So it’s time to break your fast. But you don’t want to balloon up immediately after doing so and ideally you want to keep the weight loss progress ticking over.
Being able to break an extended fast while staying in ketosis is important to ensure we stay in a fat adapted state and can continue reaping the weight loss benefits of the ketogenic state.
Today I’m going to discuss the importance of being in the ketogenic state for maximum fat loss benefits, as well as when and how to reintroduce carbs, and finally we’ll have a look at some of the best keto foods for breaking your fast.
Why It’s So Important To Break Your Fast With Keto Foods
So why should we even care about staying in ketosis post-fast. Can’t we just celebrate with some damn carbs!? Let’s take a look at why it’s almost always a better idea to break your fast with keto.
Why Carbs Are Particularly Bad When Breaking A Fast
If you’ve been fasting for any substantial period of time, your body is likely to be extremely insulin sensitive. This means that any exposure to carbohydrates at all is going to signal the body to go into ‘fat storage mode’ immediately.
This is the primary reason why if you Google, “how to break a fast”, all of the advice says to consume lean protein and steer clear of carbs.
More carbs also leads to higher water retention, which will make you look puffier and heavier.
You’ll Lose Fat Quicker
The below chart compares fat loss on a low fat high carb diet vs a low carb/high fat ketogenic diet.1https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-020-01209-1.epdf?sharing_token=B-abRKdSlhWpFgLaL4PT8tRgN0jAjWel9jnR3ZoTv0MiA14xdEvAE9iqwZPSHhRcpJjHCX6fjiyhMOWQeYFDypTNHs_wNb5OtTsXrK-NDoNfnwVeG9QRGdDkUCfmDm0YyQ4kG3SvnOo5hwR8IdvNQUstbjj74xt0u6HCbC8iyLC6G0aZrGFW5bwZPXYNfnkvT8YUuOTgZJ1Ftm-lEpskwRfVD9dzxbOviVIi1sdjNEs%3D&tracking_referrer=www.washingtonpost.com
This chart and countless others are solid evidence for the effectiveness of being in a ketogenic state when it comes to weight loss. Below is another excellent example of how the ketogenic approach is best for efficiently losing weight.2https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18175736/
You’ll Be Less Hungry
This is really important when we’re looking to lose weight. The crazy thing about keto is that even though you’re able to burn more fat, you’ll actually feel less hungry while doing it! 3https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18175736
Enables You To Become More Fat Adapted
The longer we stay in ketosis, the deeper into ketosis we get. The deeper into ketosis we are, the more efficiently our body learns how to process fat for energy. It can take weeks of strict keto to get into the “fat adapted state” which is where our body is a highly efficient fat burning furnace!
When we’re fat adapted, we’ll lose weight quicker, experience less hunger, and get better sleep.
By breaking our fast with keto foods, we stay in that ketogenic state and continue sharpening the sword of fat adaption. As soon as we start regularly consuming a significant amount of carbs again, we lose all the progress we’ve made on becoming fat adapted and have to start again!
How To Break A Fast & Stay In Ketosis?
When it’s time to break your fast, make sure you do so with a small amount of lean protein and avoid carbs completely. Something like 100-200g of plain unsalted chicken breast is my go-to. We want to avoid salting our food when we break the fast as this will often cause water retention.
My typical approach for breaking a fast while staying in ketosis is as follows.
- Apple cider vinegar/baking soda/lemon juice – This is going to get our digestive enzymes firing, wake everything back up, and cleanse our kidneys. Perfect initial step of breaking any fast.
- Bone broth – Again this is perfect for waking up our digestion system gently.
- Lean protein – As mentioned, 100-200g unsalted chicken breast or lean white fish is simply the best first ‘hard food’ to break a fast with.
- Resume regular but small ketogenic meals for the next 24 hours – Super important to keep portion size small if you’ve been on a prolonged fast. If you’ve been fasting for 24 hours or less, this won’t be as big of a deal. Keep the carbs to an absolute minimum.
In my article How To Break An Extended Fast The Right Way, I talk about all of these steps in more detail. While the article is geared towards breaking dry fasts specifically, the information for the above steps is the exact same if you’re doing a water fast.
Why You Should Consider Cycling Carbs After Breaking The Fast
As you know, you can eat up to 50g carbs per day and remain in a ketogenic state. But what about occasionally upping that carb intake to 100-150g or higher maybe once or twice a week? This is known as a cyclical ketogenic diet.
Keep The Benefits Of Fat Adaptation
The reason I think this is such an excellent idea is because even though we’ll temporarily be kicked out of ketosis after these carb sessions, we’ll still be in a fat adapted state which means we will still melt fat like crazy!
We’ll also be able to get back into ketosis much quicker if we weren’t fat adapted.
Optimize Workout Performance & Muscle Retention
Strategically placing these small carb refeeds before big workouts like your leg days is an excellent way to enhance performance in the gym and promote maximum muscle retention while we’re looking to lose weight with keto.
If you’re on a strict workout regime or a big calorie deficit, getting some carbs in occasionally is going to replenish your muscle glycogen stores which will ultimately enable you to get the stimulus needed to maintain muscle mass.
Make Sure You’re Fat Adapted Before Cycling In Carbs
So after you’ve broken your fast, you need to ask yourself whether you’re in a fat adapted state or not. If you’ve not been eating strict keto for at least 3-4 weeks, you’re probably not in a fat adapted state and so I’d recommend eating the standard ketogenic diet (<50g carbs per day) for a month after breaking a fast in order to reach fat adaptation.
After you’re fat adapted, you can start experimenting with carb cycling 1-2x a week which will give you a huge physical performance boost and allow you to retain the benefits of being fat adapted at the same time!
What Are The Best Keto Foods To Break A Fast With?
As discussed earlier, it’s really important to keep carb intake to an absolute minimum when breaking your fast, not just to remain in ketosis but to avoid fat and water storage while your body is so hypersensitive to insulin.
Zero Carb Keto Foods
These are going to be the best foods to eat during the actual breaking of the fast and the meals you eat within the 48 hours immediately after your fast.
- Canned fish (like tuna)
- Beef, pork, chicken, lamb
- Organ meat that isn’t liver
- *Broccoli/cauliflower, although contain small amounts of carbs, are also fine. I wouldn’t break my fast with these foods, as fiber can be tough to digest, but would start to include them in the following meals.
This Might Just Be The Optimal Way To Break A Fast!
Honestly, I can’t think of a more effective way to break an extended fast or even a shorter term fast. If you’re used to breaking your fasts with carbs, you’re likely leaving huge weight loss results on the table. You probably regain fat back really quickly and bloat up with water retention.
If your priority is weight loss, this one’s a no brainer.
Break your fast with keto. Then, if you need a performance boost, consider switching to a cyclical ketogenic diet where you’re having 1-2 carb refeed days per week. Make sure you’re fat adapted before doing this. This is going to give you the best of both worlds!