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The Health Benefits of Fasting

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Biology 103
2002 First Paper
On Serendip

The Health Benefits of Fasting

Will Carroll

There has been much contention in the scientific field about whether or not fasting is beneficial to one's health. Fasting is an integral part of many of the major religions including Islam, Judaism and Christianity. Many are dubious as to whether the physiological effects are as beneficial as the spiritual promoted by these religions. There is a significant community of alternative healers who believe that fasting can do wonders for the human body. This paper will look at the arguments presented by these healers in an attempt to raise awareness of the possible physiological benefits that may result from fasting.

Fasting technically commences within the first twelve to twenty-four hours of the fast. A fast does not chemically begin until the carbohydrate stores in the body begin to be used as an energy source. The fast will continue as long as fat and carbohydrate stores are used for energy, as opposed to protein stores. Once protein stores begin to be depleted for energy (resulting in loss of muscle mass) a person is technically starving. (1)

The benefits of fasting must be preceded by a look at the body's progression when deprived of food. Due to the lack of incoming energy, the body must turn to its own resources, a function called autolysis. (2) Autolysis is the breaking down of fat stores in the body in order to produce energy. The liver is in charge of converting the fats into a chemical called a ketone body, "the metabolic substances acetoacetic acid and beta-hydroxybutyric acid" (3), and then distributing these bodies throughout the body via the blood stream. "When this fat utilization occurs, free fatty acids are released into the blood stream and are used by the liver for energy." (3) The less one eats, the more the body turns to these stored fats and creates these ketone bodies, the accumulation of which is referred to as ketosis. (4)

Detoxification is the foremost argument presented by advocates of fasting. "Detoxification is a normal body process of eliminating or neutralizing toxins through the colon, liver, kidneys, lungs, lymph glands, and skin." (5). This process is precipitated by fasting because when food is no longer entering the body, the body turns to fat reserves for energy. "Human fat is valued at 3,500 calories per pound," a number that would lead one to believe that surviving on one pound of fat every day would provide a body with enough energy to function normally. (2) These fat reserves were created when excess glucose and carbohydrates were not used for energy or growth, not excreted, and therefore converted into fat. When the fat reserves are used for energy during a fast, it releases the chemicals from the fatty acids into the system which are then eliminated through the aforementioned organs. Chemicals not found in food but absorbed from one's environment, such as DDT, are also stored in fat reserves that may be released during a fast. One fasting advocate tested his own urine, feces and sweat during an extended fast and found traces of DDT in each. (5)

A second prescribed benefit of fasting is the healing process that begins in the body during a fast. During a fast energy is diverted away from the digestive system due to its lack of use and towards the metabolism and immune system. (6) The healing process during a fast is precipitated by the body's search for energy sources. Abnormal growths within the body, tumors and the like, do not have the full support of the body's supplies and therefore are more susceptible to autolysis. Furthermore, "production of protein for replacement of damaged cells (protein synthesis) occurs more efficiently because fewer 'mistakes' are made by the DNA/RNA genetic controls which govern this process." A higher efficiency in protein synthesis results in healthier cells, tissues and organs. (7) This is one reason that animals stop eating when they are wounded, and why humans lose hunger during influenza. Hunger has been proven absent in illnesses such as gastritis, tonsillitis and colds. (2) Therefore, when one is fasting, the person is consciously diverting energy from the digestive system to the immune system.

In addition, there is a reduction in core body temperature. This is a direct result of the slower metabolic rate and general bodily functions. Following a drop in blood sugar level and using the reserves of glucose found in liver glycogen, the basal metabolic rate (BMR) is reduced in order to conserve as much energy within the body as can be provided. (2) Growth hormones are also released during a fast, due to the greater efficiency in hormone production. (7)

Finally, the most scientifically proven advantage to fasting is the feeling of rejuvenation and extended life expectancy. Part of this phenomenon is caused by a number of the benefits mentioned above. A slower metabolic rate, more efficient protein production, an improved immune system, and the increased production of hormones contributes to this long-term benefit of fasting. In addition to the Human Growth Hormone that is released more frequently during a fast, an anti-aging hormone is also produced more efficiently. (7) "The only reliable way to extend the lifespan of a mammal is under-nutrition without malnutrition." (5) A study was performed on earthworms that demonstrated the extension of life due to fasting. The experiment was performed in the 1930s by isolating one worm and putting it on a cycle of fasting and feeding. The isolated worm outlasted its relatives by 19 generations, while still maintaining its youthful physiological traits. The worm was able to survive on its own tissue for months. Once the size of the worm began to decrease, the scientists would resume feeding it at which point it showed great vigor and energy. "The life-span extension of these worms was the equivalent of keeping a man alive for 600 to 700 years." (8)

