How you break a keto fast is equally important as the fast itself. Being wildly driven by your hunger hormones might just ruin all your efforts!
It’s very easy to mess things up while breaking a fast on keto or an intermittent fast.
You may just be blinded by the cravings and simply choose to eat your “regular” breakfast meal. Next thing you know, you made a blunder that destroys all the possible advantages from your fast.
This is the ULTIMATE guide on how to break a fast on keto, low-carb, high fat or anyone else breaking an extended fast.
After hours of fasting, you need to SLOWLY introduce food back into your system.
If you are on the Keto wagon, fasting will push you deeper into the state of ketosis, and you need to stick to the ketogenic foods for breaking your fast.
Simply grabbing the next food available might cause distress to your digestive tract. Additionally, you will be visiting the restroom more frequently while breaking your keto fast.
Whether you have chosen a short term fast (12-24 hours) or a long term fast (more than 24 hours), this article has the answer to all your queries.
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Intermittent fasting (IF) and the ketogenic diet complement each other quite well.
Many enthusiasts of the Keto diet (including me!) practice short-term intermittent fasting (12-24 hours) to magnify their results. Going even further with the 24 hours fast sometimes might give tremendous benefits, even though it might not be well suited for everyone.
Whether you are fasting on Keto, or simply following the intermittent fasting lifestyle, you can expect a plethora of benefits coming your way.
Before we discuss how to break a fast on Keto, let’s go through these amazing benefits:
Benefits of Short-Term Fasting [2,3]
Benefits of Long-Term Fasting [5,6]
Long-term fasts provide all the advantages of short-term fasting, with some additional benefits like:
Now you are well equipped with the benefits of fasting on Keto. Before knowing how to break a fast on keto, you should also know the RIGHT duration for fasting.
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The duration of your keto fast is equally important as the foods you choose to break your fast with!
Every night when we sleep after the dinner, we go through a short-term fast until our very first meal of the next day (hence the term “breakfast”).
Depending on the gap between these two meals, you can easily go through a 12 to 16-hour fast — with no hassles to your tummy.
12 to 24 hours is considered a short-term fast and usually does not require any special planning or treatment to break the fast.
Fasting, or going without food, can help a person achieve a state of ketosis. Many people can actually go into ketosis between meals.
And if you are already living the keto lifestyle, fasting will further deepen your ketosis and amplify your weight loss.
You should ideally consult your doctor before deciding to fast for longer than a few hours in one go.
Well, everyone is unique and react to the same thing differently. Some people can actually get into ketosis in between the meals!
For example, if I can fast for 6 hours and get into ketosis, you may even require more than 8 hours for kick starting your ketone production. This is why monitoring your ketone levels comes in handy while fasting for ketosis.
There are several tests available to know if you are in keto:
Using one or more of these tests can help your track your progress and make the right adjustments in your diet. You can easily order these test strips online from sites like Amazon.
Ketone test strips are available to purchase online.
In my years of experience with the Keto diet, I have practiced all sorts of fasting rituals (intermittent fasting, OMAD, etc) to maximize my weight loss.
Going a few hours (or even days!) with no food will enhance insulin sensitivity and reduce digestive enzymes in your stomach. [2,5,8,9] Hence, it is crucial to break your keto fast in the perfect manner.
Let’s finally see how to break a fast on keto.
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Whether you are on the keto diet or pursuing an intermittent fasting ritual, here are the tips on how to break a fast on keto:
Going for extended periods of fasting significantly reduces your digestive enzymes that are required to break down the food. You should let your digestive system adjust after a long keto fast.
Start with small bites, chew them slowly and relish the taste. After all, even the ordinary food tastes heavenly declicious after a long period of no food.
Even if you are following the OMAD (one meal a day) lifestyle, break your keto fast with only smaller meals for the first 4 hours.
Binging on heavy foods quickly after a long fast means trouble for your digestive track! It can lead to all sorts of gastrointestinal issues such as:
When wondering how to break a fast on keto, always start small and work your way up. Your digestive system has been on a break since the beginning and revving it up with the wrong foods could be a blunder.
