What is The Daniel Fast?
Here’s everything you need to know about this short-term, Biblical diet plan.
Chris Pratt is known for touting intermittent fasting and other diet approaches for weight loss and preparation for action movies, but his latest Bible-based diet regimen, The Daniel Fast, has people talking. This 21-Day diet plan is a different fasting approach from intermittent fasting, as it doesn’t restrict when you can eat, but rather what you can eat.
What is The Daniel Fast?
The Daniel Fast is based on the prophet Daniel’s spiritual and dietary experiences in the biblical book of his namesake. Two references in particular lay the foundation for the diet:
- “Please test your servants for ten days, and let them give us vegetables [pulses] to eat and water to drink.” Daniel 1:12
- “In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.” Daniel 10:12-13
Daniel himself experienced a renewed sense of vigor and strength after following a plant-based diet for three weeks, and a modern diet plan was created based on achieving his results of greater spiritual, mental, and physical health.
While only vegetables and water are listed in the scripture, the word “pulse” in the King James Bible is defined as “bean or seed grown for food,” allowing for fruits, whole grains, and other plant-based foods to be included in the diet plan.
What You Can Eat on The Daniel Fast?
The Daniel Fast is essentially a vegan diet, but don’t go searching the grocery aisles for Impossible Burgers and almond milk ice cream quite yet. The fast is a whole foods, plant-based diet, emphasizing consumption of foods in their least processed form. Here’s what’s allowed on the menu:
Fruit: Fresh or frozen, and low-glycemic fruits in particular are encouraged. Low-glycemic fruits include berries, apples, peaches, grapefruit, cherries, and grapes. Canned fruit is also an option, but only if there is no added sugar, coloring, or other preservatives.
Vegetables: Fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables are all allowed on the diet plan, as long as there is no added salt. You can eat these—and even potatoes—in abundance.
Whole Grains: Go easy on the processed varieties and focus on cooking unrefined whole grains such as amaranth, barley, brown rice, quinoa, millet, oats, and wheat. Leavened bread, or breads made with yeast, are not allowed, but if you can find whole-grain breads and flatbreads made without yeast, those do fit within the parameters of the diet plan.
Legumes: Dried or canned varieties are both allowed, but canned versions shouldn’t have any salt or other additives. Types of legumes include black beans, chickpeas, lentils, and other bean varieties. These can also be eaten in abundance.
Soy products, such as tofu, are also allowed on The Daniel Fast, as long as they aren’t made with any additives.
Nuts & Seeds: All nuts and seeds are allowed, as long as they are raw or dry-roasted without salt.
High-Quality Oils: Plant-based oils are approved on The Daniel Fast, but they should be used in moderation. Canola, peanut, coconut, olive, avocado, sesame, grapeseed, and walnut oils are all healthy options.
Herbs & Spices: Herbs and spices will be key in flavoring your meals over the next few weeks. Investing in fresh herbs and having a host of spices to choose from will help make The Daniel Fast that much easier. Salt is allowed on the diet, but it should be used minimally.
Nutritional supplements are also allowed, as long as you aren’t reaching for gummy vitamins.
What You Can’t Eat on The Daniel Fast
Meat & Eggs: Animal protein of any kind is not allowed during the three-week fasting plan, and meat is specifically avoided in the Book of Daniel. Instead, participants are encouraged to obtain protein from legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
Dairy: Dairy is also not allowed on this diet, but you can substitute unprocessed or homemade non-dairy milks in recipes.
Considering a plant-based diet? Here’s what to know first:
Processed Foods: Any food that is processed beyond packaging is pretty much off limits on The Daniel Fast. This includes fried foods, many frozen products, and even most vegan-friendly packaged foods. This diet is all about emphasizing whole, unprocessed foods, so you’ll even need to ditch your veggie burgers, unless you can make one from-scratch with approved ingredients.
Our 20-Minute Black Bean Burger recipe can be adapted by replacing an egg with a “flax egg.” Mix one tablespoon of flax meal with three tablespoons of water, set in the fridge for five to ten minutes, and you have a flax egg!
Sweeteners: We aren’t just talking sugar here, but also maple syrup, honey, and other natural sweeteners. Fruit should be your only source of sweetener here. Dates are a great option for adding sweetness to meals, and mashed banana also is a great way to sweeten a bowl of oatmeal in the mornings.
Chewing Gum & Mints: Since processed foods are not on the list of approved foods, you can assume fruit is your only dessert option for 21 days. Gum and mints—which often contain zero grams of sugar—are no exception on The Daniel Fast. Make sure to read nutrition facts and ingredient lists closely, as the majority of brands are made with chemical additives and sugar alcohols.
Solid Fats: Butter, ghee, margarine, lard, and other shortenings are all off the list for three weeks, so investing in a good-quality vegetable oil will be worth your while. The only exception for solid fats here would be a nut or seed butter, as long as the nut or seed is the only ingredient.
Beverages: Water is the only beverage allowed on The Daniel Fast, meaning you might want to hide the coffee pot for a few weeks. Wine, juices, kombucha, soda, you name it—not allowed. Even flavored seltzer water, such as LaCroix isn’t allowed, due to the flavoring agents. While drinking only water for 21 days can seem boring, you can easily jazz it up by adding fruits and herbs. Check out our favorite infused water recipes, here.
How Much Can I Eat on The Daniel Fast?
There aren’t specific rules on the amount of food you eat, as it is more focused on which foods you eat. However, the diet is all about forgoing self-indulgence and gaining discipline, so sticking to three square meals with a snack or two if needed, should be sufficient.
The Daniel Fast-Approved Recipes
One way to make it easier to stick to The Daniel Fast is to have a list of approved recipes in your arsenal. Looking through vegan blogs and cookbooks for whole foods, plant-based recipes is a good place to start, and you can always adapt a recipe to fit the parameters of The Daniel Fast. Here are some of our favorite options:
This bowl is packed with 18 grams of protein and 16 grams of fiber, making this an excellent recipe for nourishing and powering your body.
View Recipe: Kale-and-Chickpea Grain Bowl With Avocado Dressing
You won’t miss the meat at all with this flavorful, hearty chili. Quinoa boosts the nutritional profile, adding in plant-protein, fiber, and a host of vitamins and minerals.
View Recipe: Quinoa and Roasted Red Pepper Chili
These breakfast tacos will make you forget you were ever on a diet! They even make a great dinner option as well if you just can’t get enough. Just make sure your tortillas are made with approved ingredients.
View Recipe: "Huevos" Soy-Cheros
Looking for more ideas? Our ultimate vegan recipe collection has plenty of delicious and easy meals to cook while you’re on The Daniel Fast.