Dilma Setyarini

06 Apr 2023 - 3 min read

Fasting Benefits in Religions and Its Purposes

Fasting means abstaining from drinking, eating, and anything else that could break the fast for a set time. Learn more about how fasting works for both purposes.

The Health Benefits of Fasting


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Fasting provides health benefits to the body, such as controlling blood sugar, reducing inflammation, weight loss, and even lower the risks of certain diseases.

Intermittent fasting, a trending fasting method, is proven to help reduce blood sugar and insulin levels. Fasting is also associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease and lower cholesterol levels. For people with Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, fasting can even help to improve brain function.

Fasting takes part in improving overall well-being, physically and mentally. It has been a tradition since a long time ago, according to many beliefs, and it's been seen as a way to strengthen the spiritual level.

How Does Fasting in Religions Work?

Fasting in other religions has a different set of rules. Still, the aim is almost the same: to develop self-control and patience. The following explanation describes fasting practices in various beliefs.


muslim men praying


In Islam, fasting during Ramadan is one of the pillars of the faith and is obligatory. Ramadan fasting is carried out when Ramadan begins according to the Islamic calendar.

Fasting in Islam means avoiding anything that cancels it from sunrise to sunset, accompanied by the intention of fasting. Fasting is intended to practice patience and self-control and increase gratitude.

Muslim believe that fasting during Ramadan is rewarded by God. It is important for Muslims to sincerely intend to fast before starting, and Muslims will state their intention to fast after eating the last meal before dawn. Failing to fast without a valid reason is considered a sin.


buddha statue

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In Buddhism, fasting is known as "Uposatha," depending on the tradition, but it follows the lunar calendar. When fasting, Buddhists are still allowed to drink but not eat. During the Uposatha, eight principles are known as the "uposatha sila." It implies that Buddhists must refrain from killing, stealing, having sexual relations, eating after noon, enjoying entertainment, and wearing cosmetics, perfumes, or jewelry.

Another type of fasting practiced by Buddhists is vegetarian fasting, or not consuming food from animal products and onions. This fast is carried out on the 1st and 15th based on the lunar calendar.


St. Peter's Basilica italy


The Lenten fast lasts 40 days in Catholicism, from Ash Wednesday to Good Friday. Catholics know abstinence and fasting are obligatory for those over 18 years of age.

The Lenten fasts only allow one meal per day. Meanwhile, abstinence is mandatory for those aged 14 and over. It means avoiding things human likes, such as eating meat, salt, or smoking. Fasting and abstinence bring Catholics closer to God by uniting their sacrifices with Jesus.


hindu temple


Fasting in Hinduism is called "Upavasa" and has become a common practice in Hinduism, as it has both physical and spiritual benefits. It requires abstaining from eating, drinking, and engaging in pleasurable activities for a specific time to receive blessings from God or clean the spirit.

Hindus believe fasting helps them get close to God, purify their body and mind, and celebrate festivals and holy days. Fasting can take different forms in Hinduism, from a complete fast lasting several days to a partial fast restricting certain foods or activities.

Despite the challenge of fasting, many Hindus find fasting to be deeply rewarding and transformative, strengthening their connection to their faith and community.


judaism jews

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Fasting or Ta'anit in Judaism includes major holidays like Yom Kippur and Tisha B'Av, as well as minor days, like the fasts of Esther and fasting Gedhalia.

During fasts, Jews are not allowed to eat and drink, do sexual activities, or wear leather shoes. Especially in Yom Kippur, Jews are not allowed to brush their teeth. Except on Yom Kippur, fasting is not permitted on the Sabbath. The rabbis will determine an alternate day if a fast other than Yom Kippur falls on Sabbaths.




Fasting in Confucianism purifies and trains us to guard our behavior and speech and to fill ourselves with love. There are two types of Confucian fasting: spiritual and physical fasting.

Physical fasts occur during Chinese New Year, gradually abstaining from meat until permanent abstinence. On the eighth day, the lasts from 05:30 AM to 10:00 PM. The fast begins with hair washing and ends with prayer.

Fasting offers many benefits according to various religions and for health reasons. People who fast regularly have a lower risk of heart disease. So, whether for religious or health reasons, fasting can benefit health.

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