Intermittent fasting has become an increasingly popular way for Christians to seek God and improve their health. By scheduling periods of fasting and eating, followers of Jesus can reap both physical and spiritual benefits.

Video by DLM Christian Lifestyle

In this guide, we’ll explore how intermittent fasting works, highlight health advantages, provide tips for getting started, and examine what Scripture teaches about fasting.

Key Takeaways

  • Intermittent fasting involves cycling between periods of fasting and normal eating. Common approaches are 16:8 and 5:2.
  • Potential health benefits include weight loss, reduced inflammation, better blood sugar control, and improved heart health.
  • Start slowly with 12-14 hour fasts and build up. Black coffee, tea, and water help curb hunger.
  • Fasting allows us to devote special time to prayer and growing closer to God. Jesus expected his followers to fast.
  • If done correctly, intermittent fasting is safe and highly effective for most people. Listen to your body.

What is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting has surged in popularity over the last few years, and for good reason. By temporarily going without food or limiting calories, intermittent fasting may deliver impressive spiritual and health benefits.

Rather than being a restrictive diet, intermittent fasting provides a simple framework for when to eat and when not to eat. The most common approaches are:

  • 16:8 method – Fast for 16 hours per day, and eat during the other 8 hours.
  • 5:2 diet – Eat normally 5 days a week, limit calories to 500-600 for 2 days.
  • Alternate day fasting – Alternate between eating days and fasting days.

During the fasting period, you can drink water, black coffee, tea, and sometimes bone broth or supplements. The key is limiting calories to achieve a metabolic fasting state. This gives your body a break from digestion and spikes fat-burning hormones.

Once you get past the initial hunger pangs, intermittent fasting schedules are relatively easy to follow. You still get to eat normal meals, just condensed into a smaller window. Now let’s explore some of the ways intermittent fasting may benefit your physical and spiritual health.

5 Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

5 Health Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting

1. Weight Loss

One of the most obvious perks of fasting is losing extra body fat. By limiting calories during the fasting period, you create a calorie deficit that prompts your body to burn stored body fat for energy. This results in steady weight loss over time without having to rigorously count calories or restrict certain foods.

Several studies show intermittent fasting causes similar or greater weight loss compared to traditional low-calorie diets (1). Fat loss occurs while holding onto lean muscle mass.

2. Reduced Inflammation

Chronic inflammation contributes to many modern illnesses like heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and autoimmune disorders. Some research indicates intermittent fasting helps reduce inflammation in the body (2).

Potential reasons include lower insulin levels, improved antioxidant status, changes in inflammatory gene expression, and weight loss. Lower inflammation provides broad health and disease-fighting benefits.

3. Better Blood Sugar Control

Going for longer stretches without eating gives your pancreas a break from pumping out insulin. Studies demonstrate intermittent fasting helps improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar regulation, especially for those with metabolic conditions like prediabetes or diabetes (3).

This makes intuitive sense since spikes in blood sugar and insulin are minimized when you refrain from frequent snacking and caloric beverages. Stable blood sugar provides more consistent energy levels as well.

4. Heart Health Improvements

Heart disease remains the number one cause of death worldwide. Lifestyle factors like diet play a major role in heart health. Research suggests intermittent fasting benefits numerous cardiovascular risk factors including blood lipids, blood pressure, and markers of oxidative stress and inflammation (4).

By reducing risk factors, fasting may help prevent atherosclerosis, heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular problems. Talk to your doctor about specific heart benefits you may experience.

5. Anti-Aging Effects

Restricting calories and protein intake for periods of time triggers a cellular process called autophagy. This is essentially cellular “housekeeping” where old, damaged cell components are recycled and replaced with newly generated parts (5).

Autophagy reduces oxidative stress and helps delay aging. Intermittent fasting boosts autophagy, which may explain why this approach appears to extend lifespan in animal studies. More research is underway exploring anti-aging benefits.

Along with physical advantages, fasting offers important spiritual benefits as well. Now let’s explore the biblical foundation for fasting.

A Biblical Perspective on Fasting

Biblical fasting has roots in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Scripture gives us insight into the power and purpose of setting aside periods solely to seek God.

