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Fasting the Right Way

by sissani


Many of us here go through periods of fasting, starving ourselves of food to cut off those pounds.  And almost all of us who do this, end up in failure.  Why?  Because we set ourselves up for it by not fasting the right way.


Fasting is a quick way to lose pounds because it forces the body to feed off of what it already has stored.  When you don’t eat, your body still has to burn calories for energy, so it draws on glucose and fatty acids from stored fat and eventually from protein tissue like muscle.  Bodies are perfectly content feeding off the fatty acids (and so are we!) but the brain and nerves depend on that glucose, and your body needs muscle tissue to survive, so you have to be careful.  As your body continues to feed off itself, general functions slow down - digestive organs, including the stomach, intestines, pancreas, gallbladder, and liver start to shut down.  If this goes on too long, it gets dangerous because these things can stop working all together, and the goal here is to lose fat, not our lives.


In order to lose that fat, we have to go through the process of letting our bodies feed on the fatty tissue.  Most fasts fail within the first forty-eight hours because this period is the hardest.  Most hunger pains ease or cease all together by the third day of fasting; this is because the digestive system starts to slow down.  So it is important to be strongest in those first few days.


But you can’t just go from consuming 1500+ calories a day, directly to nothing.  This is why most fasts fail so quickly, because we just jump into it, thinking cold turkey is the best way.  It’s definitely not.  If you go from eating normally, to not eating at all, it’s a scary jolt to your system, and your body responds with violent hunger pains that cause us to break the fast.  You have to work yourself down slowly, easing the calories down over a period of time.  That period can be a few weeks, or a few days, whichever is easier for you to handle. 


Once you get down to no calories a day, you have to plan so you make sure you aren’t setting yourself up for failure.  If you are going to be home and unoccupied for the next two or more days, don’t start a fast.  Being bored and having nothing to distract you is often the downfall of fasters.  Start at a time when you know you are going to be busy with work, or school, or anything to keep your mind busy and off of food.  Make sure you have at least two days of this, so you can get past those first strong hunger pains.  Also make sure you are stocked up on your favorite low-calorie drinks – diet soda, energy drinks, lemonade, crystal light, cool aid, hi-c, etc.  Be wary of sodas and other dehydrating drinks though, your body is improvising with its energy use and hydration is <i>very</i> important, especially if you are combining fasting and exercise.  Drinking water when you are hungry also helps drown hunger pains.  So make sure you always have water at hand. 


How long your fast lasts is up to you, but have a plan as to when you are going to break the fast.  Plan on going for so many days, and after that many days, plan for a meal.  This gives you a goal to reach for and puts you on a schedule.  Make sure the goal is reachable though – don’t say you are going to fast for a month if it is your first time fasting because you <i>will</i> fail!  Also, having a predetermined day or time for eating helps prevent you from failing too – if you just wait until you get so hungry you can’t stand it and eat something, you feel like a failure.  If you have a plan, you aren’t failing; you are simply following your plan to break the fast.


When breaking your fast you have to be careful of binging.  Eating too much upon breaking a fast can not only make you feel like a glutton, but also put back on those pounds as quick as you just lost them.  Again, planning is the key; plan a day at the end of your fast to eat one or more small meals.  It is important not to deprive yourself of the nutrients your body needs at this point.  See that whatever you chose to eat has some sugar in it, to replace the glucose your brain and nervous system needs, and throw in some protein so you don't lose that muscle.  So don't skimp on the sugar and nutrients, but watch the calories though, don’t go over 1000 or so calories for that day, you don’t want to overload your digestive system with too much.  Remember, it just got done slowing down and if you binge it will give your stomach too much to handle. 


So make a plan.  Set a realistic goal for yourself.  Keep yourself hydrated.  Know when you are ending your fast, and don’t eat too much.  Remember small balanced meals.  And make it something you like!  Treat yourself, you’ve earned it!



See the General Information page for more information on fasting.