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The Best Foods to Eat After Fasting – A Complete Guide

What are the best foods to eat after fasting? Depending on who you ask, fasting can either be what people do before a blood test or something that is deeply rooted in tradition and religious or spiritual beliefs. However, the definition changes when you shift the perspective into health and fitness, and all this has to do with weight loss and fat burning.

What is fasting? How does it help you lose weight? What foods can you eat after fasting to maximize the benefits? Read on to find out!

Best foods to eat after fasting

What is Fasting?

Fasting, or sometimes referred to as intermittent fasting, is a weight loss “technique” that capitalizes on the body’s natural ability to burn fat from 16 hours to three days. Some even go longer. Some naysayers think fasting = starvation, but that is simply not the case.

In fasting, you’re eating nutritious and filling foods, enough to last you until the next “feeding time.” Starvation is simply the lack of food intake which can lead to serious health problems in the long-term. Fasting, if done right, can actually help optimize the body’s ability to store and burn fat.

Fasting can also allow people to have more time to do more tasks as they’re no longer bound by “meal times” or eating periods. If you don’t have to eat, then you’re free to do whatever you want.

Fasting and our ancestors

Some researchers also say fasting is the body’s natural or “default” setting, which can be traced all the way back to ancient men and women.

They say that when people still needed to hunt or pluck their food, they would spend half the day hunting and a small part eating what they captured while there was still sunlight available. When night time comes, they would then go back to their caves or whichever place they camped and sleep. The energy they got from eating within that time frame would be enough until the next time they hunt.

Fasting also helped our ancestors survive long periods of famine and drought, as their bodies utilized stored fat to keep them moving from a place where there is little food to a location where there is some form of sustenance. Naturally, fasting also ties heavily with the ketogenic diet as fasting also uses ketosis – a process where the body uses fat as fuel instead of sugar, but we’ll discuss this at a later time.

How fasting works for weight loss

The general idea behind fasting is simple: Eat nutritious and filling foods within a time period, then fast until the next time you eat to repeat the process. Some eat twice a day (breakfast and lunch), others eat everything in one sitting. It doesn’t matter how you do this so long as you observe the fasting time and do a bit of calorie counting on the side if you’re a daily faster.

Fast for Weight Loss

When you’re done eating, the body will then proceed to focus on digestion, nutrient absorption, and energy usage aka fat burning. This is the normal process for everyone, but fasting changes this in a drastic way.

Because you’re no longer going to eat again for a long time, the body will then focus on fat burning until you do break your fast. So with fasting, you are essentially running on fat stores as your body becomes a fat furnace for the next 24 to maybe 48 hours or more, depending on the person.

If done properly and for a lengthy period, fasting can often result in manageable weight loss. Some even say fasting helps “reset” the body’s metabolic functions into a healthier, more optimal state.

There’s also a bit of science to it, and it heavily relies on the food you eat which we will go into next.

The Three Types of Fasting

The best foods to eat after fasting depends on how long you’ve fasted. While there is no real consensus as to the types of fasting, there are usually three ways to do it:

1. Daily Fasting

Daily Fasting is when you eat within 8 hours of waking and fast for 16 hours. This is how most people do intermittent fasting. There really is no clear “food guideline” aside from eating healthy and filling meals, but you also want to keep an eye out on caloric intake as some people mistake intermittent fasting as “eat all you can in 8 hours.” This definition will not result in weight loss unless you find a way to use the excess energy or if you’re a pro athlete who trains for long hours. Not to mention this is akin to binge eating, which would essentially be compensating for meals you didn’t have, so you might as well not fast at all.

2. Short term fasts

Short term fasts are fasts done between 24- 36 hours. Not as common as intermittent fasting, but serious dieters take this weight loss route if their bodies allow it. Just like Daily Fasting, there is no real food guideline to follow so long as you stick to whole foods that can fill you up for more than 24 hours. However, it is strongly suggested to consume healthy fats, protein, and fibre. Foods high in healthy fats, protein, and fibre are not only filling, but they are also nutrient dense or high nutrients the body will need to power through the next 24 to 36 hours.

