After Your Fast: What To Eat

July 11, 2018

 

Ultimately, how you break an extended fast is up to you of course.  There is, however, a safe refeeding process so you don't wind up undoing most or all of the benefits obtained by going through your fast. We also want to avoid refeeding syndrome and refeeding edema. Both are triggered by a too rapid reintroduction of carbs or large amounts of protein into your diet. You have done something amazing for your body; continue that with a healthy refeed!

A tip for all refeeding after fasts of seven days or longer is to continue taking your supplements but to drop your potassium to the minimum recommended dose by the third day of your refeed as you will be getting potassium from your food. 

 

Throughout these refeeding guidelines, soft salads are a common theme. Soft as in soft lettuces, watery veggies, non-sugary fruits (tomatoes, avocado).  Nothing hard or crunchy.  Soft salads should essentially slip through your digestive tract. Hard, crunchy foods can actually scratch or otherwise harm your intestines if you are coming off a long fast.

 

24 - 36 Hour or Less Fasts

Short duration fasts (24 hours or less) generally require no special breaking of the fast.

Be careful to break your fast gently. There is a natural tendency to eat large amounts of food as soon as the fast is over. Interestingly, most people don’t actually describe overwhelming hunger but more of a psychological need to eat.

Overeating right after fasting may lead to stomach discomfort. While not serious, it can be quite uncomfortable. 

Try breaking your fast with bone broth based soups, vegetable smoothies or a small salad to start. Then wait for 15 to 30 minutes. This will usually give time for any waves of hunger to pass, and allow you to gradually adjust.  

 

 48 - 72 Hour Fasts

A 3-day fast requires reasonable precautions. It is wise to start with a little soup – something thin and nourishing such as vegetable or bone broth, adding butter, cream, or oil if you wish.  Alternatively, starting out with bulletproof coffee or coffe/tea with heavy cream is another good option if those are something you already enjoy.  Either the soup or coffee will help to provide satiety.  Don't rush into eating. 

Wait until you feel hungry before eating again. Then proceed to a small to moderate size meal such as a small soft salad, some nut butter, a small quantity of well chewed nuts, some avocado, soft eggs, etc. Again wait at least an hour or until you are actually hungry before eating again. If everything has gone well, you can resume a normal "clean" diet, but try to keep it fairly simple and easily digestible. 

On day two, resume whatever eating plan you intend to follow. 

 

7 - 9 Day Fasts, Keto Version    

 

Plan on refeeding for 4 days and continue to supplement with your electrolytes. 

Day 1: Start day one with liquids so that your digestive system can adjust to the re-introduction of foods and prevent overeating. You can add cream, butter, or other fat to whatever you are drinking. By the end of day one, you can also make a low-carb pureed soup or have some avocado. 

Day 2: You can start introducing salad, low-carb steamed veggies, nut butters, low-carb soft/watery veggies, soft eggs, small amounts of cheese, more complex soups, etc. all while keeping your fat content up to help keep your appetite under control.  

Day 3: Same as above, but continue to increase the amounts. You can also add easily digestible animal protein if you choose (chicken or fish).  

Day 4: Normal quantities of all of the above, plus anything else you would like that is low in carbs. If you try adding significant amounts of even "healthy carbs" during the refeeding process, you may very well find yourself fighting a major battle with the urge to go into a full blown "feeding frenzy" mode. Keep the carbs low, and you’ll be fine! 

 

14 Day Fasts  

 

Plan on refeeding for 7 days and continue to supplement with your electrolytes.

Day 1: Plain broth or broth with added fat (cream, butter, oil, etc), avocado, Bulletproof coffee or coffee with cream are all a good way to start breaking your fast. You could also use a low-carb vegetable juice diluted 1/2 and 1/2 with water if you would like. Then, wait for at least an hour or until you are hungry and go with something soft, low carb, low protein, and easily digestible such as a soft salad, steamed veggies, or a pureed veggie-based soup.  

Day 2:  Stick with any combination of the above foods for the first day and ideally for the second day also.  You could also add a serving or two of nut butter(s) on day two. If you know that you digest  eggs well and you've tolerated the above foods with no digestive issues, you could add  soft cooked or finally chopped eggs towards the end of day two but ideally leave the eggs for day three.  

Day 3: All of the above including eggs. You can start adding cheese and a wider variety of fresh, watery vegetables.  

Day 4: All of the above, in larger quantities. Continue to keep your total carbohydrate count low - less than 20 grams and all from veggies as at this point too many carbs can still trigger a feed frenzy response.  

Day 5: Add easily digested animal proteins if you wish (chicken or fish), but make your first serving small to see how you tolerate it.  

Day 6: All of the above with the addition of whole fat dairy if you wish.  

Day 7: Any and all of the above. Use today to transition to whatever diet you intend to follow. You should be back to eating full sized meals - eat only until you are full and keep the fat content high to control your appetite.  