Breaking your keto fast with liquids (such as bone broth or chicken broth) will kick start your metabolism the right way and also be super-smooth on your digestive system.
Have a cup of chicken broth and then wait for an hour to know how hungry you actually are. It helps a lot to avoid over-eating after a fast.
Hunger cramps are very common when fasting for ketosis. Bone broth can provide instant relief when breaking your fast. You can use bone broth, beef broth, chicken broth (found in most grocery stores), or fresh low carb veggies(most green things- i.e cucumber, salad, etc).
For the first two hours, anything you eat will pass through without being properly digested. So take your time and let your body adjust to digesting solid food again.
Meanwhile enjoy your favorite soups or bone broths and relish the taste after hours of fasting!
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A good ketogenic diet plan (like this one!) always includes a healthy amount of whole foods, but it is also necessary after an extended period of fasting.
Processed foods are loaded with certain unhealthy fibers and sugar alcohols that are not ideal when breaking a fast on keto.
After having a cup of broth or any liquid of your choice, go for some low carb veggies and leafy greens. If you go down the salad road, fill up on healthy fats/oils and non-starchy vegetables, especially darker leafy greens like spinach.
Other vegetables options include cucumbers, celery, asparagus, and Brussel sprouts.
You might even be tempted to grab that fresh orange or apple, but the sugar content can easily kick you out of ketosis and undo all the fasting efforts! A very tiny amount of berries is acceptable though.
Note: Even some whole foods should ideally be avoided for the first few hours after a long keto fast. These include nuts, seeds, and raw vegetables that might be difficult to digest.
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When on a keto diet, we think of FATS day and night. All our meals revolve around fat. But when asking how to break a fast on keto, fat loses the first crowned position to protein!
The reason is simple: After a long period of fasting, your body needs protein to kick start your engine, and a high-fat meal might slow down the absorption.
We can’t afford to have fatty cuts of meat on the table right after we break a fast, simply because this is the time to capitalize on the protein, as you are insulin sensitive right now.
So what I’ll highly recommend is that you have your lean protein (or a protein shake) in the first hour, followed by a low-carb high-fat meal of your choice.
It should include good polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats such as olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, etc to stimulate your ketone production much faster.
Our goal here is to extend your state of ketosis even after ending the fast. The lean protein might halt ketosis for a while, but the next fat bomb meal will get you back into ketosis in no time!
“And what about carbs?”
Well, if you are on the keto diet, unfortunately NO CARBS for you (I know it hurts!)
And if you are practicing intermittent fasting, you are better off without any carbs for the first few hours.
Since your insulin levels have significantly decreased and insulin sensitivity has significantly increased, your first meal after a fast must be low in carbohydrates. Carb-dense and sugary foods will cause an unusual spike in blood sugar and insulin levels.
Instead, stick to mostly lean proteins and healthy fats right after breaking your fast.
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As stated above, you should break your keto fast with a sequence of smaller meals instead of one giant fat bomb.
As a result, you will not be getting in enough of your key vitamins and minerals. So, it’s essential to drink plenty of water and supplement with electrolytes in the initial hours of breaking your fast.
Fasting for hours or even days slows down the production of digestive enzymes, and you may experience some stomach distress when you introduce food back into your system.
Some potential side effects of long term fasting include:
Since your body is lacking the digestive enzymes and juices to breakdown the food, it passes unabsorbed by the body. If you experience any of the troubles mentioned above, I think you should shorten your fasts!
To further minimize these experiences, you can try these two approaches:
As you begin fasting regularly, your body improves the production of digestive enzymes, giving you a softer response on breaking a keto fast.
With time, your body will get used to fasting and voila! No more upset tummy!
As a beginner to fasting for keto, you should pay special attention on these occasions:
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A fast to our body might mean one thing: DANGER!
When you go without food for longer periods of time, your body goes in a state of stress and you may want to avoid certain foods completely while breaking a fast on keto.
Here I’ve compiled a list of most distress causing foods to completely avoid within the initial hours of breaking your extended fasts:
Note that not everyone will find these foods problematic. And you can safely consume these items within six hours of ending your keto fast.
In summary, this is how to break a fast on keto in the best way possible:
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