In conclusion, it seems that there are many reasons to consider fasting as a benefit to one's health. The body rids itself of the toxins that have built up in our fat stores throughout the years. The body heals itself, repairs all the damaged organs during a fast. And finally there is good evidence to show that regulated fasting contributes to longer life. However, many doctors warn against fasting for extended periods of time without supervision. There are still many doctors today who deny all of these points and claim that fasting is detrimental to one's health and have evidence to back their statements. The idea of depriving a body of what society has come to view as so essential to our survival in order to heal continues to be a topic of controversy.



1)"Dr. Sniadach – True Health Freedom 3


3)"Ketosis by Sue Reith"

4)"Nutriquest, March 11th, 2000 – Ketosis and Low Carbohydrate Diets"

5)"WebMD – Detox Diets: Cleansing the Body"


7)"Fasting – Good Morning Doctor"

8)"The health Benefits of Fasting"



Comments made prior to 2007

Great essay. Do you have one good referrence on how to stage a fast? I am looking for a safe way to stage a fast in my home. Does it require special teas or anything outside of water? ... Elie, 30 September 2005



The term for the breaking down of fat is lipolysis, not autolysis. Autolysis is the self-destruction of cells ... Paul, 3 April 2007


Muhammad Toure’'s picture


Excellent article, as a Muslim, I testify to the benefits of fasting, it is the tradition of Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه و سلم to fast at least 3 days of each month, which I have been practicing for a number of years, there’s nothing like fasting.

brew dr kombucha's picture


hi thanks for the information

healthy weight loss's picture

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newday32170's picture

on my 8th day

On my 8th day with only drinking very little coke throughout the hunger pains from day one...have much more clarity and energy...lost 6 pounds in 7 days. My question is this: I have a colonoscopy tomorrow and a prep for it today. I have 4 dulcolax tablets and 20 oz of magnesium citrate to drink starting at 12:30 this afternoon. Will I have a bowel movement with no food in 8 it ok not to have bowel movements throughout the fast?

Serendip Visitor's picture

I started a fast, I first

I started a fast, I first stop over to see my Naturopathic doctor who is an expert in juicing and longevity very informed and cool dude. He ran a couple blood tests and gave me a quick check up.

I then started my fast, I will share he gave me a list of juice he likes he things green juice is better lay off the sugar, but he did like green apples juice not daily. A few other things he told me to do during juice fast one is wear layers of clothes since body temperature drops, and as you heat up you can layers off. If I felt sick at all then drink this clay called Spring green 77 the drink that grabs toxins this helped a lot because at times I felt sick, and it was toxins, being released. I suspect charcoal would do the same thing as the clay.

I did the dry brush massage before a shower to get the circulation going and it helps stimulate the lymph system. I also have a wonderful biomat that I turn on high and throw some cotton blanket over me and lay down it. The sauna does the same thing but I wanted something I could lay down on and relax. I also take a liquid electrolytes and stay hydrated this is important if your in a sauna Also daily morning coffee enemas which was a not a big deal for me . I got the pure coffee that has no mycotoxins it so I'm not adding more toxins when I'm attempting to detox So daily morning enemas, some people just go get a colonic . I did only 1 tablespoon of coffee because I dislike the way caffeine makes me feel. Since everyone is different .
After the first three days, it is become so easy.

I listened to the juice fasting guy on you tube the Joe Cross dude!. He said something that struck me . that we must have CELERY on a juice fast it is imperative it has fiber and this makes the body realize it is NOT on a famine, but a feast . What I got from that was that the body is not sending the starvation signal to the body which will slow down the metabolisms which is what you don't want this was news to me and I'm so glad I heard it. Load up on celery

I'm fasting to jump start good health and have a better clearer yoga practice. I also needed to lose 11 pounds and I have already lost 6 pounds, five to go
So the juice they made on the you tube was kale, apple, ginger cucumber and celery with lemon, which Is really good

Wishing all good health,

wasting's picture

Bodyfat percent and fasting

When you fast you loose fat and muscle equally, so it is not a way to decrease your body fat percent.