7 days can seem like a long time to break a 14 day fast, but taking it slowly and gently has a number of benefits. You are less likely to start overeating, less likely to experience any significant digestive issues, and it will help you become more sensitive to your body's response to particular types of foods. 

 

 

20 Day Fasts

 

Plan on refeeding for 10 days and continue to supplement with your electrolytes.

Day 1: Plain broth or broth with added fat (cream, butter, oil, etc), avocado, Bulletproof coffee or coffee with cream are all a good way to start breaking your fast. You could also use a low-carb vegetable juice diluted 1/2 and 1/2 with water if you would like. Then, wait for at least an hour or until you are hungry and go with something soft, low carb, low protein, and easily digestible such as a soft salad, steamed veggies or a pureed veggie based soup.

Days 2 - 3: Stick with any combination of the above foods listed for the first day. You could also add a serving or two of nut butter(s) on day two and a thicker more substantial soup. If you know that you digest eggs well and you've tolerated the above foods with no digestive issues, you could add soft cooked or finally chopped eggs towards the end of day two but ideally leave the eggs for day three.

Days 3 - 4:  Any or all of the above including eggs. You can start adding cheese and a wider variety of fresh, watery vegetables.

Day 5: All of the above, in larger quantities. Continue to keep your total carbohydrate count low - less than 20 grams and all from veggies as at this point too many carbs can still trigger a feeding frenzy response.

Days 6 - 7: Add easily digested animal proteins if you wish (chicken or fish), but make your first serving small to see how you tolerate it. 

Days 8 - 9: All of the above with the addition of whole fat dairy if you wish.

Day 10: Any and all of the above. Use today to transition to whatever diet you intend to follow. You should be back to eating full sized meals - eat only until you are full and keep the fat content high to control your appetite. You can add a small portion of berries or 1/2 an apple if you wish, but pay attention to whether or not the sugar in the fruit triggers any carb cravings for you.

I know 10 days can seem like a long time to break a 20 day fast, but taking it slowly and gently has a number of benefits. You are less likely to start overeating, less likely to experience any significant digestive issues, and it will help you become more sensitive to your body's response to particular types of foods.  

 

30 Day or Longer Fasts

 

Day 1: Plain broth or broth with added fat (cream, butter, oil, etc.), avocado, BPC or coffee with cream are all a good way to start breaking your fast. You could also use a low-carb vegetable juice diluted 1/2 and 1/2 with water if you would like. Repeat this every two hours throughout the day.

Day 2: Repeat day one until early afternoon. Then, if you have been tolerating everything well and feel you are ready to advance to more substantial food, start with something soft, low carb, low protein, and easily digestible. This includes steamed veggies, a pureed veggie-based soup, and a soft salad (lettuces, watery veggies, non-sugary fruits like tomatoes and avocado) with nothing hard or crunchy. These softer foods should essentially slip through your digestive tract. Hard, crunchy foods can actually scratch or otherwise harm your intestines if you are coming off a long fast. 

Days 3 and 4: Stick with any combination of the above foods. You could also add a serving or two of nut butter(s) now and a thicker, more substantial soup. If you know that you digest eggs well and you’ve tolerated the above foods with no digestive issues, you could add soft-cooked or finely chopped eggs.

Days 5 and 6: Any or all of the above including eggs and nut butters or well-chewed nuts. You can start adding cheese and a wider variety of fresh, watery vegetables. You could also add a very low-carb tortilla or wrap to start adding a wider variety of recipe options.

Days 7 and 8: All of the above, in larger quantities. Continue to keep your total carbohydrate count to less than 20 grams per day with most of your carbs coming from veggies (at this point, too many carbs can still trigger a feeding frenzy response). You can add easily digested animal proteins like chicken or fish if you wish, but make your first serving small to see how you tolerate it.

Days 9-11: All of the above with the addition of whole fat dairy, a wider variety of cheeses, and harder-to-digest vegetables.

Days 12-15: Any and all of the above. Use these days to transition to whatever diet you intend to follow. By day 15, you should be back to eating full-sized meals. Eat only until you are no longer hungry and keep the fat content high to control your appetite. You can add a small portion of berries or 1/2 an apple if you wish, but pay attention to whether or not the sugar in the fruit triggers any carb cravings for you.

15 days can seem like a long time to break a 30-day fast, but taking it slowly and gently has a number of benefits. You are less likely to start over-eating, less likely to experience any significant digestive issues, and it will help you become more sensitive to your body’s response to particular types of food. Additionally, keeping your carbs very low and protein relatively low for the first 10 days will help to prevent any re-feeding issues as well as making it less likely for you to trigger a “feeding frenzy” episode.

If you fasted for less or more time than 30 days, use the above plan as a guideline for a shorter or longer re-feed plan.

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