Third, you've probably already fasted many times, even though you don't know it. Have you ever slept in late on the weekends and then had a late brunch? Some people do this every weekend. In situations like these, we often eat dinner the night before and then don't eat until 11am or noon or even later. There's your 16–hour fast and you didn't even think about it.
It appears that restricting calories activates genes that direct cells to preserve resources. Rather than grow and divide, cells in famine mode are, in effect, stalled. In this state, they are mostly resistant to disease and stress and enter into autophagy, a process of cleaning out dead or toxic cell matter and repairing and recycling damaged components.
You'll probably lose weight on the Fast Diet because you’ll consume significantly fewer calories than you normally would on two days of the week. If you actually stick with the plan, you'll steadily drop weight. And because the two fast days are nonconsecutive and allow for at least some eating, the diet authors have found that people don't typically binge and overeat on the nonfasting days.
Remember, fasting is for one’s spiritual health, which involves abstaining from food and drink while spending a lot of extra time in prayer and Bible study (Exodus 34:28 Exodus 34:28And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote on the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.
If you have an addictive relationship with food and you struggle with portion control, track your calorie intake in your meals to make sure you’re not overeating. If you skip breakfast, you might be so hungry from this that you OVEREAT for lunch and this can lead to weight gain. Again, the important thing here is that with intermittent fasting you’re eating fewer calories than normal because you’re skipping a meal every day.
I recently got in touch with Kane, a reader who’d emailed me in the past, to hear about his experience with fasting because I’ve been noticing the buzz growing louder lately. Famous enthusiasts include reality TV star Kourtney Kardashian, musician Moby, and model Molly Sims. Actor Chris Pratt has been Instagramming about his Bible-based fast. In the media world, New York Times economics columnist Paul Krugman and MSNBC host Chris Hayes have mentioned their fasting routines. Over the past couple of decades, as dozens of diets and weight management schemes have come in and out of fashion, fasting has steadily gained popularity.
With this information in hand, you should know exactly how to schedule meals when starting an intermittent fasting plan. And while it might seem complicated at first, once you get into the habit of fasting, it will feel like second nature and fit pretty seamlessly into your days. Just remember to always start slow and gradually work up to more advanced plans.
A man once said to me about fasting, "It seems that when I fast the world seems much more black and white, at least for a period of time. I see right and wrong much more clearly. I see good and bad, blessings and cursings, benefits and negative consequences, what is godly and what is ungodly. I am much more discerning about what lines up with God's commandments and what falls into the category of 'man's commands.'"
Fasting isn’t merely an act of self-deprivation, but a spiritual discipline for seeking more of God’s fullness. Which means we should have a plan for what positive pursuit to undertake in the time it normally takes to eat. We spend a good portion of our day with food in front of us. One significant part of fasting is the time it creates for prayer and meditation on God’s word or some act of love for others.
A 2018 review of intermittent fasting in obese people showed that reducing calorie intake one to six days per week over at least 12 weeks was effective for reducing body weight on an average of 7 kilograms (15 lb); the results were not different from a simple calorie restricted diet, and the clinical trials reviewed were run mostly on middle-aged women from the US and the UK, limiting interpretation of the results. Intermittent fasting has not been studied in children, the elderly, or underweight people, and could be harmful in these populations.
There are many studies documenting the benefits of fasting which include lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes, reducing cholesterol levels, enhancing the body’s resistance to oxidative stress (which is connected to aging and many chronic diseases), reducing inflammation (a key driver in many common diseases) and… weight loss! The weight loss benefit is how I first got introduced to Intermittent Fasting (or IF for short).
American King James Version×). Jesus knew that His true disciples, once He was no longer there in the flesh with them, at times would need to fast to regain and renew their zeal to serve Him (Mark 2:18-20 Mark 2:18-20 18 And the disciples of John and of the Pharisees used to fast: and they come and say to him, Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples fast not? 19 And Jesus said to them, Can the children of the bridal chamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? as long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. 20 But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days.
