Catherine Gates is Senior Director of Content & Partnerships for Workmatters. She oversees the development, distribution and support of Workmatters content to equip marketplace leaders to live out their faith at work. She also builds partnerships with clients and other marketplace ministries. Catherine has a broad range of experience in technology, sales, training, public speaking and curriculum development. She’s passionate about her faith and helping people tap into more of God’s best for their lives while bringing God glory.
One reason experts tell people not to cut way back on calories is that it can slow your metabolism, making it even harder to lose weight. But studies show that fasting from time to time can be an effective strategy for weight loss. In addition, cutting calories on a couple of days instead of every day may help preserve muscle, so you lose mostly fat.
You’ll spike your blood sugar when you eat. If you’re fasting on a high-carb diet and you’ve powered through the cravings and lack of energy from low blood sugar, there’s a good chance you’ll eat a ton of carbs when you feast. You want to eat big meals when you fast to make sure you’re getting enough calories, but all those excess carbs in one go will spike your blood sugar in the opposite direction, from low to high.[14] High blood sugar causes fatigue and lack of focus. That raging hunger will also cause you to binge unnecessarily, and whatever carbs you don’t use will get stored as fat.
Aside from these official days of fasting, Jews may take upon themselves personal or communal fasts, often to seek repentance in the face of tragedy or some impending calamity. For example, a fast is sometimes observed if a sefer torah is dropped. The length of the fast varies, and some Jews will reduce the length of the fast through tzedakah, or charitable acts. Mondays and Thursdays are considered especially auspicious days for fasting. Traditionally, one also fasted upon awakening from an unexpected bad dream although this tradition is rarely kept nowadays.
         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.
Improves cholesterol: Intermittent fasting diets impact cholesterol by decreasing your levels of LDL and VLDL cholesterols (the bad stuff). While improving your cholesterol won’t directly lead to weight loss, overweight and obese people are more likely to have dangerously high LDL and VLDL cholesterol, and the cardiovascular risk that comes with it.[8]

When we fast and pray, God teaches us how to share with those who have physical and spiritual needs. “Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?” (Isa. 58:7 NIV). The book of Proverbs complements this passage by reminding us that when we give to the poor, we lend to the Lord. Fasting and prayer put the self-life into perspective. You are never more like God than when you give. Prayer and fasting can build within you the character to give. Giving is a joy, and we need to be willing to pour ourselves out to those who can do nothing for us in life. We need to be willing to pour out ourselves to anyone, anytime, anywhere. This is the heart of Jesus, and it needs to be our heart. Prayer and fasting build within you the power to give.
American King James Version×) with the right approach of outgoing love (Isaiah 58:6-10 Isaiah 58:6-10 6 Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? 7 Is it not to deal your bread to the hungry, and that you bring the poor that are cast out to your house? when you see the naked, that you cover him; and that you hide not yourself from your own flesh? 8 Then shall your light break forth as the morning, and your health shall spring forth speedily: and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. 9 Then shall you call, and the LORD shall answer; you shall cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If you take away from the middle of you the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity; 10 And if you draw out your soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall your light rise in obscurity, and your darkness be as the noon day:
Often, the major argument for periodic caloric restriction is that we did not evolve to eat three meals a day, every day. Some fasting proponents argue that our bodies were designed to be able to run on little or no food for as long as several weeks or even months. After all, we didn’t have access to a steady food supply until the advent of agriculture, and it wasn’t until the neolithic revolution that humans adopted a more regular meal pattern.
Fasts may last for varying lengths of time -- one day, three days, seven days, and more. We should prayerfully seek the Lord about the length of our fast. Fasting should have an object in mind; we should have a clear idea of the need and purpose. One of the most pressing reasons for Christian fasting may be revival -- “Will you not revive us again...” (Psalm 85:6).
Understanding the potential adverse effects of intermittent fasting is limited by an inadequate number of rigorous clinical trials. One 2015 review of low-quality clinical studies found that short-term intermittent fasting may produce minor adverse effects, such as continuous feelings of weakness and hunger, headaches, fainting, or dehydration.[26] Long-term fasting may cause eating disorders or malnutrition, with increased susceptibility to infectious diseases.[26]
^ Harris, Elizabeth J. (7 June 2010). "Violence and Disruption in Society: A Study of the Early Buddhist Texts". Access to Insight. John T. Bullitt. Retrieved 7 June 2011. If you, Rahula, are desirous of doing a deed with the body, you should reflect on the deed with the body, thus: "That deed which I am desirous of doing with the body is a deed of the body that might conduce to the harm of self and that might conduce to the harm of others and that might conduce to the harm of both; this deed of body is unskilled (akusala), its yield is anguish, its result is anguish.
Still, it's important to note that the results of intermittent fasting are no better than a calorie-restricting diet. A 2017 study in JAMA showed that alternate-day fasting doesn't produce superior benefits for weight loss than daily calorie restriction, and similar conclusions were drawn in a 2018 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. So if you don't think fasting is right for you, restricting calories works just as well.
Well, most notably, it’s a great way to get lean without going on a crazy diet or cutting your calories down to nothing. In fact, most of the time you'll try to keep your calories the same when you start intermittent fasting. (Most people eat bigger meals during a shorter time frame.) Additionally, intermittent fasting is a good way to keep muscle mass on while getting lean.
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.

