T Nation

Fasting and Lifting?


A while back there was this Serbian guy posting icons of saints. If I recall correctly, it generated a discussion about the problems presented by the rigors of Orthodox and Catholic fasting and body building. Does anyone remember any answers that were given? Lent is just around the corner (Fegbruary 28).
(I know the season could be good for cutting, but I am an ectomorph who worked hard to get to 200 lbs.

Peace and gains to you


Can you elaborate on orthodox and catholic fasting for us non-catholics?


I did not think that Lent required fasting. I thought it was just dietary restrictions.


Well in my recovery from a very bad divorce (my ex is a manic depressive/bordeline personality) lifinG and the Lord have been my salvation. The traditional discipline for Lent was a forty day fast- that was generally interpreted as one meal a day, and, if necessary, two small meals to sustain strength with no eating in between meals. Sundays are expempt. There is also the rule to abastin from certin foods. On eis also encouraged to abstain from booze, sweets, delicacies, etc. The point is to make it hurt. The current rule is no meat on Fridays. Rules used to be pretty uniform between the East and West but the West (Catholics) have loosened up to the point where fasting and abstainance hardly exist anymore for the run of the mill Catholic. Orthodox on the other hand retain the discline on no meat or animal products for 40 days. They also retain many other fasts, e.g. Advent (also known as winter lent), a summer fast before the feast of the Assumption. Past years I just sort of exempted myself so that I could take protein shakes. But that really doesn't deprive one. By the way, I am convinved that the decadence in the Church is reflected in the failure of the priests to fast and pray. Regretably, a lot of them these days are just therapists in black suits, and not good therapists.


I respect your religious belief and committment. But I really don't see any way you can do this without losing muscle mass and feeling poorly, in general, throughout the month.


Hey, I'm an Orthodox priest, but not the only one on this list!

PM me and we'll talk.


I would like to know more about that subject, as I am a christian and believe that fasting is something that christians should do. And at the same time I fast very little, due to the fact that I am afraid to loose considerable amounts of musclemass, but more then that strengthloss.

thanks in advance to any reply


To Eisenbeisser:

Fasting is very bibilical and is part of most religions. There is something about the periodic denial of the appetite that trains the soul. The ecclesial churches, basically the orthodox and Catholic (though less so now, unless Benedict is able to start a restoration), regulate fasting by the liturgical calendar. The idea is that time itself, the seasons, the days, the nights are sacred and help us come to know Christ and the story of our redemption more deeply with each year. The focal point of the year is Easter, the second is Christmas with lesser feast in between. Both Christmas and Easter have preparatory periods. As Jesus fasted for 40 days before the start of his public ministry, Christians fast for 40 days before Easter. The rule I had been taught by old timers was that a fast meant one meal. There are also rules of abstention during lent and other days, eg no meat.

Fasting can be part of one's spiritiual training and spiritual warfar. Of course, like anything, it can also be misused, can be obsessive, or narcisstic. However, it definitely has its place.

Hope that shed some light.

I fear though that the other poster's comment that it might cause loss of some muscle is probably accurate. I will definitely modify whatever I do so that I don't lose too much. (It was too hard to get it in the first place).



"(Catholics) have loosened up to the point where fasting and abstainance hardly exist anymore for the run of the mill Catholic."

Seems like Catholics have also loosened up on that whole marriage being forever thing too, huh? Wow, that was cold...I'm just kidding man.

I personally think that starving yourself just because it is a tradition is silly, kind of like the pork think etc., but some of the reasons you give seem valid. I guess you just have to ask yourself how important your religion is to you and if you feel this is a necessary part of your religion. If you answer yes to both than the answer is clear. If you feel that fasting is a necessary part of your religion but you choose to preserve your muscle mass instead than I doesn't seem like you are that dedicated to your religion. I personally think that fasting seems pretty dated and I bet there is another reason why people used to do it.

I don't know much about this but I thought lent was about sacrificing something important to you..........