Ramu's picture

Can fasting help detox from alcohol?

I have been helping people to overcome alcohol addiction and , I wonder if fasting can help such people detox from alcohol quickly? What is your opinion on the same.

maninagreatplace's picture


3rd day on waterfast, feel great.last year
Did a 13 day fast and felt awesome! Had high energy and
Clarity of mind, have done alot of research on fasting, including the Braggs, book and others.Fasting can do miraculous
things! You have to do your own homework, fueled by real interest.

Serendip Visitor's picture

Please update your links

Not one of the references are still available.

Bhaavin Shah's picture

Leonard Orr the great

Leonard Orr the great physical immortality expert recommends at least one 40-day fast in a life time if not more.
I find fasting most energy-exalting.

Serendip Visitor indi's picture

severe chronic constipation

hello thanks for great info.
i have serious constipation, due to my bad eating habits of the past and bulimia, i'm not bulimic now. but my intestines are full of material, the other day i had a hydrocolontherapy done and very hard feces came out, fecalomas etc but it was just the tip of the iceberg, i'm still ''full' and bloated. it's hard to defecate for me, i go partially or nothing, i di take laxatives too many in the past too.
anyway i wanted to ask would fasting be good for me? i'm hardly eating anyway because i'm so full intestinally that have no hunger. i'm worried that by fasting i wont go at all to the toilet and so the constipation will be worse than ever?

thanks very much
indi (italy, europe)

Kay kay's picture

I am100percent sure it will

I am100percent sure it will help you. Try a five day fast of purely water and green juices consisting of parsley, celery, ginger and cucumber. Drink lots of water though. And warm turmeric tea at nights.

Serendip Visitor's picture

Fasting & Type 1 Diabetic

Could you offer any advice or tips for a Type 1 diabetic interested in fasting? I would imagine this would be a bit tricky, and of course if there were any hypo's then I would need to treat them. Interested in learning more nonetheless.


Serendip Visitor's picture

Juice fasting

Look up the book the Diabetic Solution by Dr. Bernstein i got the book on sale it is amazing. I
am not diabetic i just like to read...
I would watch videos of DR GAbriel Cousens .

I was pretty ill ...30 doctors could not isolate the cause two years had passed I read Gersons work and Paavo
and i started fasting in an well informed way, I also told my Chinese Medicine doctor was super careful because I was on the thin side . By the second week my red eyes, turned white clear and my eyes open up did not sleepy anymlre. . My scar tissue dissolved I took serrapeptase too.
I promised myself to stay with juice fasting for At least 30 days. All my dizziness , blurred vision, sinus infection, rash
back pain, stinging shoulder blade pain and sickly feeling slowly decreased
Interesting my jaw began to ache finally figured out the cause dental cavitation hired cavitation dentist to clean jaw bone infection my regular dentist was clueless about dental cavitation
juice fasting pointed the way to the cause of my health calming my body down and clearing out all the toxins frkm the infection

Serendip Visitor Netty's picture

where can you get direct information.

I am extremely obese ( about +50kgs), and not very active because my job is telephone internet based and am self -employed, so no work no pay. Family needs come first so I am often sat with short breaks for 16 hrs or more a day.

about 3 years ago my weight started to steadily climb, even though i was not, am not a large eater, and being a non meat eater don't go for take always or ready meals. My worst vice is bread, cheese and wine (not an alcoholic, but around 2 or 3 glasses x 5 a week), but I eat a large quantity of fruit and vegs. I generally only eat once a day and regularly go a couple of days without eating., but still the weight piles.

Health issues in general have worsened and recently had 2 semi paralyzing attacks of pain with related sciatica, accompanied by impossible stomach pain. Initial tests were unspecific.

This happened again about 10 days ago and the usual hospitalization , immobilization and horrendous iv drug routine. after a few days and when movement to legs started to return sent home.
since the attack i haven't eaten. Just have no interest in it. I also felt so ill after the assault of iv morphine etc . after 2 days I stopped the prescription of morphine tablets and Tramadol. My whole system felt as it was under attack.

I am on day 11 of an unintentional fast, none of previous favorite things, freshly picked raspberries etc, have any interest for me. Is my body demanding me to fast? I have no problem with the concept, but now all the people around me, medical and otherwise keep saying I need to eat, but my body has absolutely no desire to do so.

