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How to break your intermittent fast

Here's how you should begin eating following an intermittent fast

young woman eating

Intermittent fasting means going 16 hours fasted and then eating meals within the next eight hours, for example, only eating from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. It’s not cutting calories, it’s limiting calories to a certain time frame. But when you’re intermittent fasting, breaking that fast is more complicated than just eating a regular breakfast. Here’s how multi-time national team member Kate Van Buskirk breaks her fast for the day.


RELATED: Is intermittent fasting good for runners?

Van Buskirk says that she’s learned through her own research and experience that breaking her fast with liquids is the best way to go. “Your stomach shrinks significantly during your fast and your digestive system gets a little break. These are parts of the overall benefit of fasting, but the result is that you need to reintroduce nutrition slowly and gently so you gut isn’t overwhelmed.”

The runner says she drinks lots of nearly calorie-free fluids during her fast. Those include water, herbal tea and black coffee. When her fast ends she starts her calorie consumption with a homemade anti-inflammatory drink called turmeric milk. “This drink consists of coconut milk, honey, turmeric and some spices whisked together. I follow that with a smoothie consisting of banana, non-dairy milk and a scoop of plant-based protein powder.” An hour out from her first two liquid meals, she has her first solid food meal of the day.

Van Buskirk’s rules of thumb

  1. Break a fast with a liquid meal or a very bland and soft food like overnight oats
  2. If you’re breaking your fast post-run, make sure you have protein in your meal
  3. Avoid processed foods
  4. Take a probiotic with or before your meal
  5. Consume your meal slowly and resist the urge to eat quickly

RELATED: Add a little kick to your morning with a post-run coffee smoothie

Melissa Peircell is a Toronto-based naturopath who says that intermittent fasting can be fine for runners to try. “When your body is used to going longer without food, you’re less likely to crash and reach for something sugary.” Intermittent fasting can help maintain blood glucose levels and prevent energy crashes.

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