Do you have a hunger for God? If we don’t feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because we have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because we have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Our soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great. If we are full of what the world offers, then perhaps a fast might express, or even increase, our soul’s appetite for God. Between the dangers of self-denial and self-indulgence is the path of pleasant pain called fasting. [John Piper].
A study published in the July 2013 issue of Physiology & Behavior doesn't discuss intermittent-day fasting, but it addresses the concern of overeating after fasting. Researchers at Cornell University either fed breakfast to or withheld breakfast from a group of student volunteers. They found that those who skipped breakfast reported being hungrier than those who ate breakfast. They also ate more at lunch. Still, the amount they ate didn't fully compensate for the missed meal. Volunteers who skipped breakfast consumed 408 fewer calories over the course of the day than those who ate breakfast.
Many physiological changes occur in the body during fasting. During the first day or so, the body uses its glycogen reserves, the sugars that are the basic energy supply. After these are depleted, the body begins using fat. However, the brain, which has high fuel requirements, still needs glucose (sugars converted from glycogen). To obtain glucose for the brain, the body begins to break down muscle tissue during the second day of the fast. Thus, during fasting some muscle loss will occur. To fuel the brain, the body would need to burn over a pound of muscle a day, but the body has developed another way to create energy that saves important muscle mass. This protein-sparing process is called ketosis, which occurs during the third day of a fast for men and the second day for women. In this highly efficient state, the liver begins converting stored fat and other nonessential tissues into ketones, which can be used by the brain, muscles, and heart as energy. It is at this point in the fast that sensations of hunger generally go away, and many people experience normal or even increased energy levels. Hormone levels and certain functions become more stable in this state as well. The goal of most fasts is to allow the body to reach the ketosis state in order to burn excess fat and unneeded or damaged tissue. Thus, fasts longer than three days are generally recommended as therapy.
The combination of fasting and praying is not a fad or a novelty approach to spiritual discipline. Fasting and praying are not part of a human-engineered method or plan. They are not the means to manipulate a situation or to create a circumstance. Fasting and praying are Bible-based disciplines that are appropriate for all believers of all ages throughout all centuries in all parts of the world.
Study after study confirms that any form of intermittent fasting will help reduce weight and improve body composition, though the results are probably about the same as you’d see from restricting your calories. One study Varady ran, published in 2017 in JAMA Internal Medicine, found that after dieting for one year, people lost about 5–6% of their bodyweight whether they restricted their calories or tried alternate-day fasting.
The bigu (辟谷 "avoiding grains") fasting practice originated as a Daoist technique for becoming a xian (仙 "transcendent; immortal"), and later became a Traditional Chinese medicine cure for the sanshi (三尸 "Three Corpses; the malevolent, life-shortening spirits that supposedly reside in the human body"). Chinese interpretations of avoiding gu "grains; cereals" have varied historically; meanings range from not eating particular foodstuffs such as food grain, Five Cereals (China), or staple food to not eating anything such as inedia, breatharianism, or aerophagia.
6. Are you hungry all the time? A scale of 1 to 10 is helpful in moments like this. One is ravenous, while 10 is extremely full. What is your number before and after meals? What is your number at moments during the fast? While hunger may be part of a fast given the caloric restriction, it shouldn’t be constant, ongoing and terrible. Also, notice portions when eating. If you haven’t created the right balance, you might overeat when breaking a fast, which is hard on your digestion and metabolism. Ideally, once acclimated, you’d stay within the 3 to 7 range at all times, 3 when fasting and 7 after meals.
In her blog, Gospel Taboo, Amanda Edmondson writes, "Biblically, fasting is mentioned in both the Old and New Testament. In the Old Testament it was often a way of expressing grief or a means of humbling one's self before the Lord. In Psalm 35:13, David humbled himself with fasting. In the New Testament it was a means to grow closer to God through mediating and focusing on Him. In Matthew 4:1-2, Jesus went to the wilderness to fast for 40 days. In Matthew 6:16-18 we learn that we aren’t to look somber while fasting so that it’s not obvious to others when we are fasting. Throughout the New Testament fasting and prayer are often mentioned together. In Acts 13:3, ‘they had fasted and prayed.’ In Luke 2:37 a widow worshiped day and night fasting and praying."
Jesus’ statements concerning fasting are simple and straightforward. His disciples will fast (Luke 5:33-35 Luke 5:33-35 33 And they said to him, Why do the disciples of John fast often, and make prayers, and likewise the disciples of the Pharisees; but your eat and drink? 34 And he said to them, Can you make the children of the bridal chamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? 35 But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days.
Even though you are skipping breakfast, it's still important to stay hydrated. Make sure to still drink enough water. You can also have herbal tea. The catechins in tea have been shown to enhance the benefits of fasting by helping to further decrease the hunger hormone ghrelin, so you can make it until lunch and not feel deprived. Since you’ve increased your fasting period an extra four hours, you need to make sure your first meal (at noon) has enough healthy fats. The burger in the 8-to-6 window plan will work well, and you can add more fats in with your dressing or top with an avocado!
Discipline your body through fasting. When you become especially aware of your own sins and weaknesses and your resulting need for God’s grace, consider fasting as a way to learn discipline that will help you grow. If you discipline your body through fasting, your spirit will follow, and you’ll grow closer to God – which will transform you into a more loving and holy person. Routinely schedule one or two days each week to fast. Use the time to respond physically to the reality of a broken world, the presence of sin in your life, and your yearning for more love and holiness. But beware of using fasting as a weapon to battle your body’s appetites. Remember that food isn’t an evil to be battled; it’s a good gift from God that you’re simply choosing to refrain from for a time in order to focus on responding to a sacred moment.
Fasting sounds so simple, and yet the world, our flesh, and the devil conspire to introduce all sorts of complications that keep it from happening. In view of helping you start down the slow path to good fasting, here are six simple pieces of advice. These suggestions might seem pedantic, but the hope is that such basic counsel can serve those who are new at fasting or have never seriously tried it.
Fasting is obligatory for every Muslim one month in the year, during Ramadhan. Each day, the fast begins at sun-rise and ends at sunset. During this time Muslims are asked to remember those who are less fortunate than themselves as well as bringing them closer to God. This also helps to give the digestive system a break. Non obligatory fasts are two days a week as well as the middle of the month, as recommended by the Prophet Muhammad.