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Everyone's Diet: A Survey Of Food Plans, 2, Fasting

Updated on September 25, 2015

The Last Supper

John, Would You Please Pass The Pepper?
John, Would You Please Pass The Pepper?

Is Hunger The Key To Health?

Fasting is a religious tradition, and has been since ancient times. Jesus went without food for 40 days and nights. He told Satan to get lost when he offered him bread. Most of us wouldn’t have that kind of will power. I know a piece of devil’s food would hit the spot for me a lot sooner than 40 days.

Starving for over a month might give one a chance to meet Jesus in person. I wouldn’t refuse such an honor, but I would like to put it off for a few years. The same goes for Buddha, Mohammed or any other religious great. It is my hope to avoid the Grim Reaper for as long as I can, provided my body isn’t racked with pain and exhaustion.

I hope I have a chance to chat with the great profits, deities and philosophers of ancient times when the Grim Reaper claims me. I’d also enjoy finding out why cats like to parade across my keyboard at the most inconvenient times, but maybe my roommate can enlighten me on that subject before I die.

Those who embrace fasting Swear by its benefits. According to them, the salutary effects of avoiding food for periods of time is that you are Giving your digestive tract a break. A rest from processing food not only prevents a number of diseases, it confers energy and clear thinking on its practitioners. It won’t help you win the lottery, but should make you feel almost as good as you would if you did.

There are several fasting protocols. Here, we will explore them, discuss the alleged benefits, and drawbacks of each. Finally, we will address the foods you should eat when you’re not fasting, according to some proponents of the practice. The usual suspects are supposed to be avoided, such as sugar, refined flours, and the like. Grains and legumes are also forbidden because, according to the “experts”, the gluton they contain are dangerous to all of us. So, put that slice of pizza down, and come with me on another exploration of food, and an interesting theory about what we should and shouldn’t put into our stomachs, and how often we should or shouldn't do it.

Ex Dieter's Prayer

My stomach is my guide. I shall eat no low calorie food. I shall gorge on Fritos and dip. I shall pray at the alter of 31 flavors. I shall feast on grease and salt. I shall honor all doughnuts with my mouth. Yea, though I waddle through the valley of Splenda, I will not eat fat free, for my appetite is with me. My Twinkies shall comfort me by clothing my body in blubber. Surely fat and contentment shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of Sarah Lee Forever.

This book is a good general review of fasting protocols

Before | Source
In between
In between

There's More Than One Way To Starve Yourself

When we sleep, we fast. Even the big hunk of chocolate cake you ate in your dreams doesn’t count. That’s only fair since it didn’t have much taste, either.

Theoretically, you will only feel the effects of being hungry during the day. That supposition can easily fly out the window if you wake up during the night and remember that there is a big bowl of mac and cheese calling to you from the fridge. Before you decide to throw the temptation down the garbage disposal, you should sit down and decide what fasting regiment, if any, you can tolerate. Hopefully, the four protocols discussed in this hub will help you reach a decision.

They are:

Intermittent fasting: 1 to 2 times a week, you would fast for a period of 24 to 36 hours. You may be hungry enough to eat your dog’s kibble at that point, but if you follow the rules, you should get used to not eating at your regular times, and become a better person for your efforts.

5:2: If you don’t think you can go 24 hours without food, you could choose 1 to two days a week to limit your calorie intake to 500 calories a day if you are a woman, and to 600 calories a day if you are a man. The idea is that light eating will help you stay the course, and although it will slow down reaping the benefits, it is better for you than a trip to McDonald’s.

Micro fasting: Basically, you don’t eat for 16 hours a day, and you do consume food for the other 8. Yes, your time asleep does count towards your 16 hours, provided you don’t really wake up long enough to scarf down the mac and cheese.

The Warrior Plan: Eat very lightly during the day, and pig out for one meal in the evening. No, you can’t have potato chips or cookies. However, you can eat all of the nutritious food you can hold, and then some.

All protocols refute the long held belief that breakfast, or any meal is important for one’s well-being. Whether you are fasting to lose weight, or for the many other touted health benefits, proponents believe that taking a break from eating is necessary because of our evolution. Since our ancestors could only eat when they were successful hunting and gathering, there were long periods of time when there was no food available, which gave their alimentary canals more time than they may have wished to recover from their last meal. So, fasting proponents maintain that cave dwellers avoided the pitfalls of modern agriculture, and did not suffer the scourges of cancer, diabetes or heart disease as we do today. They would live long, healthy lives if they could avoid being eaten by a saber tooth tiger or a hungry dinosaur.

Take This, Whole Foods!

Ginger Kitten Peeking Out Of Drawer

Please don't fast again. You know what happened last time!
Please don't fast again. You know what happened last time! | Source

The Intermittent or 24 Hour Fast

Intermittent fasting is, in this author’s opinion the hardest protocol. The idea is that you completely refrain from eating anything for a period of 24 to 36 hours once or twice a week. You can undertake this sacrifice on different days of the week, depending on your schedule. You won't have to avoid food when you are at a family reunion or friend’s birthday party. Instead of passing up the yummy taste treats on offer, just pick another day of the week to suffer.

The advantage to intermittent fasting is that you get the ordeal over with in one shot. Of course, the advantage to not fasting at all is that you avoid the ordeal altogether. However, if you do choose this method you’ll get used to the discomfort after a couple of weeks. You can also get used to hanging if you do it long enough, so unless you’re a masochist, you might want to use one of the other approaches if you decide to fast at all. If you are a lousy cook, 24 hours of avoiding food may have its appeal.

You can start your 24 hour period several ways. You can go from breakfast to breakfast, lunch to lunch or dinner to dinner. The advantage to the dinner choice is that you can go to sleep on a full tummy, and if you can hold out until the dinner hour the next day, you will have succeeded in serving your sentence, I mean, completing a fasting interval. You will have given your digestive system a complete rest, and possibly given your boss a piece of your mind. One of these is good for your body, the other may have temporary benefits to your psyche. However, pointing out a superior’s flaws is known to be deleterious to your future employment prospects. Your call. But if you ever want to buy health food, or even a Twinkie again, you’d better keep your job.

What is the longest time you've gone without eating?

See results

This Is The Hardest Fast Protocol

Black Cat Sitting Peacefully On Wood Floor

Hey, man, no sweat. I have it all under control this time!
Hey, man, no sweat. I have it all under control this time!

The 5:2 Fast

The 5:2 fast may be less tortuous to some. Instead of completely avoiding food for 24-36 hours, women are allowed to consume 500 calories a day for one or 2 days a week. Men get to pig out with 600 calories on those days. The allotment can be divided between 2 meals.

The advantage to this protocol is that you can eat during the fast period. The disadvantage is that you will experience blood sugar spikes because you are giving your alimentary canal some work to do, even if it isn’t much. The spikes won’t be that bad as long as you stick to the foods that are recommended. However, it will take your body a little longer to reap the benefits that fasting is supposed to provide.

Food order is also important in any fasting regime. You should eat your protein first, vegetables next, and finally, if you’re desperate for food, and still not satisfied, you can eat a little carbohydrate. Potatoes are out, as are pasta, rice or any other grain based food. Starchy vegetables, such as peas and legumes are also prohibited. However, you can eat as many stalks of celery and as many carrot sticks as you like. You can also supplement your larder with herbal teas, plenty of water, and all the fresh air your body can suck down. For an occasional treat, you can indulge in a sweet potato or yam.

Generally, the proponents of fasting suggest that you revert to the paleo diet when you are allowed to eat. This means you can have high protein foods, such as lean meat, eggs and some dairy. You can also have non starchy vegetables such as spinach, kale, cabbage and the like. You are cautioned to eat slowly, and enjoy each morsel. You are also warned against making up for the fast by consuming junk food when you are allowed to eat.

If bad Jokes Make You Sick, Just Be Glad You're On A Fast

Q: Name the four seasons.

A: Salt, pepper, mustard and vinegar.

Next week we'll be investigating rumours that the president of the dairy council has become a Mason, and goes around giving his colleagues the secret milkshake.

Ginger Kitten Peeking Out Of Drawer

I just KNEW this was going to happen!
I just KNEW this was going to happen! | Source

The Micro Fast

The micro fast is another accepted protocol to consider. With this approach, you have a period of 16 hours without food. Then, you are permitted to eat for 8 hours. You can time your fasting and eating periods in a way that is best for your schedule. You can, for instance, eat from 2:00 p.m. to 10:00 at night. In this way, you probably won’t be hungry when you are trying to sleep.

The draw back to this plan for us caffeine addicts is that you are not permitted to have cream or sugar in your morning cup of java. You can drink herbal tea until your bladder busts. You can guzzle all the water you can hold, according to the gurus.

If you have a job, your co-workers won’t find unexplained frequent trips to the ladies’ or gentlemen’s’ room very edifying when you should be plugging away at your computer. But, that's not your problem, is it? "Make way! I gotta' go!"

You should not drink diet pop, or anything else that involves artificial sweetener. You shouldn’t overdo the caffeine either. 1 or 2 cups of black coffee is the limit. The rest of the time, you are restricted to tea and water. If that makes you too cranky, it might get you restricted from the break room as well.

16 hours seems to be the sweet spot for fasting. It has been proven that going longer than that doesn’t confer much in the way of additional health benefits. After 16 hours, any gain from not eating is minor, at best. Knowing this, there doesn’t seem to be a logical reason to deprive yourself for 24 to 36 hours. But, that is only one woman’s opinion. The law of diminishing returns becomes relevant to me whenever it helps me avoid discomfort, but maybe some folks enjoy suffering for its own sake.

Once again, you are not home free when the 16 hours is up. You can’t eat anything that is not permitted on the Paleo Diet. So, you can eat half a cow, but can’t order a baked potato to go with it.

Let's Change Our Food Preferences Together!

You Can Sleep Through Most Of This One

Roaring Panther

I want food and I WANT IT NOW!!!
I want food and I WANT IT NOW!!!

The Warrior Or Samurai Fast

The fourth protocol is the “warrior” or “samurai “fast. Again, we must turn to our ancient ancestors to uncover the inspiration for this theory.

The idea is that warriors and their ilk had to be light on their feet during the day so that they had the energy to kill each other with clear minds. The modern version of this theory is that this style of fasting helps its proponents to use their valuable time accomplishing useful tasks, rather than spend the day digesting breakfast and lunch. Herbal teas and water are permitted. A nibble of jerky or a tasty hardboiled egg might be ingested without guilt or recrimination. Broth, too, can be guzzled to fill up the void.

The reward comes at the end of the day when the warrior can sit by the fire with family and make a pig of himself. Of course, he is still restricted as to what he can munch. He can eat a whole wooly mammoth if he needs that much protein to be satisfied. This makes sense. After all, if he took the time and trouble to hunt and butcher this enormous beast, he probably would be hungry enough to eat most, if not all of it.

He can eat a platter of crudité, as long as he doesn’t supplement his healthful fare with cream based dip. He can drink water, and good old herbal tea. What kind of herbal tea would have been available to our ancestors is up for debate. However, maybe an archeologist will turn up an ancient and previously overlooked Starbucks on a future expedition. We needn’t worry about the cream dip, since he wouldn’t have been allowed to have it anyway. I wonder what mammoth cream was like.

The caveman’s modern counterpart would have to substitute a lean steak or hunk of fish or chicken for the mammoth. However, he can take comfort in the fact that he won’t have to catch and butcher his dinner before he could enjoy it.

The interesting thing about the warrior approach is that its proponents are supposed to overeat during the one daily meal they are allowed to have. The other fasting protocols command their adherents to eat until they are satisfied and not stuffed. The warrior faster, however can eat whatever he wants as long as it isn’t grain, legumes or processed. So, don’t bother to save those doughnuts for later. You still won’t be allowed to eat them.

The National Institute Of Health Says Fasting Is Great For Health And Disease Management

apple and tomato

Where's The Beef?
Where's The Beef? | Source


The fasting life style isn’t for everybody. Some diseases, such as diabetes and certain eating disorders may make fasting too dangerous. Women who are pregnant should not undertake any diet program, or exercise regime without consulting their doctors. Children under 18 should eat regular meals. It simply isn’t healthy for their young bodies to be deprived of nutrition for extended periods.

Any of the fasting protocols described here is a drastic life style change. Not only does success require you to keep from eating at times, the things you can eat are limited. Certain foods, including grains, sugar and legumes are prohibited, whether they are whole or processed. You can only drink the Fruit juices you make yourself. Canned meats are off limits for the most part. Other processed meats are strictly limited.

There are many other diet proponents who are just as sure that theirs is the key to health and longevity. Some would swear that certain herbs, supplements and / or vitamins are the answer to vitality and happiness. Others would stridently insist that all those things will give you is expensive urine.

In the end, you and your health provider will have to decide what is your best approach to healthy eating and exercise. No diet is for everyone, and we all have many choices when it comes to the food we eat. In my next hub, we’ll explore the paleo diet.

We May Be Fat, But It's Not Because We Don't Think About Weight


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