I am still struggling with pain and one thing thrown up is I have a compromised immunity system and have some either gall bladder or liver problem, being now investigated. It seems my body has been slowly poisoning itself for sometime. Your article and following comments seem to suggest that fasting isn't healthy with these symptoms. Yet it seems to me that is what my body is wanting to do.

I don't expect any diagnosis, I don't believe in those done without reference, but I need to take control back of my body, my weight my general feeling of ill health and I need to know where i can turn for reliable help on this issue, as obviously I am faced with the conventional medical thought that fasting isn't healthy with my own doctors etc. None is helped that I live in a foreign country not of my own native language, and although my second language is passable it isn't advanced another to get my point across or understand when they going into complicated explanations.Their level of English is on a parity with my level of their second language.

koyasha's picture


If your body is wanting you to fast then trust it and do fast. It is the traditional way to heal. This will help you.

Doctors only know what they have been taught in medical school and don't look at natural ways. Only unnatural ways with drugs. Drugs are the answer for everything.

Continue fasting until your body is ready to start eating again. When you do start eating, have food high in alkaline. This is things like spinach because alot of acidic foods cause many illnesses.

Also have whole foods and not things like coffee, soft drinks, cookies, chips etc

Hope this helps ^_^

Dave's picture

Science on fasting - it exists

SCIENCE: There are studies on fasting for those people who were saying this article has crap references, however studies on fasting are small scale and most aren't "American studies"; many were done in other countries (and the language barrier doesn't help - not many people, doctors, or scientists can just look on a Chinese or German database and translate studies let alone know they exist). You have to search not just "fasting" but "intermittent-fasting" or "preoperative fasting" and you'll find even more data. There is clinical data and rat studies from the US but they might not be widely publicized or even published; human studies exist, but are sparse an unpublished (who wants to publish something about something like fasting that almost no one can make money off of?).

Studies that exist on either rats or humans suggest that regular fasting:
Increases BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factors), promotes wakefulness/alertness, stimulates small but statistically significant increases in testosterone, human growth hormone (HgH) but reduces insulin. Rat studies show that fasting normalizes insulin responses and insulin sensitivity as when you fast you switch from burning glucose/glycogen to burning fat (or ketones)... that break when the body switches to burning fat/ketones gives the cells in the body a break from insulin signaling which is the hypothesized reason that fasting increases insulin sensitivity and responsiveness.

While it's not "science", from my personal experience, I'm 100% sure that intermittent fasting has changed my life. What I do is fast between about 8pm to 12pm the next day and eat within a 8 hour time period. For me it has: helped me maintain an excellent body fat percent but not lose muscle, lowered blood pressure (now it's 95/61 on average but used to be a tiny bit higher), lower fasting blood sugar (before my blood sugar would be around 100, but now it ranges from 70-90 which is pristine), resting heart rate of 50-55 and even lower before bedtime, I have less hunger pangs, my energy is very consistent (I have more energy than before), I sleep better as a result of these results, my cholesterol is also pristine as well as the ratio of HDL to LDL - YES you can say that I also do other things that help create these changes like eating an ultra health, natural diet along with doing a wide variety of exercises, maintaining good sleep habits, meditation, spiritual practices, stress management, yoga, etc, but I know that fasting impacted all or most I listed. I can't scientifically "prove it", but I think it's worth investigating more in the future and worth trying for yourself.

And many will hate me, but I'm sorry, I'm not taking time to find the studies I'm referencing to copy and paste here - it's not worth my time, it's not my article, I apologize. But be careful saying studies don't exist based off of what exists in which is not the best place to find things - LOL. Look on databases from other countries - some other countries have databases like you can look on.

Bob's picture

My experience with fasting

I fast for two reasons: spiritual and health (which is spiritual).

I am currently on day 20 of a 50-day fast. L've done several forty-day fasts before. On those i allowed myself the occasional juice or wine, but this time strictly water and herbal tea. I found that dizziness and bad taste in the mouth are now gone and my weight decline is about 200% faster.

As a further experiment i have added some short distance (20km) cycling and one 10km walk.

I feel great, but I've noticed that i need a little time in between exercise in order to recover.

What i find peculiar is that my daily waitloss in kcal appears to exceed my Basal Metabolic Rate plus the exercise by over 25%. I have been searching on Google tonight to see if BMR climbs with fasting. It appears that it climbs with Human Growth Hormone, which we now know rises by 2000% during a fast.


