Starting a Fast: Tips for Fasting and Breaking It

How to Start Fasting 50 Calories Per Day

Many people avoid dairy, sugar and coffee during their fasting windows because those ingredients break the fast. However, they don’t need to.

Water, zero-calorie drinks, and black tea and coffee are fine during a fast. Also, bone broth and other foods that contain glutamine may help you stay in a ketosis-like state.

How to Fast

The best way to start a fast is with a meal that is low in carbohydrates. This can help prevent a blood sugar spike, which can cause hunger cravings. It’s also important to drink calorie-free beverages, such as water, seltzer, tea and coffee. In some cases, drinking a cup of bone broth can curb appetite and boost electrolytes during a fast.

Some people use a method of fasting called “dirty fasting.” They eat as they normally would five days a week and restrict their calories to 500 to 600 calories on the other two days. While dirty fasting can provide some of the benefits of clean fasting, such as weight loss and lowered blood pressure, it isn’t as effective at promoting autophagy. This is because consuming any calories, even a small amount, breaks a fast. That includes adding a splash of milk to a cup of coffee or sipping a glass of bone broth.

What to Eat

While an all-or-nothing approach to intermittent fasting is the strictest definition of it, most IF experts agree that you can consume foods and drinks with minimal calories without breaking your fast. However, any added calorie will suck away some of the autophagy benefits.

Water is a no-brainer and can help to curb hunger during your fasting window. But you can also try other zero-calorie options, such as herbal tea or electrolyte drinks (but make sure they don’t contain sugars). Black coffee may be OK too, but skip add-ons like milk and creamer.

Eggs are another good choice. They’re low in calories but packed with protein, healthy fats and the antioxidants lutein, zeaxanthin and folate, which support eye health. You can also add fish to your diet during a fast to get heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Just make sure to choose fatty fish, such as salmon or trout, rather than white fish, which may have higher levels of mercury.

How to Stay Hydrated

Many intermittent fasting protocols allow clear liquids like water, black tea and coffee, broth, low-calorie apple and cranberry juices, and Amla Green Tea. These beverages provide the body with essential nutrients, which help keep hunger in check and promote hormone balance.

However, flavored drinks can trigger insulin levels and break the fast, especially those with added sugars and sweeteners. Nurse practitioner and IF expert Cynthia Thurlow, N.P., previously told mindbodygreen that adding lemon juice to a glass of water may increase the calories and kick the body into a fed state, negating some of the benefits of fasting.

Bone broth is another drink that can be consumed on a fast, as it’s high in protein and minerals. It can also reduce inflammation and provide the body with energy without breaking the fast. This is a great option for anyone who struggles with hunger and cravings. However, be sure to limit bone broth consumption to the non-fasting hours.

How to Avoid Breaking Your Fast

During your fast, avoid drinking milk, cream, sugar, and other sweeteners. These contain measurable calories and break the fast. You can drink coffee and tea without these additions though.

Avoid eating greasy foods as well, since these can be heavy on the stomach and digestive system. Also avoid eating high-glycemic foods that can cause rapid spikes and drops in blood sugar levels.

If you do want to break your fast, choose a light and nutrient-rich food. Aim for fruits, vegetables, lean proteins (or whey), and whole grains when possible. Also opt for liquid foods, such as broth and smoothies, to help ease back into eating after your fast.

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