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What to Eat After Fasting and What to Avoid to Reap the Benefits

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Knowing what to eat after fasting is a mind-boggling dilemma that is often muddled by different opinions. Should you break a fast differently if you do it for longer periods? Which foods affect your fasting state? And will breaking a fast the wrong way undo the benefits?

Knowing what to eat after fasting means you need to consider how long you fasted and whether you consumed any calories during the fast. More importantly, you should know which foods can help you break a fast in a healthy way. Let’s address these questions. 

What Is the Best Food to Eat After Fasting?

Let’s see what you should eat after fasting as a sneak peek before showing you why these foods help to lock in the benefits:

  • Collagen protein: Bone broth, plant-based protein, fish, chicken, and eggs (24, 19, 8)
  • Dense nutrients: Cooked leafy green vegetables, broccoli, and cauliflower (20, 18, 9)
  • Healthy fat: Avocados, olive oil, nuts, and seeds (26, 4, 2, 14)
  • Fruit: Berries and watermelon (1)
  • Whole grains: Oats and quinoa (30)
  • Fermented food: Kefir, kimchi, miso, sauerkraut, tempeh, and yogurt (7, 13)

However, it’s important to know how to break a fast properly. Here, you’ll find added tips to break short or long fasts. 

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How Do You Break a Fast Properly?

What you should eat is dependent on your fasting length, which you’ll discover next. But first, let’s show you how to break a fast properly.

What Happens to Your Body

Knowing what to eat after fasting starts by understanding what happens to your body during the fast. Three important changes occur during a fast, depending on the length, and they include ketosis, autophagy, and digestive rest. 

Ketosis occurs when the body’s blood glucose and glycogen energy stores are depleted, and a metabolic switch turns to ketones that are produced from fat metabolism for energy (26). Increased ketone levels may reduce oxidative stress, reset metabolism, burn fat, and kickstart autophagy. 

An article from Harvard Medical School suggests that ketosis can start at any time after a 12-hour fast (29). The Cleveland Clinic suggests autophagy may start 24-48 hours after a fast begins (3). During autophagy, your body’s cells feel deprived of nutrients and start the repair or removal of damaged cells, similar to the concept of a detox. 

See also
Intermittent Fasting for Women Over 40. Is it Healthy? 

Some research has shown that autophagy can fight against disease and renew aging or damaged immune system cells (3). However, the final change you experience after a few hours of fasting is digestive rest. While fasting, your digestive system is largely at rest, so the longer the digestive rest process lasts, the longer it generally takes to return to normal functions. 

Semic Health suggests that digestive rest may improve the living microbes that are found in your gut (11). Fasting triggers these responses and this also explains why you must break a fast properly. 

Is it OK to Eat a Big Meal After Fasting?

Breaking a fast with a big meal is not recommended due to the stress it can cause after a period of digestive rest (11). Your body isn’t adequately prepared for digesting large amounts of food and initially requires easily digestible foods. Eating too much when you break a fast may negatively impact the good bacteria that were optimized by the rest. 

Piedmont Health says that changes in the microbiome may cause indigestion, nausea, bloating, constipation, and heartburn (10). In addition, fasting tends to reduce insulin levels, not just glucose (23). Eating food that spikes glucose levels in the blood will increase insulin, which can lead to hunger pangs, potentially causing you to overeat (22). 

what to eat after fasting  

Foods to Avoid When Breaking a Fast

The most obvious foods to avoid are those that trigger a glucose spike and increased hunger such as refined carbs or foods with added sugars (23, 22). The American Medical Association suggests that you should avoid high-glycemic foods, such as donuts, cakes, bagels, potatoes, and white rice (15).

The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health suggests you should avoid eating processed whole grains, unhealthy fats, and high-fiber foods on a rested stomach (6). In addition, the following foods tend to break your fast in the wrong way (16):

  • All-purpose flour foods
  • Refined cereals, crackers, instant oatmeal, biscuits, and candy
  • Sugar-sweetened beverages
  • Processed food 
  • White bread or pasta
See also
What To Eat During Intermittent Fasting: How To Maintain The Benefits Of Your Fast

You will also want to avoid slow-digesting food on a rested stomach. For example, animal proteins contain all nine essential amino acids. The digestion of complete proteins requires the gut to work hard to digest them fully (28). As a rested digestive system needs to break down these proteins, this may slow digestion after a fast and cause stomach discomfort. 

