This Type Of Flexible Fasting Is Like A Yoga Class For Your Metabolism
In my telehealth functional medicine clinic, when I first meet my patients online, they are often struggling with varying issues of fatigue, blood sugar problems, hormone imbalances, metabolic issues, and inflammation. They wonder why they can't function in the afternoon without a sugar-filled latte or why they are still hungry after a meal. It can feel like their whole lives revolve around trying to avoid hunger, insatiable cravings, blood sugar crashes, and dips in energy.
If this sounds like you, these symptoms are a big sign that some of the signals in your body have gone haywire and are sending you the wrong messages. So, how do we take back control? How do we have agency and freedom over our health? In my experience, the answer is regaining metabolic flexibility—our body's ability to adapt and use whatever fuel is available—through introducing our body to various types of fasting.
Think of flexible intermittent fasting as a yoga class for your metabolism. This ebbing and flowing between various fasting windows is akin to stretching and strengthening your body. In my new book Intuitive Fasting, I've developed a four-week flexible plan that will walk you through different fasting windows. This format is designed to stretch and strengthen your metabolism so you can feel good all day long and say goodbye to those nagging cravings. And just like a yoga class, you will gain resilience, intuition, and a rootedness in your body.
Now, let's take a look at each week of my plan to learn more about how it can support your metabolism for the better:
Week 1: 12/12 Body Reset Fast
This week is all about resetting your body, creating a foundation that allows for greater metabolic flexibility, and training your body to access fat for fuel. We start with a light time-restricted feeding window because it allows you to get the benefits of fasting without completely upending your daily routine. For example, having your last meal by 7 p.m. and not eating again until 7 a.m. will give you 12 hours of uninterrupted fasting through the night while still being able to enjoy breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Week 2: 14- to 18-Hour Metabolic Recharge Fast
Now that we've established a foundation, this week is all about recharging your metabolism to work for you instead of against you. To do this, we'll be extending your fasting window to 14 to 18 hours. This puts your body deeper into ketosis and can help improve metabolic markers like better blood sugar balance, lowered leptin levels, and less inflammation.
Week 3: 20- to 22-Hour Cellular Renewal Fast
Over this week, you'll be doing your longest fasts by completing 20- to 22-hour fasts every other day. As we lean into these longer almost OMAD (one meal a day) fasts, we lean into more potential benefits like supporting autophagy (cellular repair), stem-cell activation, and other longevity pathways. Like that proverbial yoga class, you continue to gain strength and flexibility. Think of this longer fast like holding that warrior 2 pose, gaining inner stillness and resilience.
Week 4: 12/12 Rebalance Fast
For the final week, you will be returning to the 12-hour fasting window from the first week. But this time, we'll be adding more "clean carb-up" days, which means increasing your nutritious carbohydrates like fruits, sweet potatoes, and rice. This cyclical approach, paired with a bigger eating window and shorter fasts, can help support thyroid hormones and progesterone for women.
Although periodic longer fasting windows have their benefits, I've designed this four-week plan to stretch your eating windows and help you become metabolically flexible, sustainably. If fasting variability is a yoga class for your metabolism, then "Rebalance Week" is the savasana. You know, that time at the end of your yoga class where you lie down, relax, and meditate on all the amazing work you just did?
This tailored approach allows you to use both the tools of fasting and a clean diet to help, like yoga, center yourself and reconnect with the way your body is supposed to feel. The gentle, flexible fasting windows are designed to elevate how you feel and ground you in your body so that you can find food and body peace.
So if you are ready to take back control of your hunger, grab a copy of Intuitive Fasting for the full four-week guide along with tips and tricks and over 65 delicious recipes for enhancing the benefits of your flexible fasts.
Will Cole, IFMCP, DNM, D.C., is a leading functional medicine expert who consults people around the world via webcam and locally in Pittsburgh. He has holds a level 2 Doctor of Natural Medicine (DNM) certification. Named one of the top 50 functional and integrative doctors in the nation, Cole specializes in clinically investigating underlying factors of chronic disease and customizing a functional medicine approach for thyroid issues, autoimmune conditions, hormonal imbalances, digestive disorders, and brain problems. He is also the host of the popular The Art Of Being Well podcast and bestselling author of Ketotarian, The Inflammation Spectrum, and the New York Times bestseller Intuitive Fasting.