What to Eat to Break a Fast (Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff)

I already have a blog post called 15 Best Foods to Break a Fast. If you are looking for a list of foods to eat, this is it! In this post, I want to talk about whether you can break your fast “wrong” and give you some simple guidelines so you can figure out yourself what to eat to break a fast.

How to Decide What to Eat to Break a Fast

My video What Foods to Eat When Breaking a Fast: Top 15 Foods to Break a Fast is one of my most popular videos ever. People want to know exactly what they should be eating and they ask the question a lot. When I created the blog post/video, I checked out other popular videos from people like Thomas DeLauer. I combined the best information I could find with what I learned from experience to create my own. However, I am going to be perfectly honest with you, I don’t think you need to worry as much about what to eat to break a fast as people think.

Why Figuring Out What to Eat to Break a Fast Is Easier Than You Think

I am always a bit surprised at how much people like rules and step-by-step processes when it comes to health or just about anything in life except for religion. I mean, when it comes to morality and ethics, it seems like most people think we should just do “what feels right.” However, when it comes to breaking a fast, people start wondering if they should break a 16-hour fast with a banana or a protein shake. Think about it, will it really matter? It most likely won’t!

Haha! So you do know that what feels good is not necessarily right! Learning to enjoy wholesome nourishing foods can take time, but I want to admit, I have broken my fast with potato chips more than once! Did it ruin my intermittent fasting? No, it didn’t! Was it optimal? Of course not! My point is simply that you don’t need to sweat the small stuff. Do your best to determine what your body needs when you are breaking your fast. My guidelines will help you do just that, so keep reading!

Can You Break Your Fast “Wrong”?

There are two main reasons why I see people worrying about what to eat to break a fast:

  1. They want to make sure they don’t eat something that will cause digestive upset.
  2. They worry they will pick foods that will spike their insulin too much.

These are legitimate concerns. However, everyone is different. Breaking a fast with nuts can cause digestive issues for some and not for others, for example. Thomas DeLauer recommends you avoid combining fats and carbs when you break your fast. He says this will cause a double insulin spike. I have yet to verify that claim, but I have my doubts. It sounds like one of those claims we make up because we feel like we need rules to follow. So, can you break your fast “wrong”? Well, eating ice cream (or chips) to break your fast may not be the best choice, but remember that as you grow and learn throughout your fasting journey, tuning into your body will become easier and you will make better choices.

Simple Guidelines to Know What Foods to Eat to Break a Fast

In the comments for my video What Foods to Eat When Breaking a Fast: Top 15 Foods to Break a Fast, you will find questions like these:

  • What should I put in my salad when I break my fast?
  • If I break my fast with coconut oil, how long after that can I eat?
  • Can I break my fast with scrambled eggs and bread?
  • Can I eat almonds to break my fast?
  • Can I have oatmeal with agave with almond milk and an egg with veggies? Is that ok???
  • Bananas aren’t full of fructose?
  • Can I break my fasting with egg whites?

My goal in this section is to give you the tools you need to find your own answers.

How Long Was Your Fast?

I mentioned in my previous 15 Best Foods to Break a Fast post that the reintroduction phase should last about half as long as your fast itself. That’s what many fasting experts recommend and it made sense to me. I don’t think so anymore. I mean, most people fast for at least 8 hours while they sleep. That means a 4-hour reintroduction phase. If you fast for 36-hour (like for Alternate Day Fasting), then your reintroduction phase would be 18-hours. That seems really excessive! It goes to show you, even the “experts” can get it wrong. I am telling you, you need to learn to trust yourself and your common sense. However, the length of your fast will have an impact on how your body reacts to the foods you consume to break your fast. Sounds pretty logical, doesn’t it?

Fasting for Up to 24 Hours

When you fast for less than a day, you really don’t need to worry that much about what to eat to break your fast. If you eat something that you shouldn’t, your body will let you know. You will feel tired, uncomfortably full, or bloated. So eat what you think you should eat and see how your body reacts. It’s that simple! Moreover, read my post What to Eat After a 24-Hour Fast.

Fasting for Over 24 Hours

I a going to be upfront, I have no experience with fasting for more than 24 hours. I intend to practice alternate-day fasting in the near future, but the time hasn’t come yet. However, it makes sense (again, common sense) to be more careful when you have been fasting for a longer period. I already enjoy breaking my fast with a green superfood shake most days because it’s easy to digest and full of nutrients. Sometimes I go for harder to digest foods and don’t experience any issues.

If I were to fast for longer, I would definitely go for the Power Shake. You can do something similar. Get started with whatever superfood shake you like. Or try a salad, some veggies. One YouTube viewer was telling me she enjoys fruit. Fruit is also an excellent option. In our low-carb world, many people are afraid of fruit because of fructose but you don’t need to be. It would be hard to eat enough fruit to consume too much fructose. Besides, the fiber in your fruit helps slow down the absorption of fructose. Fruit has many nutritional benefits and it’s always a good idea to pick something that will nourish your body.

How Nutrient Dense Is the Food That You Want?

When you pick what to eat to break a fast, it’s a good idea to consider how nutrient-dense it is. As a rule of thumb, nutrient-dense and easy to digest is always a safe option. I understand that you may not be sure of whether your bowl of oatmeal is more nutrient-dense than, say, a handful of almonds. That’s why I a going to make a few suggestions to help you decide.

Nutrient-Dense Food List

Generally speaking, we identify nutrient dense foods as foods that have lots of nutrients but relatively few calories. Vegetables are among the most nutrient-dense foods. In case of doubt, eat more veggies! Apart from that, you will find not everyone agrees on which foods should be deemed nutrient-dense. It turns out Dr. Joel Fuhrman created called the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI) to measure the nutrient density of foods. This scoring system rates foods on a scale of 1 to 1,000 based on nutrient content per calorie. Now, you may enjoy checking out his rankings on the most common foods.

Four food categories are most noteworthy: Vegetables, nuts and seeds, herbs, and fruits.

Is It Common Sense?

Let’s say you are wondering whether you should eat oatmeal with an egg to break your fast. Do you feel like eating oatmeal and egg? Are you craving carbs and protein right now? Are you craving your nice bowl of oatmeal? If so, sure! Go ahead and have it! There is nothing wrong with oatmeal or eggs. However, do use your common sense to think of what else you could eat to break your fast that may be superior nutritionally. If you are not sure you really want oatmeal and eggs, go back to my nutrient-dense food list. See if you would enjoy something else on it.

Is Any Food Off Limit When You Break a Fast?

It’s obvious that you should avoid breaking your fast with junk food and sugary treats. Just like you should avoid these foods most of the time, right? Apart from that, what to eat to break a fast is more about how much you eat than what you eat. Ease back into eating. A soup, cooked veggies, bone broth are gentle options. However, a hamburger, pizza, and fries would most likely not make you feel well. Refined sugars and carbohydrates are most likely to send you on the sugar craving roller coaster, you should avoid them as much as possible.

What to Eat to Break a Fast Video

In Summary

In summary, I told you: don’t sweat the small stuff! Don’t worry too much about what specific food you are choosing to break your fast. Instead, focus on nourishing your body nutrient-dense foods and keep experimenting with fasting. Fasting is not complicated, but it’s a good idea to try different things to find what works best for you. And that’s what I am here to help you achieve.