Lesson #2: Fasting

Discussion in 'You Are What You Eat!' started by skip, Oct 23, 2007.

  1. skip

    skip Founder Staff Member

    Fasting is a widely accepted "exercise" or process wherein a person refrains from eating and/or drinking for a period of time, at least eight hours or more.

    Reasons for Fasting
    Most people who fast, do so for many possible reasons.

    Everyone fasts during sleep, break-fasting soon after they wake up. This has given the body time to process remaining food in the digestive track, providing a much needed cleansing and rest. We are then prepared for the next day's feasting.

    Some people fast automatically because they are too sick to eat. Their bodies know something is wrong and so they lose their appetite, or become nauseous and can't eat. This is the body's defense mechanism when under attack or from over abuse. Certain parasites can make eating painful or difficult and cause a person to fast out of avoidance.

    A decision to make a purposeful fast during waking hours is a commitment to improving one's health in a short, intense time. Why would people do this?

    In the case mentioned above, when people are ill, they might voluntarily fast to discover whether what they are eating or drinking is making them sick. Or a doctor might wish to run some tests, like for high cholesterol or other disease.

    The most popular reason people fast is to lose weight. Of course that's a valid, if not the best reason to do so. It does work, unlike so many other fad "diets" out there.

    The second most popular reason is to cleanse, purify, detoxify one's body. This might be due to religious reasons, drug abuse, bad eating habits, infection, etc. In this case the motivation is not just to fit into smaller size clothes or to look better, but to improve one's health and to FEEL better!

    Some people fast to improve their digestion. By clearing their digestive system, they get to start anew. That's why people often fast before changing over to a new diet. I would recommend a one-day fast to any student in this class changing their diet.

    Occasionally, if people are forced by circumstance to eat food they normally wouldn't, they might fast to remove or minimize that food's impact upon their body and health (cleansing again).

    Believe it or not, some people actually fast to die! The Jains would do this when they believed their purpose in life had been fulfilled. The Jains did a LOT of fasting! Native Americans and other tribal people would go to die alone when they were too old to contribute to the community any more. Starvation was their chosen form of death.

    But perhaps the highest reason to fast is to raise one's awareness! When fasting, one becomes acutely conscious of the body as it goes through the changes associated with fasting. This is the spiritual reason to fast, and many religions incorporate it into their practices including the Jains and Muslims who perform daily fasts for almost a month, once a year.

    The goal for them is to reconnect with their spirit, by renouncing the body and materialism. It's a great way to cleanse the mind as well as the body. All sorts of "stuff" comes up during a fast that lies buried deep within one's psyche!

    How Long Should I Fast?

    There are no set rules to fasting! If you're going to undertake a fast, you get to choose when, and for how long, based upon your reason for fasting, your previous fasting experience and what you hope to accomplish.

    One important thing to understand before fasting is how the body reacts to the self-induced "famine". After the first 2-3 days, when your body's easily accessible store of sugar and carbohydrates is exhausted, a big change occurs. Your body turns to stored fats and protein for energy.

    One of the signs this is happening is a reduction in hunger, which most people notice on or after the third day. Suddenly its easier to fast because your body has switched energy sources and no longer does it feel like food is urgently needed as the body starts to burn its own energy reserves.

    If you reach this point, you can continue to fast as long as you feel the need. However, it's undesirable to allow your body to burn too much muscle (protein), as that would become the dominant energy source once your stored body fat is gone. In fact, at that point, other important organs would begin to break down too, eventually leading to serious damage and death!

    Because everyone's body is different, and people have different reasons to fast, the length of time for a fast is variable and up to you.

    I recommend everyone let their diet or health practitioners know if you are going to fast more than a day or two, esp. if you are taking drugs that require food intake to be steady. They may have some special advice for your situation or tell you not to fast at all!

    BTW, there is nothing wrong with a one-day or short term fast. I recommend that for anyone new to fasting. It can accomplish a lot, and will acclimate you to fasting. Once you know what to expect, you can try a longer fast.

