Right Way to Break Intermittent Fasting - Expert's Guide

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Medically Reviewed by Dr. Aman Priya Khanna
Written by Kirti V, last updated on 11 March 2024
Right Way to Break Intermittent Fasting - Expert's Guide

Fasting is becoming immensely popular in today’s lifestyle, but fasts have to be broken eventually. Do you know how to break intermittent fasting, and why is it important? If not, you are at the right place! 

Knowing the best food to break intermittent fasting is important to maximise the effectiveness of the fast. While some foods can unintentionally break your fast, others do not have much effect. Read on to learn how to break your intermittent fasting plan. 

What is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting is a dietary schedule that includes alternate periods of fasting and eating. It focuses not on the specific foods to eat but on when to eat them. Intermittent fasting is not just about calorie restriction. It also aims to give your body a break from constant digestion. This allows the body to prioritise maintenance and recovery processes.

There are various methods of intermittent fasting. Some patterns include fasting for 12 to 18 hours daily. Others include a 24 to 48-hour fast once or twice every week. During fasting, you can drink certain beverages (while maintaining a carb intake below 50 grams). These beverages include:

  1. Water
  2. Tea and coffee (with no added sugar, milk, or cream)
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Importance of Breaking Intermittent Fast Correctly

Breaking intermittent fasting correctly increases the overall effectiveness and health benefits of the fasting regimen. Its importance includes:

  1. Digestive Comfort: Consuming a heavy meal while breaking a fast can cause digestive issues like bloating. Gradually introducing food into your eating window can prevent this digestive discomfort. 
  2. Weight Management: Eating the wrong foods, like those with carbohydrates, can harm your weight loss results. Therefore, you should break your fast correctly and avoid overeating. 
  3. Preventing Health Concerns: Starting with a balanced meal can help prevent spikes in blood sugar or blood pressure levels. Moreover, eating the right foods can avoid acid reflux and dehydration. 

How to Break an Intermittent Fast?

When breaking your fast after a 12 to 16-hour period, it is crucial to remember that your body has been without food for a long time. Therefore, it is recommended to start with a small and light meal. Consuming a large meal can overwhelm your digestive system and lead to feelings of bloating and lethargy. 

After an intermittent fast, the first meal should contain protein, vitamins, and other healthy nutrients. It would help if you minimise your intake of carbohydrates and fats. Certain foods and beverages, like a greasy cheeseburger, a slice of cake, or a sugary soda, can be particularly harsh on your system. Even high-fibre options like raw fruits and vegetables, nuts, and seeds might pose challenges with digestion.

Foods to Eat to Break an Intermittent Fast

When breaking an intermittent fast, it is essential to select foods that are gentle on your digestive system and provide essential nutrients. The best foods to break intermittent fasting include:

  1. Smoothies: Blended drinks have lower fibre content than whole, raw fruits and vegetables. Therefore, a smoothie is an effective approach to provide nutrients to your body after an intermittent fast. 
  2. Healthy Fats: Foods like avocados and eggs can provide good fats for sustained energy. An avocado is a satiating food that prevents overeating after a fast. 
  3. Soups: Choose soups with protein and easily digestible carbohydrates, such as lentils, tofu, or pasta. Steer clear of soups with heavy cream or an excess of high-fibre, raw vegetables.
  4. Dried Fruits: Dates, apricots, and raisins are good sources of nutrients. They can help break the intermittent fast. 
  5. Vegetables: Cooked, starchy vegetables like potatoes can be a good food option to break your fast. 
  6. Fermented Foods: Unsweetened yoghurt or kefir are excellent food choices to break a fast and lose weight. 

Once you are better able to tolerate these gentle foods, you can eat normally and add more healthy foods to your diet like:

  1. Nuts and seeds
  2. Raw vegetables
  3. Whole grains
  4. Beans
  5. Poultry
  6. Meat
  7. Fish 

Effect of Supplements on Fasting

Frequent fasting can result in nutrient deficiencies, especially if your diet does not include important vitamins and minerals. To address this, some individuals choose to use supplements during fasting. This helps maintain adequate nutrient levels. However, some supplements can break your fast. 

The general rule of thumb is that if you stay under 50 calories, then you'll remain in the fasted state. Therefore, it is important to know which supplements you can or cannot take during the fasting period. 

Supplements less likely to break a fast can include:

  1. Multivitamins: Those without sugar or added fillers contain few or no calories. Thus, taking multivitamins does not break your fast. 
  2. Individual Micronutrients: You can consume supplements like potassium or B vitamins during fasting. However, fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K are best absorbed with food. Therefore, they may not be very effective during an intermittent fast.
  3. Fish or Algae Oil: When consumed in moderation, these supplements provide few calories and no digestible fats. You can consume them in the form of capsules. 
  4. Creatine: The supplement makes energy for the muscle. It does not have calories and no effect on insulin response. Creatine supplements are generally available as a powder that can be dissolved in water. 
  5. Probiotics and Prebiotics: Probiotics are good or helpful bacteria that keep the gut healthy. Prebiotics is a specialised plant fibre that acts as food for good bacteria. These supplements have no calories or digestible carbs, making them suitable for consumption during fasting. They can be consumed as capsules, gummies, or powder. 