Ps. I don't believe in the existence of atheists

Mark's picture

Stored Toxins

Some are saying that fasting is beneficial because it releases stored toxins. If toxins are stored in the fat then surely they are safely packed away and causing no harm as nature intended? How can pushing these toxins out into your body be good for you?

Serendip Visitor's picture

Response to toxins questions

Toxins when stored cause harm to the cells storing them. When they are released they do not run free throughout the body causing harm. They are excreted.

Dave's picture

True, however if someone is

True, however if someone is eating an unhealthy diet and has metabolic syndrome, including being overweight and generally unhealthy, then their body may not be able to excrete those "toxins" as quickly. Infact, people with diabetes and other conditions often have kidney and liver issues where those organs plus others don't function properly (or as efficiently) perpetuating their toxin loading which is why some get rapidly worse after reaching what I call the "tipping point" - for those people, fasting might be a bad idea, not just for their hearts and blood sugar levels, but because while the fasting might free the toxins from the tissue, those toxins will go into circulation from what I understand and may not get escorted out of the body properly because their liver/kidneys aren't functioning properly. For the normal, healthy person, their body can usually excrete "toxic" chemicals and/or heavy metals a bit faster, although sometimes chelators (like cilantro, green foods, Chlorella, or zeolite) are necessary to escort some toxic substances like heavy metals out of the body that are are slow to leave. And for anyone, a healthy diet has a natural, gentle detoxifying effect as certain foods either directly chelate (or escort) toxins out of the body or enhance/tonify the body's natural antioxidant manufacturing as well as the detoxifying functions of the liver, kidneys, etc. Anyone who's overweight or unhealthy has to be very careful with fasting.

Serendip Visitor's picture

Cut the religious nonsense visitors please.

Science only please, or you undermine your own credibility.

Serendip Visitor's picture


Your references are complete crap. Find some credible sources.

Ayse's picture

Thank you...

Thank you...

999's picture


and I would say that those doctors that deny the benefits of fasting are also most likely athiests too!

Atheist's picture

Atheists fast too

I am on day 5 of a fast and I do not believe in any gods (atheist). I don't think your body cares what you believe.

Moving on... As others have mentioned the resources cited in this paper are poor and anecdotal. I've scoured the internet for any real scientific research on fasting, so far there is none. My guess is there is no money to be made in fasting so studies are not likely to be sponsored. So we are left to do our own experiments on ourselves.

Good luck all.

Serendip Visitor's picture

scientific experiments on fasting

SCIENCE: There are studies on fasting, however they are small scale and most aren't "American studies"; many were done in other countries (and the language barrier doesn't help - not many people, doctors, or scientists can just look on a Chinese or German database and translate studies let alone know they exist). You have to search not just "fasting" but "intermittent-fasting" and you'll find even more data. There is clinical data and rat studies but they might not be widely publicized or published; human studies exist, but are sparse. Studies that exist on either rats or humans suggest that regular fasting: increases BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factors), promotes wakefulness/alertness, stimulates small but statistically significant increases in testosterone, human growth hormone (HgH) but reduces insulin. Rat studies show that fasting normalizes insulin responses and insulin sensitivity as when you fast you switch from burning glucose/glycogen to burning fat (or ketones)... that break when the body switches to burning fat/ketones gives the cells in the body a break from insulin signaling which is the hypothesized reason that fasting increases insulin sensitivity and responsiveness.

While it's not "science", from my personal experience, I'm 100% sure that intermittent fasting has changed my life. For me it has: helped me maintain an excellent body fat percent, lowered blood pressure (now it's 95/61 on average but used to be a tiny bit higher), lower fasting blood sugar (before my blood sugar would be around 100 fasting, but now it ranges from 70-90 which is pristine), I have less hunger pangs, my energy is very consistent (I have more energy than before) - YES you can say that I also do other things that help create these changes like eating an ultra health, natural diet and dynamic, wide variety of exercises, good sleep habits, etc, but I know for a fact, that fasting impacted all I listed. I can't scientifically "prove it", but I think it's worth investigating more in the future and worth trying for yourself.

othman's picture



Serendip Visitor's picture


fasting is a very important practce being enjoyed by all the pious persons of different religious backgrounds. we buddhists also have a fasting practice called NGYUNEY it is very powerful and whole day prostrations and recitation of mantras for the whole beings is great unexpressable.

Ahmed's picture

Muslim fasting

For more than 14 centuries, Muslims have been fasting one month a year (called Ramadan) without eating or drinking or having any intimate relations from dawn to sunset. Also pious Muslims fast Mondays and Thursdays in the same way as prophet Muhammad was reported doing these fasts.

MK's picture

My experience

I am a muslim and have been fasting during Ramadhan from a very young age. Some of us eat too heavy when breaking the fast and it makes our fasting harder, but that is another looong story :-) After the first 2-3 days of fasting where the stomack is growling I get used to it and slowly the metabolism starts shifting. Fasting gives me a great feeling of lightness and I have experienced most points from the article.
I got a heart disease some years back and the medicine has stabilized it. Now I monitor my heart rate carefully and do a lot of exercise. During Ramadhan I have noticed that my heart rate while exercising drops almost 10 beats per minute compared to same exercise before the fasting month. Just wanted to share that. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Serendip Visitor's picture

not eating from sunup to

not eating from sunup to sundown is not fasting.

Serendip Visitor's picture

Yes it is

It's called intermittent fasting

Serendip Visitor's picture

response to muslim fast

Muslims fast for one month in a year, however, they do not drink any water during the fast and there are hardcore ones who do not even swallow their own saliva. That said, they also break the fast every day from 6pm and start it again at 6am, so their way of fasting does not apply here at all. Also, the foods they use to break the fast are often very rich too.

Serendip Visitor's picture

First 2 day fast

This is an awesome article. Cogent, coherent, and concise. Bravo.

I just came of a two day fast. Didn't plan it and didn't pre-read or study it. Just decided one afternoon that I felt like it and just followed my instincts. Just drank water for 24 hours. At the end of the first day, I felt great. At the end of the second day now, I feel awesome. I decided, on instinct to eat a small bowl of rice porridge. But to be honest I was not hungry and just ate because I thought (erroneously) that it wouldn't be too good to go past 48 hrs.

The funny thing is that my body has called for all this on its own without my brain getting in the way. About years ago I quit smoking in a whim. Felt great after 2 months. But drank 8 cups of coffee a day. Then two weeks ago, I up and quit coffee, made it through the killer withdrawal and felt awesome. Hated the addiction. Then decided that I didn't want to replace coffee with another beverage, so happily took on water and have been on water as my only liquid intake. That increased the great feeling.

Then two days ago, the fast. It all fell in line just by following my body. I feel great. mentally alert. I sleep well and wake up before the alarm. My mood is calmer and my actions more purposeful. I even feel every breath - feels great.

I'm going to get back on the fast tomorrow and push it for 4 days this time, I want to experience the fat burn. I anticipate some nicotine being released, but I'll brave it. Love the fasting. Its the best thing I've done.

Serendip Visitor Dr. Mathew Varghese's picture

Benefits to Fasting

Dear Readers, I wish to come into giving my wealth of experience studying patients measuring their hormone levels during a 24 hour fast. The main changes were relating to gut (intestinal hormones) I do not want to give you a lot of technical information to confuse the readers. I tried myself carrying out my normal hospital duties consuming only black coffee for 3 days without any ill effects. However I felt a little loss of balance and my breath smelled of acetone, a by product of burning stored fat.
Mechanisms to deal with non availability of food for a few hours or longer periods are present in most living organisms and could be exploited further to deal with emergency situations. However lack of water could seriously could put the body into dire consequences within a few days.(a few people have been found to be alive after 10 days trapped under buildings following earthquakes.). Hibernating animals have evolved perfecting their survival strategy of living on stored reserves during adverse conditions.However the long term benefits to regular fasting is probably not available to make specific recommendations.
One may gain greater willpower to control ones gluttonous food habits. Consuming carefully regulated amounts of processed foods containing high fat and sugar will be more beneficial than fasting. Try skipping an occasional main meal to control hyper acidity and gastric reflex. It works in some patients! . Avoid appetite stimulants like coffee, tea and fruit juices. Stick to plain water instead.
Eat a whole fruit like an apple if you cannot tolerate hunger pangs while skipping meals.

2Fast's picture

Great article, I wanted to

Great article, I wanted to get a scientific idea without the spiritual factor which I also think will increase in power whilst fasting.

