What is 18/6 Intermittent Fasting | How to Follow 18/6 Intermittent Fasting | What to Eat in 18/6 Fasting | Benefits | Disadvantages
Intermittent fasting is a diet that has helped many people lose weight and maintain overall health. There are many variations of the fasting diet, but the 18/6 intermittent fasting seems to have a fan following among all. It involves skipping meals for 18 hours and then eating only during 6 hours.
A similar but more popular intermittent fasting plan than 18/6 is 16/8 fasting. It involves 16-hour fasting period and 8 hours of eating time. People who can accomplish it comfortably go for the 18/6 fasting plan. Let us get into the detail of the 18/6 intermittent fasting diet with the help of this guide.
What is 18/6 Intermittent Fasting?
18/6 is a fasting plan gives an eating window of 6 hours, and you fast for 18 hours at a stretch in a day. There is no restriction on what you should eat in the eating window, as long as you are consuming it in the eating window.
You can execute an 18-hour fast schedule every day or a couple of times per week. It’s entirely up to you how often you want to repeat this cycle.
It’s easy to implement 18/6 fasting because it doesn’t require you to adjust your eating habits. It allows you to fast in a more flexible way than other fasting or diet regimes.
How to Follow 18/6 Intermittent Fasting?
It depends on the time of day you are most comfortable not eating. Some people cannot skip the morning breakfast, so they choose the 6-hour eating slot that includes breakfast and lunch.
Others who wake up late or prefer their dinner can just have lunch and dinner. Depending on your comfort, you can set your 18/6 intermittent fasting meal plan.
So, there isn’t a hard and fast rule on when you should or should not eat. You can customize the plan according to what works best for you. Even though an 18-hour fast in a day might sound crude, it is not that tough to follow since most of the fasting window is covered in the sleeping time.
So, It is better to add a good sleep of seven hours to your routine to avoid hunger cravings. Also, you should try eating foods that make you feel fuller and not bloated. Foods like fresh fruits, fiber-rich veggies, curd, buttermilk, low-fat milk, fish, and lean meat are believed to help avoid bloating.
What to Eat in 18/6 Fasting?
It is important to pay attention to what you eat during eating time, and what is your eating pattern. You should have a diet rich in essential vitamins and minerals. Eating protein, legumes, fruits, vegetables, olive oil, dairy, etc., which are rich in healthy fats, minerals, fiber, complex carbohydrates, and vitamins, is important to maintain a balanced diet.
You can have water, unsweetened and milk-free coffee or tea, or water even during fasting. Some people who aren’t strict in fasting also have low-calorie food items or beverages such as coffee creamers and artificial sweeteners. However, these can induce hunger and make fasting tougher.
You need not specifically worry about how many calories to eat during intermittent fasting 18/6. However, it is best to choose healthy food over processed food, fried snacks, frozen food, and sweetened drinks as they may negatively affect digestion and body metabolism.
For more tips on what to eat when fasting, check our article: What To Eat During Intermittent Fasting: A Full Guide
What to Drink while 18/6 Fasting?
Feel free to drink black coffee, tea, water, and most any zero calorie drink. But be careful of processed drinks with chemical additives, this can negate the fast.
18/6 Fasting and Weight Loss
Research shows that intermittent fasting promotes growth hormones which push the body to use up stored fats, leading to fat-burning. If followed properly, since it is more restrictive, intermittent fasting 18/6 results might show extra weight loss than other simpler fasting plans.
However, there isn’t a clear indicator on whether 18/6 or any time-restricted intermittent fasting plans work better than other calorie-restricting diet plans to lose weight. 18:6 fasting weight loss results will also depend on individual body metabolism.
If you’re thinking about trying intermittent fasting to lose weight, check out – Intermittent Fasting For Weight Loss: 7 Tips For Best Results for all the information you need.
Want to know what results you can expect? See some intermittent fasting results from 18/6 – click HERE.
Health Benefits of 18/6 Intermittent Fasting
There are many touted benefits of extended night-time fasting, which directly depict 18/6 fasting benefits. Research suggests an overall improvement in health with prolonged fasting.
Yay! This is the #1 benefit of fasting, weight loss! The first visible 18/6 intermittent fasting results 1 month in should be significant in such a short time, most people who follow this fasting plan experience is weight loss. As indicated in the research studies, the calorie intake is restricted with an 18/6 fast and it improves the metabolic markers.
This beings desirable weight loss and with structured and consistent lifestyle modifications you get long-lasting results. Be sure to incorporate weight lifting or resistance training to maintain or gain muscle mass as well, which will also maximize your fat loss.
The fasting window stops glucose production as there is no food in the body. Also, the pancreas does not need to produce more insulin to make the glucose reach the body cells, which is the primary reason behind insulin resistance. Thus, diabetes is automatically controlled while following an intermittent fasting regime. Also helps balance blood sugar levels and Insulin levels.
Aids Cognition and Cerebrovascular System
Intermittent fasting is known to have effects on the brain and cognitive functions. It induces cellular adaptations in neurons, by increasing stress resistance, neurogenesis, and synaptic plasticity. Still, more research is needed to recommend intermittent fasting for cerebrovascular issues in regular clinical practice.
Prevents Cardio-metabolic Disease
Intermittent fasting helps increase the good cholesterol or the beneficial lipoproteins in the body and limits the production of bad cholesterol.
Thus intermittent fasting is good for heart health and protects from the risk of heart attacks or artery blockage. 18/6 Fasting also helps prevent Heart Disease and may even lower blood pressure!
Reduction in Inflammation
Intermittent fasting is known to reduce oxidative stress markers such as C-reactive protein and regulate hormones such as leptin and adiponectin. A study conducted during the Islamic Ramadan season indicates a reduction in inflammation with intermittent fasting.
