July 16, 2019
There’s a worrying trend among budding athletes to drink water.
By the gallons.
We sweat, so we need to rehydrate, right?
But that’s completely wrong.
You see, when you rapidly drink too much water, you can dilute your blood and electrolyte levels, which are critical for bodily functions, and it can even cause your kidneys to expel water out.
If you just chug water to ‘rehydrate,’ you risk headache, fatigue, muscle cramps, stomach upset, and even heart failure.
In fact, 13 percent of the 2002 Boston Marathon runners had what’s known as EAH, or Exercise-Associated Hyponatremia.
Too many people drank too much water without adequate electrolytes.
Sometimes, the best thing to do is to ease into it.
A general rule for life is the longer you spend doing something, the longer you should take to unwind it.
It’s why you need to warm someone up slowly when they suffer from hypothermia…
This is also true for breaking a fast. Chances are you won’t suffer a heart attack, but it’s not healthy to immediately dive into a huge plate of food to make up for lost time.
So, what’s the alternative? How do we break a fast properly? Read on to find out…
The best way to break a fast for health reasons
The first thing to note is there isn’t a one-size-fits-all way to break a fast. It depends on the reasons you’ve done the fast, and for how long.
I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, but longer fasts require a more gentle approach to reintroducing food. But don’t mistake that as an excuse to eat a huge meal simply because you practice intermittent fasting. All that will happen is you’ll give yourself a huge stomach ache!
Managing your hunger when you’re breaking a fast is just as important as managing it when you’re in the middle of it. It can make or break the process.
If you’ve fasted for health reasons, you should break your fast with bone broth. While bone broth is an excellent way to break a fast, as it’s easy on the stomach and contains a lot of nutrients, it’s especially important here.
The reason is that during a fast, your gut lining breaks down a bit. It’s not as bad as it sounds, it’s just part of its process of renewal. In fact, doing a liquid fast is a great way to give your gut a break. But it is important to reintroduce food in a way your gut can handle.
This is where bone broth is a great option. It’s full of collagen, glycine and glutamine.
Collagen is essential for gut health. If you drink bone broth before your first ‘full’ meal, your gut will be in a perfect position to get as many nutrients as possible from that meal! This is also why I recommend adding apple cider vinegar to your bone broth –it will increase the mineral uptake of your first meal.
In fact, during my 21-day fast, I added apple cider vinegar to my bone broth for exactly this reason –it allowed me to absorb all of the nutrients I needed to sustain me for such a long time.
When you fast, your body is in a process of renewal. It breaks down old and inefficient parts and replaces them with brand new cells. Glycine is an essential component of this. It will boost your body’s ability to freshen up and maximize the effectiveness of your fast.
Glutamine protects both the gut and the immune system, so it works alongside both glycine and collagen.
Breaking a fast for fat loss
One of the reasons fasting is one of the best ways to lose weight is because it makes your body ‘fat adapted.’ This means your body uses fat for energy instead of sugar.
So when you break your fast, you’ll want to make sure your body stays in that ‘fat adapted’ mode.
To do this, you should mimic fasting conditions with food. And that means a diet low in carbs and high in fats. Otherwise, you’ll just undo all that great progress you made.
If you transition straight into a carbohydrate-heavy meal after a fast, it will shock your body. It will start to secrete insulin to deal with all the glucose, and it’ll stop burning as much fat.
This is why something fatty that’s easy to process is a good idea for a first meal. Things like medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which you can find in coconut oil, are ideal.
This is because it ‘primes the pump,’ and means your body will continue to burn fat as you start to eat again. In the same way as your last meal before a fast should be fatty, your first meal after a fast should be too.
Sometimes, the best course of action isn’t the one your stomach tells you to do. It’s very tempting to eat a lot of food when breaking a fast, but it’s not the way to go.
Instead, gradually introduce food back into your system, and take the steps you need to prepare your body for it. Bone broth and MCTs are both excellent ways to prime your gut for its first meal and teach it to use fats for energy instead of carbs.
This will put you in a strong position to maximize the benefits of your fast, and carry them on to the future. If you’d like to learn more about how to prepare for a fast, I have a planning checklist for fasting success for you here.