According to YouGov, intermittent fasting, along with the Aitkins diet (aka the low-carb diet), tie for first place as the most popular diet in America, with 24% of Americans following each of them.

While we argue that intermittent fasting isn’t a diet but simply an eating schedule, it’s clear that the many health benefits of fasting have gone viral.

Yet, with so much focus on fasting and more people fasting for longer periods like 2-7 days, one critical thing is often overlooked: how to break a fast?

Breaking a fast is just as important as fasting. In this article you’ll get the steps to follow and the best foods to eat to break a fast. 

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how to break a fast properly

The health benefits of fasting have gone viral, and we couldn’t be happier about that.

Fasting has proven, through centuries, that it offers unbelievable health benefits, particularly that of autophagy, or cell renewal. This has been linked not just to longevity but reducing the risk of diabetes and so forth.

With the popularity of fasting, people often overlook what to do when you’re not fasting, aka, how to break that fast.

Depending on several factors, such as how long your fast was, what your diet is typically like, and if you’re an amateur or experienced faster, these all dictate how you should approach breaking your fast.

But is there a wrong way to break a fast? Yes, and the result could be stomach cramps or diarrhea.

We’ll share with you how to avoid these and make sure that you’re breaking your fast safely and healthily to continue to promote whichever goals you have, such as weight loss or general health.

In this article, we’ll recommend specific meal recipes and how to break a fast, depending on if you’re intermittent fasting, alternate day fasting, or extended fasting (48 hours or longer).

Meals to Break a Fast

The reason why breaking a fast takes some extra thought is because, during fasting, the stomach produces fewer enzymes to break down food.

That means, if you immediately start eating donuts, your stomach won’t be prepared to digest them. Enter: stomach cramps and diahrrea.

Fortunately, the best foods we recommend to break a fast with are simple and easy to keep in the pantry. Plus, with time as your body becomes more accustomed to fasting, you don’t have to be so vigilant about what you eat. This is because your body will adjust and start anticipating your new eating program.

If you’re intermittent fasting for the first time, we’d say it takes about 2-3 weeks to get the hang of things. And by the “hang of things” we mean feeling good after breaking a fast, and most importantly, controlling any “hanger” issues throughout the day.

For extended or prolonged fasting, generally thought of as fasts for 48 hours or more, you’re going want to be more careful with how you break your fast.

This is the time when your digestive enzymes are depleted, but there are a few easy drinks to start with an hour before eating that will kickstart the process again.

Additionally, we created a Fasting Bundle to help you succeed with intermittent and extended fasting. Read by 143,364 people in 2023 alone, download the guide below if you need structure like many others do.

Intermittent and extended fasting bundle - printable pdf guide

The Proven Fasting Bundle (Printable PDF Guide)

Read by 143,364 fasters in 2022 alone, the Fasting Bundle is the structure and tools you need to succeed.

  • Intermittent and alternate-day fasting meal plans
  • Checklist for before, during, and after a prolonged fast
  • Benefits, challenges, and a beginners how-to guide

Plus, we're just an email away for support.

how to Break a fast

Often when searching for the best foods to eat and how to break a fast, you’ll just come across lists of ideal foods but not so many recipes. Here, we’ll share both.

These are the steps that we typically follow when breaking a fast, especially an extended fast of 3-days. It’s a good idea as well, when intermittent fasting, to follow these and ease your body into its meals for the day.

Here’s how to break a fast properly.

Step 1: 30-Minutes Before Eating: Digestive Enzymes Drink

About 30-minutes before eating, we recommend planning ahead and prep your digestive enzymes to handle the upcoming meal.

  • One cup of hot water
  • One half a lemon squeezed (excites digestive enzymes)
  • Two caps full of apple cider vinegar (balances pH levels in the gut for healthy bacteria growth)
  • A pinch of cinnamon (to stabilize blood sugar levels)

This is a prefect drink to break your intermittent fast.

Step 2: A Bowl of Bone Broth (Particularly For Extended Fasts)

For extended fasts lasting more than 2-days, it’s a good first step to replenish your electrolytes and salt lost while fasting.

For this reason, as well as the excellent nutrients and healthy fats found in bone broth, this is a popular way to break a fast while being soft on the stomach.

Vegans and vegetarians can instead drink a cupful of miso soup. This was how we broke our recent 3-day fast.

Step 3: First Meal to Break a Fast

What is the best first meal after fasting?

At this point, after your digestive enzyme “pick-me-up” drink, you’re ready to go if just intermittent fasting, even if alternate day fasting. For longer fasts, you’ll want to follow this meal plan more strictly.

Either way, it’s a good idea to consider which foods are best to break a fast and what not to eat after fasting, regardless of the amount of time you’ve been fasting.