Read more: Green Tea Intermittent Fasting: Benefits and Side Effects

What to Eat After Fasting

Let’s show you how to break a fast with a few essentials. The ideal meal for breaking a fast is a well-balanced, small to moderately-sized meal that contains protein, vitamins and minerals, healthy fats, and whole grains.


Replenishing your body with protein is important as the fasting body may turn to muscle stores for energy, particularly during early fasting (24). Collagen-rich protein is the best kind as it helps your rested system avoid the need to synthesize glycine and proline amino acids to make collagen. 

WebMD says that collagen is responsible for the connective tissue that surrounds your bones, skin, and organs and is essential for several bodily functions (19). Here are some foods that contain collagen or help your body synthesize it:

  • Bone broth
  • Chicken 
  • Omega-3 fatty acid skin-on fish
  • Vitamin C-rich fruit (papaya or oranges)
  • Vitamin C-rich vegetables (cauliflower, leafy greens, and broccoli)

Eggs have a quality nutrient profile. The USDA says that a hard-boiled egg only contains 78 calories, 6.3 g of protein, and very few carbs and sugars (8). At the same time, eggs provide you with essential nutrients, such as magnesium, sodium, calcium, potassium, iron, and phosphorus.  

Vitamins and Minerals

Raw vegetables are not ideal to eat after fasting because they contain cellulose. Japanese scientists have found that cellulose in vegetables is an indigestible fiber source, which makes raw vegetables suitable for keeping you full on diets, but not the ideal choice when breaking a fast (20). 

Cellulose may hinder a rested stomach. The study also found better cellulose tolerance in people who followed plant-based diets as they had the right gut bacteria profile for effectively processing cellulose fiber. Therefore, it is advised that you cook, boil, steam, or sauté vegetables in order to reduce the impact cellulose has on your gut when breaking a fast. 

See also
Intermittent Fasting 14/10 vs 16/8: Differences, Similarities and How To Make The Best Choice

This allows your body to digest carbs and fiber more easily, while also benefiting from other nutrient-dense foods. For example, eating cooked leafy greens such as spinach, kale, moringa, and cabbage will provide you with a wide array of vitamins and minerals (18). 

These provide vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, C, E, and K. Also, you get minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and zinc, which help you restore electrolyte levels after fasting. Potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, and calcium are necessary for electrolyte balance, which regulates various bodily functions (9). 

Healthy Fat

Ketosis may reduce unwanted fat stores while fasting (26). Therefore, you should complement your balanced meal with healthy fats. Avocados are high in fiber but have healthy fat, magnesium, potassium, and vitamins B, C, E, and K (4). In addition, a study found that avocado increases post-meal satiety for up to five hours (2). Binging following a fast is common but may have many negative impacts. Instead, you should add healthy fat with an avocado, or use other glucose-stabilizing fats, such as olive oil, nuts, or seeds (14). 


You can break a fast in a healthy way by drinking a smoothie with plant-based protein, cooked green vegetables, and fruits. Breaking a fast with a drinkable meal may help you digest the ingredients more easily. UCLA Health suggests using fruit to rehydrate yourself following a fast (1). Berries and watermelon are low-carb fruits with over 80% water.

Whole Grains

The right whole grains provide fiber, some protein, and other quality nutrients without being too difficult to digest. Cornell Health recommends whole grains such as oats and quinoa when breaking a fast (30).

what to eat after fasting  

What Should I Eat Immediately After Dry Fasting?

