Orthodox fasting while on low carb diet

soli.deo.gloria

Woodpecker
Orthodox Inquirer
Gold Member
I have been wanting to follow Orthodox fasting rules but find it difficult on a low carb diet. Most of the stuff I would normally eat like eggs, meat, cheese, olive oil are not allowed on fasting days. Even stuff like Quest bars are seemingly not allowed due to the protein source being milk-based. This basically leaves me with leafy greens and nuts and seeds. I have some 'keto' bread that is supposedly low carb but I still try to avoid it so maybe a slice or two per day max. And no butter of course. Fruits and most vegetables are out of the question. Not a big fan of shellfish but I have been trying to work that in (crab, lobster, shrimp). Perhaps a spoon of peanut butter as a snack but it's not exactly low carb. It's one thing to go without a couple days a week but the 40-day fast stuff seems a bit daunting at the moment. I need to figure things out before then. Is anyone else doing this? Any advice or suggestions? I searched and found a few fasting and low-carb posts but nothing that seems to address this specific question.
 

inthefade

Robin
Orthodox Inquirer
I have been wanting to follow Orthodox fasting rules but find it difficult on a low carb diet. Most of the stuff I would normally eat like eggs, meat, cheese, olive oil are not allowed on fasting days. Even stuff like Quest bars are seemingly not allowed due to the protein source being milk-based. This basically leaves me with leafy greens and nuts and seeds. I have some 'keto' bread that is supposedly low carb but I still try to avoid it so maybe a slice or two per day max. And no butter of course. Fruits and most vegetables are out of the question. Not a big fan of shellfish but I have been trying to work that in (crab, lobster, shrimp). Perhaps a spoon of peanut butter as a snack but it's not exactly low carb. It's one thing to go without a couple days a week but the 40-day fast stuff seems a bit daunting at the moment. I need to figure things out before then. Is anyone else doing this? Any advice or suggestions? I searched and found a few fasting and low-carb posts but nothing that seems to address this specific question.

Have you tried to do an actual water fast? Definitely low carb. Nuts are really my go-to.
 
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soli.deo.gloria

Woodpecker
Orthodox Inquirer
Gold Member
Thanks, I saw it. Beans are not low carb so I don't think that is a good solution, unless I am missing something? I do have nori and miso paste and kimchi and I enjoy tofu/miso soup occasionally. Macadamia's are awesome too. That stuff helps and I genuinely appreciate the suggestion but I'm not sure that could be a staple for an extended fast. I love beans and rice and all the fasting foods btw, I just can't eat them due to carbs. In many ways it would be a dream come true to "fast" in the traditional sense. How ironic.
 
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Lawrence87

Woodpecker
Orthodox
Its worth discussing this matter with your priest. The fasting rules aren't legalistically binding, they are more of a guide towards a spiritually beneficial end. You can follow the fast precisely and still gain nothing from it in a spiritual sense if you are not in keeping with the spirit of it. Some people can't fast for health reasons, your priest might permit you eggs and dairy on fast days during the longer fasts for instance. I don't know what the outcome would be but it's worth having that discussion with him.

I was on a low carb diet, and basically ended up ignoring the fasts because of it. Then I realised I was basically just being vain, and I decided to follow the fasts because I physically can. Although I am still terrible at keeping to the spirit of it... It all depends what's going on with you and all that kinda stuff, best to talk to your priest about it though, tell him about your diet, why you are doing it, and explain that sticking to it makes fasting days difficult, and he might have some useful advice for you.
 

nagareboshi

Woodpecker
Thanks, I saw it. Beans are not low carb so I don't think that is a good solution, unless I am missing something?

Fermented/processed bean products are usually very low carb, since the fermentation culture will eat all the starches. I haven't fasted on this myself (usually I just eat carbs) but maybe seitan and tempeh would be interesting in your case?