Fasting is an ancient practice sparking new interest in both pop and scientific culture. Entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and a variety of celebrities have extolled its virtues in helping them lose weight, while medical experts are intrigued by the possibility that it may enhance cognitive functioning and longevity and help treat and prevent some diseases.
Prepare yourself to encounter God through fasting. When you realize that your intimacy with God is superficial and you long to experience Him more directly, respond by fasting, and you may find that you encounter God more deeply and powerfully. Through fasting, render yourself freer to hear from God through prayer than you may be when you’re not fasting. Let your love for God motivate you to reach out to Him through fasting.
If we are to learn the lost art of fasting and enjoy its fruit, it will not come with our ear to the ground of society, but with Bibles open. Then, the concern will not be whether we fast, but when. Jesus assumes his followers will fast, and even promises it will happen. He doesn’t say “if,” but “when you fast” (Matthew 6:16). And he doesn’t say his followers might fast, but “they will” (Matthew 9:15).

Abstinence from food and/or drink as an element of private or public religious devotion. Fasting is nowhere commanded in the Torah and, in fact, is never attested earlier than the time of the judges of Israel (cf. Judges 20:26 ). The fact that Jesus and the disciples sanctioned it by their own example ( Matt 4:2 ; Acts 13:2-3 ), however, is sufficient justification for its practice in biblical times and, in fact, in modern times as well.
I hope this encourages someone. This morning I got into an argument with someone. (that isn't the encouraging part of course) I became so discouraged and did not want to go to my office and try to talk with God about anything at that point. And I wanted a cup of coffee but tried to stay away. Finally I felt the Lord say to me that if a cup of coffee was going to keep me from spending time with Him then have the cup of coffee. I made my cup, went to my office and logged into pastor Jentezen's blog. And I cried and cried. I just couldn't pray but I could listen. I clicked on his sermon, "Right People, Right Place, Right Plan" and God said some of the sweetest and most encouraging things in that sermon. Please stick to and fight through your fast but don't let anything you feel is a slip up keep you from what's really important. If I had let that cup of coffee make me feel unworthy of seeing God this morning then I would have been out of the biggest blessing of hearing His Words to me.
To make “down” days easier to stick to, Johnson recommends opting for meal replacement shakes. They’re fortified with essential nutrients and you can sip them throughout the day rather than split into small meals. However, meal replacement shakes should only be used during the first two weeks of the diet — after that, you should start eating real food on “down” days. The next day, eat like normal. Rinse and repeat! (Note: If working out is part of your routine, you may find it harder to hit the gym on the lower calorie days. It may be smart to keep any workouts on these days on the tamer side, or save sweat sessions for your normal calorie days.)
How It Works: Fast for 14 (women) to 16 (men) hours each day, and then “feed” for the remaining eight to 10 hours. During the fasting period, you consume no calories. However, black coffee, calorie-free sweeteners, diet soda and sugar-free gum are permitted. (A splash of milk in your coffee won’t hurt, either.) Most practitioners will find it easiest to fast through the night and into the morning. They usually break the fast roughly six hours after waking up. This schedule is adaptable to any person’s lifestyle, but maintaining a consistent feeding window time is important. Otherwise, hormones in the body can get thrown out of whack and make sticking to the program harder, Berkhan says.

Prayer and fasting also occurs in the New Testament. Anna "worshipped night and day, fasting and praying" at the Temple (Luke 2:37). John the Baptist taught his disciples to fast (Mark 2:18). Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights before His temptation by Satan (Matthew 4:2). The church of Antioch fasted (Acts 13:2) and sent Paul and Barnabas off on their first missionary journey (Acts 13:3). Paul and Barnabas spent time in prayer and fasting for the appointment of elders in the churches (Acts 14:23).
The bigu (辟谷 "avoiding grains") fasting practice originated as a Daoist technique for becoming a xian (仙 "transcendent; immortal"), and later became a Traditional Chinese medicine cure for the sanshi (三尸 "Three Corpses; the malevolent, life-shortening spirits that supposedly reside in the human body"). Chinese interpretations of avoiding gu "grains; cereals" have varied historically; meanings range from not eating particular foodstuffs such as food grain, Five Cereals (China), or staple food to not eating anything such as inedia, breatharianism, or aerophagia.
This handy reference guide, Seven Basic Steps to Successful Fasting and Prayer, will help make your time with the Lord more spiritually rewarding. I encourage you to keep it with you during your fast and refer to it often because it gives easy-to-follow suggestions on how to begin your fast, what to do while you fast, and how to end your fast properly.
The Hebrew verb sum [Wx] is the only one used to describe fasting as a religious exercise. It (and its cognate noun som [/x]) conveys the explicit meaning "to abstain from food" and thus occurs regularly as a technical religious term. The Greek verb nesteuo [nhsteuvw] and its companion noun nesteia [nhsteiva] occur consistently in the Septuagint as translations of Hebrew sum [Wx] and som [/x] and as the usual terms for fasting in the New Testament.

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.


Once when the Buddha was touring in the region of Kasi together with a large sangha of monks he addressed them saying: I, monks, do not eat a meal in the evening. Not eating a meal in the evening I, monks, am aware of good health and of being without illness and of buoyancy and strength and living in comfort. Come, do you too, monks, not eat a meal in the evening. Not eating a meal in the evening you too, monks, will be aware of good health and..... living in comfort.[25]
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