By Megan Ramos, Clinical Educator, and Co-Founder of The Fasting Method with Dr. Jason Fung, M.D.
- It is very rare for individuals to experience distress while following intermittent fasting protocols
- Sometimes people struggle with gastrointestinal issues while ending extended fasting protocols
- Certain foods like eggs and nuts can be problematic when consumed during your breakfast meal
- Follow our proven strategies to help prevent and ease the potential side effects of breaking your fast
- For most, gastric distress usually go away within two-to-four weeks of staying consistent with your fasting schedule
Individuals who are following intermittent fasting or time restricted eating (TRE) strategies usually don’t encounter issues while ending their fasts shorter than 24 hours. However, some people can develop gastrointestinal issues during their “breakfast” meals while doing longer periods of fasting.
The definition of the word breakfast is the first meal of the day and its origin was derived from the late Middle English verbs “break” and “fast.” The word literally means to break the fasting period from the day before. It does not mean to make sure you fill your bellies within minutes of waking. No matter what time you eat after a night’s sleep is your breakfast whether it is 5:00 am or 5:00 pm because it is when you break your fast.
Most individuals have no problems ending common intermittent fasting protocols, such as the 16, 18 or 24 hour fast. It’s usually when people start following the alternate daily 36 or 42 hour protocols, or start extended fasting where they may encounter tummy troubles.
Through the online Fasting Method Program, I’ve had the honor of helping thousands of people worldwide incorporate some form of fasting into their lifestyle. In my experience, not everyone struggles to end their fast. Some people can eat almost anything they like when they break their fasts and feel perfectly normal. Occasionally, an individual who has never experienced issues breaking their fast before may suddenly start to experience trouble. Don’t be discouraged. This isn’t uncommon and doesn’t mean something is wrong. Each fast is different. Your body is different. Be patient and more mindful the next time you go to break your fast.
Symptoms you may experience if you have trouble ending your fast:
During fasting, production of digestive enzymes slows, which may cause some gastrointestinal distress when you start to eat again. For example, you may experience:
- Diarrhea or loose stools
- Gas pains and bloating
- Nausea and vomiting (rare)
What foods to avoid when you break your fast?
It usually takes your digestive system two-to-four weeks to adapt to fasting. Until then, you might want to avoid eating these foods during your break-fast meal:
- Nuts and nut butters
- Seeds and seed butters
- Raw vegetables and leafy greens (cooked are fine)
- Dairy products (butter is fine)
- Red meats
Not everyone is sensitive to all or any of these foods. If that’s not you, then don’t worry. Eat all the eggs and almonds you want after a fast. Have that big steak! Enjoy!
But if you are having problems, try to eliminate these food items from your breakfast. Most people are able to resume eating them during their second post-fast meal without difficulty.
Our Five Step Breakfast Protocol
If you are finding yourself spending too much time in your bathroom when you end your intermittent or extended fast, then try to follow this protocol:
- Add one tablespoon of psyllium husk to one cup of water, and let sit 5-10 minutes. It will get very thick and jelly-like. Drink 15 to 30 minutes prior to eating. This insoluble fibre helps the gut get working again.
- Start your meal off with a cup of tomato and cucumber salad with some chopped parsley. You can add a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil if you like.
- To play it safe and keep your protein sources to poultry or fish. They can be cooked in fat and poultry skin can be consumed. Try to limit your protein intake to the size and thickness of the palm of your hand.
- Fill the rest of your plate with non-starchy, above-ground vegetables that have been cooked in healthy fats, like avocado or coconut oil, butter or ghee.
- Finish your meal off with an avocado if you’re still feeling hungry.
If you follow this protocol and still experience problems, try to take another tablespoon of psyllium husk in a cup of water. The next time you are fasting and are about to resume eating, you may want to try the above protocol but add in two tablespoons of psyllium in water at the start.
It usually takes about two-to-four weeks for individuals doing intermittent fasting to stop experiencing discomfort while ending their fasts. Those who practice extended fasting often also notice an improvement usually three or four fasts down the road. Hang in there. It does get easier!
By The Fasting Method
For many health reasons, losing weight is important. It can improve your blood sugars, blood pressure and metabolic health, lowering your risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer. But it’s not easy. That’s where we can help.
By Jason Fung, MD
Jason Fung, M.D., is a Toronto-based nephrologist (kidney specialist) and a world leading expert in intermittent fasting and low-carb diets.