    Mini fasts are something I've been exploring lately. That would be an 8-12 hour fast during the course of a day. Sort of like they do for Ramadan, when they refrain from eating during daylight hours.

    I've been doing that now for a few months and have lost around 12 pounds which I seem to be keeping off so far.

    My logic for doing that is: by refraining from eating during the day, you shrink your stomach, thereby requiring less food intake to feel full. So I have a small to medium breakfast in the morning, then I don't eat anything until dinner. I don't pig out for dinner because my stomach has shrunk and stays shrunk during the day. I feel better and more energetic as a result.

    Of course I'm not very physically active during the day, so it's easier for me to do than for others with more demanding work. But I recommend minifasts for those who eat too much to lose some weight without a full on fast.

    Types of Fasts

    Since a fast is a restriction on the intake of food and drink, there are many types of fasts. Choosing one is solely a matter of personal preference as most will have the same effect.

    Water fasting is the most difficult to accomplish because there is no nutrition or energy value entering the body. This means the body will start to burn fats and proteins faster, with more significant results than any other fast.

    Water won't fill up your belly for long, so it doesn't really satisfy the hunger pangs, and that's what makes it more difficult for the first few days.

    That's why juice fasts are popular. You can choose one type of juice or a variety for your fast. Popular juice fasts involve apple, orange, grapefruit, carrot, cranberry, etc.

    These types of fasts are high in sugar content, so they'll take longer than a water fast to accomplish your goals. All that simple sugar can cause problems for anyone who must watch their blood sugar levels, so be very careful and follow your doctor's advice.

    People like juice fasting because the juice also contains a lot of trace minerals and vitamins that would be lacking in a water fast. But again the length of fast is important here. I suppose I should also add that freshly made, organic juices are preferrable, if not essential!

    I once worked with a guy who did a 47 day carrot juice fast. As it progressed he got to be more difficult to deal with for everyone. He was irritable, argumentative and his skin had an orange glow. He looked very sick by the end of it.

    Herbal fasting is more rare, and usually done for a specific desired effect over a short period. Herbs can help purge the system of unwanted toxins. Herbs are usually taken in a tea or pills with water.

    There are specific types of "cleansing fasts" that combine juices with herbs or vegetables (like garlic or ginger) to help detoxify the body. This type of drink is often taken to kick off a fast. The "liver flush" is just one of the more popular ones. I don't believe these have ever been proven to work any more than a normal fast. If anyone can find a scientific study of one to reference in class that would be nice.

    A much rarer form of fast is to eat and drink nothing. Obviously that type of fast doesn't last long, and has serious potential to harm you. I don't recommend it except for a short period, like one day or less.

    What to Watch Out For

    When fasting you will become acutely aware of your body. Certain effects can be expected during the first few days including hunger, headaches, mood swings, irritability, dizziness, weakness. These are normal signs of hunger and don't represent anything unusual for a fast.

    You may also experience a "healing crisis" when toxins stored in your cells over the years get released back into your bloodstream to be removed. This can cause a large variety of symptoms, with the most common being a bad headache and those mentioned previously. These strange symptoms should go away after a few days.

    If any other symptoms develop, like dehydration, fainting, cramping, severe headaches or other severe symptoms, check with your medical practitioner or stop the fast if things continue to deteriorate. There is no reason to hurt yourself by fasting. That is counter productive!

    The quality of what you drink or eat for your fast is very important. Obviously organically grown foods are preferred. Any chemicals, hormones or other additives in your juice would get magnified by the fast, esp. if everything you ingest has it.

    Assignment: Write a report about any fasting you've done in the past. Explain why you decided to fast, what type of fast you did, and whether you succeeded in meeting your goals.

    If you haven't fasted before, tell us whether you plan on fasting and why, and what type of fast you'd like to try.
  2. Fedora

    Fedora Member

    Hi Skip,

    The only fasting I ever did was for spiritual reasons; either to make a decision or to grow myself spiritually. I drink only water or coffee and read my Bible all day sitting in front of a fireplace with a gas log fire blazing and the cold air blowing outside. Every time I have fasted it has only been for 24 hours each time. It was a very enlightening experience every time I did it. Every time I thought of food I just prayed. Some of my best research came from these periods of fasting. I don't do it that often b/c I usually get a headache and I figured that was not a good thing. But again the times that I have fasted were very worth while. I have never actually fasted for weight loss as you talked of. I have done Special K diets where you eat a bowl of ceral in the morning, a bowl of ceral for dinner, and whatever you desire for supper. This was usually done for two or three weeks and the diet allowed for any type fruit b/t meals. I always had good success with this diet.

