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Breaking a fast: carbs? protein? fat?

by (4258)
Updated September 16, 2014 at 7:39 PM
Created February 24, 2012 at 4:16 PM

Hey hackers,

I did a pretty long fast most of yesterday and into today -- about 20 hours I think. When breaking a fast, what is best? I'm craving carbs like sweet potato and nuts, but other, fattier foods sound tasty too. I guess anything sounds tasty. But like I said, if I want to break my fast, what is the best profile of macronutrients, etc?

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354 · August 30, 2013 at 7:06 AM

Moral of story: for many people, the best way to break a fast is NOT with protein.

3013d1b44fd7f65b4c8412f229d1d00e
354 · August 30, 2013 at 7:05 AM

I disagree; I did a 14-hr LG fast, ate protein & carbs--total cals = 890--and horrible things happened: pain radiated through my back, I nearly passed out. For two days I had the worst case of constipation (and horrific stomach cramps) I've *ever* had. I took herbal laxatives and magnesium,drank gallons of water(which I peed out). I could barely stand up. Nothing. Stuff started moving when I added 10 GRAMS (not mgs) of ascorbic acid. Breaking a fast should be done carefully. People about to start on leangains/other IF types need to know this.

Ebcbbdcb8b727e69e06eaa102d49a84c
1804 · March 01, 2012 at 1:51 PM

That was a pretty good article as far as guidelines go. Thanks for posting. Also, reinforces what Joshua said - for non-work out days, go with something low in carbs. Generally protein to break the fast.

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1804 · March 01, 2012 at 1:45 PM

I thought this was a place to help answer eachother's questions, not ridicule eachother. I personally think the only "ridiculous" question is one that wasn't asked.

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73 · February 25, 2012 at 3:40 AM

"You're" versus "your". Check it.

246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0
21400 · February 24, 2012 at 11:15 PM

You got it Caleb.

Bdf98e5a57befa6f0877f978ba09871c
4258 · February 24, 2012 at 9:11 PM

hmm. Explain? Like the fast puts you in ketosis so you want to stay there?

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4875 · February 24, 2012 at 7:40 PM

Thanks for the link to that study. Interesting stuff! It certainly makes good evolutionary sense that there would be times of famine for hunter gatherers.

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37177 · February 24, 2012 at 6:44 PM

I read this research review and more statements about it: http://www.ajcn.org/content/86/1/7.full and decided to give ADF a try. After one week, my fasting and post-meal blood glucose are absolutely perfect. My blood pressure is much improved but not 100% where I want it yet. But that's only one week so I'm very hopeful..

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78417 · February 24, 2012 at 5:52 PM

No doubt. No real need at all. I think it is a legit question. 20 hours would be a long time for me.

85026a0abe715229761956fbbee1cba0
78417 · February 24, 2012 at 5:51 PM

@Nance - Can you explain a bit about your strategy behind ADF and what benefits you have seen from it? Thanks.

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1614 · February 24, 2012 at 4:53 PM

I've wondered the same thing, even if it is "only a short fast."

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1614 · February 24, 2012 at 4:53 PM

no need to be a d*ck... yikes.

Bdf98e5a57befa6f0877f978ba09871c
4258 · February 24, 2012 at 4:48 PM

I know it is a short fast, I just didn't want to overdo anything. Travelling on an empty stomach was rough.

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100 · February 24, 2012 at 4:38 PM

Total coincidence as I too just broke a 20 hour fast. I had sweet potatoes, a bit of chicken and then waited a bit and had some salmon. I am sorry I have nothing helpful to add but was a bit curious about the macronutrients and best way to break a fast before just eating what I had brought to the office for lunch.

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6 Answers

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8574 · February 24, 2012 at 5:47 PM

I tried to find some guidelines on leangains.com for you but all I could find was:

"On workout days, break the fast with meat, veggies and a fruit. If you???re planning to train shortly after this meal, add a few carbs in the form of a starch source." http://www.leangains.com/2008/06/sure-fire-fat-loss.html

So it probably doesn't matter, though I would think going higher on protein may feel better for the stomach then higher sugar or fats.

Ebcbbdcb8b727e69e06eaa102d49a84c
1804 · March 01, 2012 at 1:51 PM

That was a pretty good article as far as guidelines go. Thanks for posting. Also, reinforces what Joshua said - for non-work out days, go with something low in carbs. Generally protein to break the fast.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247
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37177 · February 24, 2012 at 4:54 PM

I'm on ADF (alternate day fasting) right now so I go about 40 hours of water-fast. I usually break mine with coffee that has cream and honey added.

