Thursday, March 3

Strength from Fasting

So I broke my blog & food fast a few days early. You know how whenever you start to fast people start to offer you all sorts of amazing food that they never would have otherwise? Life is so ironic... For the first day I was fine, but when a friend wanted to take me to lunch, and I hadn't seen them in years, I decided that God had accepted my fast and broke it after a day and a half instead of three.

When I was little I wondered if it would be possible to fast for 40 days and 40 nights, like Moses did after the angel gave him food to eat, or like Christ in the wilderness. I couldn't imagine going without food and water for more than one day, let alone 40. They must have been superhuman or something.

I still wonder if I could go 40 days without food. Without water I'd probably die unless I lived in a really, really humid environment, ate tons of salt beforehand to drastically increase water retention, and somehow absorbed enough moisture to stay alive. But going without food would be interesting.

Fasting actually changes how the body processes food and nutrients. At the beginning of a fast, the muscles use up their stores of glycogen and ATP, reserving glucose for the brain and its functions. As time progresses and there's still no more food coming in, each organ and muscle group slowly begins the transition from burning only glucose to burning ketones - essentially shards of fatty acids that have been converted to a more usable form by the liver. The brain is usually the last holdout, but it, too, begins using ketones for energy, also eating any glucose that is left, anywhere.

At the beginning of a prolonged fast, while the body is changing its source of energy, it's pretty common to feel tired. I remember feeling it on my mission - we'd be biking and I would feel much more exhausted than usual (especially when appointments were ten miles away, partially uphill) on Fast Sundays and the evening before. My brain usually went on strike as well. But as time goes on, and each muscle group switches its energy source, the exhaustion and intense hunger lessens, and the body regains its ability to function properly - even without food from the outside... and my brain turns on and functions differently than before.

I think there's a spiritual metaphor there, but I'll let you find it this time. I'm not condoning prolonged fasts for the general population or anyone else. This blog is obviously not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, medicate, or whatever any medical condition. But I've found that the clarity of thought and strength of will that comes from fasting for a few days (instead of just one) is well worth the extra growling in my stomach. It gives me an opportunity to constantly remember God throughout the days, and gives me extra time to pray, read my scriptures, and dedicate my life to Him.


  1. Just a question.

    When I post as anonymous, can you see my blog? My posts are just... visualizations of gospel principles... If you can't, I could email it to you so you could read them. I'm really interested in hearing your opinion on them if you don't mind?

  2. Anonymous:

    I'd be happy to help. If you want to be anonymous and have your blog show up in a comment, then choose the "Name/URL" posting option, write your name as Anonymous, and put in your blog address. Though if your blog isn't truly anonymous, that won't work very well.

  3. Dr Fuhrman's "Fasting and Eating for Health" is a family favorite. Read it, if you haven't yet. (I really think you would love his "Eat to Live" and his "Eat for Health" books as well.) I fully support extended (and carefully planned) fasts. Both spiritually and physically.

    Love your blog! :)

  4. Thanks for the post. It was interesting to read about the processes the body goes through while fasting.

    I used to make a habit of fasting for about 3 days, without food or drink - and the results were AMAZING! I would become so incredibly in tune with the Holy Ghost, strengthen and regain strength, and have clarity of mind to see clearly the answers I needed to the questions I was praying to have answered. Maybe I should do it again. But don't worry, I know, you're not suggesting it, and I won't blame you if I faint. ;)


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