Fasting is a practice that predates biblical times and the relevancy of fasting has been debated for many years. When considering whether fasting is right for you, you must first understand your own body and know what you can handle.
Fasting is a deprivation of the body from food for a set period of time. The purposes of fasting have been diverse. Some have fasted for spiritual purposes, to deny the body and set aside that time to focus spiritually. Some have fasted for therapeutic purposes, to cleanse the body of toxins and poisons that have built up over the years. Still, others have fasted simply to lose weight and look better in their clothing.
Fasting has many affects on the body. When you go without food for one day, you may experience hunger pains that are, at the least, annoying. When you fast for 2-3 days the hunger pains may become more intense. You might have a headache and feel weakness or become light-headed during this time because your body is reacting to the lack of food, caffeine and nutrients. In an extended fast, 4-40 days, the body becomes accustomed to what is happening and goes through a process of cleansing and detoxification. Some symptoms of this are a coating of the tongue and bad breath as the body is getting rid of things that have built up from years of bad eating habits. But eventually, during this period, you start to feel better and stronger and believe you could possibly fast forever.
There are different types of fasting in which people participate. The "Complete Fast" is when you ingest nothing. No food, water or liquids of any kind are permitted in the complete fast. It is not recommended that anyone do a complete fast for more than three days because water is essential to life and going without it for more than three days could prove fatal. The "Regular Fast" allows you no food and only water to drink. This fast can be an extended fast for up to 40 days. The "Juice Fast" permits you to drink water or juices or juiced vegetables, but no hard foods. There is also what is called a "Daniel Fast" (taken from the book of Daniel in The Holy Bible), which allows you to eat only raw fruits and vegetables and drink only water.
Logically, fasting, as a diet program, seems like it would be a great idea but is not a viable option for two reasons. First, when an individual begins to fast and is depriving themselves of food, while they may lose some weight during the process, once the fast is broken, they will likely regain the lost weight quickly because they have not restructured eating habits to facilitate maintaining the weight loss. Many times people will gain back more weight than they have lost. Second, when depriving the body of food, it slows down the metabolism, which will inhibit the body from being able to burn and breakdown those stored fats. Unless a person adheres to an extended fast, four days or more, they will not see dramatic weight loss.
The benefits of fasting are varied. If you are fasting for spiritual reasons, through praying or meditating during the time you would normally eat, you are able to achieve balance spiritually, mentally and emotionally. Fasting for physical reasons can also be very beneficial. Fasting, again, cleanses our bodies of toxins and poisons that have compiled from years of eating unhealthy. When those are purged from your body you are more relaxed, focused and healthy.