03. What to expect…physically

Fasting is a surprisingly natural and comfortable experience. While hunger may be intense during the first few days, the hunger system shuts down and “goes to sleep” on or after the third or fourth day.

What happens next is quite amazing. Physically speaking, fasting actually becomes easier with the passing of each day.

Meanwhile the body feeds off stored energy (we have lots of that stuff) and you find yourself in a cruise position, comfortably skipping meals. Medical experts suggest the body can go approximately forty days before the hunger process returns. (This stage is called “starvation,” when the body begins to feed off muscle tissue.)

This is why after Jesus fasted for 40 days, scriptures say “he was hungry” (Matthew 4:2). Then Jesus returned to eating again.

I believe God made our tents (bodies) to fast. We do not require food or nutrition every single day. I can’t explain how this works medically. But I can testify from my own experiences and from that of others, the body is remarkably strong. It knows how to endure a fast.

Fasting is easier than dieting

With most any form of diet, you eat less of something. But as less of that “something” enters the system, hunger returns in just a few hours.

If you’re cutting carbs, the stomach screams, “I WANT CARBS!” If you’re cutting sweets, the body screams, “I WANT A COOKIE!” Because the hunger never lets up, most diet efforts end with frustration and failure.

But when you stop eating completely (by fasting), you stop fighting hunger because it eventually goes away.

I call it the fasting paradox. By eating less (dieting), hunger hangs around to torment the dieter while the weight comes off so very s-l-o-w-l-y. But with fasting, the hunger system goes to sleep and the weight falls…fast.

While not intended to be a diet, you could say fasting is the easiest diet there is.

You’ll learn to embrace the weight loss

Often Christians react nervously to the idea of losing weigh as part of a spiritual fast. Some are uncomfortable acknowledging any side benefits that come with spiritual activity. But losing weight is an important benefit that needs to be embraced, especially by a culture where over a third of adults are considered obese.

I believe God gave us fasting, in part, so that we can enjoy seasons of feasting and maintain a healthy body weight. The Israelites enjoyed feasting at the festivals, balanced by seasons of fasting. Jesus seems to have cycled in this manner also.

Everything God desires for us is good for us, too. When you fast to be near God, you’ll discover that the spiritual rewards [hyperlink to below] are far more superior to shedding pounds, which helps the faster to embrace the weight loss that comes with it.

Not like a marathon

You don’t have to train to begin fasting. You can step into it right away. I’ve seen many people launch into a three, five or seven-day fast for their first experience. (And yes, I’ve seen fasting rookies launch with a 40-day, also).

While I encourage people to start slow with fasting (a one, two or three-day fast), keep in mind that these are among the more difficult days. Don’t try to fathom the experience of a longer fast by how you feel during a shorter one.

 

Please Note: Consult your doctor before beginning a fast, or embarking on any other dietary program. Factors such as age, heath, dietary requirements, and medication or treatment prescribed by your physician must be considered.