are the following okay on the first day?
    – black coffee with a little sweetener like lakanto?
    – pork or beef liver?
    – fatty meat / beef tendons?
    – eggs (later in the day)?
    – fruits (later in the day)?

    1. Hi Patee,

        coffee is fine (I would skip the sweetener)
        if you generally feel great with liver, go for it
        for some people it is better to go with leaner cuts on the first day
        eggs should be fine later in the day
        I would skip fruits

      Please be aware that this website is not giving any medical advice, and it’s intended for informational and educational purposes only.

      1. Carolin

        Hi I have been water fasting for 19 days out of 30 day spiritual fast. Can you suggest a breakdown of a menu to help break my water fast?

        1. Hi Carolin,

          Wow, that’s what I would call a prolonged fast. I have no experience with 14+ days fasts. So listen to your body and consult a doctor if you are not feeling well. Personally, I would use a modification of my 7-day approach:

        2. One tablespoon of apple vinegar diluted with 5 ounces of water
        3. Afterward, bone broth (without meat) with a good pinch of sea salt
        4. If hunger remains and you feel great: Avocado with salt and olive oil or olives
        5. Next day lunch: avocado and tuna salad; Dinner: chicken or fish fried in ghee with cooked broccoli
        6. Have a great day, and BR,
          Stephan

  2. Merel

    I’ve been intermittent fasting for about a couple of years (usually 18:6 and 20:4), although for the past two weeks I tried alternating OMAD and 20:4 (OMAD every other day, thrice a week). I’ve been on a low-carb (20-gram max) high-healthy-fat diet for two years also.

    Just last Monday I started my first-time attempt at a 72-hour (3 days) fast. I only had coffee or tea with stevia and plain water during the fast. I’m nearing the 72-hour mark and I’d like some experience-based (preferably also evidence-based) advice on how to break my fast.

    I’m planning to do this for breakfast:

    Boil chicken breast with some spices and salt. Drink the broth to break the fast gently. Wait 30 minutes. Eat the chicken breast as my main meal. This will be all on the day I break my fast. Will this work? Can I eat anything else along with the chicken for as long as the total calories is just 50% of my usual?

    For the next day (i.e., 20 hours after my breakfast and meal above), I plan to resume my normal routine: 2 boiled eggs for breakfast, then my usual LCHF food for my main meal several hours after. Will this also work?

    1. Hi Merel,
      While I am not giving any medical advice, in my experience, this approach should be fine as long as you feel healthy and don’t have any problems with digestion. However, I would only be cautious with the spices since some people may react sensitively. Eggs the next day are usually fine too 🙂

  3. Garry

    What about vitamins and my ACV/lemon juice/honey mixture? Thanks

    1. Hi Garry,
      To be honest, I would quit vitamin supplements and start eating real foods containing vitamins – like the 10 mentioned above 🙂 This way, you can absorb them more efficiently, especially when combining with healthy fats.
      ACV/freshly squeezed lemon should be fine. If you are fasting for weight loss, skip the honey since it’s just added sugar nobody needs 🙂
      Cheers,
      Stephan

  4. Maria

    Thank you for a great article!
    Question, what about breaking short and long fasting (36 hours +) with fruit?
    I understand fruit is very easy to digest. And I mean full fruit, no juices.

    1. Thank you, Maria!
      I am not a big fan of fruit since it’s basically candy on a tree. Whole fruit is definitely better than juice (which I wouldn’t drink at all). However, if you want to please your gut, go with the food from this article. Fruit and any other sugar is not a good idea to break your fast.

      Best regards,
      Stephan

  5. Paul

    Lectin-free pdf link is pointing at collagen page.
    Thanks for the advice

  6. Tamer

    Amazing, comprehensive post, especially the parts about prolonged fasting. Broke my 72 hour fast with homemade beef bone broth, 1 hour later had 250 grams of lemon-olive oil, cumin, corianderpowder-marinated and roasted organic chicken breast with sea salt and pepper, 1 roasted onion, sauerkraut and a handful black Kalamata olives. Feeling great now. Thanks so much.

    1. Hi Tamer,

      Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us! Hearing that the information could help you out big time made my day 🙂

      Feel free to share more of your experiences and ideas with us – here or by emailing [email protected] 🙂
      Have a great day,
      Stephan

  7. Gabriela

    Thank you so much for all these information very helpful and clear 😊
    I would like to know if you have any comments on if its ok to drink black coffee? Thank you!

    1. Hi Gabriela,

      Thanks for your kind words!

      When it comes to intermittent fasting, black coffee is fine. Concerning prolonged fasting, some studies are concluding that coffee improves autophagy on the one hand, and some autophagy fasting veterans only consume water and Himalaya salt on the other hand. At this very moment, I am on the 5th day of a 7-day-fast and just drank some mineral water and a little bit of green tea. But I think it is totally up to you, what suits your body and lifestyle best. If you like to go with black coffee during prolonged fasting since it curbs your appetite in certain situations and you feel great, do so.

