To restore balance or to lose weight, we simply need to increase the amount of time we burn food energy. That’s intermittent fasting. In essence, fasting allows the body to use its stored energy. After all, that’s what it is there for. The important thing to understand is that there is nothing wrong with that. That is how our bodies are designed. That’s what dogs, cat, lions and bears do. That’s what humans do.
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.
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.
Save high-intensity interval training and heavy weight training for feed days/during your feed window, if you can, when you have the calories for fuel and nutrients for recovery. But if your training schedule calls for a grueling workout on a fast day that can’t be moved, add the calories burned to your count for the day so you don’t burn through muscle. At 200 or 300 calories, you don’t need to compensate, but if you burn 500 or more on a fast day, instead of just 500 maintenance calories with 50g of protein, eat 1,000 calories with 80g or more of protein, Varady advises.
On Wednesday and Friday of the first week of Great Lent the meals which are taken consist of xerophagy (literally, "dry eating") i.e. boiled or raw vegetables, fruit, and nuts. In a number of monasteries, and in the homes of more devout laypeople, xerophagy is observed on every weekday (Monday through Friday) of Great Lent, except when wine and oil are allowed.
The drawbacks were clear. The men became obsessed with food to the exclusion of everything else in their life, and when the calorie restriction ended, they all over-reacted. Within a few weeks, they regained all of the lost weight plus about 10 percent more. Other studies have come to similar conclusions. So starvation-type diets may not be ideal for the average person. Your body will tend to shut down various processes in order to survive. For example, by reducing thyroid function, your body will not burn as many calories.
If you find yourself eating that sandwich, and start to beat yourself up, stop. We as humans fail at many things, but God’s love is proven time and time again. Eating on the fast does not make you a failure. To be considered a good hitter in baseball you only need to hit thirty percent of the time at-bat. If you eat something you meant to be fasting, just get back into the fast and finish strong.
If the better part of wisdom for you, in your health condition, is not to go without food, consider fasting from television, computer, social media, or some other regular enjoyment that would bend your heart toward greater enjoyment of Jesus. Paul even talks about married couples fasting from sex “for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer” (1 Corinthians 7:5).
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!
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.
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In practice, however, I would be concerned with eating enough. Based on my experience, teaching yourself to consistently eat more is one of the harder parts of intermittent fasting. You might be able to feast for a meal, but learning to do so every day of the week takes a little bit of planning, a lot of cooking, and consistent eating. The end result is that most people who try intermittent fasting end up losing some weight because the size of their meals remains similar even though a few meals are being cut out each week.
Confront injustice through fasting. Fast as a way of expressing poverty in your body, to show solidarity with those who are impoverished by injustice in our fallen world. Divest yourself of some resources – food – for the good of others. Convert what you give up in food when you fast into gifts for the poor by estimating the cost of the food you would have eaten if you hadn’t fasted and giving that amount to charities that help poor people. Use the time you would have spent eating to serve people in need and help bring more justice to the world. Use your fasting to call attention to other people’s needs, such as when you’re working to find solutions to the problems causing injustice and want to inspire others (like government leaders) to take action as well. However, be sure not to call attention to yourself, simply to try to impress others with your fasting. Use fasting to confront injustices in our own attitudes and behaviors, as well – to break the hold of unhealthy habits in your life and help you grow in holiness. Ask God to give you a clear vision of what He would like your life to look like. Then, through fasting, express your complete surrender to that vision.
Pope Pius XII had initially relaxed some of the regulations concerning fasting in 1956. In 1966, Pope Paul VI in his apostolic constitution Paenitemini, changed the strictly regulated Roman Catholic fasting requirements. He recommended that fasting be appropriate to the local economic situation, and that all Catholics voluntarily fast and abstain. In the United States, there are only two obligatory days of fast – Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. The Fridays of Lent are days of abstinence: eating meat is not allowed. Pastoral teachings since 1966 have urged voluntary fasting during Lent and voluntary abstinence on the other Fridays of the year. The regulations concerning such activities do not apply when the ability to work or the health of a person would be negatively affected.