Fasting has a lot of benefits from improving your health to restoring your spirit and growing your faith. And there are different ways to fast. Today we’ll look at both traditional fasting and intermittent fasting. We’ll start with a little explanation of each and then wrap it up with a little advice on which one to choose.

If you are new to my blog, my name is Paula.  I’m a mother to three beautiful kids and the wife of a Law Enforcement Officer. Because of my interest in health and fitness since about the age of 12.  I ended up getting a degree in Health Education. My heart and passion have always been to help people get healthy from the inside out!

However, I have always struggled with the right balance between food, exercise and enjoying life. But because of my “education”, I thought intermittent fasting was bad for me. Turns out, it’s incredibly healthy and has helped free me from the diet roller coaster I’ve been on for the past 30 years.

Traditional Fasting

Traditional fasting involves abstaining from all food and most liquids for periods of 3 days or more. Some fasts last for weeks and even months. The participant usually does not eat at all, consuming only water, tea and possibly a little juice or broth each day.

While the first few days on a fast are tough, hunger and the desire for food usually subsides after the first few days. From a spiritual point of few, fasting seems to quiet and cleanse the mind, aiding in prayer, contemplation, and meditation. Fasting is used in almost all major world religions as a spiritual aid.

Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting can be done in several different ways. Some people will fast for two or three days per week, eating regularly the rest of the time. Others will abstain from food for stretches of 16 hours or more (including the time spent sleeping), and eat only during a 6 to 8-hour window during the day. Others will fast all day with the exception of one large meal.

While there are certainly some spiritual benefits to intermittent fasting. It is often done as a way to lose weight, improve one’s health or even in an attempt to slow down aging. Abstaining from food for periods of more than 12 hours allows your body to reallocate resources.  Those resources are usually spent digesting food and use them to repair damage in the body instead. Of course, going down to one meal per day or skipping all food for a few days per week, also forces the body to burn body fat.  Which duh, results in weight loss.

Are you trying to lose weight?

If your goal is to lose weight in a slow, consistent manner, or you want to improve your health or potentially slow down the effects of aging, give intermittent fasting a try. Many find it easier to stick with than a traditional fast. An intermittent fast might also be a good spiritual tool for you.  Especially if traditional fasting is a little too hard to stick with or your body does not respond to it well.

If on the other hand, you are the type of person that starts something and sticks with it until they make one small slip-up and then all is lost.  It might be best to try traditional fasting.  It may work better for you. You know yourself. If you’re the type of person that does well exercising every day and will keep it up unless they skip a day.  Which then leads to another day, a week and before they know it a month or two has gone by without a single workout, then intermittent fasting might not work well for you. Instead, try traditional fasting for one week per month for example.

Your Mind is Your Biggest Obstacle

Fasting has many benefits and there are no special tools or equipment needed to do it. In fact, the only obstacle keeping you from sticking to your fast is your mind. If you’re worried about being able to do this, start slow.  Start with intermittent fasting where you only eat during a 6 to 8-hour window each day. Start there with two meals and slowly work your way towards eating only once per day. Next, give the method of fasting for two days per week a try. Once you’re comfortable with that, put those two fasting days back to back. Then add a third or fourth day and you’ve transitioned into traditional fasting.

This is a great method to use if traditional fasting is your goal, but it seems a bit daunting or scary. But if long fasts aren’t your thing, it’s perfectly fine to stick to intermittent fasting, no matter what your reason for embarking on this fasting journey.

How Long Should You Fast For?

Let’s talk about how long you should continue to fast once you get started. This will mainly depend on your main reason for fasting. If you plan on strictly fasting for longer than a week, you may want to discuss your plans with your doctor.  Have him or her monitor you throughout your fast. If this is your first fast, you may want to limit yourself to no more than 3 days of strict fasting.  See how it goes and how you feel during your fast. Different people respond differently to fasting. You should not commit to a long fast until you know how you will respond.

Of course, it goes without saying that if you have a medical condition like diabetes or you are pregnant, you should not fast.  Or at least not without the ok from your doctor. If you are on medication, you should also check in with your healthcare provider.   Find out how your fasting will affect your condition and the medication you’re taking.

Let’s Recap

If you are in good health and want to give strict fasting a try, go ahead and get on a 3 day fast and see how you feel both during the fast and the days following it when you go back to eating normally. Start with a small meal to break your fast and go from there. During a short fast like this, it isn’t as important to go slow when introducing food back into your diet.

A good alternative when you’re new to fasting is intermittent fasting. Instead of cutting out all food for several days, stick to water and coffee for part of the day and then enjoy one large or two smaller meals toward the end of the day. You get many of the health and spiritual benefits of fasting in a way that’s not only easier on your body, but also easier to stick with.

After a few days of intermittent fasting, you will start to notice that your body gets used to this new way of eating. You’ll find that you no longer get hungry first thing in the morning. In fact, you won’t be ready to eat until later in the day.

Once your body gets comfortable with intermittent fasting, you can trick skipping your main meal once every few days.  See how that goes for you. Knowing you can eat the following day makes it easier to stick to your fast and go to bed a little hungry.

Need more help getting started?  Check out my free guide Intermittent Fasting Made Easy!

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