As I was researching for this article, I was surprised that to answer the question of what to eat before fasting, many health experts recommend various whole foods including fruits and whole grains. As you will see, the length of your fast matters when you decide what to eat before fasting, but just as a matter of common sense, foods that are healthy fat-rich would be my first pick. Let’s dig further a little further.
How Long Are You Going to Fast?
I think it’s pretty obvious that the length of the fast you are planning will impact how much what to eat before fasting matters.
Fasting for Less Than 24 Hours
Fasting for less than 24 hours doesn’t require much preparation. Moreover, there are no “rules” that work for everyone! I talk about that in my post What to Eat to Break a Fast (Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff). You can test different macronutrient ratios for your last meal and see if that helps. Generally speaking, most people will find that when your last meal is smaller and rich in healthy fats fasting is easier the next day.
What is Prolonged Fasting?
Prolonged fasting may require that you plan better what to eat before fasting. Prolonged fasting is usually defined as anything over 72 hours.
Tips to Make Prolonged Fasting Easier
If you are going to fast for more than 72 hours, here are a few tips you can implement before your fast to make it easier:
- Go Keto: If you are already in ketosis, going without food will feel easier.
- Change up your meal schedule: Fasting is hard and a big part of that is psychological. You miss food and meal rituals. Not eating at the times you normally would a few days before your fast will help get used to not eating at certain times.
- Make sure your last meal is smaller and contains medium-chain triglycerides (coconut oil or MCT oil): I mentioned already that your last meal should be smaller and healthy fat-rich. Including MCTs in your last meal may also help because they tend to improve satiety.
What to Eat Before Fasting
Whether you are preparing for a prolonged fast or a short fast, most people will find that favoring foods that are low in carbs and high in healthy fats is beneficial.
Many people struggle with cravings and the inability to go for extended periods without food. Achieving ketosis for a short while will help improve that. Once your body switches from burning glucose for energy to burning ketones, you will notice that your appetite is stabilizes and fasting is easier.
Try my 7-Day Intermittent Fasting Keto Meal Plan, it’s a simple clean keto meal plan that will help you get started.
Drink lots of water and drink bone broth.
OK! Technically, that’s not a food you eat, but it’s still something you should consume. You need to make sure you are well hydrated at all times and even more so before and during fasting. A lot of the unpleasant symptoms that come from fasting are due to a lack of hydration.
Bone broth, in particular, will nourish you with good fats and minerals. I make mine in the instant pot. It just takes a few seconds to prepare because I don’t even add anything to it. I throw some bones I keep in the freezer in the Instant Pot, cover them with water, and select the function Soup. That’s it!
2. Fatty Fish
Fish like mackerel, anchovies, sardines, and wild salmon are excellent sources of DHA. Not only fatty fish improves the fat content of your meal, but DHA has been shown to help preserve muscle mass when ingested prior to fasting.
Moreover Omega-3s (which include DHA and EPA) are an excellent choice to reduce inflammation. Of course, fasting in itself reduces inflammation too!
3- Avocado and Olives
The point of avocado and olives is to add more fat to your last meal. An avocado is about 15% fat, 8.5% carbs, and 2% protein (the rest is water). Olives are about 10% fat, 6.3% carbs, and 0.8 % protein.
4- Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are an excellent low-carb option that will increase the fat content of your meal while adding fiber. Fiber, like fat, helps increase satiety. Moreover, fiber slows down the release of the sugars in your carbohydrates. You may enjoy my Low Carb Food List for more food ideas to reduce the number of carbs in your last meal before fasting.
5- Coconut Oil or MCT Oil
In my tips to make prolonged fasting easier, we talked about how MCTs improve satiety. MCTs are easily absorbed and metabolized by the liver. They will then be converted into ketones. Coconut oil is a functional food that has many benefits including treating and preventing Alzheimer’s.
In the context of fasting, I am sure you can see how the fact that MCTs can easily be converted into ketones would help make fasting easier. Switching to fat burning instead of glucose is a critical part of fasting.
What To Eat Before Fasting
There are two simple guidelines to follow when it comes to deciding what to eat before fasting:
- Don’t stuff yourself.
- Eat a nutrient-dense, low carb and fat rich meal
These two points will help facilitate fasting whether you are going to fast for less than 24 hours or 3 days. There you go, I pretty much summarized everything in two sentences!