    Well anyway I am looking forward to eating more healthy and if I lose weight it will be a plus. Health is my main concern though.

    Peace be with you!!!
  3. usfcat

    usfcat CaterCreeps

    I only fasted for a max of 2 days. I did this a couple of times. I think it was more to see if I could even do it. I'd consider trying again.

    Is it safe to workout during a fast? I know after an intense workout you have essentially broken down the muscles and they restrengthen after the intake of protein (or something like that). So if you aren't eating anything, I'd assume it wouldn't be beneficial or safe to exercise, right?
  4. Divinaeon

    Divinaeon Member

    Well, the only time I've ever fasted was to lose weight in order to look more attractive to someone I was attracted to. For about two weeks, I only ingested about 2-3 hundred calories a day, and I dropped a significant amount of weight (20 pounds, I believe). It actually felt really good after a while, but unfortunately I gained it all back once stress levels in my life rose pretty high (I'm a stress eater). I don't think it was any specific type of fast rather than just not eating a lot. I didn't pick up the person I wanted to, but I felt a lot better about my body and a whole lot more confident. So, I guess in some way I was successful. ;)
  5. skip

    skip Founder Staff Member

    I've read where they suggest you cut back on the workouts during a fast. In other words, a little bit of exercise is fine, but as you point out, you may lose muscle mass if you do strenuous workouts.

    Likewise you will have a stronger reaction to the fast if you do a lot of exercise, since it will intensify your hunger.

    Long fasts with a lot of exercise is definitely not recommended. Walking is a good thing to do, as this increases circulation and helps move the toxins stored in your body over the years, out via persperation and exhaling. Many people who fast take to long walks. This is not the same as running or working out in a gym, which tends to put extra stress on the body. I recommend such work outs be minimized during a fast.

    I liken fasting, while working out, to be like a hungry hunter, on the move, tracking game. This is something our bodies were made to do. Like any hungry beast tracking its prey, we burn up our energy reserves during the hunt for more. This should strengthen and condition our bodies, but on the other hand successive unsucessful hunts wear a body down, and eventually lead to death if new energy isn't obtained from prey.

    During a fast there is little to no new energy entering the body, so it would definitely be detrimental for an extended period.

    Some people may supplement their fast with high protein, high calorie shakes if they are working out a lot. But then it's not really a fast is it?

    If you're building muscle mass, you certainly aren't going to lose any weight!
  6. Autentique

    Autentique wonderfabulastic

    Whenever I've fasted has been a sort of spontaneous thing, I just wouldnt eat for a couple of days. I would drink water and juice, but that was it. I guess it was my body's way of telling me it needed a break and I guess that's why it wasnt so difficult.
    The only time I fasted for spiritual reasons, was when I was with my boyfriend, we both did for 24 hours and Im thinking of doing this more often.
  7. mariecstasy

    mariecstasy Enchanted

    I have done the master cleanser for a period of ten days. This is also known as the lemonade diet. It consists of 8 ouces of water, 2 tablespoons of organic lemon juice(best if freshly squeezed), 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper and 2 tablespoons dark organic maple syrup. This concoction is made and is drank anywhere from 6-12 times daily for as long as you want to undertake it....the maximum being 40 days.

