Last Sunday at church, the pastor talked about Spiritual Fasting. I knew I wanted to experience the spiritual benefits. But still, I’ve been eating 6x a day since March! I was unsure how it would fit into my workout / fitness regime. So I did some research about how other people do it. Here’s what I found out:
Fasting is good for you! – In his article “The Myriad Benefits of Intermittent Fasting“, Mark enumerates a lot of the good benefits of fasting. One very interesting point is that only during fasting is the process called Autophagy triggered. Autophagy is the process where the cells in your body clean themselves up. In this post, J.D. explains what happens in Autophagy:
During autophagy, organelles called lysosomes break down waste products inside the cells. What’s an organelle? An organelle is a tiny part of your cell, usually with its own membrane, that serves a specific function (like a cellular organ). Lysosomes break down other worn-out organelles, digest food particles, and destroy viruses and bacteria (using hydrolase enzymes).
This point really makes me think. It seems that I need to fast to keep myself healthy.
Fasting is a great way to lost fat. I won’t lose muscle. – We hear a lot about how you don’t want your body going into starvation mode, because it might cannibalize your precious muscle. But it turns out that its not really something to worry about. In this article, Rusty describes a military study done to see what will really happen if you punish your body enough to go into starvation mode. Long story short, the soldiers didn’t lose muscle because they weren’t eating. The lost muscle because they were doing extreme physical activity, sleep deprivation with tiny meals. They were running at a 3000 calorie deficit daily. Here’s a quote:
The average person thinks starvation mode happens between meals. It isn’t about not having enough calories. It isn’t about not having enough protein. It only affects people at their critical low body fat mass. You have to be in a massive deficit and already at your critical low body fat level. You are “6 pack ripped” before ever getting to starvation mode.
Basically, fasting is an easy, and non-complicated way to cut caloric intake in a week. Since you don’t eat on some days, there’s less of an issue on what to eat on the feeding days. (of course we still avoid the junk)
Fasting will help me focus – It’s estimated that 65% of the body’s energy goes to the digestive system after a big meal. If I don’t need to digest, I can use my energy for other things. I learn discipline.
Spiritual Benefits – Fasting was a common practice for people in many different religions. Jesus Christ assumed that all of His disciples would be fasting. It’s a way to realize that “man does not live on bread alone.” For me, it will be a lesson in Reliance and Dependence… maybe even desperation.
It’s possible to fast and continue to work out – This was the clincher for me. There are a lot of fitness professionals advocating the benefits of fasting. Check out leangains.com, Eat Stop Eat, Primal Blueprint.
The bottom line for me
These articles have gotten me excited. I’m going to fast with my church, and reap all the benefits in my Body, Soul and Spirit.
This is my plan:
- I’ll start slow. Fasting in the evenings. This way I’ll be able to focus on the spiritual aspect of praying, reading and meditating on my bible.
- I tried a 12 hour fast Sunday night to Monday morning. Monday evening workout.
- Tomorrow afternoon (Tuesday), I’ll try a 16 hour fast, and break on Wednesday. I’ll have my workout on Wednesday night too.
- 16 hour fast again on Thursday night to Friday. Workout either Friday night or Saturday morning.
Hopefully, I might eventually be able to try a 24 hour fast, either next week or the week after that. A fast during a day will be the hardest thing for me since I still go to work. But we’ll see. 🙂
I’ll check in with you in a few days and tell you how I feel.
Question for you: Have you ever tried fasting? What’s your experience? Is there anything else that you want to try but are afraid to?
- Intermittent Fasting Part 3 – FAQ (paleoplan.com)
- Lean Gains Diet (nutraplanet.com)
- MicroRNAs, autophagy and clear cell renal cell carcinoma (bhdresearch.scienceblog.com)