Louis's picture

My immune is strong

Hi i fast once a week and my immune system is very strong I never fell sick.

Mr Benn's picture

a question.

Hi. I am traveling at the moment and have done lots of hiking recently,unable to carry much food, have sort of accidentally fasted. Felt great in allot of ways. made me realise how greedy I am when food is readily available. I am thinking of fasting one day a week, like you. I have a couple of questions, if you would be kind enough to answer.
1. What is your technique, do you drink water, tea or avoid liquids?
2. Is it a clean 24 hour fast? or like 36? or different?
3. Are there any benifits you feel from the practice?
4. Do you have a reason for your fasting?
5. do people think your crazy? and how do you explain it to them?
If you can help with any of these I would rely appreciate your help.
All the best,
Ben Taplin

Serendip Visitor's picture

My Fasting Story, Still In Progress...

While I've been water fasting periodically over the past 2 years, I have stepped it up this year. I have been doing a 24-hour water-only fast, on the 4 days per week that I work, for the better part of 2012 now because I want to reduce the inflammation in my body, improve my IBS and manage my food addiction. Personally, I don't feel that I'm "really" fasting until the second day after I've taken nothing but water. After that, it's surprising how different my body feels. It feels "light", even though it's not. I sleep better. Nothing hurts when I'm lying down, unlike before.  I can't recommend it enough, and will choose to do this for the rest of my life because of the way it makes me feel.  I've done this for a long enough time now that I don't even experience hunger on fasting days anymore. 

Generally speaking, people have no idea that one can go without food, (NOT WATER), for extended periods of time, but we are not doing this for other people, are we? Only those close to me know that I fast, and even they still think that I'm going to harm myself. Hubby fears that I'll get "too small".....AS IF.... that could actually happen!!!  :-D

With regards to fasting for religious reasons, I am convinced that one should live their lives in a way, 24-hours a day - even when no one else can see you - to please God. I've seen far too many "Sunday Christians" in my life who want to impress their fellow men/women. And, killing in the name of God is just evil. If one believes that God created life, then does he not also possess the power needed to kill people, IF HE CHOSE TO?  Unfortunately, people throughout the centuries have used religion as a tool of control for their own agendas, and little to do with God's plan. 

I offer the following perspective to explain my own underlying difficulties with fasting, and to encourage you in your endeavor. If I can pull this off, you can too. 

Both my beloved mother (who died this year) and I are widely held as outstanding southern cooks; I am a born foodie & recipe collector. I've routinely cooked dishes from all over the world for my family. I read cookbooks the way others read a fascinating biography or novel. I'm passionate about food, I think about it all of the time, even when I am fasting. I now know that I should have been a Food Technologist. I want to own & cook in my own diner/restaurant.  I don't smoke, I've never done any illegal drugs and I hate the taste of alcohol. It has taken me years to realize that I AM an addict, however. My favorite foods, (white carbohydrates (pasta, rice, potatoes, ALL breads and, oh yes, sugar), ARE my body's poisons, but that has not changed my love of or craving for them. Hence, my stepping up the fasting time to 4 days per week. Fasting has become a food addiction management tool for me.

My largest problem on fasting days is BOREDOM, which is why I've chosen to fast on my 4x11 hour employment days. Since I work in a call center, love helping and interacting with people, the boredom is manageable, (I'm convinced that service to others is food for, and helps heal, the soul). I come home from work and read or research recipes to get my mind off of eating. Laughable, but ironically it actually helps with the boredom.  Fortunately, my children are grown and gone, and diabetic hubby is religious about following his nothing white, vegetables, salads & meat only diet or it would be much more difficult, because I AM an lifelong ADDICT.

The next, more serious, problem is not drinking enough water. My drink of choice would be diet carbonated drinks but I have radically decreased my consumption of them and do not consume them at all on my fasting days. I've never been fond of water, sometimes it makes me nauseous or gives me heartburn. Subsequently, I have to make myself drink and sometimes I forget. We lose our sense of thirst as we age. From a kidney-health perspective, I would not consider fasting without water. I don't consider that consuming fruit juices or other nutrient containing liquids or solids IS fasting. 

Initially, I ate whatever I wanted on my 3 days off, but have come to realize that I consumed my personal poisons first. Only recently I've started to change that. I eat large portions of veggies, or a huge salad with roasted vegetables added BEFORE I even look at a dessert. Because of the fasting, I do eat less on my eating days. 

