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Have you ever fasted on purpose? Is it something that works for you or do you find it really difficult to do?
Fasting used to be a regular part of my life as a single woman in my 20’s as a spiritual discipline. I found it difficult, but manageable. Then I got married and had babies and stopped the practice altogether, because I was pregnant or nursing or just taking care of my family and it became much more difficult to add in fasting. (And fasting is not recommended for those pregnant or nursing.)
Recently I started fasting again as a result of reading the book The Obesity Code by Dr. Jason Fung. He makes a strong argument for intermittent fasting as a catalyst for weight loss and breaking insulin resistance. The value of the fasting is that it resets the metabolism of your body, if it is not done the same way consistently. Dr. Fung’s recommendation is to fast 24 to 36 hours 3 days each week and then to eat 3 meals the other days.
My plan has been to fast 24 hours 1 day each week and then to fast 16 hours two other days. What this looks like is that I eat dinner with my family one evening, and then I do not eat again until lunch or dinner the next day. Then I usually have two other days where I skip breakfast and eat around 12 or 1 PM. I often eat breakfast foods at that time.
Most days that I fast I find I am not really all that hungry. This may be because I am eating a high fat diet consistently, which I find more satisfying. Dr. Fung’s advice is to keep busy and to make sure you are drinking lots of water. I have found both those suggestions helpful. (One of my suggestions is not to go grocery shopping when you are fasting though; you will buy too much food.)
Benefits of fasting
I have only been doing intermittent fasting for a few months now but have found that it has reset my metabolism. Since I started this practice I have lost about 1 lb each week. This is from a 54 year old woman who has not been able to really lose weight for years. I also have seen my blood sugars drop an average of 10 points to run in the 90’s and sometimes low 100’s (below 110). I really believe the insulin resistance is breaking.
I also believe another reason I am losing weight is that when I eat, I am following a low carb, high fat diet. I am eating lots of vegetables, some meat and dairy, no grains, and no sugar. If I ate a standard American diet I don’t think I would be losing weight or keeping it off.
Some other benefits of intermittent fasting include time and money saved. If I don’t have to prepare breakfast or lunch that saves me the time I needed to put into prepping the food and buying the ingredients. Basically it simplifies my life and that is always a win for me. I do not plan to fast on days when I have social engagements or time with family that needs to happen over food.
And as a Christian I do use fasting for spiritual purposes as well. One of Dr. Fung’s points is that many religions use fasting for spiritual growth and for clarity in spiritual life. So if this fits with your religious practice, I recommend it for several purposes.
I have not had any negative effects from fasting to date, but there are several risks to consider. For anyone who struggles with eating disorders, fasting can work into those disorders, so could be dangerous for healing. For some women, intermittent fasting can contribute to adrenal fatigue, because the fasting will cause a release of cortisol. If that cortisol stays elevated it will lead to adrenal fatigue and this will cause other problems. And as mentioned above you should not fast if you are pregnant or nursing.
So what about you? Are you ready to try some fasting? Or have you already tried it with success….or not? Please let me know in the comments below and share this post with others who may benefit.