The re-feeding period after fasting is crucial for the success of the fasting experience. In fasting centers, a common recommendation by supervising physicians is that the faster take half the time of the fast to ease back into eating. So if you fast 7 days, you should take another 3-4 days to break the fast. If you fast two weeks, you should take another week to break the fast. A conservative approach to re-introducing food and activity is in the best interest of all fasters at any age.
"If there are two mistakes that are commonly made after fasting, they are eating much too soon, and moving too much too soon."
If there are two mistakes that are commonly made after fasting, they are eating too much too soon, and moving too much too soon. Food needs to be gradually introduced after a period of fasting. Fasts are most successfully broken with a succession of diluted and full strength fruit and vegetable juices, smoothies, fresh fruit, fresh vegetables and salads, raw and cooked vegan meals. Even if you fast, fasting will always be just a small part of your life. You will be eating 99% of your time and fasting only a very small percentage of your life. So what you do before and after the times that you fast is going to be the most significant part of your health and weight loss program.
Just remember that because of the elimination of all calories, and a natural starvation response that is enhanced after periods of severe calorie restriction, there can be significant reactive weight gain after a fast if healthy, low calorie dense, low sodium, plant-based eating and lifestyle habits are not maintained. Briefly, there is a kind of ledger sheet, an internal recognition system that the body uses to match its calorie intake to its calorie output. If you’re restricting your intake of calories but burning a lot of calories in physical movement, the body will slow down resting metabolism to hold on to future calories more forcefully, and you can begin to gain weight on less and less food intake.
Since there are no calories coming in during a fast, increasing physical activity during a fast is not only potentially dangerous, but can promote excessive reactive weight gain after the fast. Therefore, maintaining as much rest as possible is recommended during the fast, followed by a diet low in oil, refined sugar, animal products, and salt.
Physical activity should also be gradually introduced after a fast. If you have been doing nothing but resting during an extensive fasting period, it is in your best interest to ease back gently into an ongoing exercise regimen. Doing too much too soon can cause undue physiological stress to the body, and even potentially provoke some unforeseen damage and disability.
Depending on the length of the fast, I typically recommend short periods of walking, swimming, or biking on a stationary bike, or even rebounding on a rebounder, just about 4-5 minutes at a time a few times a day, for the first few days after fasting. After this period, activity can be extended several minutes a day over time until you’ve built up to about 30-45 minutes a day.
Being conservative in your eating and exercise activities after a fast will enhance any of the benefits you have achieved during the fasting process.
by Dr. Frank Sabatino, Health Director of Balance for Life Florida