Supplements with sugar or calorie content are more likely to break the fast. So, if you want to break your fast, you can consider the following supplements:

  1. Gummy Multivitamins: They have small amounts of protein, sugar, and fat, which can break intermittent fasting. 
  2. Protein Powder: It contains calories and can induce an insulin response. This sends a signal to your body that the fasting state has ended.
  3. Supplements With Certain Ingredients: Some supplements include ingredients like cane sugar, fruit juice, pectin, and maltodextrin. These contain calories and sugar that can break your intermittent fast. 

Things to Remember While Breaking an Intermittent Fast

Eating the right foods while breaking your fast helps you receive the maximum benefits and prevents side effects and discomfort. The following are some tips to help break an intermittent fast:

  1. Choose Nutrient-Rich Foods: After 12 to 16 hours of fasting, it is important to choose the first meal rich in essential nutrients. These may include vegetables, healthy fats, and dried fruits. 
  2. Avoid Carbohydrates: Eating carbohydrates on an empty stomach can harm your efforts to lose weight. Therefore, avoid carbohydrates as the first meal after a fast. 
  3. Stay Away from Sugary Drinks and Snacks: Beverages and snacks with high sugar content can spike your blood sugar level and elevate your insulin level. This can increase hunger. 
  4. Avoid Drinks that Cause Acid Reflux: It is important to avoid consuming certain drinks when breaking a fast, like tea, coffee, and alcohol. These drinks are acidic. Consuming them on an empty stomach can worsen the acid stomach, leading to more acidity. 
  5. Do Not Overeat: Fasting for long hours can make you feel hungry. But that does not mean that you should overeat between fasting periods. Overeating or junk intake can offset the benefits of fasting. Therefore, you should consume minimally processed whole foods while managing your portion sizes. 
  6. No Smoking: Tobacco smoking while fasting can worsen the acid reflux symptoms. Therefore, you must avoid or refrain from smoking while breaking your fast. 

Potential Drawbacks of Breaking an Intermittent Fast

Extended fasting can reduce your body’s production of digestive enzymes. The lack of digestive enzymes and juices can cause the food to remain in your stomach for an extended period. It may take several hours for your body to produce the necessary enzymes. This may lead to gastrointestinal discomfort when you resume eating. The side effects may include:

  1. Diarrhoea or loose stools
  2. Bloating
  3. Gas pain
  4. Passing of undigested food
  5. Nausea and vomiting in rare instances

Therefore, knowing the best food to break intermittent fasting is important. These foods can help ease digestion. 

Takeaway

Knowing how to break intermittent fasting is key to reaping the full benefits of this dietary strategy. Choose nourishing, whole foods and stay mindful of portion sizes to successfully transition from fasting to eating. Remember, your food choices during the eating window can significantly impact your well-being.

If you are unable to lose weight with fasting and exercise, consult a medical specialist for personalised guidance. The experts at HexaHealth can help you guide through the various procedures to lose weight. Moreover, we will connect you with the best doctors specialising in this field. So, schedule an appointment TODAY! 

Suggested Reads :

30 Days Intermittent Fasting Results - Ultimate Guide
How to Lose Weight Fast in 2 Weeks?
10 Best Home Exercises to Lose Weight Fast
7 Days Diet Plan for Weight Loss

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Intermittent Fasting (IF)?

Intermittent Fasting (IF) is an eating pattern that includes alternate periods of fasting and eating. It promotes health benefits like weight management, improved heart health, and better memory and thinking. 

What are the recommended intermittent fasting methods?

The popular intermittent fasting methods include:

  1. 16/8 method (16-hours fasting, 8-hour eating window)
  2. Eat-Stop-Eat (24-hour fasting 1-2 times a week)
  3. Alternate day fasting (fasting every other day)

What are the benefits of intermittent fasting (IF)?

Intermittent fasting (IF) may offer benefits such as:

  1. Weight loss
  2. Improved insulin sensitivity
  3. Reduced oxidative stress and inflammation
  4. Enhanced heart and brain health

Are there any risks of intermittent fasting (IF)?

Intermittent fasting risks or side effects may include:

  1. Hunger and cravings
  2. Digestive issues like constipation, diarrhoea, and bloating
  3. Fatigue and low energy
  4. Headache, irritability and mood changes
  5. Nutrient deficiencies, etc.

What is the best way to break intermittent fasting?

The best way to break intermittent fasting is to eat nutrient-rich foods that are easy to digest. Start with healthy fats, vegetables, soups, and dried fruits. Gradually reintroduce whole grains, beans, meat, poultry, and fish.

How should I break my fast during intermittent fasting?

While breaking an intermittent fast, remember that you haven’t eaten anything for a long time. Therefore, you must start with a small and light meal. Ensure you eat foods rich in protein, vitamins, and other essential nutrients. Moreover, avoid breaking your fast with tea or coffee, as they can cause acidity when consumed on an empty stomach. 

Are there specific foods recommended to break intermittent fasting?

