You've probably heard a lot that you should eat every few hours and not eat when you're "starving" because that'll make you eat more than what you need. You've probably also heard that not eating for a few hours will make your body go on "starvation mode" and will slow down your metabolism. I used to believe all of that. But it didn't make sense to me, fasting made me feel good, it's challenging especially when you don't drink water either. I fast for religious and spiritual reasons and I think that's what makes it different. If you fast because you ate too much the previous day or just to lose weight; you're missing the whole point and that's not healthy, mentally and physically.
About those facts you keep reading on the internet. First of all, fasting does not equal starvation, fasting will make you hungry yes, which is good for your body every now and then to "reset" and give your digestive system a break. Starving means not eating for days, starving means you are extremely fatigued, delusional, and might die if you don't eat something soon. Know the difference, and as long as you can function properly, you're fine.
Fasting Does Not Equal Starvation
- It's been proved that fasting improves hunger. Personally and many people I know will tell you that by the end of Ramadan fasting becomes a lot easier and that their bodies are used to it. That is because fasting makes you experience what real hunger feels like, being hungry before lunch time might disappear after you try fasting a few times. I personally "feel" hungry a lot, but that is because I eat a lot through the day so my body is used to being filled with food, that is why I think that fasting is important for my body, especially because I lift heavy and that makes me feel hungry very often, leg day anyone?
- This one grabs most people's attention. Fasting can actually help you lose weight and speeds up your metabolism. Intermitted fasting is practiced by many athletes who are trying to get lean and lose body fat before an event or competition. It's important to remember that as long as you don't fill your body with junk/deep fried food when you break your fast. Doing that will make you feel discomfort and will harm your digestive system (basically undo what you just did) so it is recommended that you eat a light-moderate meal when you break your fasting, this is harder than it sound, especially when you first start fasting. Try having soup, 3 to 7 dates, and water when you break your fast. Soup is easy to digest and will fill you up and the dates will re-energize you.
- Improves how your other organs function, balance your hormones, and can clear up your skin! Because the body is not busy digesting food, it can spend more energy on your other organs and get rid of toxins in your body.
- In my religion one of the reasons we fast if because it makes us think of all the misfortunate humans around the world who can't find nourishment, fasting makes me thankful because even when I'm hungry, at least I know that at sunset I have a meal and clean water ready for me to consume. It also makes me appreciate every bite and every sip of water more and eat mindfully. You rarely see someone break their fasting in front of the tv!
Tips on Fasting:
- Break you fasting with 3,5, or 7 dates
- Drink a lot of water before you start fasting
- Prepare and plan your meal before you get too hungry
- Avoid fried and junk food when breaking your fasting
- Soup is great when breaking your fast as it is easy on the digestive system
- Go easy on caffeinated beverages as they dehydrate your body
- Eat a large nutritional meal right before you start your fast
- Go outside and be productive to distract yourself from the hunger
- Give your fast a purpose. Think of all the starving children and people around the world and how lucky you are for knowing that in a few hours you will have a meal ready just for you.
Fasting can vary from day to day, it makes me learn more about myself and what motivates me. Some days I get very lazy and just watch Netflix but then right before futoor I get very energized and start cooking and cleaning. I found that going outside for a walk or a foodless picnic is helpful. Hanging out with friends or talking on the phone are great too. I personally think that fasting is 75% mental. I remember one of the days I was fasting in the US and it was Ramadan. That day Kendrick Lamar and Schoolboy Q were coming to my city, and oh boy was I excited. I biked that day for about 30 minutes to my friend's house as fast as I could without even getting tired or hungry, I didn't even care about water. We walked to the concert and I sneaked in some dates in, and by the time it was time to break my fast, I didn't really feel like it, but I ate anyways.