Intermittent fasting is a diet everyone heard about at least once. If you’ve recently starting fasting or are considering it, you’re probably wondering what are the best ways to break a fast. What will give you a boost of energy and nutrition without messing up your digestive system? And can you break a fast with protein shake?
Yes, protein shakes are a great way to break a fast. Protein helps stabilize blood sugar levels and prevents you from having crashes later on in the day. If you exercise while fasting, a good protein shake will help with post-workout recovery and sustain a healthy muscle mass. You can even combine the shake with a banana, especially if you’ve done cardio, to replenish your energy levels. However, some people may not react very well to drinking protein shakes on an empty stomach. That depends on the ingredients in the shake, but also a person’s food sensitivities.
So let’s take a closer look at protein shakes, why they are so beneficial when breaking fast, and what to keep in mind to avoid digestive issues.
Should you break a fast with a protein shake?
Protein shakes are a convenient and easy way to break a fast. Protein is an ingredient you need plenty of, whether you’re trying to lose weight or just get healthy. It helps manage blood sugar and it prevents energy crashes throughout the day. In other words, you can break a fast with protein shake.
If you’re worried about your total protein intake because of the meals your skipping by fasting, protein shakes are the way to go. Just make sure you don’t forget they come with calories, just like any other foods. So if you’re also counting calories, don’t forget to count the ones in the shake.
On the other hand, breaking a fast with a protein shake might be the solution if you’re looking to reduce your calorie intake throughout your eating window. If you find you’re prone to overeating, including a protein shake at the end of your fast can help reduce your appetite and lose weight. Research shows that starting your day with a protein-rich meal helps reduce the levels of ghrelin, a hormone responsible for making you feel hungry.
Another small study, on 19 participants showed that doubling their protein intake led to a significant reduction in body weight. It may be difficult to increase your protein intake so much through food alone, which is where protein shakes come in handy.
Protein shakes also have a crucial role in fitness. You probably heard about bodybuilders who use protein supplements to increase muscle mass. Don’t worry though, you won’t bulk if you break a fast with a protein shake. However, protein is necessary for recovery and repair muscles after an intense workout. It may even help reduce the soreness and the fatigue that happens naturally after an intense workout.
How will the digestive system react?
One thing you need to keep in mind is that not all protein shakes are created equal. That being said, some contain a lot of artificial sweeteners. While many of them are harmless, others can upset your digestive system. That’s why it’s always better to include natural sweeteners, like Stevia.
There’s also the issue of the natural ingredients of protein shakes. The most common ones include whey protein or casein, both of which can cause severe intolerances in people who have trouble digesting lactose. Due to the high concentration of dairy proteins, many who digest dairy products well have trouble with dairy-based protein powders. Many protein shakes contain digestive enzymes, but whether that’s enough or not, depends on each person. If you know your digestive system doesn’t react well to dairy, you may want to avoid these protein shakes.
Plant-based protein powders are easier on the digestive system, but you still need to look out for other artificial ingredients.
Should you consume a protein shake after working out in the morning?
The answer depends on when you exercise and when you intend to break your fast. Consuming a protein shake will break your fast. So if you exercise early in the morning, but don’t want to break a fast until noon, then no, you should not consume a protein shake after your workout, unless you are lifting weights for a long period of time. In case you really don’t want to break your fast, there are three things you can do:
- You can exercise at the end of your fasting window. That way, you’re free to have your protein shake as soon as you’re done working out. This is a good solution if you’re trying to build muscle, as you need to replenish soon after a workout. It is also a good solution if you know you’re prone to hypoglycemia if you don’t eat soon after a workout.
- The other option is to simply have your protein shake at the time when you’d normally break your fast, regardless of when you worked out. You’ll still get the benefits of consuming a lot of protein with your first meal, without breaking your fast ahead of time.
- Consume 10g of BCAA before your workout. The inventor of intermittent fasting actually recommends this.
Best protein shake to break a fast
|Dymatize ISO100 Hydrolyzed||25g||120||less than 1g||None||less than 1g||Yes||Sucralose, Stevia||5.5g|
|Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard||24g||120||1.5||3g||1g||Yes||Natural and Artificial sweeteners, Sucralose (no sucralose in double rich chocolate flavor)||5g|
|Orgain Organic Plant Based Powder||21g||150||4g||5g||0g||Yes||Erythritol, Stevia||0g (n/a)|
You certainly can break a fast with a protein shake, as protein helps you feel satiated longer, reduces appetite, and helps you consume more calories throughout the day. On top of that, it will keep your blood sugar levels more stable.
Breaking your fast with a protein shake is also an easy way to get a lot of nutrients quickly, without overwhelming your digestive system after a long fast. It is quick and easy to make and it is absorbed by the body just as quickly. In case you want to have a protein shake after your workout, you need to remember you’ll be breaking your fast, so schedule your day accordingly.
That being said, you need to be mindful of the ingredients in your protein shake as they can be responsible for negative digestive system reactions. Artificial sweeteners on an empty stomach aren’t the best idea for everyone. Also, people who are sensitive to lactose may need to look for alternatives to the common whey protein supplements.
In other words, you should start your day with a meal containing protein. Whether that is a protein shake or a normal meal that’s up to you.