The Hindustan Times recommends breaking a dry fast with a fermented probiotic to aid digestion (7). This is an excellent way to break any fast. Probiotic fermented foods include (13):

  • Kefir
  • Kimchi
  • Miso
  • Sauerkraut
  • Tempeh
  • Yogurt

What to Eat After Fasting for Different Times

You now know what to eat after fasting, but what remains is the time-dependent factor, which is based on the type of fasting you do. Let’s look at a few more tips to help you break specific types of fasts. 

See also
17/7 Intermittent Fasting: A Practical Approach to Time-Restricted Eating

What to Eat After Fasting for 16 Hours

Fasting for 16 hours and eating for 8 allows you to maintain nutritional adequacy relatively well. However, it’s essential to break your fast with collagen-rich protein, plenty of vitamins and minerals, and some healthy fat (19, 18, 4). For example, a smoothie with oats, yogurt, papaya, and kale would work nicely (30, 7, 13). 

What to Eat After Fasting for 1 Day

Eating after fasting for 24 hours should focus on replenishing essential nutrients, getting the necessary protein, adding healthy fats, and rehydrating. A bone broth or simple broth-based soup without cream or too much salt is ideal.

WebMD suggests that bone broth provides 9 g of protein, 1 g of fat, and only 39 calories per serving (17). You also get calcium, iron, and potassium. You could also add some leafy vegetables to your broth to increase the nutrient profile (18).

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What to Eat After Fasting for 3 Days

What to eat after a 72-hour fast should be checked with your healthcare provider. Longer fasts put you at a greater risk of refeeding syndrome, a condition where your electrolytes destabilize that may cause dangerous neurological or metabolic changes (25). 

All fasts that last 72 hours or more, including the famous water fast, should follow careful eating habits to prevent the refeeding syndrome. It may take up to three days to return to normal eating after a 3-day fast (31). Therefore, you should employ the following food reintroduction techniques:

  • Eat a small, well-balanced meal to break the fast
  • Slowly increase your calories over six days, according to the double-fasting-time rule (32)
  • Use soups, broths, and smoothies for the first 48 hours
  • Incorporate complex carbs, fish, dairy, and eggs after the first 48 hours
  • Avoid all processed food and simple carbs for six days

What to Eat After Fasting for 7 Days

A week of fasting also requires the permission of your healthcare provider. You should follow the previous tips from 3-day fasting for safely reintroducing food to avoid refeeding syndrome (25). However, you may want to ask your healthcare provider about using the following supplements for longer fasting periods:

  • Multivitamins without added sugar or ingredients you’re not familiar with
  • Probiotics, as they contain no calories or digestible carbohydrates (21)
  • Water-soluble potassium and vitamin B complex, as fat-soluble vitamins require food (12
See also
The Science Behind the Fasting Mimicking Diet

If you find longer fasting periods difficult, you should consider using a modified fast instead. You could eat up to 25% of your calories daily during your fasting period (33) and consume unsweetened black coffee, tea, and water with apple cider vinegar to tide you over. 

What to Eat After Fasting for 21 Days

German research has shown that individuals who fasted for 4-21 days by restricting their calories to 200-250 daily did so safely and with benefits (27). The participants had expert supervision and were all able to achieve the glucose-to-ketone switch during their fasting periods. Experts helped them slowly increase their calories from 800-1600 daily over four days, introducing organic vegetarian-style foods following the fast. 

Similarly, it’s important that you take the time to reintroduce your body to balanced whole foods after fasting. You should also remember to keep liquids, smoothies, broths, and soups as an option to help digestion. Never attempt a long-duration fast without first consulting your healthcare provider. 

For More Fasting Information:

what to eat after fasting  


  • Can I eat a banana after fasting?

A banana after a fast is good because it can help restore electrolyte balance after fasting has depleted essential minerals (9). The USDA says that one large banana contains 102 g of water, magnesium, iron, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium (5). 

  • Can I eat bread after fasting?

Eating bread after fasting is not ideal. The Harvard School of Public Health says that white bread has a high glycemic load that may spike your glucose level, elevating insulin, and causing more hunger (6, 23, 22).  Even a single slice of whole wheat bread has a medium glycemic load, so it may be best to omit bread immediately following a fast. (6).