Carrying muscle mass is pretty much about vanity in one way on another right? WWJD?


I'm fairly certain the poster is an Orthodox Christian, not a Catholic. Orthodox allow divorce in certain circumstances.

If something is spiritually useful, how can it be 'dated'? We have computers now, so fasting is dated? That's a non sequitur.

Fasting is about freeing oneself from slavery to one's transitory desires. It is not about making oneself unhealthy.


What you'll lose in muscle, you'll gain in discipline which will help recover the muscle and gain more after the fast.


This probably won't work for you but it's a suggestion. Why does fasting have to specifically be from food. Why couldn't you deny yourself social interaction, television, or other things that bring you pleasure. Spend the time in solitude with no outside influences except your bible for hours during the day. Medidate during that time focusing on God only. This would probably be much more usefull spriritually instead of constantly thinking about the muscle you are loosing and lifting on an empty stomach.

And seriously, if you are fasting from food and worrying about what that's doing to you, then you are not focusing on the purpose of the fast. And that's probably worse then not fasting at all.


I'm also an Orthodox Christian. I fast because (1)that's what Christ & His Apostles commanded & taught, and (2)because there's a great significance to fasting - it brings the body to a higher level of discipline (known as asceticism in ancient Christianity) so that the soul may engage in a deeper focus upon God and the afterlife. When people fast, they become conscious of their mortal "here today-gone tomorrow" status, and that's one critical aspect of this life Jesus Christ continuously emphasized and preached about - to make humans realize that it's not all over when we're a sack of bones & dirt laying six feet under.

Kudos to all (whether Orthodox Christian, Roman Catholic, or Protestant) who fast for the sake of partaking in His eternal kingdom.

As you already know, the traditional Lenten fast which the Orthodox Christian Church abides by is quite rigorous and taxing on the body - but that doesn't mean you can't train or sufficiently recuperate during the fast.

Foods that fall within the ancient Christian fasting guidelines include but are not limited to:
walnuts, olives, peanut butter, almonds
sweet potatoes, pasta, rice, any fruits & veggies
octopus, shrimp, crabmeat, lobster
*and if you obtain the blessing to implement shakes in your diet from a discerning spiritual father, stock up on quality protein powders.

If you eat enough of the right combinations without oversatiating and falling into gluttony, you might even get BIGGER! It's all in how you manage your feeding times and caloric intake. If you're still concerned, some supplements to keep testosterone levels boosted couldn't hurt either as the abstinence from red meat and poultry causes a drop-off in libido & sexual drive (which is actually one of the spiritual goals of asceticism).

no meat -> lower testosterone -> lower sex drive -> lower temptation -> lower opportunity of falling into mortal sin -> better chance of living in God's image

Peace be with all!


This is, without a doubt, the single most insane thing I've read on this board in quite a while.

Following your "logic": Cutting balls off-->NO sex drive-->Go straight to heaven!!




stellar_horizon wrote:

harris447 wrote:

Actually, thousands of years ago and before even Christianity arose, people voluntarily underwent castration so as to avoid sexual immorality. These people were called eunuchs. Their intentions were good but their means of attaining physical purity was shunned by Jesus Christ. The body is the temple of the soul - it is not meant to be desecrated or mangled. Humans experience the world with sensory perception through their God-designed physical organs, but to delve with the physical organs in practices that estrange the soul from God swiftly leads to spritual decay. Fasting (when practiced for spiritual purification) ignites the flame of God within.

You took a simple concept and magnified it to the extreme. Quit being such a drama queen. A man spiritually-centered on God with a diligent will to fight temptation does well by keeping his lust under control. Should he sin, he repents to fight with greater ferocity during future successive waves of temptation... Fasting is a therapeutic tool that the Orthodox Christian Church has maintained since the time of Jesus Christ so as to assist and steer her faithful onto the road of salvation. Needless to say, fasting is also practiced in many other religions for similar purposes.

Excuse any simplification, but avoiding certain foods for brief periods of time is a natural phenomenon in our day & age. The obese avoid carbs for fat loss, diabetics avoid sugar to regulate insulin, those with high blood pressure avoid certain fats, those with certain allergies avoid peanuts, those with liver malfunctions avoid synthetic/processed foods, etc. How do you classify these individuals? Do you think those who participate in juice-vegetable fasts for detoxification purposes are lunatics also?

Anyways, avoiding sex because you don't have testes doesn't mean you're automatically going to heaven. You strike me as a theological neophyte so I won't carry on much longer. Someone (perhaps you) might be a butt-ugly virgin who never got laid in life but always lusted over the act. Not being able to fulfill an act because an opportunity never existed does not qualify as meaning that the person is spiritually disciplined or pure or focused on God and the afterlife...

I don't need to become a eunuch to abstain from sexual immorality. I know if I had been a eunuch, there are sins I would've been rendered incapable of committing. Nevertheless, I can repent and continue fighting hard to keep a clean slate from the point of sin onwards. As noted above, people struggle by account of various conditions under the guidance of physicians in adhering to specific diets so as to maintain their physical welfare. Likewise, Orthodox Christians struggle on account of the sinful condition of our souls in adhering to specific fasts under the guidance of Jesus Christ and our Church so as to maintain our spiritual welfare.

And consider this - if people go to such great lengths to save their bodies from that inevitable grave, it only makes sense that obedient & faithful Christians will go to great lengths to either (1) save their souls from eternal damnation, or (2) fulfill that which is commanded by God so as to enter into Paradise.

P.S. you appear to be the looney to me...


Greetings Iron John! I was hoping you'd make some recommendations publicly since I fast according to the Orthodox Christian tradition as well. Your input is highly appreciated.

Peace be with you!

P.S. don't be seduced by soy for acquiring any extra protein!


Wow, while skimming the thread topics I read, "Fisting and Laughing". Boy was I dissapointed whe I clicked on it!


By the way, in case anyone else cares to chime in, here are the fasting regulations according to the ancient Christian tradition pertaining specifically to Lent (the 40 days before Pascha a.k.a. Easter): avoidance of all red meat, poultry, meat derived from all four-footed creatures, all dairy products (including milk, eggs, & cheese), olive oil and any oils derived by an extracted fashion. If anyone knows of something I didn't mention that should be included, feel free to add it.

Saint Matthew 4:1-4
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward he was hungry.
Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread."
But He answered and said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'

Saint Matthew 6:16-18
"[b]Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.
But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly

Saint Matthew 9:14-15
Then the disciples of John came to Him, saying, "Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but Your disciples do not fast?"
And Jesus said to them, "Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast

Saint Matthew 17:14-21
And when they had come to the multitude, a man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying,
"Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and into the water.
So I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him."
Then Jesus answered and said, "O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me."
And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour.
Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, "Why could we not cast it out?"
So Jesus said to them, "Because of your unbelief; for assuredly I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.

There are scores of passages in the Old & New Testament that highlight the necessity of fasting, but I chose a few from the Gospel according to Saint Matthew. I hope you all get the point. We walk with Jesus Christ by imitating Him (as He fasted on the mountain for forty days), we obey His command to adhere to fasting, and we fast because there's a clear spiritual strength and focus which the ritual provides.

Peace be with all!


So you don't believe in it.
So you don't see the belief behind it.
So you must ridicule it.

We agree on little harris, but hating just to hate is not your style. If you don't agree, fine.

Why is someone a lunatic for their held beliefs? What of vegetarians?

Blessings to you stellar.


I don't believe in fasting for spiritual reasons.

Jesus once said "It's not what goes into a man's mouth, it's what comes out of it." In other words, religious people might look down their noses at obese, or alcoholic or drug addicted people but by doing so they are committing a grave sin of judging others. Furthermore, as long as the obese, alcoholic drug addicts truly repent the sins they have committed, "The weak shall inherit the Kingdom of Heaven."