Yes, examples of the best food to break intermittent fasting include:

  1. Smoothies
  2. Soups with lentils, tofu, or pasta
  3. Dried fruits like dates, apricots, and raisins
  4. Cooked, starchy vegetables like potatoes, etc.

What are the common mistakes to avoid when breaking intermittent fasting?

Common mistakes to avoid while breaking intermittent fasting include:

  1. Drinking tea or coffee to break fasting
  2. Eating carbohydrates on an empty stomach
  3. Consuming sugary drinks or desserts
  4. Overeating 

Can I have a heavy meal when breaking an intermittent fast?

No, you should not eat a heavy meal when breaking an intermittent fast. Eating a huge or heavy meal can overload your digestive system. This may cause symptoms like bloating. It is best to choose a small meal that is easy to digest. 

Is it better to start with a light meal or a full meal when ending intermittent fasting?

Starting with a light meal when ending intermittent fasting is generally recommended. It eases digestion and reduces the risk of discomfort. Gradually progress to larger meals as your body adapts to eating again.

What should I drink when breaking my fast during intermittent fasting?

You can drink the following beverages to break your fast during intermittent fasting:

  1. Smoothies
  2. Vegetable juice
  3. Bone broth
  4. Soups 

Are there any health considerations when breaking intermittent fasting?

Yes, there are some health considerations that you must be aware of when breaking intermittent fasting. These may include acid reflux, dehydration, and blood pressure. 

  1. If you break your fast with a heavy meal, it can cause severe acid reflux. This may lead to vomiting and diarrhoea, causing dehydration.
  2. Digestion and absorption after breaking the fast can cause a slight increase in blood pressure. 

Consult a doctor for fasting and meal choices. 

How long should I wait before eating when breaking intermittent fasting?

During the eating window, there is no need to wait before breaking a fast. However, you should break the fast correctly with the right foods for better results. It helps avoid health concerns like acid reflux, dehydration, etc.

Can you provide a step-by-step guide on how to break intermittent fasting safely?

Breaking time-restricted intermittent fasts like 16:8 or 14:10 requires less planning than breaking an extended fast. However, some general guidelines for breaking the fast are as follows:

  1. Eat a small nutritious meal that is easy to digest
  2. Avoid eating foods rich in carbohydrates
  3. Do not consume sugary drinks
  4. Be mindful of portion sizes (do not overeat)

Isn’t it unhealthy to skip breakfast?

It is a popular myth that breakfast is the most important meal. But it is not necessarily true. Skipping breakfast is not unhealthy as long as you eat healthy during the rest of the day. Not eating breakfast during intermittent fasting can reduce calorie intake, helping with weight loss. However, it does not suit everyone, and individual effects may vary.

Can I drink tea or coffee to break intermittent fasting?

No, you should not drink tea or coffee to break intermittent fasting. Tea and coffee are acidic. Consuming them on an empty stomach can worsen the stomach acid. 

References

All the articles on HexaHealth are supported by verified medically-recognized sources such as; peer-reviewed academic research papers, research institutions, and medical journals. Our medical reviewers also check references of the articles to prioritize accuracy and relevance. Refer to our detailed editorial policy for more information.


  1. Meacham J. What Breaks a Fast? Foods, Drinks, and Supplements [Internet]. Healthline. 2019 [cited 2023 Sep 29]. link
  2. How to break your fast. The Times of India [Internet]. [cited 2023 Sep 29]; link
  3. Things to keep in mind while breaking the fast. The Times of India [Internet]. [cited 2023 Sep 29]; link
  4. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Intermittent fasting: What is it, and how does it work? [Internet]. Johns Hopkins Medicine. 2021. link
  5. Gunnars K. 6 popular ways to do intermittent fasting [Internet]. Healthline. 2020. link
  6. Kubala J. 9 Potential Intermittent Fasting Side Effects [Internet]. Healthline. 2021. link
  7. Panoff L. What Breaks a Fast? Foods, Drinks, and Supplements [Internet]. Healthline. 2019. link
  8. Some foods that you can have. The Times of India [Internet]. [cited 2023 Sep 29]; link
  9. Bjarnadottir A. Is Skipping Breakfast Bad for You? The Surprising Truth [Internet]. Healthline. 2017.link
  10. Hill A. Can You Combine Intermittent Fasting and Coffee? [Internet]. Healthline. 2019 [cited 2023 Sep 29]. link

Updated on : 11 March 2024

Reviewer

Dr. Aman Priya Khanna

Dr. Aman Priya Khanna

MBBS, DNB General Surgery, Fellowship in Minimal Access Surgery, FIAGES

12 Years Experience

Dr Aman Priya Khanna is a well-known General Surgeon, Proctologist and Bariatric Surgeon currently associated with HealthFort Clinic, Health First Multispecialty Clinic in Delhi. He has 12 years of experience in General Surgery and worke...View More

Author

Kirti V

Kirti V

B.A. English | M.A. English ( Magadh University, Bihar)

3 Years Experience

With 3 years of full-time experience as an SEO content writer, she has honed her skills to deliver captivating and persuasive writing that leaves a lasting impact. She is always ready to learn new things and expand...View More

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