Earlier this week, I did a 24-hour fast.

Actually, it turned out to be about 43 hours.

I’ve been thinking for a while now about fasting once a week for various reasons, two of which are weight control and also health and just plain ol’ self-discipline.

Every time you get a little hungry, that doesn’t mean you have to eat!

I’ve done 24-hour fasting in the past, and I’ve also done something called intermittent fasting. One time, I did a three-day fast. That was pretty interesting.

Anyway, I had lunch a month or so ago with a friend who told me about his fasting once a week. He is a very spiritual guy and he does it mostly for spiritual reasons, and also for health reasons.

When you fast — don’t eat any solid food whatsoever — your body says, OK, cool, since I don’t have to worry about the hard work of digestion, let’s see what we can do to clean things up a little bit. And it starts flushing out built-up toxins from places like the liver and the kidneys. When it needs some energy, it goes and grabs some of that stored fat and burns it for fuel. Fasting helps the body reduce inflammation and balance insulin levels, and also reduces cortisol, the stress hormone.

Lotta good stuff going on there.

So this week, I started fasting at 7 o’clock Monday night because I had a medical procedure on Wednesday that required no solid food for at least 24 hours. Went all day Tuesday, and my appointment was at 10:15 Wednesday morning.

I got a little hungry a few times, and wasn’t exactly a happy camper, but I did it. I drank water, apple juice, and chicken bone broth at various time during all this, and when my exam was over, I ate lunch about 2 o’clock Wednesday.

Along with a good report from the doctor, here is what happened:

This morning, I weighed a couple pounds less than I did Monday morning. And somewhat surprisingly, the inflammation in my left knee that is pretty much always there (I was diagnosed a couple years ago with mild osteoarthritis) seems to be gone now. That alone makes a day of hunger worth it to me!

Doing a 24-hour fast is not the easiest thing in the world, but it’s plenty doable. Consider maybe starting out with a more modest goal (12-hour fast) and work your way up.

Intermittent fasting is when you eat part of the day and fast part of the day. For instance, there’s a 16:8 intermittent fast. You fast for 16 out of 24 hours.

Here’s how that works:

Let’s say you finish dinner at 6 o’clock on a Monday. Now, you don’t eat for the next 16 hours. That takes you to 10 o’clock the next morning. Basically, all you have to do is not snack the night before after dinner, and skip or postpone breakfast until 10 a.m. You can eat from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., then you start fasting again.

Not too bad, right?

Whatever you decide to do, always remember to drink plenty of fluids. Don’t give in and eat solid food — those hunger pangs will subside; they always do — but drink plenty of water. DO NOT let yourself get dehydrated. Sip on fruit juices. Drink some bone broth or bouillon.

If you have something like diabetes, fasting might not be an option, so talk to your doctor first. If you are pregnant or have an eating disorder, same thing. Talk to the doc first. It might even be a good idea to have your blood tested first to make sure fasting is safe for you.

After your fast is over, something to keep in mind is to not start stuffing your face with food to catch up. That’s not the idea!

Start back with small amounts of food, and this is a great time to clean things up a little. Now that your body has had a chance to clean itself up some, you can help out by eating a little healthier. Don’t get too crazy with it, though. Ease back into eating the first day and let your body re-adjust.

So there you go: fasting. It does a body good …

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