1. Fasting in the Old Testament

In the Old Testament, fasting was often done collectively by groups of people, especially in times of danger or repentance:

  • When threatened with an invasion, King Jehoshaphat called all of Judah to join in fasting and prayer to God for help and deliverance (2 Chronicles 20:3).
  • After learning Israel’s exile would last 70 years, Daniel engaged in fasting and deep prayer on behalf of his people (Daniel 9:3).
  • Ezra led a fast when asking God for protection during an upcoming journey (Ezra 8:21).

These passages demonstrate fasting’s importance when crying out to the Lord or seeking his wisdom and intervention. It reflects humility, repentance, and utter reliance on God.

2. Jesus Expected His Followers to Fast

In the Gospels, Jesus spoke about fasting as a normal spiritual practice. In Matthew 6:16-18 (NIV) he provides guidelines for how to fast properly:

16 When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

Based on this teaching, Jesus expected fasting to be part of a believer’s spiritual life. However, he emphasized that fasting should be done with the right heart and motives.

Fasting in the Early Church

The disciples and early church maintained fasting as part of their spiritual practices.

  • Paul and Barnabas appointed elders and prayed with fasting before commissioning them for ministry work (Acts 14:23).
  • The church fasted and prayed over sending Paul and Barnabas off on their first missionary journey (Acts 13:3).
  • Paul fasted often, including going without food for days while in prison (2 Corinthians 11:27).

6 Spiritual Benefits of Fasting

Biblically, fasting serves to:

  1. Humble oneself and purify motives (Psalm 69:10).
  2. Repent from sin and return to God (Joel 2:12).
  3. Seek God’s wisdom and will for decisions (Acts 14:23).
  4. Intercede for others and spiritual breakthroughs (Ezra 8:23).
  5. Overcome temptation, addiction, and spiritual opposition (Mark 9:29).
  6. Express love and worship to God (Luke 2:37)

Overall, fasting brings us to a place of increased spiritual focus and connection with God. It clears away distractions and deepens our prayer life.

Getting Started with Intermittent Fasting

Now that you understand the potential physical and spiritual benefits of intermittent fasting, let’s explore some practical tips for getting started:

  • Start slowly: Your body needs time to adjust to fasting. Start with 12-14 hours and work your way up to longer fasts.
  • Pay attention to hunger signals: Mild hunger during fasting is normal. But if you feel very fatigued, shaky, or unwell, it’s time to break your fast. Listen to your body.
  • Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of nonsugary fluids like water, herbal tea, black coffee, and bone broth. Proper hydration makes fasting much easier.
  • Get enough sleep: Being well rested prevents unwanted side effects like headaches or nausea while fasting. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night.
  • Exercise strategically: Light activity is usually fine during shorter fasts. For longer fasts, schedule vigorous exercise after you break your fast when food can help fuel your workout.
  • Break fasts gently: When it’s time to eat again, break your fast with gentle foods like bone broth, vegetables, nuts, eggs, or non-starchy carbs. Avoid heavy greasy meals.
  • Listen to your body: If you feel bad while fasting, it’s perfectly okay to eat something earlier than planned. You can always try again the next day. Don’t force it.

The key is finding an intermittent fasting approach that fits your lifestyle and goals. Experiment to see what routine you can stick with long term. Just remember to keep your focus on Jesus throughout the process!

Frequently Asked Questions

To wrap up this guide, let’s review some common questions about intermittent fasting:

Q. Should I take supplements while fasting?

A. Avoid supplements in soft gels or oils, which can break your fast. Most capsules and powders are fine. Take supplements with meals when possible.

Q. What if I feel weak or get a headache when fasting?

A. This is usually a sign you need more hydration and electrolytes. Try adding a pinch of Himalayan pink salt and lemon to your water. If symptoms persist, eat something.

Q. Is intermittent fasting safe for women?

A. Yes, but some women report irregular periods or more intense hunger signals while fasting. Start with shorter fasts and increase slowly while monitoring any side effects.

Q. Can I exercise while fasting?

A. Light activity is fine. But intense exercise may be better performed after breaking your fast when you have fuel available. Listen to your body during workouts.

Q. What if I have a medical condition?

A. Talk to your healthcare provider before fasting, especially if you have diabetes, low blood pressure, take medications, or are underweight. Fasting is not for everyone.

The most important thing is listening to the Holy Spirit’s leading as you explore intermittent fasting. Find an approach that enhances your walk with Christ and your biblical fasting practices. Stay connected and keep your eyes fixed on eternity. God bless you!



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