Naturally, the foods you eat after breaking a short term fast would also be similar to what you ate before as the body has yet to really change dietary behaviours during this short fasting period.

3. Long term fasts

Long term fasting is a type of fasting that people do beyond 36 hours. This is a different kind of fasting as this is usually for those who want to optimize their body beyond weight loss.

Because of how different a long term fast is, it also goes without saying that the food you introduce after a long term fast needs to be carefully planned. This is because the body’s digestive enzymes haven’t been produced or secreted in a long time throughout this period, and reintroducing food normally would be a terrible idea for your gut.

That is why long term fasts, especially fasts that are longer than three days, require a bit of planning with regards to what you will eat afterwards. The idea is to first stimulate digestive enzymes, then introduce light or semi-liquid foods. Once the stomach is stimulated properly, this is when you start taking foods you would need to chew a few times.

If you eat normal food right after a long fast, you risk getting gut problems such as bloating, flatulence, nausea, and even vomiting.

The Best Foods to Eat After Fasting

So, what are some of the best foods to eat after a fast? Here are the 5 we would recommend:

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar as a health food isn’t new, but it’s certainly not the usual thing you would eat after a fast. After all, taking vinegar after a fast sounds like a bad idea, what with the sourness and empty stomach not really making a good pair.

Apple Cider Vinegar

However, apple cider vinegar is a totally different ingredient. It’s not even like your typical vinegar, because it does more than make non-sour things taste sour.

Some of what apple cider vinegar can do are:

  • Improve stomach pH levels. The stomach has an amazing way of keeping our stomach pH neutral or close to neutral 24/7. However, the “modern” diet has a tendency to acidify our stomach and while this in itself isn’t bad every now and then, having a consistently acidic stomach is not healthy. The magical thing about apple cider vinegar is upon consumption, this otherwise acidic compound breaks down into stuff that promotes alkalinity.
  • Antimicrobial properties. The body relies on gut bacteria for pretty much anything immunity-related, but as with anything, there are always bad apples that can ruin the entire stock. These are your bad gut bacteria, or bacteria that aren’t there to help the body at all. Apple cider vinegar has antimicrobial properties due to how it’s been found to inhibit fungal and bacterial overgrowth. It won’t completely eradicate them, but the vinegar can help mitigate their population to more manageable and safe levels.
  • Can be good for blood sugar management. Blood sugar levels determine how hungry we are. High blood sugar will not make us crave, while being low blood will make us drool at the mere thought of food. Since you’re coming off a fast, the last thing you want to do is overeat and ruin the weight loss benefits of the fasting you just did. Apple cider vinegar can help stabilize blood sugar levels, which can help reduce our cravings and help us against overeating after a long fast. [6]

On top of the benefits mentioned, apple cider vinegar can also help stimulate digestion, which is something you want to start off with when you’re breaking a fast. Eating food while the stomach is not stimulated (i.e. digestive enzymes haven’t been activated yet) will cause a lot of gut problems.

Bone Broth

If you’ve been fasting for a while, then you probably already know why bone broth is on this list.

Bone broth contains electrolytes, and it’s imperative to have your fill of electrolytes after a fast as mineral depletion is one of the primary concerns of fast dieting.

Similar to digestive enzyme stimulation, having a good dose of electrolytes before resuming regular eating will help prepare the body for the sudden food intake and can help protect you against gut problems such as bloating and diarrhea. [7]

Fish

Fish is a light meat-meal, making it a great food to eat after a fast. It’s not as “tough” as red meat and this means the body will break it down easily and absorb the nutrients it contains fast.

Watermelons and Bananas

Watermelons are one of the “easiest” to digest fruits in the world, as a lot of it is water. When you’re on a fast, especially a fast that lasts more than 3 days, you want the first foods to hit your stomach to be mostly liquid, and true to their name, watermelons are just that.

Bananas are also one of the best sources of healthy carbs after a fast. It also contains fiber, minerals, vitamins, and other gut bacteria-friendly nutrients.

