Benefits of fasting?

 Em (@emily)10 years, 4 months ago

I’m curious about fasting.. no not to starve myself & be a skinny little white girl.. I’m curious about physical/spiritual benefits.. I’ve done it a few times-the longest I’ve gone was 5 days, and I honestly felt amazing (I ate an entire box of girl scout somoas last night & I feel like crap right now).
I read a little on wedMD & was surprised to find things like, "Fasting might also improve longevity by delaying the onset of age-related diseases including Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and diabetes…" I was unaware of these benefits. When I did fast, I swear I almost felt like a tingly, high feeling… do you think this was a spiritual type thing, or my body was simply starving & this was super unhealthy, or both? Anyone with any experience? Thoughts/comments??

May 2, 2011 at 2:08 pm
Martijn Schirp (112,780)A (@martijn) 10 years, 4 months ago ago

I once wrote an essay on human longevity and caloric restriction diets and it definately has a huge effect (tested on monkeys, no human data yet). Ofcourse a huge part of aging is the free radical damage of oxygen, every breath is a tiny death.

I once did 7 days of the 8 Mahayana precepts, which included one meal a day. This definately improved my meditation and feeling clean. I’ve heard about it alot in spiritual circles, never tried a full fast myself. I would like to see some good sources and ideas aswell :)

daveb (119) (@daveb) 10 years, 4 months ago ago

I did quite a few fasts before I had kids and really enjoyed them. I was doing them spring and fall every year, up to 5 days with no food, plus a week of raw foods on either side of the fast. One of the most wonderful aspects is the pure pleasure of eating when you come off the fast. Every bite is savored, every bite delivers incredible energy. another favorite part is the “breatharian” phase, where you honestly feel like you’ll never have to eat again and have enough energy to run a marathon.

I recommend fasting in the same way I’d recommend psychedelic drugs. know your self (and your body) and make sure to do some research before you start.

When I tried my first fast I had no clue what I was doing and I honestly felt like I was going to die during the 2nd day (heavy detox going on), so I quit. I have developed a pretty thorough system which I am happy to share if people want to hear about it.

Ramo (4) (@ramo) 10 years, 4 months ago ago

I’ve been interested in the raw food diet for a couple of months now and fasting (juice fasting and water fasting) is really common in those circles. I’ve never tried it myself but I plan to do so in the future. I’m one skinny dude though so I’d first put on some muscle before I’d start.
I’m really curious about it but I’m going to wait for a slightly less stressful period in my life before I try it out.

Kathryn (10) (@klarity) 10 years, 4 months ago ago

Em, I had an experience where I fasted but I did it naturally. I started with a big Spiritual change and i found myself very energetic and no appetite. It went on for about 3 wks or more. Of course I did eat but only really cause I knew I needed to. I was so conscious of what I was putting in my body. I pretty much stuck with vegetables, teas, and soy milk. Looking back I think it heightened my Spiritual experience. I would like to try it and see what happens!

Martin Walsh (6) (@kakistos) 10 years, 4 months ago ago

I swear to god i read “benefits of fisting”.

Angela (1) (@aymills) 10 years, 4 months ago ago

@martin; hahaha. That made my night.

damoon004 (2) (@damoon004) 10 years, 4 months ago ago

@martin LOL!

@ramo Ive done a juicing diet before, breakfast/lunch/dinner it makes a world of difference after a week. You eat a lot less but it does cost a lot of $$$ and it is time consuming. An alternative is getting wheatgrass shots or those expensive juices from the store, it takes away my headache quickly. Its all about eating non-processed food the better… the problem is, is that processed food taste so good, damn raw foods! Its like God wants us to be fat

Dan (890) (@danfontaine) 10 years, 4 months ago ago

@ Ramo
wow bud sounds to me like you’re never really gonna decide to get around to this fasting thing with that attitude Rofl

mario (12) (@mario82) 10 years, 4 months ago ago

fasting is good it helps us understand suffering sustainance and humility.

