The timing of breaking the fast is key, whether it's first thing in the morning, after waking up, or practicing what's called intermittent fasting, or if you're on a ketogenic protocol. The first foods you eat will go a long way in supplying your body with the nutrients it may need.
However, there are variables to take into account such as gender, age, and your specific goals such as weight loss, increasing muscle mass, or if you require specific nutrients such as certain minerals or vitamins.
Today we will look at the best options for breaking your fast and why some foods that we consider "healthy" would not fit into this choice.
Sugar, fat, eggs, dairy and more have been demonised, but the truth is that all natural foods contain nutrients and almost the only way they lose them is when they have been intervened by the hand of man to be transformed or industrialised.
The first thing to be clear about is that no food is harmful. In giving preponderance to certain foods over others, I do so taking into account the lifestyle that most people follow nowadays, such as sedentary lifestyles, mainly, and the consequences produced by such habits.
The protocols that I present here are made to restore balance to your body, increase your metabolism and improve your daily performance with lots of energy during the day and promoting a restful rest during your sleeping hours.
At the end of a fast, whether after a normal night's sleep, intermittent fasting or following a ketogenic cycle, your body is in a state of high sensitivity, especially at the level of hormones, especially cortisol, even more so after an extended fast of 16, 20, 24 hours or more.
In this sense, consuming electrolytes, hopefully without sugar, is very beneficial as they contain sodium and potassium which help control aldosterone, another hormone that functions like cortisol. The bonus is that it also modulates between-meal cravings, precisely because the electrolytes are balanced.
Another option is a consommé or a broth containing salt to keep cortisol and aldosterone in balance.
About 20 minutes later and to formally break the fast, the main macronutrient the body needs is protein. While carbohydrates and fat are stored in muscle and liver glycogen as well as in adipose tissue, protein can only be stored in skeletal muscle.
If you go on an intermittent fast of more than 18-24 hours or even prolonged (24-36 hours) and you have trained before breaking it, your body will need protein to replenish muscle tissue and perform other basic functions.
In this sense, your body will require foods that are quickly and easily absorbed, and these are the ones that should predominate at this time. Research indicates that a lean or plant-based protein can fulfil this function.
Options: hard-boiled eggs (not prepared with any fat), lean fish or a plant-based protein shake.
After about half an hour you can start incorporating denser proteins, vegetables and fibre and continue eating normally. It is only one hour before and one hour after breaking the fast that is the crucial time when your refuelling window opens and when you need to be especially careful about what goes into your body.
Foods to Avoid When You Break your Fast
- Dairy. It is true that for many people a piece of cheese, a whey protein shake or a cup of Greek yoghurt is the easiest, but you should remember that at this time when your body is so sensitive, dairy can cause excess acidity and inflammation. However, if you do not have any intolerance, kefir, Greek yoghurt, or aged cheese are very suitable to be consumed with the last meal of the day.
- Garlic, onions, wheat, barley or other fibres such as asparagus and artichokes are fructans (carbohydrates made up of fructose) and galacto- oligosacharides because they are not easily absorbed in the small intestine but reach the large intestine and are fermented. In other words, instead of absorbing nutrients, the intestine is looking for water to replace the fibre present in the colon.
- Carbohydrates in general and much less in combination with fats. This includes oats, wheat, and barley, among others.
Although oats are sold to us as a food that contains no sugar and therefore helps you gain muscle mass. Neither potatoes nor pasta contain sugar, but like oats they are carbohydrates that accumulate as fat if they are not used. In addition, oats contain phytic acid, a compound that binds to minerals such as magnesium, zinc, calcium and iron and prevents their absorption.
Gliadin (a glycoprotein found in gluten) is a class of proteins found in wheat and other cereals of the grass genus Triticum. Gliadin activates Zonulin signalling (a protein that increases the permeability of the tight junctions between cells in the wall of the digestive tract) which causes an increase in intestinal permeability, allowing microbial metabolites, toxins, and food residues to enter the bloodstream.
Furthermore, it turns out that the tissue surrounding the thyroid gland is similar to that of the gastrointestinal tract and activating zonulin will damage its glandular tissue. These are just some of the reasons why it is so important to exercise caution with what you eat before, during and up to an hour after breaking your fast.
