Do Catholics Fast?

People of the Catholic faith fast during some parts of the year. Fasting is an integral part of Catholicism, representing abstinence and faith. Catholics do not fast regularly like some other religions, but they do fast during specific times.

These popular fasting times fall on important Catholic holidays, like Ash Wednesday. They pay tribute to the Catholic faith and aim to create a more direct pathway to the Lord.

Continue reading to explore when and why Catholics may fast during some parts of the year.

Catholic Fasting Beliefs

Catholics believe in fasting. They do not fast as frequently as some other faiths, but they still believe in fasting because it represents some of their core religious values.

The days of fasting represent abstinence, something important to the Catholic faith.

These fasting days mean purity and help people of the Catholic faith form a deeper, more meaningful connection with God.

When Do Catholics Fast? 

Catholics have two days of obligatory fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Some people consider the meat-free Fridays of Lent as fasting days because they refrain from eating meat on these days. 

Required times of fasting include: 

  • Fridays during Lent
  • Ash Wednesday
  • Good Friday
  • Fridays

The fast of Good Friday is a notable instance of Catholic fasting. Often called paschal fast, this Catholic fasting honors the suffering and death of Lord Jesus.

The Paschal fast on Good Friday is typically followed by a holy feast on the day of Jesus’ resurrection. 

Why Do Catholics Fast?

Fasting represents abstinence to Catholics, something that is very important to their religious values. According to Daniel 9:3, fasting clears a path to God.

So, in other words, when Catholics fast, this helps them get closer to God. Fasting also represents strength, given you are able to connect yourself with the Lord in a more pure state.

What are the Catholic fasting rules?

There are several rules to Catholic fastings, such as not eating meat, eating one meal a day, and going for several hours without eating.

It is important that Catholics abide by these strict rules because they represent something much larger than a simple act.

Their core religious beliefs prevent Catholics from eating for several days throughout the year.

Fasting rules for Catholics include:

No eating meat while fasting 

There are several reasons that Catholics do not eat meat while fasting, most notably relating to Jesus’ sacrifice. The main reason typically depends on the celebratory day and the persons belief.

Two critical rules for Catholics is not eating meat during Lent or Good Friday. The meat was selected as a sacrifice for the Catholic faith because it was chosen as a celebratory food when Jesus died.

Furthermore, Catholics do not eat flesh meat on Good Friday because it symbolizes the flesh Jesus sacrificed when he died on the cross. 

There are strict ages for fasting

Fasting becomes obligatory from ages 18 until age 59. Catholic fasting begins when the person reaches adulthood and reaches full mental and physical maturity. Before and after these ages, fasting is optional but not mandatory. 

Only one meal per day 

On days of fasting, Catholics believe in having only one full meal per day. In addition to this one meal, they may also indulge in two smaller meals.

You must portion the two smaller meals out equally, so they do not equal the size of a full meal. 


Catholics fast relatively frequently but not as often as other faiths. According to Daniel 9:3, fasting clears a path to God, giving Catholics the opportunity to reach God easier.

Catholics have strict fasting rules because of their dedication to purity and desire for a connection to the Lord.

Catholics go through mandatory fasting between the ages of 18 and 59.

However, some people choose to fast during other stages of their lives because of their dedication to their faith.

During this point in Catholic people’s lives, they will eat only one meatless meal daily (with two micro meals before and after).

If necessary, you can make dietary restrictions to accommodate any health needs.