      Br,
      Stephan

  8. Anthony

    How about baby carrots and cucumbers (with a small piece of fish) to break a fast? They’re low FODMAP veggies and not cruciferous. Thanks!

    1. Hi Anthony,

      While I wouldn’t eat raw carrots unless you are very familiar with fasting, cucumbers should be okay (at least if you peel them and remove the seeds). Fish should be fine 🙂

      Br,
      Stephan

  9. Nadine Pace

    Thanks for the article I found it very helpful. I am busy breaking my fast now of 21 days, water only. I have had very bad acid reflux during the entire 21 days and broke fast yesterday with a Mashed banana, and then later a pureed banana and apple. First time I haven’t had to take an anti acid in a while. Going to add bone broth today and some of your other suggestions. Really struggling to take in any fluids at the moment so just sipping little bit of water and I’m sure the bone broth will help. Thanks again. Nadine

    1. Hi Nadine,

      Thanks for the kind words. Great that the information could help you out 🙂

      21-day water fast?! Wow, that’s some serious business!!!

      Keep us posted here about how you are doing 🙂

      BR,
      Stephan

  10. Elizabeth

    This is a fantastic article with a lot of great information, I was especially looking for extended fasting re-feed information and how to safely break a fast of more than 3 days.
    Question, I have been reading a lot about salt and electrolyte intake being a huge factor in keeping your body going on longer fasts. Sodium, magnesium, and potassium mixes with no sweeteners is what I plan to use. With that in mind, would you make any changes to the suggestions above for days 1 or 2 after fasting?

    1. Hi Elizabeth,

      Thanks for your kind words and the question.

      Electrolytes without sweeteners sound acceptable to me. I would not change the suggested procedure.

      BR,
      Stephan

  11. Tommy

    On day 5 of my first 7 day water only fast. I’ve done many 3 days fasts in the past, this is my first 7. Glad to see prolonged fasting addressed here with some detail. Very few sites go into any depth on extended fasting.

    1. Hi Tommy,
      thanks for sharing your thoughts with us! 🙂
      How did you do after breaking your 7-day water-only fast?

      Are there more extended fasting topics you would like to hear about in depth? Feel free to tell me 🙂

      BR,
      Stephan

  12. C

    Hi there.

    Some urgent advice would be greatly appreciated.

    I just finished 4 1/2 days of water only (my first fast of that length and first fast in a very long time besides intermittent fasting) and broke the fast with half a litre of green veggie juice filled with celery cucumber broccoli apple ginger lemon tumeric – drank it over 5hours.

    During that time I got extreme constipation and suffered through four hours before finding some relief and then a one hour colonic hydrotherapy treatment which was very cleansing and relieving. Intended to only have bone broth for dinner but friends came round and prepared a raw food feast and I ended up eating a moderate but much more than intended amount of very many different foods including raw gazpacho soup, quacomole with a few plain nachos, raw dates and nut bars, cacao, and then also 2 small bowls of potato gnocchi with steamed spinach and a little bit of cheese plus a bottle of kombucha and kimchi. Needless to say I got rather concerned that I had eaten too many foods and a number which are not recommended to break the fast with such as tomatoes, potato, almonds and cashews, let alone the quite high spike in carbs from the dates. I took two Digestive enzyme capsules whilst eating which seem to bring some immediate relief.

    It’s been 10 hours now And I am not sure exactly what to do next. I feel like I broke the fast in a bad way and I am a bit worried about any potential damage I have done to my cleansed intestines, a little on the potential of refeeding syndrome (which is probably my hypochondria speaking) 🙂

    Im feeling ok although gurgling intestines and no bowel movement.

    Do you recommend that I just go into the apple cider vinegar followed by a bone broth from here or wait a few more hours with only water?

    Thank you so much
    C

    1. Hi C,
      I guess you are fine by now – if not, please consult a medical professional.

      Thanks for demonstrating that it is not a good idea to separate natural fiber from plants since there is a lot of sense it exists for digesting the food. Smoothies and juices are something nobody should ever eat – especially not while or after fasting. It can spike blood sugar and insulin and upset your gut in many different ways. If you see a diet suggesting juices, never consider applying it. It’s a shame that, especially when it comes to prolonged fasting, the idea of juices being a great addition emerged without any scientific substance.

      Next time breaking a fast I would instead follow this article 🙂

      BR,
      Stephan

  13. Dave

    Hello fellow intrepid fasters! While rather lengthy and repetitive at points, this is by far BY FAR the best information I have found about breaking extended fasts. I would recommend to the author, Stephan, that perhaps you can make separate pages for intermittent and extended fasts. Perhaps you can also summarize some key points, like an hourly regimen for the extended “break fast” day, in some much shorter pages.