Suggestions for Beaking your Fast
Upon waking, or after an overnight fast of 12-18 hours
- Half an hour before breaking the fast drink at least ½ litre of water with a little sea salt.
- ½ hour after breaking the fast with a lean protein such as eggs, preferably organic, warm or hard-boiled, or another lean protein such as fish. If vegan, a plant-based protein (I personally take it with unsweetened coconut milk).
- After half an hour, a more substantial meal dominated by a good quality protein because this is what will help rebuild tissue and the many other hormonal and enzymatic functions performed by this macronutrient. But now it is mainly accompanied by vegetables and fibre.
After an intermittent fast of 20 and up to 36 hours
- Sugar-free electrolyte drink half an hour before breaking the fast or even a rib broth (for carnivores), but only the broth, nothing solid.
- ½ hour later break the fast with a lean protein such as eggs, hopefully organic, soft or hard boiled, or other lean protein. If vegan, a plant-based protein (I personally take it with unsweetened coconut milk).
- After half an hour, a more substantial meal dominated by a good quality protein, as well as nutrient-rich vegetables, fibre, and fermented foods to strengthen your gut health.
Shiitake mushroom pizza frittata
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 cup unflavoured, unsweetened coconut milk
10 slices shiitake mushrooms
1/2 green or red pepper
1/2 cup tomato sauce, choice of tomato sauce, divided.
1 small bunch of basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon optional Italian seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat grill. Pour eggs into a bowl and whisk in coconut milk. Season lightly with salt and pepper, add 3-4 tablespoons of tomato sauce and the Italian seasoning, and whisk again.
- Cut the pepper into slices. In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the pepper and sauté in the oil for 2-3 minutes.
- Pour the egg mixture into the skillet and gently separate the eggs from the sides with the spatula, allowing the mixture to plump up. Do this several times until it stops filling quickly.
- Lower the heat, cover and cook together for about 4-5 minutes, until cooked through in the centre.
- Uncover the eggs. Place the shiitake mushrooms on top. Place the frying pan under the grill to crisp the mushrooms a little.
- Remove the frittata from the pan and transfer to a cutting board. Season lightly salt and pepper and sprinkle with fresh basil leaves.
Ingredients for 4 crêpes:
¼ blanched almond flour
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1-2 tablespoons granulated sweetener
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, ground almonds, vanilla extract, ground cinnamon and the sugar-free crystalline sweetener of your choice. Whisk until all ingredients are perfectly combined and no lumps form. Set aside.
- Heat a 9-inch crepe pan over medium heat and use paper towels to rub coconut oil into the pan and grease it.
- Pour the pancake batter into the pan and tilt the pan in a circular motion so that the batter coats the surface evenly. The thickness of the pancakes will depend on the amount of batter you use for each pancake. Generally, 1/4 cup is what is needed to make a 9-inch crepe.
- Cook the crepe until the sides begin to crisp and release easily from the pan. It should take about 2 minutes each, over medium heat.
- Loosen with a spatula and flip to cook the other side. Both sides should be lightly browned, and the crepes should be crisp on the sides and softer in the centre.
- Repeat with the next crepes.
- To serve, fill each crêpe with your choice of toppings (whipped coconut cream, cream cheese...), form a triangle and top with complementary toppings.
Nutritional information per serving: 1 crêpe (without fillings)
Calories: 135.8 kcal. Carbohydrate 2.2g; Fibre: 0.8g; Net Carbohydrate: 1.4g;
Protein: 7g; Fat: 11.2g.
Ingredients for 6 tuna waffles:
2 cans of tuna chunks
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
2 tablespoons melted butter
Salt and pepper to taste
- Drain the tuna liquid and add to a bowl.
- Add the egg, garlic, mayonnaise, lemon juice, coconut flour, onion powder and salt and pepper. Mix well.
- Preheat the waffle iron and brush it with the melted butter. Divide the tuna mixture into 6 and place each portion on the greased griddle. Cook until golden brown. Serve with a garnish of lemon dill sauce.
Nutritional information per serving (1 waffle):
Calories: 155kcal | Carbohydrate: 0,2g | Protein: 16,4g | Fat: 9,8g