This article has been medically reviewed by Dr. Charles Penick, MD
The Daniel Fast: Guidelines & Benefits
Fasting has become increasingly popular over the past several years. The Daniel Fast, in particular, has gained acclaim thanks in part to Guardians of the Galaxy star Chris Pratt using the method to stay lean for his movie roles.
Practiced by millions of Christians around the world, the Daniel Fast is a type of spiritual fasting. The fast typically lasts 21 days, where some foods can be eaten while other foods are prohibited. The fast’s goal is to bring people closer to God and share their thoughts and needs with Him.
The Daniel Fast can be found in the Holy Bible. During the third reign of Cyrus, Daniel would fast for three weeks as a sign of mourning: “At that time I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. I ate no pleasant bread, [NB 3] neither came flesh nor wine into my mouth…” Daniel 10:2-3. Daniel would eat no meat, wine, or rich foods during the fast. Today, it is mostly used in a 21-day fasting method.
When on the Daniel Fast, the goal is to eat a healthy, plant-based diet. The Fast doesn’t place limits on when food is consumed; the primary focus is on what a person eats instead. The following foods are approved for the Daniel Fast:
Fruits can be fresh or cooked, but no oils, sweeteners, or sulfites can be added. Frozen fruits are permissible, but canned fruits are prohibited due to many having added coloring, preservatives, or sugar. Fruits with a low glycemic index (55 or less) are preferred because they are metabolized, absorbed, and digested slower than higher glycemic foods. This means blood glucose and insulin levels may rise slower (and lower) as well.
Approved fruits for the Daniel fast include the following:
All vegetables are allowed in the Daniel fast, including fresh, frozen, juiced, or canned varieties. Note: added salt is strictly prohibited.
Unrefined grains are acceptable, but consuming processed grains should be kept to a minimum or eliminated. Bread made with yeast is also prohibited.
The following grains are acceptable:
- Brown rice
Water should be the primary beverage of choice, with spring water, distilled, filtered, or mineral waters being the preferred options. Fruit juice can be consumed in moderation, provided it is 100% natural with no added sugars or other ingredients.
Nuts & Seeds
All nuts and seeds are allowed, provided they are either raw or dry-roasted without any added salt. Popular nuts and seeds include the following:
- Seeds (poppy, sunflower, sesame, pumpkin)
- Brazil nuts
- Macadamia nuts
Legumes & Beans
Both dried and canned beans and legumes are acceptable, but the canned varieties should not contain any additives or salts. Popular beans and legumes include the following:
- Kidney beans
- Black beans
- Cannellini beans
- Split peas
- Garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
- Black-eyed peas
There are several categories of foods that are not permitted on the Daniel Fast:
- Meat and animal products (fish, chicken, lamb, turkey, beef, etc.)
- Dairy (Butter, yogurt, milk, cream, cheese)
- Added Sugar (artificial sweeteners, corn syrup, molasses, brown sugar, agave nectar, etc.)
- Deep-fried food (potato chips, corn chips, French fries, etc.)
- Processed food (foods containing additives, preservatives, chemicals, and artificial colors or flavorings)
- Solid fats (margarine, lard, shortening, butter)
- Refined grains (white rice and white flour)
- Alcoholic and caffeinated beverages (coffee, energy drinks, caffeinated tea, alcohol)
- Chocolate (dark chocolate, milk chocolate, chocolate syrup, cacao, semi-sweet chocolate)
The Daniel Fast is believed to benefit the body in many ways. In addition to the physical advantages of eating a healthier diet, Daniel Fast touts mental and spiritual benefits. While the positive aspects of fasting can vary from person to person, here are a few of the top reasons to give fasting a try:
- Reduction of brain fog. Fasting can help a person feel more alert, focused, and clearer mentally.
- Negative thoughts and feelings are decreased. Negative thoughts and feelings can be reduced, allowing a person to be happier and more at ease.
- Increases the ability to trust and talk to God. As feelings of anxiousness decrease and a person become more alert, the ability to talk to God increases.
- Sluggishness or symptoms of depression decrease. The Daniel Fast removes artificial foods, colors, ingredients, and other toxins from the diet that could cause sluggishness and depression.