Also, as previous poster alluded to, if you are doing low-carb for true health reasons (e.g., worried about blood sugar, diabetes) I am pretty sure the priest will give you a blessing to have some alternative allowable foods.
 

soli.deo.gloria

Woodpecker
Orthodox Inquirer
Gold Member
Its worth discussing this matter with your priest. The fasting rules aren't legalistically binding, they are more of a guide towards a spiritually beneficial end. You can follow the fast precisely and still gain nothing from it in a spiritual sense if you are not in keeping with the spirit of it. Some people can't fast for health reasons, your priest might permit you eggs and dairy on fast days during the longer fasts for instance. I don't know what the outcome would be but it's worth having that discussion with him.

I was on a low carb diet, and basically ended up ignoring the fasts because of it. Then I realised I was basically just being vain, and I decided to follow the fasts because I physically can. Although I am still terrible at keeping to the spirit of it... It all depends what's going on with you and all that kinda stuff, best to talk to your priest about it though, tell him about your diet, why you are doing it, and explain that sticking to it makes fasting days difficult, and he might have some useful advice for you.
Very wise. :)

I have already had a good talk with my spiritual father and received a dispensation for dairy and eggs. However I still wish to be more faithful to the fasting rules and make more of a sacrifice if it is possible to do so without putting my health at risk so I am just looking for ideas.

I have wondered the same thing btw. I am doing low carb because I believe it is the healthiest way for me to eat long-term and I feel good while doing it, and I am still trying to lose some weight. My biggest worry is that if I do the normal fasting foods I will not be able to control myself as before and I will end up gaining back a lot of weight and put my health at risk again. It would be like telling an alcoholic to only drink moderately two days per week.

Fermented/processed bean products are usually very low carb, since the fermentation culture will eat all the starches. I haven't fasted on this myself (usually I just eat carbs) but maybe seitan and tempeh would be interesting in your case?

Also, as previous poster alluded to, if you are doing low-carb for true health reasons (e.g., worried about blood sugar, diabetes) I am pretty sure the priest will give you a blessing to have some alternative allowable foods.
I will look into this more, thanks. Yeah, I had major blood pressure and metabolic issues previously because I was overweight. Since I went low carb and lost a bunch of weight and have been exercising I am healthy again. Don't want to go back to that for sure.
 
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DanielH

Ostrich
Orthodox
Since you're an inquirer this question really should be directed to a priest. The priest may give you a more lenient fast or change it slightly. I know of an example where someone's priest was upset with this person for maintaining a strict fast while doing a physically demanding job, and told them to at least eat fish. This same priest also once had a priest when he was in seminary I believe who told him he could choose to either ditch all television for the fast or to fast from food, the rationale that television is probably worse for you than food and this was before the internet was really a thing.

Since I went low carb and lost a bunch of weight I am healthy again. Don't want to go back to that for sure.
Valid concern
 

soli.deo.gloria

Woodpecker
Orthodox Inquirer
Gold Member
Since you're an inquirer this question really should be directed to a priest. The priest may give you a more lenient fast or change it slightly. I know of an example where someone's priest was upset with this person for maintaining a strict fast while doing a physically demanding job, and told them to at least eat fish. This same priest also once had a priest when he was in seminary I believe who told him he could choose to either ditch all television for the fast or to fast from food, the rationale that television is probably worse for you than food and this was before the internet was really a thing.
Yeah I probably should have mentioned in my original post that I had already done that. I'm just trying to find the optimal way to eat and fast within my limitations. If I can do it safely I want to, and if not I won't. I figure there might be other people doing the same thing so they might have suggestions or this post might help them as well. Thanks for the reply. :)
 

Lawrence87

Woodpecker
Orthodox
Very wise. :)

I have already had a good talk with my spiritual father and received a dispensation for dairy and eggs. However I still wish to be more faithful to the fasting rules and make more of a sacrifice if it is possible to do so without putting my health at risk so I am just looking for ideas.

I have wondered the same thing btw. I am doing low carb because I believe it is the healthiest way for me to eat long-term and I feel good while doing it, and I am still trying to lose some weight. My biggest worry is that if I do the normal fasting foods I will not be able to control myself as before and I will end up gaining back a lot of weight and put my health at risk again.

