The purpose of fasting is never explicitly stated in Scripture but its connection to penitence, mourning, and supplication suggests a self-denial that opens one to God and to the immaterial aspects of life. Inasmuch as food and drink typify life in the flesh and all its demands and satisfactions, their absence or rejection speaks to the reality of a higher dimension, one in which the things of the spirit predominate. The theology of fasting, then, is a theology of priorities in which believers are given the opportunity to express themselves in an undivided and intensive devotion to the Lord and to the concerns of the spiritual life.
What makes fasting seem so novel is that, with all the diet advice out there, the easiest might be to simply not eat. Of course, fasting isn’t the same as starving yourself, which is what many people think when they hear “fasting.” And yet, fasting isn’t a diet, either. The literal definition of fasting is to abstain from food and drink from a specific period of time; it’s been around for thousands of years, as spiritual fasting is a part of many religions. But in this context, I prefer looking at fasting as simply a change in eating patterns.
Another study, this one out of the University of Southern California, discovered that when 71 adults were placed on a five-day fast (eating between 750 and 1,100 calories a day) once every three months, they lost an average of 6 pounds, reduced inflammation levels and their waistlines and lost total body fat without sacrificing muscle mass. (2) If you want to lose weight and lose belly fat, fasting even irregularly could be the key.
Some of this newly created fat is stored in the liver, but most of it is exported to other fat deposits in the body. While this is a more complicated process, there is no limit to the amount of fat that can be created. So, two complementary food energy storage systems exist in our bodies. One is easily accessible but with limited storage space (glycogen), and the other is more difficult to access but has unlimited storage space (body fat).
At first I questioned, “Is this truly God's call for me?” Forty days was a long time to go without solid food. But with each passing day, His call grew stronger and more clear. Finally, I was convinced. God was calling me to fast, and He would not make such a call without a specific reason or purpose. With this conviction, I entered my fast with excitement and expectancy mounting in my heart, praying, “Lord, what do you want me to do?”
Good Friday, which is towards the end of the Lenten season, is traditionally an important day of communal fasting for adherents of the Reformed faith. In addition, within the Puritan/Congregational tradition of Reformed Christianity, special days of humiliation and thanksgiving "in response to dire agricultural and meteororological conditions, ecclesiastsical, military, political, and social crises" are set apart for communal fasting.
Good Friday, which is towards the end of the Lenten season, is traditionally an important day of communal fasting for Methodists. Rev. Jacqui King, the minister of Nu Faith Community United Methodist Church in Houston explained the philosophy of fasting during Lent as "I'm not skipping a meal because in place of that meal I'm actually dining with God".
Fasting is not the first dietary approach to excite researchers. Before fasting, there was caloric restriction, or CR. The methods have much in common. Overall, they both drastically reduce energy intake and bring about similar health benefits. They’re like siblings in a way, especially since fasting studies emerged from work on CR. And now, many former CR researchers are exploring fasting, often setting the two against each other in the lab.
A healthy diet is always the key to a healthy lifestyle. It’s especially important to eat healthy if you are fasting; even though you’re eating less, you still need to take in the essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients your body needs to function . Try to get the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables, as well as protein and grains, into your daily diet.
Fasting helps you build a better brain, too. Intermittent fasting increases a protein in your brain called BDNF that researchers have nicknamed “Miracle-Gro for your brain.” BDNF improves learning and memory and can help you forge stronger neural pathways, making your brain run faster and more efficiently, which is especially important as you age.
Tuesday fasting is common in southern India as well as northwestern India. In the south, it is believed that Tuesday is dedicated to Goddess Mariamman, a form of Goddess Shakti. Devotees eat before sunrise and drink only liquids between sunrise and sunset. In the North, Tuesday is dedicated to Lord Hanuman and devotees are allowed only to consume milk and fruit between sunrise and sunset.
In the state of Andhra Pradesh, the month of Kartik (month), which begins with the day after Deepavali is often a period of frequent (though not necessarily continuous) fasting for some people, especially women. Common occasions for fasting during this month include Mondays for Lord Shiva, the full-moon day of Karthika and the occasion of Naagula Chaviti.
The problem is that too many people jump on the fasting bandwagon without understanding how to assess its impact. Once a plan has been integrated into your everyday life, you should take time every week or month to analyze how things are going. Even if weight loss is your primary goal, it’s important to consider how fasting is affecting other aspects of your health, such as your energy levels, ability to exercise and digestion. Here are some questions you should ask yourself.