People who fast are generally healthier, according to many studies conducted over the years.

Abstaining from food for a period has been shown to promote blood sugar control, reduce inflammation and boost metabolism.

Dropping a few pounds and becoming a healthier person are good enough reasons for anyone to try fasting.

However, I believe there is a bigger advantage to practicing fasting.

Look around the world. You’ll realize that fasting is a core part of many cultures and religions and not just a health fad.

Catholics fast on Good Friday before Easter, and during Lent, they abstain from meat on Fridays. 

Observant Jews are obligated to do a full fast for Yom Kippur, in commemoration of the destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

Siddhartha Gautama fasted under a tree, achieved enlightenment, and founded Buddhism.

Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset during Ramadan.

There are elements of self-discipline, control, self-awareness, purification, and sacrifice that practitioners can develop while fasting.

Letting go

Fasting – the abstinence of food or drink in certain cases – can mean letting go of our temporary desires and needs.

Our lives are governed by routines. We need our three meals a day for sustenance. Some of you even require a snack or two to get past the afternoon at the office.

Since I’m trying to maintain muscle size, I require a significant number of calories. 

And while it does sound feel like a chore sometimes, I can’t do without my four to six meals a day. 

Mealtimes are such a key part of my daily routine that their absence is acutely felt.

The psychological side effects can affect the rest of my day. Maybe I don’t feel good looking in the mirror, or I’m sluggish. Basically, I just don’t feel the same.

Some of you might have experienced the same, especially those who attempt fasting for the first time. 

Fasting seems like a tremendous effort and an immense struggle afterward. It’s hard to imagine a three or five-day fast.

But therein lies the biggest argument for fasting.

That I should do it because I will train myself to overcome my urges. 

It’s a psychological boost to know that I can effectively forgo short-term gratification and gained better self-control.

My need for meals is an ode to the highly regimented life that I’ve created for myself.

It has given me the health and body to engage in activities. To travel and perform my job. 

But if all of that should momentarily be taken from me, I know that I can still retain some semblance of control.

That my life would not unravel.

Need vs. want

There is a chronic tendency in most of us to confuse our wants with needs. 

This happens more so when the routines we’ve installed become such an ingrained part of our lives.

With so many tasks to accomplish on any given day, keeping a schedule is a reasonable way to manage our time.

The sensation of hunger typically triggers you to find something to eat. 

But does your body really need food? Or does it simply want food to satiate a craving? 

When our stomach is running low on food, it produces a hormone called ghrelin that incites the body to look for food. 

Once we’ve eaten, our brain releases dopamine, which rewards us for that behavior. 

Do that often enough and your body begins to adapt to wanting more food, further blurring the lines between need and want.

Ask yourself: Is your hunger the result of poor dietary habits? 

Listening to your body and giving in to your desires is the first step toward relinquishing authority over your health.

It’s important to get used to discomfort. 

Learn to fast and reacquaint your mind and body with the uncomfortable sensation of hunger. 

Reestablish healthy dietary habits.

Separate your cravings from your biological need for sustenance.

Get into fasting

There are many articles and guides on different forms of fasting and how you can get started.

If you’re overwhelmed, just go back to the basics.

Fasting is voluntarily going without something (usually food or water) for a period. 

How intense your fasting experience will depend on the duration and the abstinence.

If you’re just starting out, how about forgoing a simple meal – like dinner? 

Fasting incrementally allows you to approach each fast with purpose and intention.

On the other hand, you can start by performing water fast. It’s good for beginners and does not impact your daily energy levels as much as a regular fast.

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Lean into prayer to guide you.

Start to increase your fast times. Instead of one meal, aim to fast for two meals. 

Anyone can get into fasting—even the hardcore lifters.

You don’t need to be eating six meals a day all the time. Give your body a break.

Reset your systems – digestive, mind and spirit.