    Anyways, after experimenting with and then fully adopting intermittent fasting for several months in late 2021 and early 2022, I took the plunge and did a 7-day water fast in March 2022, and it was a profoundly exhilarating and illuminating and even spiritual experience. Since then, I have experimented with several 5/2 fasting periods and also a couple of nutritionally supported 3-day fasts from the company Plexus. Currently, however, I am in the late hours of day 5 of another 7 (or maybe 9) day water fast, and I am currently devising plans for how to break my fast this weekend.

    The reason I am doing this is because every extended fast so far has involved some very watery diarrhea, AKA butt pea, that I experienced within 15 to 45 minutes of first resuming food. I have read extensively of this same experience elsewhere, and this page has given me some great ideas to try to combat or at least limit that experience, which may very well be totally natural.

    So my plan is to drink 1-2 cups of water first thing in the morning, followed by my black coffee, then 1-2 hours later I will drink 1 cup of diluted apple cider vinegar, which I’ve never tried. 1-2 hours after that, I will drink 1-2 cups of bone broth. 1-2 hours after that, I look forward to some diced avocado in olive oil and sea salt. Then, finally, for dinner, I will eat either chicken or salmon with cooked broccoli. I intend to repeat this regimen for 2 days after ending this current fast, only on day 2 I plan to add a cup or bowl of sauerkraut mid day. Even if this doesn’t entirely prevent the diarrhea sessions, hopefully it will help prepare my gut for maximum health and nutrient absorption going forward… until my next fast!

    Sorry for the very long reply here, but I do have some specific questions for Stephan:

    1. After experiencing a few heart flutters during my first extended fast and consulting with my primary doctor, I have added bone broth DURING my fasts, but I wonder if I am overdoing it? Do you recommend this? And how much do you think would be enough to get the benefits of the different electrolytes? Alternatively, would smart water or coconut water suffice, or might these not be strong enough?

    2. Do you recommend watermelon at all for breaking fasts? (I had read this elsewhere).

    3. For a low carb (but not fully keto) intermittent fasting lifestyle, what your thoughts on a weekly or bimonthly “boost day” during which you eat carbs and pretty much whatever you want?

    Thanks very much for the great information!

    1. Hi Dave,

      Thank you so much for sharing your experience in all its length, and thanks for your feedback, which I will consider in future posts 🙂

      1) I would only use bone broth when I experience dizziness or another signal in my body that there might be too few electrolytes. Please do not use Coconut Water since it’s mostly sugar and will spike insulin – the exact opposite of what you want to achieve with fasting. I would not recommend drinking coconut water at all (maybe on holiday on a beach).
      2) Breaking a fast with a high-carb fruit is a bad idea, in my opinion (see above). That there is so much made-up fasting advice lacking any evidence is the reason I wrote this article 🙂
      3) If I want to bring in a reload day where I go for heavy carbs (e.g., training for a competition), I would eat a lot of sweet potatoes. They are a low-lectin resistant starch with little antinutrients. That’s a solution I discussed with an MD, who is working out and using this advice himself.

      PS: Your gut detoxing after a prolonged fast is normal – getting out the harmful bacteria is what you want for your gut health 🙂

      Br,
      Stephan

  14. Phila

    Thanks for the cooked veges and avocados. And also to abstain from processed foods like yoghurt, wouldn’t have thought of that. God bless you

    1. Thank you for your cheerful words, Phila!

      I am delighted that my work could help you out 🙂

      God bless you too!

      Have a great week,
      Stephan

  15. Padma

    Awesome article Stephan thank you!

    I Am just about to start a 3 day fast, and wondered, after the ACV to break the fast, then an olive and avocado snack, is it good to have a little bit of cooked carrot, cooked brocolli, cooked onion and cooked tofu or tempeh? I Am vegan so would need some protein in there, and you share to avoid soya as 2nd meal, so im not sure what to do. Thanks for your help!

    1. Padma

      PS-Is Chia or Flax seed any good as well as 2nd meal after the ACV, and the snack of avocado and Olive?

      1. The downsides of chia seeds are more considerable than most people think. So I definitely cannot recommend them, especially since they form a gel in your GI tract. If you fancy them, mix some flax seeds in carefully. They are closer to a superfood than chia seeds IMO.

        Have a great Day! 🙂

        Cheers,
        Stephan

    2. Thanks, Padma, for sharing your experience with us 🙂

      I am delighted that the article was helpful to you.

      Broccoli, other cruciferous vegetables, onion, and some carrots sound fine. I have not tried tempeh or tofu to break a fast so far. Science tempeh is fermented and way more easy to digest (less lectins and other antinutrients) than other soy products, I would mix some in for the second meal 🙂

      Best regards,
      Stephan

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