Many people ask me about Fasting and whether I believe in it. You must know by now that I love most food experiments and fasting is no different. This week sees the start of Ramadan and I will do the first week of it. This will be my fourth time I have done it and despite not being religious I still find it a great experience.

I have done many fasts over the years including a Zero Calorie 5 Day fast but for me Ramadan is still the most powerful of them all. A few factors go into this,

-Ramadan is long in the northern hemisphere, currently around 18 hours+

-It runs right through the middle of the day

-Nothing goes in your mouth during the fasting hours, no food, no drink, no water.

-You still have to / can eat normally

There is something powerful about not putting your hand near you mouth for any reason for 18 hours a day. I noticed the hand mouth connection many years ago when I stopped drinking. I was out watching a welsh rugby match and drunk around eight pints of water…. this was the same amount of beer I would usually drink on a afternoon watching the game.

I found it strange I drunk the same amount of water as beer and it occurred to me what if my brain had been trained to do this, e.g. put my hand to my mouth once every ten minutes with a glass in it. I vowed for the next match to not drink anything to break this connection and it worked.

I found Ramadan did the same for me and just doing the first 5-7 days each year made me tougher mentally. I didn’t do it the last two years so this will be fun. I will ensure I cap my food intake at an amount for fat loss as I continue to lean out in preparation for possible fitness model shows this year.

Another great element of Ramadan is it runs right through the middle of the day. Many people do intermittent fasting (IF) regularly which is 16 hours of no eating. In classic IF eating is allowed from midday to 8pm at night. So you basically miss breakfast and don’t eat that late at night. This means you can still basically fit into normal life. With Ramadan there is no eating while we have sunlight which means no food form 4 am until 9-10pm ish. That means you have to sit through most of the typical meal times and not eat. This is amazing for mental connection reprogramming.

Video below of me on The Islam TV Channel – My fasting always has had good PR from the media probably because they are wondering why I am joining in.

As for fasting in general, I think it is fairly conclusive now that there are physiological benefits to doing it for the body. While the science has caught up religions have been using it for years, from Ramadan to Jesus and his 40 day fast in the desert. There is definitely a spiritual feeling that comes along side not eating. In terms of safety the vast majority of people can also do it but always check with your doctor if have health issues. Also be sure to use common sense while doing any fast, if the body is telling you to quit then err on the side of caution.

The key to the health benefits of a fast is that no food (including food in liquid form e.g. juices) should be going in the body during your fasting hours. This may mean nothing for 16 hours as in intermittent fasting or nothing for 1-5 days +if doing a strict fast. Juices fasts are a slightly different form and again has some merits to them but the main benefits come from not eating or consuming foods.

How to start fasting is a question I get, the simple answer is just to start slowly and gradually. I remember being hungry after going just a few hours of no food. Over time the body adapts and you get better without eating. This could be as simple as not having anything between breakfast and lunch. Then when this is easy try a longer gap and so so forth to build it up. Over time you will adapt. ​​​​​​​If you are the more extreme approach then just pick one a fast that takes your fancy and grind your way through it.

So far I have spoken only of benefits to fasting but there are negatives of course. Fasting promotes larger portions in general and can facilitate binge type eating, especially if suffer from strong hunger. Extreme fasts have the tendency to divide the personality also. I have spoken many times about how there is a motivated you and demotivated you. For long term change we need to really work on the demotivated you (this persona will always be with you). The more extreme challenges hide away your demotivated persona which means a big influence on your long term changes has not been addressed.

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