Listen to “One Day Fasting and Why You Might Need It”.
Despite its recent surge in popularity, fasting is a practice that dates back centuries and plays a central role in many cultures and religions. Defined as abstinence from all or some foods or drinks for a set period, there are many different ways of fasting.
In the 5th century BC, Hippocrates, the father of Western medicine, recommended abstaining from food to aid the healing process. In Ayurvedic medicine, fasting once a week is thought to promote digestive clearance.
One day water fasts have become a popular way to maintain health and vigour. Fasting uses the self-healing properties of the human body. During a 24-hour or one-day water fast, health improves as the digestive system is allowed to rest, and the organs get ample time to repair and heal themselves. A one day water fast done once every week can result in tremendous health benefits:
- It promotes improved energy and vigour.
- It removes many mental blocks and gives clarity of mind.
- Water fast eliminates toxins from the body and can aid in preventing future illnesses.
- Fasting can improve immunity and has anti-ageing benefits.
- It gives an overall sense of well being.
- If done regularly, it can help with weight loss.
Fasting from dinner from one day to the next day amounts to a full 24-hour fast. For example, if you finish dinner at 7pm Monday and don’t eat until dinner at 7pm Tuesday, you’ve just done a full 24-hour fast.
Ask yourself what you wish to learn from one day of fasting experience, and use this purpose to set an intention for the day.
- Fast to detoxify your system. Refraining from food for a day can help your body filter out toxins, solid obstructions, and other contaminants that weigh you down.
- Fast as a spiritual practice. Perhaps you need to answer a problem, understand a situation, or develop an idea or insight.
- Fast to lose weight as a calorie restriction strategy. Fasting one day per week is not an excuse to eat unhealthy food on the other days.
How to prepare for a one day fast
1. Choose a stress-free day with relatively few activities planned. Do not consider any heavy work or excessive travel during that day. Light activities, like reading, slow yoga, working on your computer, walking in the woods, meditation, etc., are acceptable. Be sure to avoid stressful activities, like heavy exercises, going to the gym, lifting heavy weights, running long distances, etc. These consume a lot of calories and will make you unnecessarily hungry.
2. Eat well and nourish your body the day before you fast. Don’t overeat. Try to eat smaller portions than you usually would. If possible, eat primarily fruits and vegetables to balance your system. Foods that are rich in nutrients and full of water will help your body prepare for fasting. Avoid baked goods, especially those that contain a lot of salt and sugar. Avoid eating sugary, highly-processed foods the day before you fast. Processed foods may take longer to leave your system, making it more difficult to have a “clean” fast.
3. Stay hydrated if you are performing a water-only fast. Drink at least a half-litre of water every two hours. Water will fill your stomach, restore your energy, and dilute the stomach acids that make you feel hungry.
4. Break your fast at the time you’ve designated. Take it slow, and be very mindful of how much you eat. Halve your portions: you mustn’t eat as much as you would regularly eat at mealtimes. Your digestive system is in low-power mode, and it isn’t able to handle a massive burger right now. Instead, eat light foods like fruits, vegetables, and soup. Water and fruit juices are also important.
The potential downside of this method is that a full 24-hour fast may be fairly difficult for many people.
However, you don’t need to go all-in right away. Starting with 14-16 hours and then moving upward from there is also acceptable.
Fasting is not for everyone. It’s advisable to speak to your GP or healthcare professional before starting a new dietary regime, especially if you’re under 18 years old, elderly, have a pre-existing medical condition (including diabetes and high blood pressure) or are on medication.