If you have a blessing to eat dairy and eggs, and wish to stay low carb, just do that I'd say.

I can understand. My impulse control is poor, I have been starting to think of this as a spiritual problem rather than a dietary one. I spent a while researching what the Fathers said about gluttony. I copied out my favourite quotes in order to learn from them. Low carb in order to keep a handle on your impulse control/weight is a bit of a patchy fix at best. By going low carb (speaking for myself here) I was allowing myself to indulge my gluttony (woohoo lets eat lots of bacon!) whilst also indulging my vanity (look how slim I am!), I realised that neither is a good state to be in spiritually. I don't mean to say any of this applies to you however.

Again, if you got the blessing, you got the blessing, it is blessed...
 

soli.deo.gloria

Woodpecker
Orthodox Inquirer
Gold Member
Fermented/processed bean products are usually very low carb, since the fermentation culture will eat all the starches. I haven't fasted on this myself (usually I just eat carbs) but maybe seitan and tempeh would be interesting in your case?
Seiten (interesting name, reminds me of something not so good) has about 20 grams per 8 ounces/360 cals. So maybe suitable for a snack but unfortuntely not a staple. Tempeh is around 18g so same thing. Plain tofu is basically zero carb so that is possibly an option to supplement meals however there isn't much calories or nutrition there so I'm not sure if that would be viable for the longer fasts. Also I do have some concern with consuming a lot of soy-based products. I sincerely appreciate the suggestions though, keep them coming. :)
 

soli.deo.gloria

Woodpecker
Orthodox Inquirer
Gold Member
If you have a blessing to eat dairy and eggs, and wish to stay low carb, just do that I'd say.

I can understand. My impulse control is poor, I have been starting to think of this as a spiritual problem rather than a dietary one. I spent a while researching what the Fathers said about gluttony. I copied out my favourite quotes in order to learn from them. Low carb in order to keep a handle on your impulse control/weight is a bit of a patchy fix at best. By going low carb (speaking for myself here) I was allowing myself to indulge my gluttony (woohoo lets eat lots of bacon!) whilst also indulging my vanity (look how slim I am!), I realised that neither is a good state to be in spiritually. I don't mean to say any of this applies to you however.

Again, if you got the blessing, you got the blessing, it is blessed...
I have wondered the same thing. I have zero interest in alcohol or fornication etc, but gluttony is definitely my biggest weakness. It runs in the family unfortunately. I have found that when I do keto I no longer have the cravings and impulses to overeat and it also helps me to slim down so that's why I've been doing it. It's the only diet I have been successful with and I'm trying to approach it as more of a lifestyle than a diet at this point because I absolutely cannot go back to what I was doing, it was degenerate and it will kill me for sure. I don't think there's a problem with eating a lot of bacon or whatever as long as you aren't consuming excess calories and your health is in balance. Besides, that's fun at first but it gets old really fast. I made a pound of bacon yesterday and 3/4 of it is still sitting in the fridge. However I do respect your opinion and if you feel that way for yourself then you should do what you think is right for your situation and what you think God would want.
 

Lawrence87

Woodpecker
Orthodox
I have wondered the same thing. I have zero interest in alcohol or fornication etc, but gluttony is definitely my biggest weakness. It runs in the family unfortunately. I have found that when I do keto I no longer have the cravings and impulses to overeat and it also helps me to slim down so that's why I've been doing it. It's the only diet I have been successful with and I'm trying to approach it as more of a lifestyle than a diet at this point because I absolutely cannot go back to what I was doing, it will kill me for sure. I don't think there's a problem with eating a lot of bacon or whatever as long as you aren't consuming excess calories and your health is in balance. Besides, that's fun at first but it gets old really fast. I made a pound of bacon yesterday and 3/4 of it is still sitting in the fridge. However I do respect your opinion and if you feel that way for yourself then you should do what you think is right for your situation and what you think God would want.

I feel as though keeping the fasting rules and keeping low carb simultaneously would be very difficult, but if you have a blessing to have eggs and dairy then it's all good. I'd stay low carb and just have eggs and dairy for your fat/protein.