- Help heal stressful relationships. By clearing the mind, a person may discover ways to deal with stressful situations more effectively.
- Weight loss. Eliminating foods high in fat and calories could assist with weight loss and shedding excess fat.
- Increased energy levels. Energy levels can be increased due to eliminating sugars and artificial ingredients that cause spikes (and crashes) in glucose and blood sugar levels.
- Improves digestion. The increased consumption of water, fruits, veggies, and other high fiber foods could help digestion and improve overall gut health.
- Improved skin health. The Daniel Fast can help the body remove various toxins from the body, improving skin health.
- Reduced joint pain and inflammation. Reduced consumption of processed foods and products high in fat, sodium, and sugar could reduce inflammation and joint pain.
- Break bad habits/addictions. By eating a diet free of artificial foods and sugar, the body may be able to wean itself off these foods and ingredients.
- Brings a person closer to God. By clearing the mind, a person can be more receptive to what God is trying to tell them. This improved communication could lead to an improved relationship with Him, as well.
- Provides clarity. The Daniel Fast can identify where a person is weak and provide an opportunity to ask God for strength and healing in those areas.
Here are two great recipes to try while on the Daniel Fast:
Almond Butter Balls
- Almond butter- ½ cup
- Unsweetened shredded coconut – 2 tablespoons
- Raw sunflower seeds – ¼ cup
- Chopped almonds – ¼ cup
- Cinnamon – ¼ teaspoon
- Raisins – ¼ cup
- Mix all ingredients in a bowl until thoroughly mixed. To form the mixture into small balls, use a large melon ball scoop or a 1/2 tablespoon measuring spoon.
- Place in an 8 by 8-inch baking dish, and freeze until firm. Serve frozen or just slightly thawed.
- Creates 6-8 servings (2-3 balls)
Sundried Tomato, Potato & Broccoli Bake
- Red potatoes, peeled and halved – 1 pound.
- Fresh basil leaves, lightly packed – ½ cup
- Extra-virgin olive oil – 1 tablespoon
- Fresh parsley leaves, lightly packed – ¼ cup
- Chopped cooked broccoli – 2 cups
- Jarred sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil and undrained – ½ cup
- Toasted pine nuts – ¼ cup
- Garlic, minced – 1 clove
- Black pepper – 1/8 teaspoon
- Sea salt – ¼ teaspoon
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut potatoes with a shredder attachment on a food processor. Put shredded potatoes and olive oil in a large bowl, then stir to coat. Next, add broccoli and set aside.
- Place basil leaves, parsley leaves, sun-dried tomatoes, salt, pepper, and garlic in the same food processor bowl used in Step 1. Process mixture with the “S” blade attachment until it forms a paste.
- Mix in with potatoes and broccoli, stirring well. Transfer to an 8 x 8-inch baking dish that has been lightly rubbed with olive oil.
- Bake 30 minutes. Sprinkle in pine nuts just before serving.
- Creates 8 servings (½ cup each)
While the Daniel Fast and fasting, in general, have many health benefits, several considerations should be taken before starting a fast. For example, pregnant women are often advised not to fast due to the potential harm to the unborn child. Individuals with diabetes may be required to eat (or avoid) certain foods. Others may be taking medication that could be negatively impacted by fasting. To err on the side of caution, individuals with existing medical conditions, on medication, are pregnant or nursing should consult with a doctor before trying the Daniel Fast.
First mentioned in the Bible, the Daniel Fast has been used for centuries to get closer to God. It has also been used to heal and strengthen the body mentally, physically, and spiritually. By omitting artificial ingredients, meat, and other processed foods for 21 days, the body is allowed itself from within. The Daniel Fast may benefit those looking to have a closer relationship with God, overcome food addictions, increased mental clarity, and improved overall health.
Medical Disclaimer: This article is based upon the opinions of Dr. Daniel Pompa. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of Dr. Pompa and his associates. This article has been medically reviewed by Dr. Charles Penick, MD for accuracy of the information provided, but Dr. Pompa encourages you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional.