Often fasting is done for medical or health reasons, or in an attempt to lose weight. For many other people, fasting is an important part of their religious observance. Fasting is done by Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, and Jews, among other groups. Fasting comes from fast, which in turn has an Old English root, fæsten, "voluntary abstinence from food or drink, especially as a religious duty."
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.'"
Research7,8,9 has shown that intermittent fasting results in many of the same benefits as calorie restriction — even if you don't place any restrictions on the number of calories you consume when you do eat. This was demonstrated in a 2013 review,10 which found a broad range of therapeutic benefits of intermittent fasting, even when total calorie intake per day did not change, or was only slightly reduced. Research included in that review, and other published studies, indicate that intermittent fasting can help:
Those who only pre-loaded once a day, or not at all, lost just over 1.75 pounds (0.8 kilos). In all, 27 percent of the treatment group who pre-loaded with water lost more than five percent of their body weight, compared to just five percent of the control group. This makes logical sense, as thirst is often misinterpreted as hunger. Drinking water before settling down to eat will also make you feel fuller, so overall this strategy could result in eating less.
In section 109, of the same book, Yudhishthira asks Bheesma "what is the highest, most beneficial" and fruitful "of all kinds of fasts in the world". Bheeshma says "fasting on the 12th day of the lunar month" and worship Krishna, for the whole year. Krishna is worshipped in twelve forms as Kesava, Narayana, Madhava, Govinda, Vishnu, the slayer of Madhu, who covered the universe in three steps, the dwarf (who beguiled Mahabali), Sridhara, Hrishikesha, Padmanabha, Damodara, Pundhariksha. and Upendra. After fasting, one must feed a number of brahmans. Bheeshma says " the illustrious Vishnu, that ancient being, has himself said that there is no fast that possesses merit superior to what attach to fast of this kind." 
Repent through fasting. Empathize with God’s grief over your sins by fasting. Engage your entire person in repentance by using your body to turn away from self-indulgence and toward God. At church, schedule some times to fast with others for group repentance, just as you all sometimes gather to feast together in celebration (at church parties, potluck dinners, etc.). Express your personal repentance through fasting at times like during Lent and Holy Week, when God seems absent from your life, and when you realize your own complicity in society’s moral wrongs.
Used for thousands of years, fasting is one of the oldest therapies in medicine. Many of the great doctors of ancient times and many of the oldest healing systems have recommended it as an integral method of healing and prevention. Hippocrates, the father of Western medicine, believed fasting enabled the body to heal itself. Paracelsus, another great healer in the Western tradition, wrote 500 years ago that "fasting is the greatest remedy, the physician within." Ayurvedic medicine, the world's oldest healing system, has long advocated fasting as a major treatment.
The digestive tract is the part of the body most exposed to environmental threats, including bacteria, viruses, parasites, and toxins. It requires the most immune system support. When food is broken down in the intestines, it travels through the blood to the liver, the largest organ of the body's natural detoxification system. The liver breaks down and removes the toxic by-products produced by digestion, including natural ones and the chemicals now present in the food supply. During fasting, the liver and immune system are essentially freed to detoxify and heal other parts of the body.
When you don’t eat any food for a set period of time each day, you do your body and your brain a whole lot of good. It makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint. For most of history, people weren’t eating three square meals a day, plus grazing on snacks. Instead, humans evolved in situations where there wasn’t much food, and they learned to thrive when fasting. Nowadays, we don’t have to hunt for food (although hunting for your own meat isn’t a bad idea!). Rather, we spend most of our days in front of computers, and we eat whenever we want — even though our bodies aren’t adapted to this behavior.
All of this may seem hopelessly contradictory. On the one hand, calorie restriction promotes beneficial biological changes that tend to extend life; on the other, there are built in mechanisms that when triggered by chronic calorie restriction can trigger other health problems. These are complex issues, and any extreme measure is likely to cause more problems than it solves.
Listen to your body during workouts. If you get light headed, make sure you are consuming enough water. If you notice a significant drop in performance, make sure you are eating enough calories (especially fats and protein) during your feasting window. And if you feel severely “off,” pause your workout. Give yourself permission to EASE into intermittent fasting and fasted workouts. This is especially true if you are an endurance athlete.
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.
While these five methods are the most well-known in terms of integrating periods of fasting into your eating schedule, there are many other similar philosophies based on meal timing. For those who prefer a more fluid, less rigid method, there’s also the concept of eating intuitively. Primal Diet proponent Mark Sisson is a supporter of the Eat WHEN (When Hunger Ensues Naturally) method, where dieters simply eat whenever their bodies ask them to. However, some believe this can also lead to overeating or overconsumption of calories, since our bodies’ hunger-induced choices may be more caloric than otherwise.
Dr. Umesiri is an Assistant Professor at John Brown University. He is a Christian author and speaker. His latest book is Fasting for Life: Medical Proof Fasting Reduces Risk of Heart Disease, Cancer, and Diabetes. He may be reached through www.francisumesiri.com. He is married to Toyin Umesiri, a Walmart associate. They have three beautiful children.
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."
It requires less time (and potentially less money). Rather than having to prepare or purchase three to six meals a day, you only need to prepare two meals. Instead of stopping what you’re doing six times a day to eat, you simply only have to stop to eat twice. Rather than having to do the dishes six times, you only have to do them twice. Rather than having to purchase six meals a day, you only need to purchase two.
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).
As we prepare to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, many people will use this time to fast and pray as a way to draw closer to Jesus. Fasting is a powerful way to eliminate distractions so we can gain clear guidance from God for our work any time of the year. We hope that this blog helps you understand the point of fasting and ways you can get the most out of this important spiritual practice for your work as well as your life.
This is a type of spiritual fasting. Based off of Daniel’s experiences in the Bible’s Book of Daniel, the Daniel Fast is a partial fast where vegetables, fruits and other healthy whole foods are featured prominently, but meat, dairy, grains (unless they’re sprouted ancient grains) and drinks like coffee, alcohol and juice are avoided. Most people follow this fast for 21 days in order to experience a spiritual breakthrough, have more time to reflect on their relationship with God or just to feel closer to what Daniel would have experienced in his time.
Fasting is often used as a tool to make a political statement, to protest, or to bring awareness to a cause. A hunger strike is a method of non-violent resistance in which participants fast as an act of political protest, or to provoke feelings of guilt, or to achieve a goal such as a policy change. A spiritual fast incorporates personal spiritual beliefs with the desire to express personal principles, sometimes in the context of a social injustice.