Although it’s possible that fasting helps manage blood sugar and insulin, fight inflammation, and ease sleep problems, most people follow a fasting diet to lose weight. Fasting is believed to help in this goal because of the effects that caloric restriction and extended periods without food have on metabolism, or simply because people eat less during the restricted feeding window. (Some dieters benefit from the structure and clear boundaries fasting plans offer.)
According to Scripture, personal experience and observation, fasting and prayer can also effect change on a much grander scale. I am convinced that when God's people fast with a proper biblical motive – seeking God's face not His hand – with a broken, repentant and contrite spirit, God will hear from heaven. He will heal our lives, our churches, our communities, our nation and world. Fasting and prayer can bring about a change in the direction of our nation, the nations of earth and the fulfillment of the Great Commission - this is powerful motivation in today’s unsettled world..
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.
Along with obligatory prayer, it is one of the greatest obligations of a Bahá'í. In the first half of the 20th century, Shoghi Effendi, explains: "It is essentially a period of meditation and prayer, of spiritual recuperation, during which the believer must strive to make the necessary readjustments in his inner life, and to refresh and reinvigorate the spiritual forces latent in his soul. Its significance and purpose are, therefore, fundamentally spiritual in character. Fasting is symbolic, and a reminder of abstinence from selfish and carnal desires."
For Roman Catholics, fasting, taken as a technical term, is the reduction of one's intake of food to one full meal (which may not contain meat on Ash Wednesday and Fridays throughout Lent) and two small meals (known liturgically as collations, taken in the morning and the evening), both of which together should not equal the large meal. Eating solid food between meals is not permitted. Fasting is required of the faithful between the ages of 18 and 59 on specified days. Complete abstinence of meat for the day is required of those 14 and older. Partial abstinence prescribes that meat be taken only once during the course of the day. Meat is understood not to include fish or cold-blooded animals.
Fasting also appears as a sign of mourning. Following Saul's death, the people of Jabesh- Gilead lamented his passing by fasting ( 1 Sam 31:13 ) as did David and his companions when they heard the news ( 2 Sam 1:12 ). David goes so far as to say that he commiserated with his enemies when they were sick, fasting and dressing himself in sackcloth ( Psalm 35:13 ). Such behavior was a sign of his mourning over them (v. 14). Zechariah describes the commemoration of Israel's tragic days of past defeat and judgment as times of mourning attended by fasting ( 7:5 ). But these days of fasting in the fourth, fifth, seventh, and tenth months will one day be turned to times of joy ( 8:19 ). Jesus speaks of the time of his departure from his disciples as a time of mourning when it will be entirely appropriate to fast ( Matt 9:14-15 ; Mark 2:18-20 ; Luke 5:33-35 ).
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.
Many healers claim that fasting is a particularly useful therapy for Americans and for the modern lifestyle, subjected to heavy diets, overeating, and constant exposure to food additives and chemicals. Some alternative practitioners have gone so far as to estimate that the average American is carrying 5-10 pounds of toxic substances in their bodies, for which fasting is the quickest and most effective means of removal.
But it wasn’t until the 1940s that the first experiments began as an outgrowth of CR studies. Researchers started withholding food from lab animals on alternate days, says Michelle Harvie, a research dietitian in Manchester, England. And in 1946, The Journal of Nutrition published the first study on fasting, showing that rats deprived of food every third day lived longer and were less likely to develop tumors than control animals. Later work showed that fasting spurs metabolic changes similar to those of CR.
In a paper published in 2002 on the pseudo-experiment, Walford and colleagues reported that the Biosphere staff had been in excellent health. Nearly all of them lowered their blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol and other health measures. Still, their skeletal appearance was shocking. “They were malnourished, and they didn’t look healthy,” says Eric Ravussin, a metabolic researcher at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
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.
What’s more, 25 percent of people who were assigned to the fasting group in the first part of this study dropped out, compared to 10 percent of those in the regular diet group. That suggests that fasting is hard and maybe not for everyone — even when you’re part of a study. So someone like John Kane, who lost a lot of weight through fasting and loves it, may be in the minority.
For those looking into getting into these fad diets. They all work, to an extent. The “best” diet is most certainly the one that you can most adhere to. That being said, so long as you are in a caloric deficit, you will lose weight! Face it, what is the point when you diet down and can not keep the weight off? You will most certainly rebound and end up right where you started. Consult with your doctor first and foremost for health and welfare issues and follow-up with a professional. Your health is of utmost importance. Take care everyone.
But a troubling flaw has popped up in this system. (You knew there was a "but" coming, right?) In a recent study, people on an alternate-day fasting plan for six months lost about 6 percent of their body weight—the same as those on a conventional low-cal diet—but 38 percent of fasters dropped out, nearly 10 percent more than in the other diet group. A similar problem has surfaced in other trials.
In the religions of some tribes of Native Americans, fasting was practiced before and during a vision quest. Among the Evenk of Siberia, shamans (religious personages thought to have the power to heal and to communicate psychically) often received their initial visions not with a quest but rather after an unexplained illness. After the initial vision, however, they fasted and trained themselves to see further visions and to control spirits. Historically, priestly societies among the Pueblo Indians of the American Southwest fasted during retreats before major ceremonies connected with seasonal changes.
As an expression of lamentation and/or penitence, fasting nearly always is associated with weeping ( Judges 20:26 ; Esther 4:3 ; Psalm 69:10 ; Joel 2:12 ), confession ( 1 Sam 7:6 ; Dan 9:3 ), and the wearing of sackcloth ( 1 Kings 21:27 ; Neh 9:1 ; Esther 4:3 ; Psalm 69:10 ; Dan 9:3 ). In the New Testament Jesus chides the hypocritical Pharisees for disfiguring their faces when they fast ( Matt 6:16-18 ), a reference no doubt to the custom of smearing themselves with ashes. These objects and actions had no intrinsic penitential value but in a culture in which inner feelings were commonly displayed or even dramatized, when done sincerely they effectively communicated contrition. It became easy, however, for the outward exhibition of repentance to take the place of a genuine, inner attitude and thus become an act of hypocrisy.