Wellness

coffee cup

How Coffee Fits into an Intuitive Fasting Protocol

When functional medicine practitioner Will Cole introduces his patients to intermittent fasting, one of the first questions they typically ask is: Is it okay to drink coffee during my fasting period?

Us, too. Thankfully, Cole answers those questions and more in his latest book, Intuitive Fasting, which is out this week from goop Press. His clear, flexible four-week program includes meal plans, recipes, and daily eating schedules. And it is also a wonderful education on the most effective ways to fast and which foods to eat when in order to amplify the benefits of intermittent fasting. Throughout the book, Cole shares holistic strategies for reducing inflammation, recharging your metabolism, and resetting gut health.

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Which brings us back to coffee. In this adapted excerpt from Intuitive Fasting, Cole explains some good news: Yes, you can have coffee while you’re fasting—and it may help you establish metabolic flexibility. And there are other ways to maximize the benefits of a fasting period, including taking advantage of different varieties of tea for different unique upsides. It’s all part of Chapter 10: Your Intuitive Fasting Toolbox.

P.S. Cole is teaching a workshop about intuitive fasting at our next wellness summit, which kicks off on March 6. It’s designed as a (fully digital) reset: You’ll be guided through classes, workshops, and conversations throughout the month. And for anyone who is interested in trying the four-week intermittent fasting plan, Cole’s agreed to guide the group through it. You’ll get access to him on video and on Slack throughout the month.

Unpacking Your Intuitive Fasting Toolbox:
Coffee Answers

Adapted from Intuitive Fasting by Will Cole

Coffee is a controversial topic in the wellness world. For the purposes of the 4-Week Flexible Fasting Plan, coffee consumption is allowed as long as you’re not adding any milk or sugar. Why? Because coffee contains zero calories and zero sugar and may help you establish metabolic flexibility. Coffee has displayed inflammation-fighting, fat-burning, and insulin-balancing properties and is also a great source of antioxidants. There is also some evidence that coffee and caffeine can reduce appetite and even help your body burn more calories.

For coffee lovers, this is great news! Feel free to keep enjoying your coffee throughout the plan—there’s no need to feel like you have to deprive yourself of your favorite drink! If you’re used to coffee with milk and sugar and want a fasting-friendly creamy coffee recipe, try making your coffee keto-friendly by adding MCTs.

By adding healthy fats to your coffee, you are giving your brain exactly what it needs to be mentally sharp and your body what it needs to be physically energized.

Fasting Coffee

Makes one 8-ounce coffee

  1. 1 tablespoon grass-fed ghee

  2. 1 tablespoon coconut oil or MCT oil

  3. 1 cup freshly brewed organic coffee

Using a blender or a handheld milk frother, blend all ingredients until frothy.

All that said, you don’t want to overdo it, either. Coffee contains caffeine, which is a powerful drug. Drink too much and you can end up with anxiety, insomnia, digestive issues, heart palpitations, high blood pressure, panic attacks, nervousness, and even nausea and vomiting. You don’t need me to tell you that these are things you want to avoid. My recommendation is to continue with your typical coffee habits throughout the plan. It’s definitely not the time to increase your caffeine intake or start drinking caffeine for the first time.

This is particularly true if you think you might have a hormonal imbalance or a caffeine sensitivity. One gene variant, which codes for the enzyme CYP1A2, causes people to metabolize caffeine more slowly. I often test to see if my patients have this genetic variant because slow metabolizers don’t do well with any caffeine; even a small cup will leave them feeling jittery and with a racing heart. If you think coffee might be an issue for you, the 4-Week Flexible Fasting Plan is a great opportunity to decrease your consumption and see how you feel.

For Tea-Drinkers

The Fasting London Fog

  1. 1 Earl Grey tea bag

  2. 1 cup hot water

  3. ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

  4. 1 tablespoon grass-fed ghee

  5. 1 tablespoon coconut oil or MCT oil

  6. keto sweetener to taste

Brew tea in hot water—covered—for 3 to 5 minutes. Then, using a blender or a handheld milk frother, blend all ingredients together until frothy.

Grey tea is a black tea that traditionally includes bergamot oil. Beyond taste, I love Earl Grey for its health benefits. Personally, I sip organic Earl Grey tea when I am doing intermittent fasting—and I make sure it has real bergamot, not just bergamot flavoring. If you don’t have Earl Grey tea on hand, you can mix a drop or two of pure bergamot essential oil into black tea to create the same taste and benefits of Earl Grey. Bergamot oil can also be added to different kinds of food, like dips and desserts, to given them a hint of citrus flavor.


Adapted from Intuitive Fasting. Copyright © 2021 by Will Cole. Excerpted by permission of goop Press and Rodale Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.


This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. To the extent that this article features the advice of physicians or medical practitioners, the views expressed are the views of the cited expert and do not necessarily represent the views of goop.