How do I handle religious or spiritual fasting?

Religious fasting is incredibly powerful and not something that you need to forego when you do Bright Line Eating. But the “rules” of religious fasting vary by denomination.

I’m a Baha’i and our season of religious fasting is for 19 days at the beginning of March. The structure is similar to Ramadan: no food or drink (even water) while the sun is up.

Here’s how I do it: I eat a huge breakfast before sunrise, guzzle tons of water before sunrise, and then fast all day. After sunset I eat a salad with some light protein. I’ve found that I like to slant my intake that way, with 80% of my food coming at breakfast. It keeps me going until somewhere between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. and from there, I can just coast on air until after the sun goes down. I love the time of fasting. It’s so purifying (spiritually speaking).

Here’s what I recommend if you’re going to do a sunrise-to-sunset fast similar to what I describe above…

Eat a breakfast that’s twice as big, at least (perhaps 2 servings of grain, 3 servings of protein, and 2 servings of fruit). Eat a small dinner (something like 4 oz. of beans, 12 oz. of salad, and a serving of fat).

That said, I know some people who like to eat a bigger dinner and a smaller breakfast while fasting. There are no hard-and-fast rules. Find what works for you.

You’ll want to weigh yourself every day during the fast. I have both gained 5 pounds and lost 5 pounds during the 19 days of fasting, and if you’re only weighing yourself once a week (or less), you are likely to stay unaware of how your body is responding.

Some religious sects fast for dinner one night and breakfast and lunch the next day. If that’s the case, here’s what I recommend…

Eat more BEFORE the fast, but have your regular dinner after the fast. No need to eat more after the fast because your metabolism will have slowed way down and a standard dinner will be plenty. On the day the fast starts, I would recommend eating the following bigger food plan for breakfast and lunch:

Breakfast | 2 proteins, 1.5 oz. cereal/6 oz. cooked grain, 1 fruit

Lunch | 1.5 proteins (6 oz. of most proteins), 10 oz. veggies, 1 fruit, 1 fat, 2 oz. nuts.

Then, fast for dinner, breakfast, and lunch the next day, and resume with your normal dinner the following night.