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Foods To Avoid When Breaking A Fast

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Melissa Mitri post Reviewer Melissa Mitri post Reviewer
Verified by Melissa Mitri
MS, Registered Dietitian, Former President of CT Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics

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Fasting has now become a very popular dietary pattern thanks to its benefits and ease of application. However, abstaining from food for so many hours means that you may need to pay more attention to the foods you eat when you break your fast, as picking the wrong ones could lead to some side effects.

This article will discuss what foods to avoid when breaking a fast and the principles you should follow to pick the correct ones.

What You Eat After A Fast Matters – Here is Why

You may not be aware of how important it is to break your intermittent fast with the right foods, as this is not often discussed.

However, the food choices you make after fasting, especially after prolonged fasts, are extremely important to support digestion and prevent the possibility of unpleasant side effects. 

While fasting, the number of digestive enzymes in the gut and stomach naturally decreases. This can make it more difficult for the digestive tract to readjust if hard-to-digest foods are suddenly introduced after fasting [1]

Foods To Avoid When Breaking A Fast

Learning how to break intermittent fasting correctly is important, as this can help you achieve your fitness and health goals while also preventing digestive problems. 

Here is a list of foods you should avoid when breaking a fast. The foods on this list are fairly difficult to digest, especially after hours of fasting.

illustration of foods to avoid when breaking a fast, including processed foods, sugary foods, high-fat foods, junk food, caffeinated drinks, etc

Processed Foods

Processed foods is an umbrella term used to indicate all those food items that have been highly refined and contain great amounts of oils, sugars, and additives. 

They are usually also high in calories but are low in nutrients [2]. Some examples of processed foods that can be tough to digest include pizza, frozen lasagna, and chips.

Sugary Foods

Foods high in sugar can be hard to digest and negatively affect intestinal health. Therefore, they are not an ideal choice for breaking your fast [3] [4]. This category of foods includes sugary breakfast cereals, biscuits, cookies, cakes, and so forth. 

High-Fat Foods

High-fat intake can put a load on your digestive system. Aim to avoid foods rich in oils and fats when breaking your fast [4]. This includes items such as deep-fried foods, cheesy pasta, and cream-based desserts.

Coffee and caffeinated drinks

Coffee causes acid reflux and irritates the bowel if consumed on an empty stomach, especially if paired with milk, cream, sugar, and syrup [5]. This list includes black coffee as well as frappuccinos and other caffeinated drinks like soda and energy drinks. 


Meat, especially red meat, can be hard to digest after hours of fasting. Avoid preparing meals containing this ingredient when breaking a fast.

This especially counts for processed meats or meat parts that contain large amounts of fat, such as sausages, chicken wings, and pork ribs [4]

More Foods to Avoid After a Prolonged Fast

Most foods that should be avoided when breaking a fast are hard to digest as they have been highly processed and are rich in fats, sugar, and calories. 

However, some healthy foods should also be avoided when breaking a fast, as they tend to be more difficult for our digestive enzymes to break down.

Here is a list of other foods that are not ideal for a fast-breaking meal [6] [7]:

  • Raw high-fiber fruits with skin
  • Raw cruciferous vegetables
  • Legumes and pulses
  • Nuts and nut butter (especially if not roasted or heat-treated)
  • Seeds

Side Effects of Breaking a Fast With the Wrong Foods

As a rule of thumb, breaking intermittent fasting should not be done lightly.

It is, in fact, essential that you pick the right foods to open your fast and avoid those that may lead to unpleasant side effects if you want to successfully adhere to this diet regimen. 

Here are the main side effects you may run into if you open your fast with the wrong foods.

Stomach issues

If you eat the wrong foods when breaking your fast, your digestive enzymes might struggle to break down food after hours of inactivity. This can cause belly pain, bloat, or discomfort. 

Fasting also reduces the number of enzymes available for digestion, making it even harder to process food. 

Improper digestion, also known as dyspepsia, can lead to stomach pains and acid reflux [2] [8]

Blood sugar spikes

Eating high-sugar foods when breaking your fast can lead to spikes in your blood sugar levels. 

High sugar consumption triggers a surge in insulin production to regulate the excess sugars circulating in the bloodstream. This can cause your blood sugar to drop rapidly afterward, leading to energy crashes and cravings

Repeated blood sugar fluctuations are associated with various health issues, including weight gain, insulin resistance, and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. It is, therefore, important to eat sugar-rich foods wisely and in moderation. [9] [10]

Intestinal discomfort

If foods are not digested correctly upon a fasting break, the body struggles to absorb nutrients once they reach the intestine. This can also occur due to a decreased production of enzymes and microbiota in this area. 