18/6 Fasting starts the process of autophagy- where the body cells begin to eliminate damaged cells and heal them on their own. It is among the best 18 hour fast benefits. It reduces the chance of chronic diseases and facilitates an automatic detox process.
To know more about how fasting-induced autophagy can help you cleanse your body, read – Autophagy & Fasting: All You Need To Know.
Pushes Metabolic Activity
Due to the longer fasting time, the body might go into a state of ketosis. The released ketones will shift the body’s energy requirements from glucose, from the food we consume to stored fat cells. It automatically boosts metabolism and further strengthens the immune system.
However, the excess of ketones in diabetic patients can be fatal as these can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). So, people with diabetes are strictly advised to follow intermittent fasting under their doctor’s observation.
Cons of Intermittent Fasting schedule 18/6
Weakness and fatigue
Due to a restricted eating duration, some people might not be able to complete their nutrition requirements and end up feeling tired all the time.
These symptoms might occur in the initial phases of fasting and might reduce after the person gets into a routine.
If you try to binge eat during your 6-hour eating period, your digestion might get haywire. Some people experience bloating due to over-eating. Some people may eat more in the eating window due to time restrictions and end up bloated or gaining weight.
While some people report improved digestion and feeling less hungry with intermittent fasting, some practitioners observed the reverse. They felt constant hunger and it was challenging to sustain the fast.
Difficulty in coordinating medication
It might be difficult to coordinate medications that cannot be taken on an empty stomach. Consulting a doctor is crucial before taking on a strict fasting plan such as 18/6.
Affects reproductive health
Some animal studies show intermittent fasting negatively affects the reproductive system due to poor nutrition, however this data is flawed. The highlighting effects of the study were loss of body weight, blood glucose, menstrual cyclicity, and estradiol hormone. Therefore it’s especially important to pay attention to what you are eating while doing fasting. If you eat a healthy diet full of nutritious foods and fulfill your protein and calorie needs, your reproductive health will not be altered, so this is actually false in reality.
You might have to struggle with insufficient vitamins and minerals in your body due to the limited eating time. You can try to cover this by eating healthy foods to the best possible to meet this nutrient gap.
18/6 Intermittent Fasting Meal Plan Example – 5 Days
Here is an example 16/8 Intermittent Fasting meal plan for one week:
- 10AM- 2 scrambled eggs, slice of whole grain toast, 1 orange, black coffee or tea
- 12PM- Turkey wrap (whole grain wrap with sliced turkey, feta, cucumbers spinach), handful of mixed nuts
- 2PM- Carrots and peppers, hummus
- 4PM- Salmon, roasted sweet potatoes & broccoli
- 4PM- 2 dark chocolate squares, handful of raspberries
- 10AM- ½ cup oatmeal topped with walnuts, chia seeds, and nut butter, ½ banana, black coffee or tea
- 12PM- Cobb salad (ham, turkey, egg on a bed of mixed greens topped with avocado, cucumber, tomato)
- 2PM- whole grain popcorn, handful of blueberries
- 4PM- Vegetarian chili, slice of whole grain bread
- 4PM- apple, nut butter
- 10AM- 2 scrambled eggs, turkey bacon, banana, black coffee or tea
- 12PM- Burrito bowl (black beans, corn, brown rice, cheese, salsa)
- 2PM- Roasted chickpeas with sprinkle of paprika and salt, apple
- 4PM- Baked chicken breast, whole wheat noodles with tomato sauce, garden salad with vinaigrette based dressing
- 4PM- 2 dark chocolate squares, handful of blueberries
- 10AM- ½ cup oatmeal topped with walnuts, chia seeds, and nut butter, ½ banana, black coffee or herbal tea
- 12PM- Tuna salad (sub greek yogurt or avocado for mayo), spinach, whole grain bread
- 2PM- Mozzarella string cheese, apple
- 4PM- Steak fajitas, brown rice, roasted peppers and corn
- 4PM- carrots, hummus
- 10AM- Smashed avocado with seasoning of choice on whole grain bread
- 12PM- Mediterranean wrap (chickpeas, cucumber, mixed greens, feta on whole grain wrap)
- 2PM- Greek yogurt, handful of raspberries
- 4PM- Baked chicken breast, quinoa, steamed cauliflower and carrots
- 4PM- Apple, boiled egg
If you have a history of eating disorders or other digestive issues, you should consult with your doctor before starting 18/6 intermittent fasting. After you start the plan, if you feel your body is too exhausted or just not doing well, you might want to switch to more moderate forms of fasting. Be sure when managing your food intake to watch your daily calories, and also make sure you are eating a healthy diet of nutrient-dense foods
It is better to avoid any sort of dietary restriction if you are breastfeeding or pregnant. 18/6 Fasting, when done cautiously with a good nutrient-rich diet plan, can go a long way in improving the overall metabolic health, ward-off diseases, and ensuring longevity. You can consult with a dietician to set you an 18-hour fasting diet that works best for you.
Are you having trouble planning your intermittent fasting? Join our 21-day Intermittent Fasting Challenge to receive daily guidelines, ideas, and reminders to help you remain on track. Click here and join an exclusive community of like-minded people from all over the world.
I recommend starting here to learn more about these types of fasting which are the MOST popular, starting with 16/8 Fasting, click on these guides below to learn more:
16/8 Fasting Guide, 14/10 Fasting Guide, 18/6 Fasting Guide, One Meal a Day Guide.
Also need help fasting? Check out these Top 6 Fasting Mobile Apps we recommend to help you on your journey.