MB #039: Fasting, Immune Health & Spiritual FormationNov 12, 2023
Read Time: ~3 Minutes
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Today's Topic: 24-to-72-Hour Fasts - A Pathway to Wholeness
As Christian fathers pursuing a life of health as we engage in the mission of God, it's essential to explore fitness practices that align with our faith to also deliver profound benefits for our connection with God and spiritual formation. Fasting, when approached with intention, is one such practice.
1. Physical Benefits: The Body's Restoration
Embarking specifically on a 24 to 72-hour fasting protocol initiates a cascade of physiological changes that contribute to overall health. During a fast, the body shifts from using glucose as its primary energy source to burning stored fat. This metabolic transition not only aids in weight loss but also triggers autophagy – the cellular clean-up process that removes damaged components, promoting cellular rejuvenation.
In a 2014 study, fasting was found to essentially "reset" the immune system and provide a ton of benefits to white blood cells and immune function.
Fasting has also been linked to improved insulin sensitivity, reduced inflammation, and enhanced cardiovascular health. In addition to immune system reset, it also serves as a reset button for the digestive system, offering relief from digestive issues and promoting a healthier gut microbiome.
2. Mental Clarity: Sharpening the Mind
As Christian fathers juggling numerous responsibilities, mental clarity is invaluable. When the body is in a state of fasting, ketones are produced, which serve as a clean and efficient energy source for the mind, which enhances cognitive function and mental focus. Whenever I'm fasted I always feel like I'm 5x more focused and clear-minded.
You can use this mental clarity to deepen your prayer life and reflection time, to crush hours of focused work, or to stay laser-focused during your next presentation, speech, or sermon. Fasting can allow your mind to effectively drown out the noise of everyday life for improved deep thinking.
3. Spiritual Connection: Drawing Closer to God
Beyond its physical benefits, fasting is a powerful tool for spiritual formation. In the Christian tradition, fasting is often connected to prayer, repentance, and seeking God's guidance.
As you abstain from food, use some of this time for silence and solitude with the Lord. I have found fasting provides a unique opportunity to draw closer to God as you have this strange, heightened awareness of His presence. It seems to allow you to silence the world's distractions and better attune your heart to the whispers of the Spirit.
Many people have said that if you fast with the intent to gain physical benefits from it, it makes the practice selfish instead of spiritual. I don't believe this to be true. God knew what he was doing when he created the body in a way so as to experience these physical benefits while fasting. Then he commanded us to do so. I do believe there are times you should fast simply in response to the promptings of the Spirit, or specific circumstances that require you to get yourself out of the way and let God take the lead.
That said, the reality of occasional fasting for spiritual practice doesn't mean you shouldn't also make fasting a regular rhythm with the goal of experiencing both the physical and spiritual outcomes.
Recap + Practical Tips for a Successful Fast:
Start Small: If you're new to fasting, consider beginning with shorter durations and gradually extending them as you become more accustomed.
Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water during your fast to stay hydrated and support the body's detoxification process. Use electrolytes like LMNT or other like-products free of sugar and calories.
Enjoy your Coffee Black: Coffee is actually super beneficial for a fast and can boost fat loss and autophagy, and help curb your appetite, but taking in more than 3-5 calories (the amount in black coffee), especially from a protein source, will reduce or halt autophagy. If cellular regeneration/detox, and cleanup are your goal, keep this in mind. If fat loss is your only goal, don't sweat it if you want some half-and-half, or heavy cream, just skip the sweeteners.
Pray and Reflect: Use the quiet moments of your fast for intentional prayer, silence, and reflection on God's word.
Break the Fast Mindfully: When breaking your fast, choose nourishing, whole foods to reintroduce nutrients to your body gently. This is not a time to curb your ravaging hunger with In-N-Out, sorry.
Remember, fasting is a personal journey, and it's crucial to listen to your body and if needed consult with a healthcare professional, especially if you have any underlying health conditions. And, for those wives in here, or who had this forwarded to them from their husbands, fasting is generally a no-go while pregnant or breastfeeding.
As you incorporate fasting into your holistic approach to fitness and spiritual formation, you will find renewed energy & health, mental clarity, and a deepened connection with God. Until next week, stay strong, stay faithful, and stay committed to your family mission.
PS: When you're ready, here's how I can help...
Are you a Christian father who wants to get healthy, strong, and lean, and improve your family life and relationship with God in tandem? Want to get a jump on the new year and start your Apply for private one-on-one coaching here. My schedule is currently slammed and I have one more slot before I'm maxed out and won't be accepting any new clients until one is completed with his coaching (which could be 6-12 months)