For me I think I have issues with eating for pleasure, or a pick me up after a bad day, so on low carb I would end up still snacking, and didn't really experience the drop off in craving that you describe. I've decided to limit myself to only eating if its part of a meal, and to keep the meals small and simple. I haven't been monitoring my weight, as that tends to play into my various neuroses about it all, but I feel like I've made good progress in the 'had bad day, must eat snacks' mindset that I'd had in the past.

Good luck and God be with you
 

soli.deo.gloria

Woodpecker
Orthodox Inquirer
Gold Member
I feel as though keeping the fasting rules and keeping low carb simultaneously would be very difficult, but if you have a blessing to have eggs and dairy then it's all good. I'd stay low carb and just have eggs and dairy for your fat/protein.

For me I think I have issues with eating for pleasure, or a pick me up after a bad day, so on low carb I would end up still snacking, and didn't really experience the drop off in craving that you describe. I've decided to limit myself to only eating if its part of a meal, and to keep the meals small and simple. I haven't been monitoring my weight, as that tends to play into my various neuroses about it all, but I feel like I've made good progress in the 'had bad day, must eat snacks' mindset that I'd had in the past.

Good luck and God be with you
For me it was mostly to alleviate boredom, and also because when you eat a lot of junk & fast food that stuff is addictive and it gives you a "high" afterwards, like a drug. No bueno.
 

nagareboshi

Woodpecker
Honestly, I don't know your situation and am certainly not saying this as if I have medical qualifications, but perhaps it may be interesting to try eating wholesome, natural fasting foods that have carbs and seeing how you feel. Of course, junk food doesn't count, but more like boiled potatoes, grapes, oatmeal with some peanut butter: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/15-incredibly-filling-foods

For example, boiled potatoes are extremely satiating from my personal experience. I understand that it feels bad to break a keto streak or to get out of ketosis, so maybe consider the humble boiled potato if you accidentally fall into a cheat day sometime in the future.
 

Lawrence87

Woodpecker
Orthodox
For me it was mostly to alleviate boredom, and also because when you eat a lot of junk & fast food that stuff is addictive and it gives you a "high" afterwards, like a drug. No bueno.

Yeah very similar for me too. It's a difficult thing to navigate as we need to eat, so it's easy to get caught in this kind of stuff.

As I said before I'd just go with your priest's advice. It's obvious that low carb is working and is important to you. Whilst it's good that you have the desire to fast according to the rules, you have already had this conversation with your priest and he has given you the blessing to eat eggs and dairy. If you want to go back and discuss it further, do so with him. I wouldn't go seeking advice elsewhere. The internet will give you a plethora of advice and generally will just tend to give you what you want in the end. Your priest will give you what you need.
 

Roosh

Cardinal
Orthodox
Yeah very similar for me too. It's a difficult thing to navigate as we need to eat, so it's easy to get caught in this kind of stuff.

As I said before I'd just go with your priest's advice. It's obvious that low carb is working and is important to you. Whilst it's good that you have the desire to fast according to the rules, you have already had this conversation with your priest and he has given you the blessing to eat eggs and dairy. If you want to go back and discuss it further, do so with him. I wouldn't go seeking advice elsewhere. The internet will give you a plethora of advice and generally will just tend to give you what you want in the end. Your priest will give you what you need.
Exactly. Along the same lines, don't go asking the same question to multiple elders. Either you're shopping around for your preferred answer or may become even more confused than before if they don't respond in the same way.
 

soli.deo.gloria

Woodpecker
Orthodox Inquirer
Gold Member
Exactly. Along the same lines, don't go asking the same question to multiple elders. Either you're shopping around for your preferred answer or may become even more confused than before if they don't respond in the same way.
Agreed. This post was meant to explore what is possible from a dietary perspective and see what others are doing/have done in this situation. I will definitely continue to work with my spiritual father on whatever plan I end up doing, without question. Now when I talk to him I can bring up some of these ideas and based on his feedback I may have more questions later on. That being said everyone's feedback and support is very helpful and I appreciate you all very much. Thank you. :)
 
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