I agree with thhq and Wayne that at the 20-hour point you can pretty much do what you want. It's what you're hungry for and what goes down best. In my case, once I have adulterated coffee to sip I'm not really hungry for solid food so I usually don't eat a meal until the 44-48 hour mark. But then I eat meals arranged exactly the same as when I was eating every day.

0d0842381492a41b2173a04014aae810
4875 · February 24, 2012 at 7:40 PM

Thanks for the link to that study. Interesting stuff! It certainly makes good evolutionary sense that there would be times of famine for hunter gatherers.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247
37177 · February 24, 2012 at 6:44 PM

I read this research review and more statements about it: http://www.ajcn.org/content/86/1/7.full and decided to give ADF a try. After one week, my fasting and post-meal blood glucose are absolutely perfect. My blood pressure is much improved but not 100% where I want it yet. But that's only one week so I'm very hopeful..

85026a0abe715229761956fbbee1cba0
78417 · February 24, 2012 at 5:51 PM

@Nance - Can you explain a bit about your strategy behind ADF and what benefits you have seen from it? Thanks.

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10134 · February 24, 2012 at 4:26 PM

I'd go for yogurt and berries and go for a long walk. Then have some bacon and eggs mid-walk. That's if it were a perfect Sunday morning.

The macronutrients are the same no matter how you mix them up. Whatever your appetite says to do.

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0 · August 29, 2013 at 8:45 AM

I'm not sure if 20 hours is long enough to really matter. However, the issue is that the body goes into "starvation mode" and ketosis. This is the goal of the fasting time, so it's not necessarily a bad thing. HOWEVER...your body is likely going to hold tight to the first thing that you eat. Fat gets used as energy quickly, protein gets stored as muscle, carbohydrates get stored as fat. So my advice would be to primarily eat proteins and good fats, and maybe some non-starchy vegetables for your first meal after your fast. Then for your second meal you can add fruits and starchy vegetables (sweet potatoes, carrots, etc) to build some energy back up. I'm not a nutrition or fitness professional, but I am a nurse and have a good understanding of how the body works. This is just my opinion and suggestion based on my knowledge and experience. Hope that helps.

Nichole, RN Paleo Believer

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354 · August 30, 2013 at 7:06 AM

Moral of story: for many people, the best way to break a fast is NOT with protein.

3013d1b44fd7f65b4c8412f229d1d00e
354 · August 30, 2013 at 7:05 AM

I disagree; I did a 14-hr LG fast, ate protein & carbs--total cals = 890--and horrible things happened: pain radiated through my back, I nearly passed out. For two days I had the worst case of constipation (and horrific stomach cramps) I've *ever* had. I took herbal laxatives and magnesium,drank gallons of water(which I peed out). I could barely stand up. Nothing. Stuff started moving when I added 10 GRAMS (not mgs) of ascorbic acid. Breaking a fast should be done carefully. People about to start on leangains/other IF types need to know this.

246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0
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21400 · February 24, 2012 at 7:20 PM

I always break fasts with a zero carb meal, but that's mostly to take further advantage of ketosis.

246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0
21400 · February 24, 2012 at 11:15 PM

You got it Caleb.

Bdf98e5a57befa6f0877f978ba09871c
4258 · February 24, 2012 at 9:11 PM

hmm. Explain? Like the fast puts you in ketosis so you want to stay there?

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1173 · February 24, 2012 at 4:39 PM

Only 20hours and your concerned with breaking a fast? Eat whatever you like,ridiculous question.

Ebcbbdcb8b727e69e06eaa102d49a84c
1804 · March 01, 2012 at 1:45 PM

I thought this was a place to help answer eachother's questions, not ridicule eachother. I personally think the only "ridiculous" question is one that wasn't asked.

6d57250f3019c307d1467ebeb018783f
73 · February 25, 2012 at 3:40 AM

"You're" versus "your". Check it.

85026a0abe715229761956fbbee1cba0
78417 · February 24, 2012 at 5:52 PM

No doubt. No real need at all. I think it is a legit question. 20 hours would be a long time for me.

2fd93e91bb14e641a2bac9c6033e84e2
1614 · February 24, 2012 at 4:53 PM

no need to be a d*ck... yikes.

Bdf98e5a57befa6f0877f978ba09871c
4258 · February 24, 2012 at 4:48 PM

I know it is a short fast, I just didn't want to overdo anything. Travelling on an empty stomach was rough.

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