In Yoga principle, it is recommended that one maintains a spiritual fast on a particular day each week (Monday or Thursday). A fast should also be maintained on the full moon day of each month. It is essential on the spiritual fasting day to not only to abstain from meals, but also to spend the whole day with a positive, spiritual attitude. On the fasting day, intake of solid food during the day is avoided and only a light veggie meal around 5 o'clock is taken. Water can be taken any time as needed. If health does not permit fasting for a whole day, for example with Diabetes, careful planning is done to reduce or skip one meal.
Martin Luther, founder of the Lutheran Churches, held that fasting served to "kill and subdue the pride and lust of the flesh". As such, the Lutheran churches often emphasized voluntary fasting over collective fasting, though certain liturgical seasons and holy days were times for communal fasting and abstinence. Certain Lutheran communities advocate fasting during designated times such as Lent, especially on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. A Handbook for the Discipline of Lent delineates the following Lutheran fasting guidelines:
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.
As a functional medicine practitioner, I see a wide range of health problems that all stem from chronic inflammation. And while acute inflammation is a natural and healthy response to help fight off pathogenic bacteria and infections, long-term chronic inflammation that doesn’t subside when the threat is gone can contribute to everything from autoimmune conditions to cancer.
You can theoretically eat whatever you want when you're on an IF plan (and not in the fasting phase), but if you overdo the carbs, you'll have trouble keeping your blood sugar stable. Refined carbs, in particular, make your blood sugar rise and your insulin spike and crash. So if you're trying to go without food for longer periods and your diet is too carb-heavy, you're going to end up pretty hungry and irritable.
Longo warned that any fasting diet should start with a visit to the doctor. Fasting studies have not been done in children, very elderly people, or people who are underweight — so it’s possible fasting could be harmful in these cases. “If you’re a diabetic and taking insulin or any other drugs, or if you have metabolic disorders, you should not fast,” he added, noting that fasts done poorly can also increase the risk of gallstones.
Jesus equates supplication and fasting when he teaches that the removal of mountains comes about only by prayer and fasting ( Matt 17:21 ). The godly prophetess Anna looked for the redemption of Israel with supplicatory prayer and fasting ( Luke 2:37 ). Before Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for the various churches, they committed them to the Lord with prayer and fasting ( Acts 14:23 ). In all these instances there is the clear implication that fasting is an effective adjunct to petition.
Christian fasting is more than denying ourselves food or something else of the flesh - it's a sacrificial lifestyle before God. In Isaiah 58, we learn what a "true fast" is. It's not just a one-time act of humility and denial before God, it's a lifestyle of servant ministry to others. As Isaiah tells us, fasting encourages humility, loosens the chains of injustice, unties the chords of the yoke, frees the oppressed, feeds the hungry, provides for the poor, and clothes the naked. This concept of fasting isn't a one day thing - it's a lifestyle of servant living for God and others.
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.
The participants ended up eating 350 fewer calories a day compared to a control group just because they couldn’t squeeze in their normal food intake between 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., the prescribed eating window in the study, said Krista Varady, co-author and an associate professor of nutrition at the University of Illinois, Chicago, who has been studying fasting for 12 years.
I know many of you are itching to get started right away, but IF is not for everyone. It is not recommended for pregnant women, women who are breastfeeding, people with diabetes, or other people who need to closely regulate their blood sugar. In addition, there has not been research on participants who are underweight, very old, or very young (<18 yrs. old) and these populations could be at higher risk for experiencing negative consequences of fasting (Longo and Mattson , 2014). So please:
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.
The trial, which aimed to investigate how food deprivation affects the aging process, involved 218 normal and slightly overweight men and women between the ages of 21 and 51. Of the group, 143 of them were tasked with following CR, eating 25 percent fewer calories than usual — a decrease deemed feasible based on animal studies. They were to keep this regimen for two years with help from a behavioral intervention team and dietitians to make sure they were getting basic nutrition.
Fasting from food is not necessarily for everyone. Some health conditions keep even the most devout from the traditional course. However, fasting is not limited to abstaining from food. As Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, “Fasting should really be made to include abstinence from anything which is legitimate in and of itself for the sake of some special spiritual purpose.”
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."
Refraining from eating food. The Bible describes three main forms of fasting: 1) The Normal Fast, involving the total abstinence of food. Luke 4:2 reveals that Jesus "did eat nothing." Afterwards "He was hungered." Jesus abstained from food but not from water. 2) In Acts 9:9 we read of an Absolute Fast where for three days He "neither did eat nor drink." The abstinence from both food and water seems to have lasted no more than three days (Ezra 10:6; Esther 4:16). 3) The Partial Fast-in Daniel 10:3 the emphasis is upon the restriction of diet rather than complete abstinence. The context implies that there were physical benefits resulting from this partial fast. However, this verse indicates that there was a revelation given to Daniel as a result of this time of fasting.
Some of the best evidence on the impact of fasting on bodyweight and fat comes from a December 2018 systematic review. The researchers looked at randomized controlled trials of intermittent fasting and found that the people who fasted lost about 4 to 8 percent of their original bodyweight, on average. So fasting worked, but, interestingly, it didn’t outperform regular, continuous calorie restriction (“eat less every day” dieting), and it didn’t lead to dramatic weight loss.
For charismatic Christians fasting is undertaken at what is described as the leading of God. Fasting is done in order to seek a closer intimacy with God, as well as an act of petition. Some take up a regular fast of one or two days each week as a spiritual observance. Members of holiness movements, such as those started by John Wesley and George Whitefield, often practice such regular fasts as part of their regimen.
Intermittent fasting is hard in the contemplation, of that there is no doubt. “You go without food for 24 hours?” people would ask, incredulously when we explained what we were doing. “I could never do that.” But once started, it’s a snap. No worries about what and where to eat for one or two out of the three meals per day. It’s a great liberation. Your food expenditures plummet. And you’re not particularly hungry. … Although it’s tough to overcome the idea of going without food, once you begin the regimen, nothing could be easier.”
The very simple and direct conclusions I draw are these: First, if the Bible teaches us to do something, I want to do it. I want to obey the Lord in every way that He commands me to obey Him. And second, if fasting and praying are means to a breakthrough that God has for me, I want to undertake those disciplines so I might experience that breakthrough!
Saint Augustine's Prayer Book defines "Fasting, usually meaning not more than a light breakfast, one full meal, and one half meal, on the forty days of Lent." Abstinence, according to Saint Augustine's Prayer Book, "means to refrain from some particular type of food or drink. One traditional expression of abstinence is to avoid meat on Fridays in Lent or through the entire year, except in the seasons of Christmas and Easter. It is common to undertake some particular act of abstinence during the entire season of Lent. This self-discipline may be helpful at other times, as an act of solidarity with those who are in need or as a bodily expression of prayer."