Best Foods to Break a Fast:

By eating these foods you are breaking your fast correctly. 

1. Foods high in protein and healthy fats

  • Avocado
  • Chicken
  • Fish

2. Foods easily digested

  • Cooked vegetables or leafy greens
  • Sourdough toast (only sourdough as it supports gut health and manages blood sugar levels, unlike other types of bread)
  • Eggs, in general, but may contribute intestinal gas

There are very few carbs on this list because they are not recommended after fasting.

Foods to Avoid When Breaking a Fast:

Don’t break your fast with these foods. Wait until later in the day to eat them.

1. Carbs

  • Wheat
  • Grains
  • Oats
  • All refined carbohydrates

2. Foods high in sugar

  • Cereals
  • High sugar fruits
  • Sugary drinks
  • The obvious processed junk

3. Foods hard to digest

  • Raw cruciferous vegetables
  • Beans and legumes
  • Yogurt and dairy
  • Nuts (nut butters are okay)

4. All red meats

12 Meal Ideas to Break a Fast

Here are a few meal ideas on how to break a fast. Again, as mentioned above, you can likely eat more if just coming off intermittent or alternate day fasting.

However, for those of you doing a longer fast, like a 3-day water fast, you’ll want to stick to this more strictly and start with a smaller-sized meal, around 500 calories or less, to make sure your stomach and gut don’t respond poorly.

  • Avocado on sourdough toast
  • Sauteed vegetables in olive oil or coconut oil
  • Tuna fish on sourdough toast
  • Baked chicken with cooked root vegetables
  • Cooked salmon with lemon
  • Turkey meatballs
  • Fresh vegetable salad with lemon and olive oil (just avoid raw cruciferous vegetables which are notoriously hard to digest)
  • Breakfast egg burrito with avocado
  • Chicken soup (without the noodles)
  • Scrambled eggs with zucchini on sourdough toast
  • Guacamole
  • Vegetable soup

Should you eat a big meal after fasting? Absolutely not. Keep it small, around 500 calories, especially for those coming off a 3-day, 5-day, or 7-day extended fast.

We hope you enjoy these meals and have a new appreciation for food.

Step 4: Resume Your Day As Normal

That’s how to break a fast safely and correctly. If, after waiting another hour or two after breakfast and you’re still hungry, you’re safe to progress onto what you’d normally eat.

Again, take a little extra caution if you completed an extended fast.

The rule of thumb is to be careful with your food after a fast for 50% of the length of your fast. So, if you did a 3-day fast, be mindful (stick to the list of best foods to break a fast) of the first 1.5 days afterwards.

Most people who are fasting are working on cleansing the body, weight loss, and regulating their blood sugar levels. In all of these instances, you’ll want to avoid simple carbohydrates (pastas and breads, with the exception of sourdough bread), sugar (soda and desserts), and processed foods.

As Michael Pollan — who, by the way, has an excellent MasterClass — says in his book, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto,

“Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food. When you pick up that box of portable yogurt tubes, or eat something with 15 ingredients you can’t pronounce, ask yourself, ‘What are those things doing there?”

What are your favorite meals to break a fast? Comment and share with others below, and we’ll keep updating our list!

Closing Thoughts on How To break a Fast

We hope this article has helped you prepare a plan to break your fast. 

Feel free to download our 3-Day Fasting Guide to help you plan, track, and properly break your fast.

Leave any specific questions about how to break a fast in the comments below. We prefer that to email because the discussion helps all future readers. Thanks!

For general questions about fasting, such as why you’re not losing weight on intermittent fasting, head over to our Fasting Page.

Intermittent and extended fasting bundle - printable pdf guide

The Proven Fasting Bundle (Printable PDF Guide)

Read by 143,364 fasters in 2022 alone, the Fasting Bundle is the structure and tools you need to succeed.

  • Intermittent and alternate-day fasting meal plans
  • Checklist for before, during, and after a prolonged fast
  • Benefits, challenges, and a beginners how-to guide

Plus, we're just an email away for support.

30-Day Weight Loss Challenge Tracker Form V2 Ryan and Alex Duo Life

30-Day Weight Loss Challenge

As engineers with a combined twelve years of health coaching experience, we needed to create a data-driven way for our clients to sustain weight loss.

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Hey we're Ryan and Alex

The creators of Ryan and Alex Duo Life. We are a husband-wife duo and “lifestyle engineers.”

After eight years working in the corporate world as engineers, we left our high-powered jobs to tackle our true passion — helping couples engineer their best lives.

The synergy of our engineering minds and ten years of health coaching experience produced Ryan and Alex Duo Life. Our mission is to help you transform your bodies, minds, and relationship as a couple.

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