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Tips for fasting

written by: jamesj • edited by: Cheryl Gabbert • updated: 7/2/2010

Fasting has many benefits, but it is also mysterious and may seem difficult. The key to a successful fast is to have a strategy, and to understand how your body is working while you are fasting. Here are some great tips for fasting to help you get started.

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    Getting Ready for Fasting

    Preparation is the key to having a good fast, as well as understanding how your body works when it is running on empty.

    Fasting is practiced by many religions to gain spiritual focus and clarity, and there are many physical benefits as well. Fasting cleanses the body and the mind. It is like hitting the reset button on your body's internal computer.

    Here are a few tips for fasting to keep in mind when getting ready to fast.

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    Be Realistic

    You have to grow into fasting, so don't start out with a multi-day fast. Be realistic in what you can do. Start out with skipping one meal. Your first fast should be no longer than one day. You may not succeed the first try, so give yourself permission to fail and try again another day.

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    Prepare your Body

    The day before your fast, eat wholesome foods, plenty of pasta and carbohydrates. Don't overeat but eat all you need so that you feel good going into the fast.

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    To get the best cleansing effect, drink a lot of liquids during your fast. Whether you have decided to go with water or juice, have plenty available and drink as much as you want. This will also help with hunger pains, in addition to aiding in the cleansing of your system.

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    After going several hours without food, you may feel a bit light headed or even dizzy. Normally these symptoms go away in less than an hour. Your body is just adjusting to not having food. If you do have diabetes or sugar level problems, you should consult with your doctor before fasting. If you do not have these problems, you may safely ignore the light headed feelings until they pass.

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    Normal Life

    In general, continue with your life as usual but try to avoid strenuous activity. However, normal activities do not need to be curtailed, and they may take your mind off being hungry.

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    Avoid Temptation

    Plan ahead to avoid situations where you may be tempted to eat. Tell people in your famliy so they will not be putting unneccesary temptation in your way. Avoid social situations where there will be a lot of food. A little planning and foresight here can save you much grief.

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    Some strategy as far as timing could also be beneficial. Eating a solid breakfast, and then fasting until breakfast the next day is one option that many people have success with. For a slightly longer fast, eat a good dinner the night before then fast the entire day the next day, and break your fast the next morning. That is a bit more than 24 hours.

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    Postive Distraction

    Fasting has more than just physical benefits, so it would be good to pursue some of those. Spend some time reading inspirational literature or spend some time alone reflecting on life in general, or on some specific idea you enjoy thinking about. Delving into your religious thoughts is an excellent diversion at this point.

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    Breaking your Fast

    As much as possible, return to a normal eating schedule as though you had not missed any eating. Many people enjoy breaking their fast with the breakfast meal. You may be surprised to find that you are not more hungry than usual, which is what many people find. Try to not overeat as that could give you an upset stomach.

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    Take notes

    Pay attention to how you feel. What activities worked for you? When did you notice certain things, for instance when did you stop feeling hungry? Everyone is different, so you need to pay attention to your own body and see what it is telling you. Use this information in future fasts.

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    How to fast:

    Tips for Yom Kippur fasting:

    Tips for Fasting:

    Water fasting tips:

    How to eat after a fast: