How To Do Fasting? A Step By Step Guide For You

Here is a detailed guide on how to do fasting. Fasting is an excellent method of self cleansing. It has spiritual, mental and physical benefits. The success of fasting depends on the method of fasting, type of fasting and  mental and physical activities on fasting day. 


How to do fasting? 

Before you start fasting, you will have to choose among the different types of fasting. You may have to seek your doctor’s help to choose a type. The decision has to be made based on

– Your mental strength and will power
–  Strength of your stomach
–  Body constitution
Dosha body type
– Your food and beverage habits.

Step by step guide on how to do fasting –  
Decide the number of days
I recommend fasting for only one day. If you want to do fasting for many days, better to give a gap of at least a week between two fasting sessions. Your doctor will be a better judge.

If you are believer in astrology, or numerology, it makes sense to choose a holy day (auspicious day).
In the initial periods, it is better to do fasting on holidays, when you can be at home, relaxed.
But choosing holidays for fasting has also got its downside. If you are working on the day of fasting, you will be concentrating more on the work. Hence it is easy to forget about hunger. If it is on holiday, you might start concentrating on your stomach, unnecessarily.

Stop all bad habits
If you have the habit of smoking or alcohol, you’ve got to stop it on the day of fasting. Remember, it is the day to cleanse your body off toxins. It is not a day to add more toxins to your body.

No non-veg food at all – 
If you are doing -break fast-only-fasting, or one-meal-per-day type of fasting, make sure to avoid non veg food.
The basic purpose of fasting is to avoid eating, or eating very minimally.
Fasting has its links with spiritual practices, hence it is best to avoid non veg during fasting.

Have sufficient food on the previous day – 
Make sure that you had sufficient food on the previous day of fasting.
Make sure not to take too much of salt and spicy food in the last dinner. It may leave you thirsty early in the morning on the day of fasting.
It is a good idea to eat late on the previous night.

On the day of fasting –
Get up early – Make sure you wake up early in the morning.

Take head bath – with hot or cold water, as per your choice.

Do pranayama – Pranayama helps you to have a better concentration and strengthens your stomach and lungs. How to do pranayama?

Do prayer  – Pray for inner strength.

Read a few pages of a good book – A self help book or any other positive book helps you to feel motivated. Your fasting day is the day you cleanse your body and mind and resolve to have a better lifestyle. Few pages of a self help book goes a long way to help you re-orient your stream of thoughts.

Curb the hunger as much as you can. Do not give in easily. If you are doing for juice fasting or vegetable fasting, there will be a tendency for over-consumption. Resolve not to give in to hunger. Exercise highest self control.

Take rest – The body has to live without the supply of calories. Proper rest helps you keep food away for a long time.

No sun exposure – Fasting tends to increase Vata and Pitta. Sun and wind exposure also increases Vata and Pitta. Hence it is ideal to stay away from Sun and wind during fasting.

No / very little exercise – If you are accustomed to exercise, limit yourself to a very short exercise session on the fasting day.

Have the cell number of your doctor – Should anything go wrong, a doctor can be of immediate help to you.

Fast with family members and friends – It helps to improve bonding. You enjoy fasting better. Your motivation will be fortified.

Your regular medicines – You will have to talk to your doctor regarding the regular medicines that you may or may not take during fasting. Certain medications that may cause stomach irritation may have to be avoided.

Related article – Spiritual benefits of fasting

Tips to break (stop) fasting:
Here are the general rules:
1. Do not break the fast with heavy meals. After fasting, the digestive system will be a bit weak and cannot efficiently digest a heavy meal. It may lead to digestive disorders.
2. Consider taking liquid or soft diet, as the first meal.
3. Do not take non veg, sugar containing juices,
4. Consider fruits, vegetable salads, soups etc for breaking the fast.
5. Hot vegetable soup, added with a pinch or two of black pepper will give the perfect stimulation for weak digestive system.

Different Types Of Fasting Options

There are different types of fasting which can be easily incorporated into your routine. Fasting does not always mean complete refrainment from all sorts of food. Given the busy schedule that we go through everyday, it is really hard to keep away from food for very long time. Hence we can adopt variants of fasting based on body constitution, eating patterns, strength and mind power.

fasting types

Warning – Since fasting is a type of physical and mental strain, it is always  recommended to take up fasting only after consultation with your doctor.

Different types of fasting for you –
1. Complete fasting – no meals no water – This is the final thing in fasting. Keeping yourself away from food and water requires a lot of mental and physical strength. This type of fasting is suitable only for pro-fasters.

2. Skipping breakfast – Here a deadline for fasting is kept in the morning. Like, restraining from food and water till 11 am,  12 am or  1 pm, as per your convenience. This is ideal for those who feel okay with delayed breakfast.

It is not ideal for people with minor gastric problems, because the stomach will be devoid of food for more than 12 – 14 hours. (From previous night to next day afternoon)

3. Skipping lunch or dinner or both – Here you will have breakfast but will not take food or water for the rest of the day.

If you are adopting this type of fasting, then make sure to drink plenty of water with breakfast. This helps to keep you hydrated throughout the day, thereby avoiding easy tiredness.

Skipping lunch is not ideal for physical workers and for those who work long hours under the sun. Fasting naturally causes an increase in Vata and Pitta and sun exposure further increases pitta leading to intense burning sensation, dizziness etc.

4. Water fasting –  In this type, the person can drink only water through out the day. This is the next best thing to complete fasting. Body usually will be having food reserves in the form of stored fat. Hence it is a safer method of fasting.

5. Juice fasting – Here in place of water, you will have only fruit juices through out the day. This method of fasting is ideal for people who can not stay away from food for long. This is a lighter type of fasting compared to water fasting, because, juices will provide you with a bit more nourishment with added carbohydrate and other fruit nutrients.
Research: Fasting and circadian rhythm

Make sure to drink juice only when you can no more control hunger.
Do not add or add only a little bit of sugar. Too much of sugar will beat the purpose of fasting.

6. Only fruits fasting – In this type of fasting only fruits are consumed through out the day.

7. Chocolate fasting –  This is one of the latest methods. Chocolates though are rich in carbohydrates, have immense health benefits over heart and are powered with anti oxidants. This can be a substitute to fruit fasting. read more.

8. Vegetable fasting – Vegetable salads can be had whenever hunger is uncontrollable. It is good for people with gastritis, because fiber rich vegetables keep the hunger in check.
Mixture of above methods can also be tried as per your choice, but the principle of limited consumption, only when the hunger is out of control should be strictly followed.

Q: Consumption of tea / coffee during fasts – with/ without sugar and / or milk. Does it affect the metabolic state in anyway – positive or negative.
From a spiritual point of view, it is best to avoid coffee or tea.
Coffee, being a stimulant may cause increase of hunger. Adding milk and sugar to it would nullify this effect.
Tea, being diuretic may cause more thirst, while fasting.
Hence, moderate consumption is fine.

6 thoughts on “How To Do Fasting? A Step By Step Guide For You”

  1. How to break fasting? What to take for breaking the fast? Can you please help us understand from ayurvedic perspective?

  2. Dear Dr. Hebbar,

    As per your article, fasting increases pitta doshas. However in Charak Samhita (#24,18) it is mentioned that blood and pitta are evacuated by purgation, fasting and blood-letting.

    Please advise on this.


    • Hi, the Charaka’s Shloka says

      कुर्याच्छोणितरोगेषु रक्तपित्तहरीं क्रियाम्|
      विरेकमुपवासं च स्रावणं शोणितस्य च||१८||

      In case of blood related disorders, raktapitta treatment line is valid, along with Virechana, Upavasa and Raktamokshana.
      in case of Kaphaja Raktapitta,
      Charaka CHikitsasthana 4/29-30 says –
      Langhana treatment:
      प्रायेण हि समुत्क्लिष्टमामदोषाच्छरीरिणाम्|
      वृद्धिं प्रयाति पित्तासृक्तस्मात्तल्लङ्घ्यमादितः||२९||
      मार्गौ दोषानुबन्धं च निदानं प्रसमीक्ष्य च|
      लङ्घनं रक्तपित्तादौ तर्पणं वा प्रयोजयेत्||३०||

      prāyeṇa hi samutkliṣṭamāmadoṣāccharīriṇām|
      vṛddhiṃ prayāti pittāsṛktasmāttallaṅghyamāditaḥ||29||
      mārgau doṣānubandhaṃ ca nidānaṃ prasamīkṣya ca|
      laṅghanaṃ raktapittādau tarpaṇaṃ vā prayojayet||30||
      Urdhwaga Raktapitta (bleeding from upper orifices) is associated with Pitta and Kapha. It occurs due to Snigdha – unctuous, oily and Ushna – hot qualities.
      To counter Kapha, in the initial stages, Langhana – lightening therapy (to bring about lightness to the body, via fasting etc) is advocated.

      So, only when Pitta is associated with Kapha, fasting is required. If not, Tarpana – nourishing treatment, when Raktapitta is associated with Vata and /or Pitta.


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