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Fasting is an important part of many religious traditions. Many Christians fast on Good Friday. Jews often fast on Yom Kippur, and Islam is famous for its month long fast during Ramadan. As important as these fasts can be for a person’s spiritual help, however, they can take a toll on a person’s physical health.

When you are fasting, you need to pay more attention to your health than ever. A short fast should not cause you serious problems because the human body is built to be able to go without food for short periods of time, but you still need to be careful to pay close attention to what your body needs. 

Make sure you can fast.

When humanity was still comprised of cavemen, it would not have been unusual for a person to go a day or several days without food. As such, a human being can easily survive several days, or even a few weeks, without food. Modern humans, however, tend to aim for a bit more than simply surviving. 

Before you commit to a fast, make sure that you are able to do so. Pregnant and nursing women are often told to avoid fasting, and people with diseases like diabetes could face serious health consequences if they go without eating for too long. Be sure that you are capable of fasting before you begin.

Eat a large meal before beginning your fast.

When you fast, you are denying your body the nutrients and calories it needs to continue functioning properly. A short period of this sort of denial is unlikely to do the average person any harm so long as they only fast occasionally. This does not mean, however, that fasting is pleasant either mentally or physically. 

In order to stave off the unpleasantries that come with fasting, eat a large meal before you begin. This will give your body one last large bunch of calories that will help keep your energy high during the first part of your fast and stave off the hunger pains that come with refusing to eat .

Plan your meals out carefully.

If you are going to be fasting for longer than a day, you need to make sure you are still eating. You may be eating less or only eating at certain times, but you do need to continue to take in calories. These also need to be healthy calories. It can be tempting to load up on junk food and sweets when you are fasting because those foods have higher calories. In reality, you need to eat healthy foods that will keep you feeling full and your energy levels high. Fill your fasting diet with foods that are high in protein and fiber as well as things that are easy to digest such as yogurt and rice.

Break your fast slowly.

When you are finished fasting or eating one of your meals while fasting, you need to resist the urge to snarf down your food like it is going to run away from you or to absolutely gorge yourself. Neither of these will do pleasant things to a stomach that is truly empty. Instead, break your fast slowly. Start with some of the most easily digestible foods, and take your time consuming the rest. This will help you avoid unpleasant stomach aches, gas and food coma.

Alter your exercise regime.

It is amazing how many workout gurus insist on continuing to workout normally while they are fasting. While you can continue light exercise, you do need to recognize that you cannot do everything normally when you are fasting. Your body simply does not have the excess energy or calories to sustain your ordinary schedule. Instead, you need to alter your workouts. Cut back on your cardio a bit, and avoid heavy weight training. Your body does not have the extra protein to repair and grow your muscles. All you will earn from your workout is a growling stomach and sore muscles. Stick with something light for now, then you can go back to more intense exercise when you return to your normal eating habits. 

Drink plenty of liquid.

Humans can go weeks without food, but going without water will do a lot more damage a lot more quickly. When you fast, you need to make sure you are consuming enough liquids. Depending on the rules of your fast, you may be able to sneak in some extra calories by drinking juice or something mild such as milk. Milk and honey, however, are not perfect substitutes when your are fasting. Above all, you need water. Not only will the water help you stay healthy and clean, it will help you to stay full. A stomach full of liquid feels far more satisfied than a stomach that is only digesting air.

Fasting is not easy. This is the very reason it has been used as both a test of devotion and sign of loyalty to deities for centuries. There is no reason, however, to make it harder on your body than it needs to be. While fasting is often for spiritual reasons, do not forget to take care of your physical form as well as your spiritual ones.