The healthy way to break your fast


What you need to know:

  • Go for the nutritious and easy-to-digest before moving on to heavier foods.

Fasting has become a popular way to improve metabolism, cleanse the body, boost cognitive performance, support weight loss and general wellbeing. Experts recommend a one-day fast as a great way to improve your health since longer times can deplete your body of vitamins and minerals, especially for those with chronic medical conditions. 

About 12 to 18 hours of intermittent fasting can also be helpful but some people do an occasional 24-hour fast when they feel comfortable doing so. Taking water to stay hydrates is always allowed in any safe fasting programme.

Dos and don’ts of fasting 
Amanda Twebaze, a nutritionist at Human Mechanic Physiotherapy in Naguru, Kampala, says there is no point pushing through a tough fast and then undoing all your hard work by eating highly processed, calorie-filled foods.

She adds that it is important to choose a healthy diet focusing on natural, unprocessed foods and making sure you eat slowly, chewing your food properly and listening to your body. Also, you should stop eating when you feel satisfied but not full. 

“Break your fast in a systematic way so that the digestive system is not overwhelmed. This requires a more gradual approach to re-introducing foods to your system. It is best to start with foods that are softer or more liquid in consistency, warmer in temperature, smaller in quantity and also easy to digest,” she says.

“Do not eat too much food at once. Instead, eat little amounts often. Also, when fasting, one's body temperature tends to below. So, if you add a cold drink when breaking your fast, your body temperature will go even lower,” she adds. 

Start with liquids such as warm water and warm tea. Follow this up with fluids such as porridge and vegetable or fruit smoothies, among others. After this, your tummy will be ready for solid foods.  

Also, avoid eating foods that might take longer to digest. These include many animal protein foods, including beef. Eat foods that move more swiftly through the digestive tract and are easily broken down such as plant proteins including mushroom, and lentils. 

Eat small foods that are packed with nutrients such as dried fruits (raisins, dried mango, chia seeds and dates). 

“Avoid fatty foods, especially solid fat such as meats. Instead, have more healthy oil versions of fat such as olive oil to avoid stomach discomfort and side effects such as diarrhoea or bloating,” Twebaze advises.

The foods you need

There are storable forms of carbohydrates and fat in the body in muscle and liver glycogen and fat tissue, the only protein storage is skeletal muscle. Therefore, when fasting, the body needs more proteins and prolonged fasting can break down muscle tissue since the body constantly needs protein to sustain normal life functions.

Eggs contain a number of essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals. A hard boiled chicken egg for instance contains proteins, calories, fat, calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, zinc and iron. It also contains selenium, sodium as well as small amounts of carbohydrates and sugar, making it a perfect choice for breaking your fast. It also contains nutrients that support eye health, antioxidants that reduce inflammation.

Bone broth
Bone broth may not be the most satisfying food to break a fast with but it is great since the proteins contained therein are already partially broken down, reducing the work the body has to do.

According to Twebaze, it is a rich source of electrolytes such as potassium, sodium, magnesium, and calcium that are good for maintaining fluid balance, conducting nerve impulses, and initiating the contraction and relaxation of muscles. They also improve hydration and are required for the digestion and absorption of nutrients such as carbohydrates. 

Most people end up dehydrated after a fast but water-rich fruits such as watermelon contain high amounts of water to quench your thirst and rehydrate you after a fast. 

Fruits are rich sources of vitamins, minerals, natural sugars and fibre, which help you replenish at the end of a fast.

The water and fibre content in fruits offer a slow and steadier release of glucose into the bloodstream to help limit the chance of binge feeding that would happen with processed foods.

Fermented foods
During fermentation, the natural bacteria in the food break down the sugars and produce lactic acid. This makes the fermented foods more digestible and a great choice for breaking your fast. 

They are also a natural source of healthy bacteria in your gut and reduce inflammation in the digestive tract. These include yoghurt, kimchi and pickled vegetables. 


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