Anonymous (11) (@) 10 years, 4 months ago ago

Like Mr. Schirp stated above, the benefits of fasting are one in the same with those of a reduced caloric diet. But safe fasting goes one step further when your metabolism starts using ketones as fuel; ketones are chemicals produced in your liver from fat after extended periods without our usual fuel. One ketone in particular(beta-HBA), is a very efficient fuel utilized in the brain. It actually produces ATP energy more efficiently than glucose and without using the amino acids that are needed to maintain the muscles. Some speculated benefits of our ability to use beta-hydroxybutyrate(beta-HBA) include: improved antioxidant function, increased mitochondrial energy production, increased cellular survival, and increased levels of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor(BDNF) that is believed to aid neurogenisis, or the creating of new brain cells.

I had always known about Ramadan and Yom Kippur but for some reason I had always thought it was more symbolic than anything else; It wasn’t until I read about shamans fasting on their vision quests that I really became interested…. now I fast at least two successive days every month.
Lastly, a quote I liked.
“Fasting as a religious act increases our sensitivity to that mystery always and everywhere present to us. It is an invitation to awareness, a call to compassion for the needy, a cry of distress, and a song of joy. It is a discipline of self-restraint, a ritual of purification, and a sanctuary for offerings of atonement. It is a wellspring for the spiritually dry, a compass for the spiritually lost, and inner nourishment for the spiritually hungry.” -Thomas Ryan

happy fasting

Stephen (90)C (@stepvhen) 10 years, 4 months ago ago

I’ve always found it refreshing

Kenny (5) (@kenny) 10 years, 4 months ago ago

For anyone interested in the athletic/body composition side of fasting, read about intermittent fasting. Simply put, it’s 16 hours fasting and an 8 hour eating window.


10 Myths about fasting

Em (473) (@emily) 10 years, 4 months ago ago

Thanks for the feedback everybody!! Very much appreciated…& Martin for the laugh (I’d like to try everything once–but I think that could be umbrella’d under childbirth?)…
Kathryn I’ve had periods like that–they are awesome!! I find I’m truly happy in a given time period if I only eat bc I “have to.” Thanks..
@Dave–Yeyeah! Please cough up this well developed thorough system!

Stephen (90)C (@stepvhen) 10 years, 4 months ago ago

Oh I got one, you get skinny

Martin Walsh (6) (@kakistos) 10 years, 4 months ago ago

Glad i could brighten everyones day ^_^ I was unbelievably tired when i posted that.

Its a simple fact that we dont need to eat as much as we generally do. I don’t like the fasting thing cos it reminds me too much of what they say about fat people that stop eating and then relapse hard, i cant imagine that would be very good. but if you have the good sense to maintain a healthy diet afterwards and it makes you feel good, more power to ya.

I would be more inclined to say to just change what you eat though. I (Just as a matter of preference) have basically been on the atkins diet for my entire life always rathering a meat dish to a carb dish unlike most of the people i knew. i just never really took to high carb food and high sugar foods, till recently, were only an extremely thing cos we grew up poor like. This has lead me to be primarily a meat eater, i thick out meals with bread when there’s not enough, i love my potatoes (i have to, i’m irish) but our meals were always a little of everything, meat and 2 veg kind of affairs. I mention this as its about getting enough nutrients to do what you wanna do and there is shit thats been demonised (like fat and cholesterol) that you do need for normal body functioning that people seem to feel a need to cut out of their diet no matter how well they metabolise the stuff.

That said, i get that in america the food is all so tainted that you have had to resort to “organic” farming as means of getting food that isn’t so terminally fucked up that its not safe to eat over long periods of time, despite the health risks of the extremely unhealthy shit that goes into organic pesticides. so yeah, maybe it is a good idea to kinda take yourself out of that ecosystem from time to time. But i would seriously recommend looking into getting better food as opposed to not eating at all.

Bobby Whoever (57) (@bobbyalone) 10 years, 4 months ago ago

I think i may try this. Maybe four days? (:

daveb (119) (@daveb) 10 years, 4 months ago ago

four days could be long – best thing is to take it one day at a time and see how your body reacts. I saw the earlier post about “10 myths about fasting”; to me, those were more like healthy eating myths. for me, a fast is an extended duration without any food. I’m a skinny guy who can’t gain weight, but haven’t had major weight loss problems during fasts, either.

It is springtime here in New England. Spring and fall are my fasting times because of the lack of extreme heat or cold.