Those fasting may experience side effects of fatigue, malaise, aches and pains, emotional duress, acne, headaches, allergies, swelling, vomiting, bad breath, and symptoms of colds and flu. These reactions are sometimes called healing crises, which are caused by temporarily increased levels of toxins in the body due to elimination and cleansing. Lower energy levels should be expected during a fast.
Now, intermittent fasting isn’t magical—your calories still count. It’s just an alternate way to reach that same calorie restriction, says Grant Tinsley, Ph.D., C.S.C.S., an intermittent fasting researcher and assistant professor of exercise physiology at Texas Tech University. “With traditional calorie restriction, you’re following a normal, healthy eating pattern but eating less at each meal. With intermittent fasting, you’re eating roughly the same number of reduced calories, just in a confined time frame. You’re just giving yourself different parameters to live within.”
In more recent years, many churches affected by liturgical renewal movements have begun to encourage fasting as part of Lent and sometimes Advent, two penitential seasons of the liturgical year. Members of the Anabaptist movement generally fast in private. The practice is not regulated by ecclesiastic authority. Some other Protestants consider fasting, usually accompanied by prayer, to be an important part of their personal spiritual experience, apart from any liturgical tradition.
On weekdays of the first week of Great Lent, fasting is particularly severe, and many observe it by abstaining from all food for some period of time. According to strict observance, on the first five days (Monday through Friday) there are only two meals eaten, one on Wednesday and the other on Friday, both after the Presanctified Liturgy. Those who are unable to follow the strict observance may eat on Tuesday and Thursday (but not, if possible, on Monday) in the evening after Vespers, when they may take bread and water, or perhaps tea or fruit juice, but not a cooked meal. The same strict abstention is observed during Holy Week, except that a vegan meal with wine and oil is allowed on Great Thursday.
Lacy Enderson is an Addictions and Recovery Counselor. She is Certified with the American Association of Christian Therapists and holds a Master's Degree in Biblical Counseling. She is currently enrolled in Liberty University's Master of Divinity Degree program with Chaplaincy. Lacy is a graduate of Rhema Correspondent Bible School and has completed the first section of Berean School of the Bible. Lacy is the author of, "Addiction: A Personal Story" and "So You Want to Lose Weight But You Can't Stop Eating." Her newest novel is a teenage Christian fiction titled, "Honey Sweetheart."
Not only does fasting and prayer help us focus on God, but through that time, it brings us closer to Him and changes our hearts. Niles and Little write, "When we fast and pray, we are taking time away from a meal or an activity to devote our entire being to focus on God. We find we are more sensitive to the voice of God, more attuned to hearing what He has to reveal to us. Gently, God whispers in our mind what we were really thinking at the time of our sin, what our true intent was and we are shocked…momentarily. Then like a light turned on in a pitch black room, we see it. We did mean harm. We were manipulative. Even though our recognition makes us want to hide our face, our loving Savior lifts our chin to look into his forgiving eyes. As we repent, we no longer want to hide, but to praise and worship the very one who confronted our wrong."
3. How are your labs? Are measures such as your cholesterol and blood sugar levels moving in the right direction, and all in healthy ranges? Also, many fasting protocols can be low in certain nutrients. Using labs to look at micronutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids and amino acids is essential to ensure that your intake is sufficient.
^ Pfatteicher, Philip H. (1990). Commentary on the Lutheran Book of Worship: Lutheran Liturgy in Its Ecumenical Context. Augsburg Fortress Publishers. pp. 223–244, 260. ISBN 9780800603922. The Good Friday fast became the principal fast in the calendar, and even after the Reformation in Germany many Lutherans who observed no other fast scrupulously kept Good Friday with strict fasting.
