From a nutritional standpoint not eating or drinking for several hours can cause your blood sugars to crash leading overeating when you break your fast as well as dehydration.
So how can you practice fasting for religious reasons in the most healthful way?
Have a substantial meal before your fast begins, as you want to begin in the best possible metabolic state. At the pre-fast meal:
- Drink plenty of water
- Have a meal that contains at least 20-25 or more grams of protein, and some healthy veggies or fruit full of fiber for satiation and fat such as avocado, olive oil on your salad or veggies and/or nuts sprinkled on your meal.
- Avoid salty foods to prevent increased thirst throughout your fast
Depending on the length of your fast, and the type will be the deciding factor for how you break the fast and be the least harmful to your system. When breaking your fast:
- Drink plenty of water to rehydrate, especially if your fast requires abstinence from fluids. It will also assist with overconsumption when you break the fast.
- Consume protein to help stabilize your blood glucose levels and include healthful veggies/fruit and fats
- Give your body time to realize you’ve eaten a meal. When blood glucose values have been low upon eating a meal your insulin surges and then drops. This metabolic process combined with the body feeling “starved” can create a pattern of overeating for hours.
If you have diabetes or another medical related condition check with your physician before starting a fast as it may not be in your best interest to go without fluids or food for an extended period of time.
Although fasting is a challenging and is required by some religious practices, being prepared and metabolically ready can go a long way’s towards fasting responsibly.
This blog was co-written by Susan Dopart and RD intern Farah Alrajaan