I start by tapering down from my regular diet to a raw diet and maintain that for a few days before the fast. it gets me over the ravenous hunger before the fast even starts – the last couple days before the fast I am just snacking on raw veggies and fruits. it’s good to plan when you’ll eat your last bit of food, especially if you’ve never fasted before.

during the fast I take only distilled h20, small amounts throughout the day. I also include a small evening drink of 1/2 grapefruit (juiced), lemon, garlic, cayenne, and pure grade B maple syrup. Just a wee bit of those last four. sip it slowly during the evening, it’s good for liver function/cleansing and provides a touch of micronutrients. the flavor is very intense!

be ready for all manner of horrible side effects, especially the first time fasting. your pee, poop, and sweat will probably stink. after a couple of days you’ll take the wierdest poops, stringy and green, black and dense – you can tell your body has stored some nasty stuff and it’s coming out and it can be kind of freaky.

make sure to have activities planned – long walks, books to read, games to play – eating (and for me, cooking) takes up more time than you think and at first your mind can drive you a little bonkers thinking about food. sleeping can be difficult, dreaming very intense. your energy can fluctuate wildly. get some sun every day.

after a few days of no food, all that fades away. you will be an empty vessel, needing no food and little water to survive. your energy comes back, stronger than ever. appetite is a thing of the past (this is for me one of the most powerful aspects of a multi-day fast). this phase usually lasts a couple of days, and when it wanes and hunger returns/energy fades I conclude my fast. come out of the fast as you went in – very slowly. savor each bite, feel the energy flow into your body. stick with raw foods for a few days (or more) before you slowly resume your regular diet (or better yet, a newer, healthier diet!). you’ll find that your tastes have changed, cravings are gone – your whole relationship with food changes drastically after 5 or so days without it!

Em (473) (@emily) 10 years, 4 months ago ago

Thanks so much for elaborating Dave! Thanks for the discretion on the feces as well :) I also get this weird numbing soft feeling on my tongue after a couple days. I don’t know if it’s just me? I like it tho-it feels cool :)