Eat Bananas After Fasting

Yogurt and other fermented foods

Fermented foods in general are gut-friendly as they can be both pro and prebiotics. [4,5]

When you fast, you are essentially “cleansing” your gut off bad bacteria, so why not introduce more good bacteria when you eat after fasting?

Yogurt is an easy pick, but kimchi and sauerkraut are also viable for those who prefer their gut-foods to be not as milky or sweet.

Other good foods to eat after fasting

  • Avocados – A good source of healthy fats as well as vitamins and minerals. One of the best low-calorie, high-nutrient foods in nature that is also just good for the palate. [3]
  • Eggs – Eggs are among the most nutritious foods on the planet. It’s a huge plus how easy it is to eat them, what with the number of recipes you can make eggs with. It’s also rich in protein which helps prevent muscle loss.
  • Spinach, kale, broccoli – These are your fibrous foods that also happen to be one of the best vegetables in terms of nutrient and antioxidant content. If you can stomach it, you can drink them as a smoothie, but just be wary of the amount as the sudden intake of fiber can potentially trigger bowel movement and may even promote constipation if you eat too much. [1,2]

Spinach

What you eat after fasting is just as important as the fasting period itself. Taking care to not overwhelm your gut with the sudden rush of nutrients will help prevent unwanted gut problems associated with poor food choices after a long fast. It’s therefore important to eat foods that will first stimulate your digestive enzymes and start with foods the stomach won’t have trouble digesting.

If you do things right, you will reap the full benefits of your fast whether you do a short or a long term fast.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should you eat after fasting for 3 days?

First of all, try to resist the urge to eat a big meal. If you eat a big meal straight after a fast you may experience uncomfortable symptoms like stomach aches and flatulence. Try to break up your fasting with smaller meals or smoothies, then start introducing larger meals later in the day.

What to eat after fasting for 5 days?

Ideally you should look at foods that contain high dietary fiber, plus low carbohydrate foods and foods that are low in protein, You should also drink water with electrolytes and unsweetened tea and coffee before moving on to larger meals.

What to eat after fasting for 48 hours?

Ideally your first meal after fasting should either be a light snack like a small handful of almonds, followed by a smaller meal after a few hours. When not fasting, maintain your normal eating habits and avoid foods that are higher in calories.

References:

  1. Di Noia J. Defining powerhouse fruits and vegetables: a nutrient density approach. Prev Chronic Dis. 2014;11:E95. Published 2014 Jun 5. doi:10.5888/pcd11.130390
  2. Blekkenhorst LC, Sim M, Bondonno CP, et al. Cardiovascular Health Benefits of Specific Vegetable Types: A Narrative Review. Nutrients. 2018;10(5):595. Published 2018 May 11. doi:10.3390/nu10050595
  3. Dreher ML, Davenport AJ. Hass avocado composition and potential health effects. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2013;53(7):738-750. doi:10.1080/10408398.2011.556759
  4. Velasco M, Requena T, Delgado-Iribarren A, Peláez C, Guijarro C. Probiotic Yogurt for the Prevention of Antibiotic-associated Diarrhea in Adults: A Randomized Double-blind Placebo-controlled Trial. J Clin Gastroenterol. 2019;53(10):717-723. doi:10.1097/MCG.0000000000001131
  5. Guarner F, Perdigon G, Corthier G, Salminen S, Koletzko B, Morelli L. Should yoghurt cultures be considered probiotic?. Br J Nutr. 2005;93(6):783-786. doi:10.1079/bjn20051428
  6. Siddiqui FJ, Assam PN, de Souza NN, Sultana R, Dalan R, Chan ES. Diabetes Control: Is Vinegar a Promising Candidate to Help Achieve Targets?. J Evid Based Integr Med. 2018;23:2156587217753004. doi:10.1177/2156587217753004
  7. Ray ML, Bryan MW, Ruden TM, Baier SM, Sharp RL, King DS. Effect of sodium in a rehydration beverage when consumed as a fluid or meal. J Appl Physiol (1985). 1998;85(4):1329-1336. doi:10.1152/jappl.1998.85.4.1329

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