The Practical Guide to Intermittent Fasting 18:6
Are you looking to shed some unwanted pounds? If so, you may want to try intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting has been shown to be effective for weight loss and a great way to improve overall health. This guide will discuss the basics of intermittent fasting 18:6, which differs from the more popular plan 16:8.
We’ll also provide tips for how to make intermittent fasting 18:6 work for you!
What is Intermittent Fasting 18/6?
Intermittent fasting (IF) is a pattern of eating that involves cycling between periods of fasting and eating.
Speficifaclly in this type of IF, the eating period is only 6 hours, and the fasting is 18.
During the eating period, they can eat whatever they want within reason. There are no restrictions on food. The eating style only restricts the eating windows.
These time restricting pattern is not for the faint of heart. It might take more time to get used to the long fasting period.
IF has become a popular way to manage weight and improve overall health. Some of the benefits include:
- Weight Loss
- Improved Insulin Resistance and Blood Sugar Levels
- Reduced Inflammation
- Reduced Stress and Anxiety Levels
- Improved Brain Functioning and Memory Retention
- Lower Cholesterol Levels
- Enhanced Heart Health
- Healthy Eating Habits Development
How Much Weight Can You Lose?
The answer may vary depending on your circumstances, but studies suggest it could lead to significant weight loss over time.
Intermittent fasting has been shown to lead to an average of 0.8 to 13% weight loss. This data was taken from a review of 40 studies.
Even more impressive, some studies have found that this eating pattern can help with weight loss in the long term. A study including 139 participants show a mean weight loss of 17.7 pounds at 12 months.
However, studies are not specific to the 18:6 time-restricted eating.
What Do You Eat and Drink?
Considering this is an 18-hour fast, it is good to know what you can drink without breaking the fast.
During the fasting period, you can only drink zero-calorie beverages.
5 Drinks That Don’t Break the Fast
- Lemon infused water
- Sparkling water
- Black coffee
Follow a Healthy Diet
There are no food restrictions on intermittent fasting. However, if you want to lose weight and improve your health, it is wise to eat healthily,
A diet should include a variety of foods from all the food groups: protein, carbohydrates, fats, fruits and vegetables, and water. It is also important to limit added sugars and saturated fats to maintain optimal health.
With the small, 6-hour eating window, it is hard to eat more than two meals. Thus, eating two nutrient-dense meals will help you nourish your body while losing weight. In addition, add a healthy snack in between meals.
An easy way to achieve this balance is to follow the Harvard eating plate. In this method, your plate looks like this:
- 1/4 of the plate is dedicated to lean or plant-based proteins.
- 1/4 is filled with whole grains or other types of carbohydrates high in fiber.
- The rest is mostly non-starchy vegetables and some fruits.
Healthy snacks include vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and protein. The rule of thumb when selecting a snack is to make sure that it is nourishing your body.
Other healthy meal patterns include the Mediterranean diet and the plant-forward diet. However, keep in mind that there are no restrictions on what you can eat. These eating patterns are only helpful guidelines.
Want some ideas for healthy snacks? Check out:
Examples of Eating Schedules
While there is no specific schedule to follow, here are a few examples of the 18:6 fast schedule:
8 am – 2 pm – Eating
2 pm – 8 am – Fasting
12 pm – 5 pm – Eating
5 pm – 12 am – Fasting
2 pm – 8 pm – Eating
8 pm – 2 am – Fasting
This schedule can be adjusted to fit your daily life. Make sure you’re fasting for a total of 18 hours and eating for six.
How to Start Intermittent Fasting
Starting a time-restricted plan can seem intimidating, especially with a long fasting window.
Here are some tips to help you get started and make the transition easier:
Gradually increase the length of your fast until you reach the desired goal of 18 hours.
For example, you can start by fasting for twelve hours and eating for twelve. Once you feel comfortable, increase the fasting window to 14 hours, and so on.
Choose Your Eating Window
You can start your eating window at any time of day, depending on your schedule.
For example, in the USA, lunch is at noon, and most people finish work around 5:00 pm. Therefore, the midday schedule will work well for someone following this traditional schedule.
Drink Plenty of Water
Staying hydrated is important for a successful IF plan. It will help you feel fuller.
Eat Satisfying Meals
Make sure to include healthy fats, protein, and fiber to feel fuller for longer.
Find Ways to Distract Yourself
Find activities you can do while fasting to keep your mind off food, for example, reading a book or taking a walk.
How to Reduce Hunger Pangs
Hunger pangs are normal while fasting and can be managed with various strategies.
- Drink plenty of water
- Eat satisfying meals with healthy fats, protein, and fiber to stay full for longer
- Distract yourself with activities like listening to music or picking up a hobby
- Avoid routines that trigger food intake, such as sitting to watch TV
- Avoid obvious triggers such as looking at food photos or watching cooking shows that may stimulate hunger
- Get adequate sleep each night to reduce hunger hormones
- Plan by preparing your meals in advance, so you can eat as soon as your eating window starts
Intermittent fasting has become a popular way to manage weight and improve overall health, but it is important to be aware of the potential side effects.
While most people do not experience any serious side effects from intermittent fasting, some may feel uncomfortable during the transition period or while they are actively fasting.
Common side effects include hunger pangs, low energy levels, irritability, headaches, and difficulty sleeping.
It is also possible that IF could aggravate existing conditions such as diabetes or eating disorders. Therefore, speaking with your doctor before starting an intermittent fasting plan is important.
If you are taking medications to lower your blood sugar, such as insulin, your doctor will likely change your medications to prevent dangerous blood glucose levels. Your doctor might also advise you against following this restricted eating window.
Who Should Not Follow This Plan
Intermittent fasting is not for everyone. This eating style might not be suitable for you if:
- You regularly experience low blood sugar
- You have diabetes and are taking medications to lower blood glucose
- You are underweight
- You have an eating disorder
- You are immunocompromised
Frequently Asked Questions
Could I drink coffee with MCT oil, ghee, coconut oil, or butter?
Some people drink coffee with healthy fat while on IF. This will break the fast but will not break ketosis.
Does intermittent fasting work for weight loss?
Studies have shown that intermittent fasting can be an effective tool for weight loss. A review of 27 studies found that those following this lifestyle lost between 0.8% to 13.0% of their initial body weight.
Around 44% of these studies compared IF to calorie restriction ground equivalent results.
However, more extended studies are needed to better understand the benefits of this eating plan.
How does intermittent fasting work?
Intermittent fasting works by limiting the time you eat food. This helps reduce your overall caloric intake, leading to weight loss over time.
How is IF 18:6 different from other types of intermittent fasting?
It is all in the number of hours you fast. IF 18:6 is a specific type of intermittent fasting where you fast for eighteen hours and eat within a six-hour window. Other types of IF include 15:9 and 16:8., with the first number indicating the number of hours in the fasting window and the second the number of hours in the eating window.
Other types of fasting include full-day fasting such as alternate-day fasting. It is also important to mention that during this type of fasting, one can eat 500 calories on fasting days.
My Expert Opinion
Intermittent fasting is an effective and sustainable way to lose weight and improve overall health. In practice, intermittent fasting works because it eliminates the mindless snacking that often occurs at nighttime- often while watching TV.
However, this specific type of IF might be longer than what is easy to follow.
Dr. Su-Nui Escobar, a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist in Miami, FL, is dedicated to empowering women in perimenopause and menopause to live healthier, more satisfying lives.
With a doctorate in clinical nutrition from the University of North Florida, she has expertise in menopause and weight loss, including the unique challenges faced by those on weight loss medications.
Su-Nui’s passion for her field is evident in her previous role as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson.