Fasting: A new rage or an age old tradition?


Fasting : My observations.


You must have seen the fasting trend. Everyone is posting something online about how they have achieved all the health and body of their dreams by the miracle of fasting. There are so many choices, 16:8, 12:12, days of fasting, weeks of fasting, or water fasting. It seems that everyone is doing some form of fasting. When do you know it’s time for you to fast? Is it safe? How do I deal with hunger? What about migraine headaches or feelings of weakness? Shall I skip breakfast or dinner? So many questions and so many opinions.

I am going to make it easy for you to decide.

Fasting has been an integral part of almost all cultures. There are religious days or prayer days where the followers and devotees fast. Some do as a penance; some do as a matter of cleansing.

In the not-too-distant past, fasting occasionally would be involuntary due to famines, failure of crops, dry seasons, and locust infestations, and our bodies had evolved over thousands of years to deal with this. Now, we are in an eternal season of growth. We eat more than we need daily and the concept of not eating for a few hours seems so foreign. Have you seen the soccer parents at a local meet? They come armed with packets of juice, fish shaped snacks, cookies, and cupcakes lest their loved one wither away after a few hours of not eating and all the parents have parked their ample behinds on a foldable chair.

I often do colonoscopies and it’s an interesting conversation with my parents before we get them into the endoscopy lab. Some of them have not known hunger and experience that for the first time when they have not eaten overnight.

Whatever fasting modality you choose, you should be clear what’s the purpose of this fasting, how many hours per day you will fast, and also how long. How are you going to mitigate hunger that can come visiting unannounced and be very uncomfortable? How are you going to exercise your fasting muscles?

Purpose of fasting:

  1. Fat loss ( I do not say weight loss, who wants to lose muscle or bones or a vital organ?)
  2. Religious reasons
  3. Longevity

Length of fasting:

  1. Circadian
  2. 16:8
  3. 18:6
  4. 20:4
  5. Alternate day
  6. Prolonged fast


I fast from time to time but as a normal human, I experience hunger pangs, and weakness of spirit almost to the point of breaking my fast as food is so readily available.

As we progress through this series on fasting, I will start a 5 day fast and write down my experience, and thoughts and discuss the science behind fasting.