What Is Intuitive Fasting And Is It Healthy?

Fasting is an age-old tradition that involves abstaining from food for a certain amount of hours. There are many variations of fasting, and the newest type to gain popularity is intuitive fasting, which is a form of intermittent fasting.

Intermittent fasting involves going without food for a specific number of hours. Some people fast for 12 hours and eat their meals within the remaining 12 hours of the day, say from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Other popular fasting schedules include fasting for 16 hours and eating within an eight hour window (16:8) or fasting for 18 hours and eating within a 6 hour window (18:6). With intuitive fasting, you're able to adjust those eating windows throughout the week based on your own needs.

Will Cole, IFMCP, DNM, D.C., a functional medicine practitioner and author of the book, Intuitive Fasting, says that the method is like "yoga for your metabolism," suggesting that a flexible metabolism gained from fasting intuitively helps you understand if you are actually hungry as opposed to being tired or having sugar cravings (via Insider).

Intuitive fasting boasts several health benefits

Intermittent fasting is credited with a variety of health benefits. Studies show it helps regulate blood sugar, insulin resistance, and LDL cholesterol. It is also linked to a reduction of inflammation, and it shows promise in the fields of brain health and anti-aging. Because it limits when you can eat, the practice is also linked to weight loss (via Healthline).

Dr. Cole writes that when you fast intuitively, you are giving yourself a chance to alter poor eating habits and eliminate the fatigue and cravings that often go along with them. The flexibility of setting your own fasting schedule helps relieve some of the stress you might feel from sticking to a rigid intermittent fasting schedule. 

While intuitive fasting might offer several advantages, it could still trigger those with eating disorders. Dr. Cole suggests that anyone with a history of disordered eating check with their doctor before embarking on an intuitive fasting journey or any type of extreme diet change (via Parade).