  • Can I eat chicken after fasting?

Chicken is excellent for breaking a fast as it’s a collagen-rich protein source (19). You may sometimes lose some collagen protein and lean muscle mass during the early stages of fasting (24). You can replenish yourself with chicken after a fast to potentially prevent this loss.

  • What should I do after a long fast?

A long fast may deplete minerals that are essential for electrolyte balance, which regulates many vital functions (9). You should replenish your electrolyte minerals with nutrient-dense cooked vegetables, hydrating fruit or liquids, and collagen-rich protein (18, 1, 19). A warm bone broth or smoothie is drinkable and easier on your rested digestive system following a fast. 

Read more: Intermittent Fasting and Running: A Winning Combination or a Terrible Mistake?

The Bottom Line

Knowing what to eat after fasting is a quite common concern. A small to moderate-sized and well-balanced meal that contains collagen proteins, a variety of vitamins and minerals, and healthy fats is ideal. Longer fasting may require you to consume your fast-breaking meals in liquid form. Choose the right fast-breaker to suit your needs and follow the tips provided to make sure you don’t compromise the benefits of your fast.


This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!


  1. 15 Foods That Help You Stay Hydrated | UCLA Health (2022,
  2. A Randomized 3×3 Crossover Study to Evaluate the Effect of Hass Avocado Intake on Post-Ingestive Satiety, Glucose and Insulin Levels, and Subsequent Energy Intake in Overweight Adults (2013,
  3. Autophagy: Definition, Process, Fasting, and Signs (2022,
  4. Avocados | The Nutrition Source (2022,
  5. Bananas, Raw (2019,
  6. Carbohydrates and Blood Sugar (n.d.,
  7. Dry Fasting: Health Benefits, How to Do It, and Why It’s Better Than “Wet” Fasting (2020,
  8. Egg, Whole, Cooked, Hard-Boiled (2019,
  9. Electrolytes | StatPearls | NCBI Bookshelf (2023,
  10. Family Physician Shares Signs of Poor Gut Health (n.d.,
  11. Fasting for Gut Health: Does Fasting Help Digestion? (2023,
  12. Fat-Soluble Vitamins: Clinical Indications and Current Challenges for Chromatographic Measurement (2016,
  13. Fermented Foods for Better Gut Health – Harvard Health (2023,
  14. Foods for Stabilizing Insulin and Blood Sugar Levels (2023,
  15. Foods That Spike a Patient’s Blood Glucose Are Not What You Think (2023,
  16. Glycemic Index Chart for Common Foods (2023,
  17. Health Benefits, Nutrients, & Side Effects (2023,
  18. Health Benefits of Green Leafy Vegetables (2023,
  19. Healthy Foods High in Collagens (2023,
  20. Humans Have Intestinal Bacteria That Degrade the Plant Cell Walls in Herbivores (2021,
  21. Influence of Diet on the Gut Microbiome and Implications for Human Health (2017,
  22. Insulin Levels, Hunger, and Food Intake: An Example of Feedback Loops in Body Weight Regulation (1985,
  23. Intermittent Fasting and Insulin Resistance: Benefits Beyond Weight Loss (2022, 
  24. Is Muscle and Protein Loss Relevant in Long‐Term Fasting in Healthy Men? A Prospective Trial on Physiological Adaptations (2021,
  25. Refeeding Syndrome | StatPearls | NCBI Bookshelf (2022,
  26. Research on Intermittent Fasting Shows Health Benefits (2020,
  27. Safety, Health Improvement, and Well-Being During a 4 to 21-Day Fasting Period in an Observational Study Including 1422 Subjects (2019,
  28. The Difference Between Animal Protein and Plant Protein (2021,
  29. Time to Try Intermittent Fasting? – Harvard Health (2023,
  30. Tips for Healthy Ramadan Fasting (n.d.,
  31. Water Fasting: Benefits and Dangers (2022, 
  32. What to Eat After Ending a Fast (n.d.,
  33. What You Can and Cannot Eat and Drink While Fasting (2023,

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