Fasting in the Ethiopian Church implies abstention from food and drink. No animal products are consumed, including dairy, eggs and meat, and utensils that have touched such products must be washed before touching the strictly vegan foods that are consumed on fast days. During fast periods, Holy Liturgy (Mass) is held at noon (except on Saturdays and Sundays), and because no food can be consumed before communion, it is traditional for people to abstain from food until mass is over (around 2 to 3 in the afternoon). Every Wednesday and Friday are days of fasting because Wednesday is the day that the Lord was condemned and Friday is the day he was crucified (the Wednesdays and Fridays between Easter Sunday and Pentecost Sunday are an exception as well as when Christmas or Epiphany fall on a Wednesday or a Friday). The fasts that are ordained in the canon of the Church of Ethiopia are:
Fasting, by definition, is going without food and/or drink for a period of time. Typically it is done for religious reasons and involves a person refraining from both food and drink (Esther 4:16), although there are variations that may be done for health reasons (a juice fast, for example, where one would refrain from eating and only drink juice for a period of time).
There are a couple of other caveats here. Fasting diets require working through hunger, saying no to the bagels and muffins put out in your morning meeting or the food at your business lunch. So it’s no surprise that many people can’t stick to fasting diets long enough to keep the weight off. In another 2018 review of the literature on fasting’s impact on weight, the researchers note, “Dropout rates have been as high as 40 percent. Thus, despite the statistical significance of weight loss results, the clinical significance and practicality of sustaining an [intermittent fasting] regimen are questionable.”
Be aware it may be easier to stick to than other types of fasting diets, but the weight loss will be smaller. Other options include alternate day fasting, which calls for eating 500 calories or so one day, then eating whatever you’d like the next; and the 5:2 Plan, which involves eating normally five days a week, then consuming fewer than 600 calories two non-consecutive days a week.
Although certain benefits of caloric restriction have been demonstrated in animal studies, similar benefits of intermittent fasting in humans have not been observed. It is unclear that intermittent fasting is superior to other weight loss methods in regards to amount of weight loss, biological changes, compliance rates, and decreased appetite. Certain people who typically eat one or two meals a day or do not eat for long stretches of time may show better compliance with this type of regimen.
I am not against people fasting in order to lose weight. Many people fast to lose weight or maintain their weight.What I am opposed to is making the losing of weight your primary goal in a season of spiritual fasting and prayer. To have weight loss as a goal makes your fasting a diet plan, not a time of genuine fasting and prayer. If losing weight is your purpose in fasting, you will be missing out on the full reason for fasting, and you likely will be concerned only with what you don't eat rather than with what you are led to pray.
One potential disadvantage of this schedule is that because you typically cut out a meal or two out of your day, it becomes more difficult to get the same number of calories in during the week. Put simply, it's tough to teach yourself to eat bigger meals on a consistent basis. The result is that many people who try this style of intermittent fasting end up losing weight. That can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your goals.
I recommend counting calories—not forever, but for about two weeks—so you get a feel for what a regular day of eating feels like. I have used and like Cron-o-meter, Lose It!, and Fitbit to track calories. Don’t get bogged down in the details. If a type of food you ate is not in the database, find something similar or make an educated guess. You just want to make sure you’re in the ballpark.
American King James Version×). Isaiah 58 gives both bad and good examples of fasting, contrasting wrong attitudes and actions (Isaiah 58:3-5 Isaiah 58:3-5 3 Why have we fasted, say they, and you see not? why have we afflicted our soul, and you take no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast you find pleasure, and exact all your labors. 4 Behold, you fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: you shall not fast as you do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high. 5 Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? will you call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD?
While not yet proven in humans, early studies in rats seem to link intermittent fasting with increased longevity. One study found that intermittent fasting decreased body weight and increased the life span in rats (6). Another found that a group of mice who fasted intermittently actually lived longer than the control group, although they were heavier than the non-fasting mice. (7) Of course, it’s not clear that the same results would happen in humans, but the signs are encouraging.