This can lead to intestinal discomfort, such as bloating, flatulence, and cramping [11]

How to Break a Fast

Now that we’ve discussed what foods to avoid when breaking a fast, let’s review what foods you should eat for those first few post-fast meals.

The first thing to keep in mind is that there is no difference in how to pick the right foods to break a longer 24-hour fast or a shorter 8-hour fast, as the principles are the same regardless of the fast duration.  

Below, you can find the main considerations you should make when picking the ingredients for your next fast-breaking meal.  

Foods that boost the immune system

To reap the benefits of intermittent fasting, it’s essential to follow a diet that supports your health and your immune system. Therefore when breaking your fast, it’s important to include immunity-boosting foods such as those rich in probiotics and antioxidants. [12]

Probiotics are found in fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, and kimchi, while antioxidants can be found in fruits, vegetables, and green teas. To support digestion, always ensure to cook your veggies thoroughly or choose fruits lower in fiber that don’t contain skin. 

Easy-to-digest protein

Fasting can cause muscle catabolism, a process that can lead to muscle breakdown. Therefore, you should break your fast with some high-quality protein foods to counteract this process [13]

Meat and pulses are both great sources of protein. However, they can put a strain on the digestive tract. Breaking a fast with other protein-rich foods that are easier to digest, such as eggs, fish, or bone broth, can be a great way to sustain lean mass when intermittent fasting. 

You can also break a fast with a high-quality protein shake.

Healthy fats

Consuming healthy fats can support overall health by preventing the onset of cardiovascular diseases [14]. While certain foods in this category can put strain on your digestive system, such as nuts and seeds, easier-to-digest sources like avocados and oily fish are easier to digest.

The best oily fish when breaking a fast include salmon, sardines, and mackerel.

Foods that support gut health

Foods that boost gut health, such as probiotics and fiber-rich foods, should be eaten when breaking a fast. This will help support your intestinal microbiome, the community of microorganisms in your gut and digestive system after many hours of inactivity [15] [16]. Cooked green leafy vegetables, berries, and fermented foods such as kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi are some examples of foods to include. 

These foods are easy to digest and boost healthy intestinal activity.

10 Examples of Best Meals to Break a Fast With

When you follow an intermittent fasting regimen, it is important to pick the right foods to break a fast and use them to prepare a well-balanced meal. 

Here are some meal examples for inspiration for your next fast-breaking meal. 

sample meals to break a fast with, with images and names, foods to avoid when breaking a fast
  • Whole grain toast with mashed avocado and poached eggs
  • Greek yogurt with berries and banana
  • Chicken and vegetable soup
  • Quinoa salad with cooked quinoa, chopped vegetables (cucumber, tomatoes, and bell peppers), and a dash of olive oil, salt, and lemon juice
  • Spinach omelet and toast
  • Baked salmon with sauteed collards 
  • Oatmeal with fresh berries
  • Milkshake with kefir, coconut milk, and fresh berries
  • Warm salad with cooked barley, cooked zucchini, sweet potatoes, and hard-boiled eggs, dressed with a dash of olive oil and salt
  • Rice pudding with coconut milk and strawberries

Final Words

Fasting offers a wide range of health benefits. However, breaking a fast with the wrong foods can lead to some unpleasant digestive side effects. 

It is, therefore, important to understand which foods should be avoided if you want to preserve good health and avoid overloading your digestive tract. Here are the key points about intermittent fasting and the foods to avoid when breaking your fast:

  • When breaking a fast, aim to avoid foods that are highly processed and rich in sugar, fats, and calories, along with coffee, meat, nuts, seeds, legumes, and raw fruit and vegetables rich in fiber. Avoiding these foods will prevent you from overloading your digestive tract and incurring side effects.
  • The main side effects of eating the wrong foods when breaking a fast include digestive issues such as stomach pains and acid reflux, intestinal discomfort such as bloating and diarrhea, and spikes in blood sugar levels.
  • When breaking a fast, aim to eat easy-to-digest foods that also support your health and digestion. This includes fermented foods, cooked vegetables, berries, eggs, avocados, oily fish, and bone broth.
Disclaimer This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

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