rob (1) (@feedtherat) 10 years, 4 months ago ago

Came across the site after searching for info on alternative sleep patterns, looked around, liked what i saw, so signed up.
On the subject of fasting, fwiw here’s my opinion/experience on the subject, hope it helps.
curiosity on the subject of fasting (water fasting or pure fasting), after reading fit for life in ’85, learning about natural hygiene, had me progressively experimenting with food choices, intake, timing etc., over a period of 5 years, culminating in a completely animal-free, additive/preservative free diet for a year. just distilled water, fresh fruit and veg, brown rice and whole grains.
this eventually lead to water fasting for 10 days under the watchful and experienced eye of a naturopath/osteopath with more than 40 years experience on the subject.
Following that experience, and a controlled 4 day period of re-feeding, i then 11 years later, water fasted again for 3 weeks successfully, but then undid the benefit by juice fasting for a further 3 weeks and losing the initial amazing benefit of the previous 3 weeks, and scaring those close to me in the process, by losing all my energy and remaining muscle in the unnecessary prolonging of the fast.
best advice I can offer is that the preparation prior to the water fast is important, so clean, natural, real food, devoid of animal products is best in the week or 10 days before the fast proper begins, just to move any heavy or “dead” food out of your digestive tract before not eating for however long you intend.
Post-fast is where you can either make the effort worthwhile, or sabotage your efforts, as during the fast (after about day 3 for me), my appetite disappeared, but on re-feeding with fresh juice or water melon, your appetite returns with a vengeance, and discipline to remain focused on only eating real, natural, high-water content foods is paramount, and in suitable portions too.
this careful re-feeding is so important to avoid digestive distress, to a very-rested, smaller (in quantity required to satiate) digestive tract in the days and if disciplined, weeks and months following the fast.
i remember reading that many starved death camp survivors repatriated by allied troops in poland and germany in 1945, and subsequently fed heavy food such as meat, cheese, milk etc, died agonising deaths due to this innappropriate and misguided re-feeding.
fortunately, real, natural, fresh foods (raw fruit and veg), post-fast tastes incredible, where as processed (falsely sweet or savoury) foods taste artificial and disgusting in the weeks after a fast, so that makes appropriate food choices easier to make, as your sense of smell, taste etc., are really heightened and, you could say, reset.
other posts above talk of the psychological changes or benefits experienced during fasts, and i can certainly attest to that in the positive, as my own experiences, certainly had me feeling very peaceful, relaxed and calm, seeing the world through less judgemental eyes, and feeling and seeing that life is pretty good.
as far as energy levels go, during the 10 day and then 3 week fast, rest and less stimulation were important to support the bodies repair and rejuvenation through not eating, and quite quickly (day 3 onwards), less sleep was required, although i continued to walk everyday for an hour or more, and just out of curiosity, i continued to do push and pulling exercises with my body weight, to monitor declining energy levels.
fat-loss takes place obviously, but when muscle loss occurs (beyond the lack of muscle use that occurs due to resting more in the fasted state), then is a good time to break the fast.
daily pulse and blood pressure readings can and should be used to guide you if you are not being supervised by anyone experienced in helping you fast safely. (there are some suitable and qualified practioners around the world who offer retreats for safe, suitable fasting).
Benefits that I experienced, numerous, (apart from the unnecessary 3 week juice fast that robbed me of remaining muscle and energy, and lead to a longer than necessary re-building of my muscle and energy levels), and then the post-fast re-feeding can either make or break the whole experience, either building upon he health giving rewards of the fast, or reversing the benefits, and negating them completely and actually make things worse in the long run.
scores on the doors for those interested, pre-fast 6′ 1″ tall, 182lbs athletic build, but with a morton’s neuroma in one of my feet and some arthritic “symptoms” in one of my knees and one of my shoulders.
post fast 3 weeks later, no health issues mentioned above but 141lbs, lean and mean with push and pull-ups halved.
3 weeks of misguided juice fasting later, resulting in hyponatremia and muscle loss, also resulting in no push or pull-ups possible, and just 127lbs on my 6’1″ frame!
Be warned, too much of a good things is possible, and you should listen to friends and family who know you and have watched progress then decline set in!
6 months rather than 3 later, back up to 168lbs lean and mean, with previous push pull no’s and endurance, and no further health issues as previously mentioned.
hope something their helps…

mundus (4) (@michaelfindel) 9 years, 4 months ago ago

After reading up on how our paleolithic ancestors adopted lifestyles deeply imbued with intermittent fasting. Such was life as a hunter-gatherer species for hundreds-of-thousands of years on Intermittent fasting. Iam thinking of giving it a go.

I would like to know if any HEthens have tried it or just your views on the subject, maybe even start a new 30 day challenge, what do you think?

From Wikipedia, “Intermittent fasting (IF) is a pattern of eating that alternates between periods of fasting (usually meaning consumption of water only) and non-fasting.” In essence, it’s on-and-off eating. What you eat and how much during feeding times doesn’t matter to the pure definition of IF.

Note that there is no one-size-fits-all intermittent fasting model. Fasting period durations are variable. Frequency of fasting is variable. What you eat (and how much) between your fasting cycles is variable.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition states in this article that (1) decreases in blood pressure, (2) reduction in oxidative damage to lipids, protein and DNA, (3) improvement in insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake, and (4) decreases in fat mass are among the benefits of intermittent fasting.

How To: Intermittent Fasting.

How to Intermittent Fast and Which Type of Fasting Is Right For You

Sean D Stevens (155) (@thelaughingfool) 9 years, 4 months ago ago

I’ve been meaning to try this for some time. Unfortunately, I don’t function very well when I’m hungry, and I need to function for about a week or so more (finals week). After that, I’ll give it a try.

Dick (364) (@dick) 9 years, 4 months ago ago

@michaelfindel, I merged these topics. I’m a neat freak!

mundus (4) (@michaelfindel) 9 years, 4 months ago ago

haha ok no problem.

Martijn Schirp (112,780)A (@martijn) 9 years, 4 months ago ago

I’ve been doing IF for about 8 months now. Ask me anything :)

Jesusbob (34) (@jesusbob) 9 years, 4 months ago ago

What about working out/strenuous activities during a fasting period? Should one keep physical activity to a “slower pace” while not eating or does it not matter?

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