In summation, I am a food addict and I acknowledge that I will remain an addict for the remainder of my life. I take it 1 day at a time. Fasting is a very helpful tool in managing my addiction, but one that I will keep for many other reasons as well.

Good luck with your personal battle or goals. Start small, take 1 step, 1 day, at a time. You CAN do it!

Serendip Visitor's picture

i am an addict

Thank you for giving us such an honest insight into your life and the reasons behind your fasting. I am a 55 year old female who after an injury is not nearly as mobile as I once was. I am in need of surgery on my back and let myself gain about 30 or 35 lbs since my injury. I did my first 12 hour fast yesterday. Would like to see some weight loss results as well as less aches from my back injury. Anything else would be a benefit without thought.

Osama Yahya's picture

Hi there, You can try the

Hi there, You can try the Muslim kind of fasting, you much find much about it in the Internet of sure... dont eat or drink so long the sun on over there, feel free to eat during the night. but dont exceed when you eat.. you dont need to do for a month, you can do it once or twice a week.. and for Gods sake dont care about what people think of you. I am doing Ramadan right now, it is around 18 hours daily right now and I can tell you the difficulty lies in the first 3 days and then it starts to become amazingly simple and feeling great how your body adapts to it. maybe you can try fasting for a week and see how you feel.. afterwards you may like to go on on 1 day per week.. feel free to try different things, it is your body and you will get to know it better through out fasting.

gamep01nt's picture

fasting : the islamic way

Let me share how muslims fast. we are required to fast for the full month each year. (29-30 days)

1) we drink water, preferably milk and normal drinking water, BUT not during the fasting period and the fasting period itself is 12 hours. In malaysia, muslims here usually take their breakfast at 5.40AM and we breakfast at 7.30PM.

2) it's usuallly 12-14 hours

3) yeah, there are benefits, when i stop eating like usual, i don't usually get sleepy and i can be more productive. On the first week of fasting, my faeces seems to be more darker, suggesting that the process of detoxification is ongoing.

4) yeah, for my religion and i believe in fasting health benefits

Serendip Visitor's picture

1st day is the Hardest....

I'm on my 2nd day for a 3-4 day of Fasting... after that will do 14 days, and 30 days eventually. To God be all the Glory.

lanimar's picture

I was trying to get back on my diet.

Great! Informative. Thanks.

Serendip Visitor's picture

Fasting Promotes Healing

Once I discovered fasting, and thru careful practice learned of the health benefits derived from it, I usually preferred to fast rather than see a doctor whenever I had any kind of health issue. I'm not recommending this for everybody, but since I avoided toxins like tobacco, alcohol, etc. it seemed to work for me. No matter what the problem, fasting a few days or even a week seemed to always cure it, and quite swiftly. Again, I can't claim this will be true for everyone, but it seemed to be true for me.

Don't think your first attempts at fasting will be easy ones, though. Your body has been fed when hungry for so long that it will rebel at the very thought. It needs to be trained and shown that fasting is more helpful than harmful. After that happens, fasting will come more easily for you. Once you get past the first day or two, fasting becomes much easier. And the strange thing is, during a fast you will seem to have more energy than before.

Serendip Visitor's picture

i just wanted to tell that in

i just wanted to tell that in our religion islam, fasting is one of the methods., we have to fast one month a year. its really very healthy and its an oppurtunity for u to learn more about islam. you will find a lot of benfits on it :) inshalla

Gilda's picture


Intriguing and fascinating at the same time. For medical reasons, I fasted once before. I am presently on my first day, and feel pretty good. My stomach is growling and I accept it and be gentle to myself. The goal is to go for two days each months for cleansing, to strengthen my immune system and to get rid of the body fat.

Joseph's picture


This is a well written essay, but your references do not appear to be articles from scientific studies, yet you present the information as fact. The references you listed seem to (mostly) be articles that advocate fasting but none of them are actual studies that prove or disprove anything you say.

I'm not saying any of this information is right or wrong, but I recommend you work things so that its clear if the information is coming from an actual scientific study or an article written to advocate fasting.

Serendip Visitor's picture

Get this straight

SO when you say fast for 40 days your saying you eat nothing but oinly have water ? Frankly thats bull sh1t. You must have liquidized juices / vegtables etc or you would drop dead.