    When I did it the first time(I have done it three) I did it for 10 days. In this time period I lost almost twenty pounds, went through some mood swings and was extrememly energized. I absolutely adored the amount of energy that I had but with the detoxing came a horrible body odor, that eventually slacked off as time went on. As one uses this cleanse they are also supposed to drink detox tea. Also you can drink a salt water(sea salt) and water in the morning to act as an enema. I tried this and about threw up all over the place. YUCK! So instead I took Triphala which is very good. Beware though, this cleanse does clean out the pipes. The bowel movements(if you can call them that) were frequent and extremely explosive.
    I worked through quite a bit of emotional baggage and had many feelings that I didn't know were suppressed come to the surface.
    It was a magical experience. I did it two more times after that and loved doing it each time....but on the fourth trial, I pretty much gave up. My body was telling me "HELL NO" to the drink. I wanted flavor dangit and was tired of the drink.

    Next I am going to try a juice fast but in a couple weeks once I have finished crossing my diet over a bit more. I juice for a lady and am learning so much about nutritition and dieting that I want to get a bit more information before I make that plunge.
  8. CSP101

    CSP101 Member

    Sorry, I joined the class late but Ill catch up hopefully soon : )

    Anyways, I have fasted a few times. Once I fasted with a group of others for 4 days to raise awareness for world hunger. It went well, I thought it was really hard, probably because I really didnt get into my fat stores yet.

    Twice, I've fasted for 24 hours after going for a week or so eating almost all pizza. I just felt disgusting after those weeks and needed a break from eating. This was not too difficult.

    I now fast every few months for usually around 24 hours. I do this just to just keep my slate clean, and to feel good. I really like fasting but I would have soo much trouble going for more than a week because I love eating.
  9. Love_Music

    Love_Music Member

    well i think i am going to try to fast. Ive never done it before. I want to do it to feel better about the way my body looks. Ive also done a lot of traveling recently and once i got to my destination i would eat all these bad foods. so i feel like im too big for my height. i think ill fast for 2 days and then wait 3 days and then do it again for about a month. i want to try the juice fast. and im going to do yoga. does this sound okay? like not dangerous or anything?
  10. skip

    skip Founder Staff Member

    I don't see any problems with fasting for a month and doing Yoga. Yoga is something to be done anytime. It will never interfere with anything unless you're pregnant. :)

    Of course I'm thinking of Hatha Yoga, and not other, more intense forms, although things like Kundalini are fine, but you might need to cut back a bit on the intensity.

    I believe Yoga will help your fast dramatically by giving you more confidence to continue, and keeping you tuned into your body during the fast.

    I would recommend Hatha Yoga to anyone fasting! Great idea! :)

    Good luck to you all on your fasts. Don't forget to come back and let us know how it went!
  11. gypsymama

    gypsymama Member

    i have fasted once at my first rainbow gathering, for 2 days and i felt great, then of course i get back to the world of crazyness, and get to the same routine again,,blah, i think my body definatly needs a break. i need to lose a little weight and want to feel better....
  12. i think the mini fasting, much to what you do daily (not eating during the day) is going to be the best idea for me. i actually pretty much DO that all day, except i use dr pepper as a deterant for the hunger pangs...
    im interested in the lemonade diet that one guy talked about...but i think the only reason it interested me was that he lost 20 pounds...but he did it for so long...i dont think my body should go that long without nutrients...i dont think that there is anything, besides fat and laziness, that needs to be cleansed out of my body. i eat a LOT...i can match my boyfriend, who is a large fella, on some days...and im much smaller than him. so the eating less during the day to shrink the size of my stomach sounds like the best idea for me.

    but, should i do it until i get the desired results? or should i do many tiny ones...like do it for a week, then eat regularly for a week, then go back to it? you know, to introduce the nutrient back into my body to give it more energy to burn??
  13. skip

    skip Founder Staff Member

    If you've been reading all the threads you'll see the one that explains how your OWN body provides the nutrients in an extended fast. You've got a lot stored up in your fat cells. When the body breaks them down, the nutrients are utilized by your body.

    If you need to lose a lot of weight, you could do a long fast. But if you're not used to it you might want to lead up to it with smaller fasts.

    I suggest the mini fasts so you get used to how your body responds to not eating, and condition yourself to ignore the instinctive urge to eat when hungry.

    As I mentioned before, you should redirect those impulses into a happy feeling. Be HAPPY you're hungry because it means you're losing weight! No need to get anorexic about it of course, cause that's not a healthy attitude.

