What is the best protein to break a fast?

Intermittent fasting has become an increasingly popular way to lose weight, improve health, and simplify meal planning. When practicing intermittent fasting, it’s important to break the fast properly with a meal that provides key nutrients without spiking blood sugar or causing digestive issues. Protein is one of the most important nutrients to focus on when breaking a fast. Let’s explore some of the best protein options and how they can benefit your intermittent fasting routine.

Why Protein is Important for Breaking a Fast

After an extended period without food, the body’s glucose (sugar) stores become depleted. This can lead to low blood sugar, fatigue, headaches, irritability, and even muscle loss if protein intake is inadequate. Protein helps stabilize blood sugar when breaking a fast because it digests slowly and doesn’t cause blood sugar spikes. Protein foods also help you feel fuller for longer after a meal. In addition, protein provides amino acids that help maintain and build muscle tissue which may have broken down during the fast.

Choosing the Right Protein Sources

Not all protein sources are created equal when it comes to breaking a fast. Slow-digesting proteins are ideal because they provide a steady supply of amino acids over several hours rather than spiking blood sugar and insulin. Protein sources that are high in fat or fiber are also excellent choices because fat and fiber help slow digestion and extend feelings of fullness. Some examples of great protein foods to break a fast include:

  • Eggs
  • Greek yogurt
  • Cottage cheese
  • Nut butters
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Fish
  • Chicken
  • Lean red meat
  • Tofu or tempeh
  • Protein powders (whey, casein, pea, egg white)

On the other hand, protein sources that digest very quickly and cause blood sugar spikes are not ideal for breaking a fast. These include:

  • Protein bars or shakes with added sugars
  • Deli meats
  • Most dairy products besides Greek yogurt and cottage cheese

How Much Protein Should You Eat?

Most experts recommend getting about 20-30 grams of protein in your first meal after a fast. This helps replenish protein needs immediately after a fasting period. For some people, especially athletes or very active individuals, the ideal protein intake may be closer to 40 grams. Here is a table showing some sample amounts of common protein foods providing 20-30 grams protein:

Food Serving Size Grams of Protein
Greek yogurt 1 cup 20g
Cottage cheese 1 cup 28g
Eggs 3 large 21g
Nut butter 2 Tbsp 8g
Nuts and seeds 1/4 cup 8-10g
Canned tuna 3 oz 22g
Chicken breast 3 oz cooked 26g
Lean beef 3 oz cooked 21g
Tofu 1/2 block 20g
Protein powder 1 scoop 20-25g

Top 10 Best Proteins for Breaking a Fast

Based on nutrition profile, satiety, and ease of digestion, here are 10 of the very best protein foods to break a fast:

  1. Eggs: Eggs provide high-quality protein that digests slowly, keeping you full. They also contain healthy fats and other nutrients.
  2. Greek yogurt: High in protein with added probiotics. The thick texture and mild taste make it easy to eat after a fast.
  3. Cottage cheese: Excellent source of casein protein which coagulates in the gut to form a slow-digesting gel.
  4. Whey protein powder: A fast digesting protein powder that’s convenient and easy to digest.
  5. Nut butters: Provide protein, fiber and healthy fats for prolonged satiety after a fast.
  6. Nuts and seeds: Packed with protein, fiber and healthy fats. Soaking or sprouting makes them easier to digest.
  7. Salmon: An excellent source of anti-inflammatory omega-3’s and high quality protein.
  8. Sardines: These small fish are easy to eat and rich in protein, omega-3’s and calcium.
  9. Tempeh: Fermented soy tempeh contains probiotics to support gut health after fasting.
  10. Bone broth: Soothes the digestive tract and provides glycine, proline and other amino acids.

Sample Meals and Snacks for Breaking a Fast

Here are some quick and easy meal ideas containing 20-30 grams protein to break your fast:

  • 3-4 hard boiled eggs
  • Greek yogurt with berries and chopped nuts
  • Cottage cheese with avocado and tomato
  • Tuna salad stuffed in a pita or celery sticks
  • Protein shake made with milk, Greek yogurt or nut butter
  • Scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and veggies
  • Omelet with cheese, avocado and sautéed spinach
  • Roasted chickpeas and nut mix
  • Edamame hummus with carrot sticks
  • Canned sardines served over salad greens

Other Considerations for Your First Post-Fast Meal

In addition to protein foods, there are other factors to consider for breaking your fast:

  • Eat slowly and mindfully: Avoid scarfing down food too quickly after fasting. This can overload the digestive system.
  • Drink fluids: Hydration is important, but sip water and herbal teas slowly rather than guzzling.
  • Include veggies: Adding non-starchy vegetables provides vitamins, minerals, fiber and polyphenols.
  • Add healthy fats: Fats slow digestion and provide satiety. Avocado, nuts, olive oil, etc. are great options.
  • Avoid processed carbs: Sugary and refined breads, cereals, pastries will spike blood sugar.
  • Don’t overeat: Stick to a reasonable portion size for your first meal to avoid GI upset.
  • Listen to your body: Go slowly and give your body time to digest before eating more.


Choosing the right protein to break your fast is crucial for maintaining muscle, stabilizing blood sugar, and staying satiated. Slow-digesting proteins like eggs, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, and nuts are excellent options that provide a steady supply of amino acids. Aim for 20-30 grams of protein in your first meal after fasting. Combine with non-starchy veggies, healthy fats, and fluids. Avoid processed carbs and sugar. Pay attention to your body’s signals before deciding to eat more. With the proper protein foods and mindful eating habits, you can safely reap the benefits of intermittent fasting.

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