Skip to main content

Distributed for Reaktion Books

Why Fast?

The Pros and Cons of Restrictive Eating

Distributed for Reaktion Books

Why Fast?

The Pros and Cons of Restrictive Eating

A sober engagement with the diverse meanings of intermittent fasting in human culture.
Fasting from food is a controversial, dangerous, and yet utterly normal human practice. In Why Fast?, Christine Baumgarthuber engages our fascination with restrictive eating in cultural history. If fasting offers few health benefits, why do people fast? Why have we always fasted? Does fasting speak to something deep and immutable within us? Why are our bodies so well adapted to intermittent fasting? And, what might this ancient, ascetic ritual offer us today? Thoughtful and considered, Why Fast? is a sober reconsideration of a contentious practice.

184 pages | 4 3/4 x 7 3/4 | © 2023

Food Controversies

Food and Gastronomy


Reaktion Books image

View all books from Reaktion Books


"This multifaceted, clear-eyed account explores issues around fasting, including its health benefits and risks, why we are so well adapted to undergo it, and how we can balance its benefits with the demands of our busy lives.”

The Bookseller (UK)

"Fasting is deeply embedded in most of the world's major faiths. This book makes a modern argument offering a new form of transformation and redemption."

Ken Albala, University of the Pacific

Table of Contents

1 A Hunger for More: Fasting and Its Purposes from Antiquity to the Present
2 Food for Thought: Fasting Throughout the Ages
3 The Physician Within: Fasting for Health
4 Seeing Less of You: The Promise of Fasting for Weight Loss
5 The Wages of Thin: The Dangers of Fasting for Weight Loss
EPILOGUE Of Apps and Appetite: The Future of Fasting

Select Bibliography

Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press