Mudita Journal

How to Break a Water Fast (Without Gaining Weight Back)

June 25, 2006 · Filed under: Health, Water Fast

In response to my first water fast entry, Tara asks:

I have started a water fast and have yet to decide how long I will be doing it for. I know you can lose weight by fasting, but I’ve heard you nearly always put it all back on. I was wondering how you can keep the weight off once you finish fasting, and what’s the best way to come off a fast. [edited for grammar]

I typically lose about two pounds for each day that I fast, and rarely am I eager to return to my original weight. Fortunately, you don’t have to.

When you finish an extended water fast (3 days or more), your stomach will have shrunk considerably, which means you will not require as much food to make you feel satiated. Also, your metabolism will have slowed, causing you to need fewer calories to get through the day.

Take advantage of the opportunity to eat smaller portions of high quality food rather than larger quantities of lower quality food.

Good foods to use when breaking your fast include steamed veggies (yellow squash, broccoli, etc.) and fresh fruits like watermelon and blueberries. Stay away from anything spicy or sour or acid.

Breaking your fast with whole foods (rather than juices) will help stimulate a bowel movement, which is very good. Hopefully you were doing daily water enemas while you were fasting, to help remove all the old stuff from your guts along the way.

They say that, for each day of your fast, you should devote one day to breaking the fast. So, if you fast for five days, you should spend five days gradually re-introducing food into your diet, beginning with the easiest foods to digest (cooked veggies, yogurt, etc) and finishing with the hardest (meats, spicy food).

Using this strategy — particularly the part about sticking with small portions of higher-quality foods — I gained only about two pounds when I broke my most recent fast, and I have stayed at that weight for more than a month, which means I can probably stay here indefinitely as long as I’m eating healty foods.

  • Amy

    I read your article on breaking a fast without gaining weight back. I will do the things you’d suggested so I don’t regain my weight and keep the regain to an absolute minimum. Would you recommend steady long walks when you resume eating? I was most concerned with the fact that my loss of muscle mass may impact weight regain so would walking with small weights be too much?

  • Bonnie S

    Hi,
    Im considering a water-fast for a few days and was wondering… during these days, will I be weak because of the lack of nutrition. I take multi-vitamins and all, but I also work out for an hour every day. Should I stop working out for these days? or continue my schedule of working out? I just dont want to faint…lol, thats all.

  • Maria

    Hi Bonnie,

    Excercise if you feel well; listen to your body, it will tell you what it likes and what not. I usually walk about 2.5K a day and do light weights every other day not to loose muscle mass.

    Remeber though, that the longer you stay on a water fast the heart will beat slower as it works on reduced energy. Yer not going to drop dead at all, just don’t jug 10K or do an hour of high impact aerobics.

    Water fasting is a wonderful experience if you let your body guide you.

    Hope this helps.

  • Dee

    Hi, I’m currently on day 4 of hopefully what will be a 14 day water fast. I’ll be content with 10. The only problem is I’m a waitress at a very nice restaurant so I’m hoping I’m having good days coming up. Right now I’m very tired, but the fast has been going well so far since I normally eat whole foods. Question is this, before starting the fast I was eating a low carb, low fat diet including white fish, lean chicken and turkey, veggies, raw baby spinach, etc. If I do a 10 day water fast, when I can reintroduce things like poultry and tuna fish? Also, you recommend cooked veggies, but how about a few cups of raw baby spinach, its my favorite. Thanks!

  • http://www.zader.com Joshua Zader

    Dee,

    Digesting meats and raw vegetables generally requires more digestive enzymes than does digesting cooked vegetables and certain fruits. Generally, you want to give your digestive system a couple days to kick back into gear before you introduce foods that require more enzymes.

    From what I understand, the best foods for your first couple days are steamed veggies, low-acid fruits (watermelon, blueberries, etc). Often the first “meat” I introduce is scrambled eggs.

    I usually break my fasts with watermelon and then steamed squash and zucchini. This seems the gentlest on my stomach.

    Later in the day, I’ll move to steamed broccoli and green beans, with fresh avocado, and a bit of garlic juice, lemon juice, and sea salt on top.

    A little decadent, perhaps, but the last time I ate this after a fast, I was in heaven for hours from the exquisite combination of flavors.

    Best of luck,

    Joshua

  • Dee

    Josh – That was actually great news as I summer squash, zucchini, and avocado are my favorites (so are eggs). It’s kind of funny because I find myself craving asparagus and grilled chicken rather than chocolate cake and ice cream.

    Thanks for the quick reply!