fast 1 : to abstain from food 2 : to eat sparingly or abstain from some foods

fasting is widely misunderstood. many people believe that anyone who stops eating for more than several hours at a time is starving themself, but to starve (according to merriam webster) is to perish from lack of food, to kill with hunger, to destroy by or cause to suffer from deprivation. the word starve is actually derived from a latin word meaning "to die".

fasting can be an incredible spiritual experience.

when you're free of food you gain an enormous amount of clarity in making decisions, understanding and thinking in general. your senses, besides taste, are heightened (like with the loss of any sense, the other four become stronger). your eyes become whiter and your skin looks clear and healthy. your body is being refreshed.

normally your body spends a huge amount of energy digesting food - part of the reason why after eating you feel very tired. a lot of this food is unnecessary and a waste of energy to digest. today most people's digestive system is always working because so many people don't understand that you do not need to eat every time your stomach is empty! when your body doesn't have to use so much energy digesting food, it can focus energy on healing other parts and releasing the toxins from your body. your body, whether you realize it or not, contains a huge amount of toxins that build up after years of eating processed foods and being in certain environments. many people, when they fast for long or often enough, will go through a "cleansing crisis", in which they will feel very ill, feverish and sometimes nauseous, when all of the toxins are being excreted from their body.

there are water-fasts and juice-fasts. water fasts are more difficult because you are drinking only water, getting no calories or nutrients. juice provides a minimal amount of calories and some nutrients.

obviously there are no rules for a fast, you can drink whatever you want. i personally recommend drinking water, herbal tea, and "clear" juices or broths during a juice fast. there are a lot of really good herbal teas that are especially for fasting, dieting and detox which can usually be found at health food stores and the likes. by clear juices i mean juices without pulp or anything else in, just pure liquid. it's your choice of how many juice calories you want to take in each day.

i think that days 2-4 are the most difficult when beginning any kind of fast, just because you're getting used to it and easing out of your solid food habits. the best way to avoid giving in to cravings is to avoid being around food or other people who are eating, but be prepared to explain yourself if you decide to tell people that you're fasting.

blood circulation won't be at its best during a fast because your metabolism slows down, so you should stretch and do some kind of exercise every day, like walking.

george bernard shaw once said: any fool can start a fast, but only an intelligent man knows how to conduct one, and only a wise man knows how to end his fast. he was a wise man. :) ending a fast is difficult; it's ideal to ease slowly back into eating solid food. the first day off of a fast shouldn't be much more than raw, light vegetables, fruits, and maybe some brown rice, nuts, eggs...light, nutritious stuff. coming off of a fast gradually is very difficult, so it's helpful to plan ahead what you're going to eat rather than wander into the kitchen and eat whatever tickles your fancy - everything will be tickling your fancy when you haven't eaten for a week.

fasting and weight loss

fasting is generally not an effective form of weight loss. i've yet to meet someone who hasn't gained all the weight back (and often more) that they lost during a fast - and yes, that includes people who lost 20 pounds. all of it comes back. much of the weight lost during a fast is a misleading effect of dehydration and simply having an empty digestive system. to lose real body weight, a fast would have to be at the very least four or five days long (depending on the person's normal eating habits), and even a two-week fast might not get rid of more than ten real pounds.

a fasting body eats away at itself in a specific order: first carbohydrates (stored sugars), second proteins (which are 'eaten' by the body not just for energy, but for its own sustenance - it doesn't want high-maintenance muscles hanging around burning unecessary calories), and last fats. in other words, unless a body fasts for a very long time, it will only eat away at muscles, leaving behind minimal muscle bulk and plenty of fat...and we all know that fat burns many less calories than muscle, right? fasting will not be a satisfactory method of weight loss.

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