    Once you've gotten used to ignoring those hunger pangs you'll be more successful getting past the first three days of an extended fast. As anyone will tell you, after three days you won't get hungry because your body will start absorbing your fat cells and the nutrients there.

    Good luck! :)
  14. thank you, skip.
  15. CrystalDove

    CrystalDove Member

    Well after reading all of these posts I've been thinking of starting a fast. Skip mentioned that anyone starting a new diet should probably fast for a day and now I feel that I should start over on my diet. I've wanted to lose weight for a while now and I still do so that when I go on vacation I can look at least somewhat decent in my bathing suit. But the only thing holding me back is the foods that I'm eating now. I like it and I think I've suffered enough during the almost 2 months of eating almost nothing but fruits and veggies.

    I love to eat and I wouldn't want to go back to that kind of diet but at the same time I want to lose weight and get it over with since I've been whining about my weight for so long. Also fasting and starting the diet over would make my body cleaner and in the long run increase my well being.

    What do you guys think I should do?
  16. flytothe_sky

    flytothe_sky Member

    I've never fasted before, but I'd like to try a short fast. Maybe start out doing a mini-fast, then try a fast for 2-3 days. I want to do a water fast, but I don't know if I could handle it. Maybe I could switch from juice to water. I want to fast to clean out my body & maybe lose some weight. I'm also trying to eat healthier so I guess I'm kind of going to make a diet shift. Fasting seems like a great idea, I can't wait to try it :)
  17. Alright, I started my 24hr water (and green tea with a little honey) fast almost 2 hours ago at midnight my time. It is Friday, Jan. 2. I HOPE to last all night, and since I sleep during the day that should be no problem. Saturday will be for sensible food, and then I'm going to see how far into a 7-day version I can get. I need to clean out my body and my mind before the semester starts. This week will also include daily Yoga, a decent amount of sleep, meditation, and long, hot, herbal baths.

    My only concern is that my cycle is coming up any day, and I usually get a little anaemic and difficult to handle that week. Should I allow supplements and small doses of chocolate, or just consider this to be part of the cleansing?

    Perhaps if I enjoy it, this will become a habit, to start each semester and maybe even end each semester. I forgot to eat more than a Tootsie roll and glass of Dr. Pepper this evening, so my food intake is already a little off. I'm enjoying the light-headed feeling now, but the water is keeping me really cold.

    EDIT: 4:30a.m.- Alright, after reading more on water intoxication and the glucose-fatty acid transfer, maybe the green tea will have lemon instead of honey in it. . . no sugar to mess up the transfer, and extra electrolytes to stave off the badness. I'm still feeling okay right now.
  18. krick3t

    krick3t Member

    Ok well i started my fast this morning, and plan on keeping with it till Friday, once it gets dark, which is around 6pm.
    I am doing a Water Fast, and hope to lose the weight, cleanse the body, and i am also doing it for spiritual reasons.
    During this time, i am also starting Yoga for the first time.
    I will keep everyone updated as it works out.
    One thing ive already noticed, that without a proper breakfeast, i feel slightly sluggish, and more tired than usual. I am ok with this though, as that my body is in need of major repair, and cleanseing

    It is 1:08, and lunch at school... ive realized that sipping water every about 10-15 min. helps with the hunger urges and what not...
    this is getting hard...lol
  19. goingtocalifornia

    goingtocalifornia Banned Underage!

    The first time i fasted it was in a way anorexic/bulimic. I fasted up untill dinner (we have family dinners) and then i "got rid of it". I did it because i had body image issues. I'm better now and looking at fasting for a more healthful, cleansing aproach. I am going to try the water fast. I'll post here in two-to three days to say how it worked!
  20. goingtocalifornia

    goingtocalifornia Banned Underage!

    hey its me again.... i tried talking my parents into letting me fast.... THEY WONT LET ME! Gah their stubborness NEVER FAILS! i even explained the benefits and told them that i knew all the risks! i told them it was only for three days! but they were like "you are a growing girl... this can wait untill your eighteen and out of our house" can anyone offer some advice?

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