Every fast has to be exited properly so as not to negate its positive effects on the body and mind. For maximum results the rule of thumb is to double the time of the fast and end it gracefully, gradually introducing food back into your system. This will prime the body, help you re-seed it with nutrients and also prevent weight gain that often follows any caloric restrictive regimen. So, for example, if you fasted for two days then you should take four days to recover. However tempting it is to reach for a burger or two, choose your food wisely and take your time readjusting - you will be glad you did!
After fasting we have a brand-new immune system, our body has reset and is ready to get all the nutrients it’s been missing. What we should focus on is fiber, plant based protein and healthy fats. This will ensure we start with a good base and it’ll help us replenish what we’ve lost. We also need to make the nutrients and vitamins more readily available to us for easier absorption. After all, our digestive system was out of commission up until this point, so it needs a little help. This is especially important with fasts that last three days or longer. To do that we should turn to soups and smoothies at least in the first 48 hours.
Although vegetables should be our focus they are quite difficult for us to digest in raw form so they should be heat treated first - boiled, steamed or baked. A vegetable soup is our ideal first meal after a fast - it’ll be a breeze to digest but it won’t slow you down or make you feel drowsy afterwards. It’s something your system can easily deal with and get the most out of as you end your fast.
Don’t be afraid of healthy fats. You can add small amounts of avocado and olive oil to your diet right away. It’ll help the digestive process and repair your stomach lining after the fast.
After 48 hours you can start introducing complex carbs into your diet. You can now also start adding fish and meat, eggs and dairy, if you are so inclined. Try to avoid all processed foods and sugar at least until you are out of the grace period (double the time you fasted, remember). Lower the amount of fruit you consume and avoid juices as they spike your insulin levels and only make you hungrier.
When we fast our metabolism naturally slows down and we don’t need as many Calories as we normally do. It takes time for us to switch gears and get back to regular energy levels after a fast. So it is also a good idea to adopt a 16:8 intermittent fasting regimen. It will help your system to transition better if you fast for 16 hours the following days and only eat during an 8-hour window. Even better if you only have two relatively small meals per day after. If you give your body too much, too soon and too often all the extra energy your body doesn’t currently need will be stockpiled and stored in your fat cells for later.
Not surprisingly, when we don’t eat we develop a true appreciation of food. And the longer we fast the more things like broccoli begin to look intensely appetising. So after fasting it’s an ideal time to start retraining our taste buds by introducing better eating habits. Anything we eat right after not eating for a long time will taste heavenly. It will send pleasure signals to our brain creating new positive associations with foods we previously would never want to reach for. If you’ve always wanted to eat healthier but couldn’t bring yourself to eat things like spinach, green beans or peas eat them the first day after you end your fast and discover what they actually taste like with the rested taste buds. You’ll be pleasantly surprised. Moreover, you’ll be more likely to choose them for your meal next time.
To sum up, after you finish your fast you should:
- Double the time you fasted and adjust your diet for that period of time (“grace period”) afterwards.
- Optional: Adopt 16:8 intermittent fasting and have only 2 meals a day.
- Eat soups and smoothies for the first 48 hours after a fast.
- Focus on vegetables and healthy fats and avoid all processed foods during the grace period.
Easy-to-make recipes for the first 48 hours:
The rest of the grace period: