There are a plethora of benefits associated with intermittent fasting, with a few being weight loss, improved digestion, increased energy, better sleep, and improved digestion.
There are numerous ways to integrate intermittent fasting into your life, and if you are reading this, it is something you have considered.
Before starting a new intermittent fasting schedule, you must consult your doctor first. Once your doctor states that you can start your fast, you can begin with one.
Generally, most people start with the 14:10 fast, where they fast for 14 hours and can eat between a 10-hour window.
Once this is mastered, they move on to the 18:6 protocol, which shortens the eating window by 4 hours. This article will discuss what 18/6 is and how to begin your 18/6 intermittent fasting journey.
Not sure what to choose between IF fasting and diet? Find out here.
What Is 18/6 Intermittent Fasting?
18/6 intermittent fasting is all about fasting for 18 hours of the entire day and having a 6-hour window to eat. When you adhere to this intermittent fasting schedule, you could have lunch around 1:30 pm, a snack around 4 and then finish your eating window by having dinner by 7:30 pm.
You should note that this form of intermittent fasting is more rigid and recommended for expert fasters that have tried other intermittent fasting plans.
This 18/6 intermittent fasting method is best suited to those that have seen their weight loss progress stall with a 16/8. It can also be suited to individuals that tend to eat more with a longer window.
Weight Loss and 18/6 Intermittent Fasting: How Does It Work?
Intermittent fasting can help you with weight loss by reducing insulin levels which then causes you to burn fat. This manner of weight loss differs from the general method typically suggested by experts.
If you force yourself to reduce your calorie intake from 2,500 to 2,000 calories a day, your body will be forced to lower its metabolic rate to tie in the new amount of calories. This can slow your metabolism, making you feel hungry, tired, and cold.
Your weight loss ultimately plateaus, meaning you have to eat even less to activate your weight loss.
Research has shown that following an intermittent fasting schedule can help individuals lose weight and, in people with diabetes, reverse their condition, even help them get off medication. If insulin levels in the body are low, fat stores can become a new source of energy.
Most people who undergo intermittent fasting discover that their hunger reduces, which is why 18/6 intermittent fasting is one of the most effective ways to help those who overeat. Eating your daily calorie intake only in a shorter window is important when conducting any intermittent fasting regimen.
Advantages of 18/6 Intermittent Fasting
It Lets You Eat the Foods You Love
With the 18/6 intermittent fasting regimen, you have more wiggle room when selecting the foods you eat. This means you can choose a higher-carb or higher-calorie food item that another diet may have restricted. You can also eat breakfast foods, which is great for those that typically skip breakfast; you are simply delaying your meal till later.
It Lets You Consume Larger Meals
You can consume bigger meals when you undertake the 18/6 intermittent fasting program. This is because your calorie intake window is quite short, causing you to eat bigger meals that satisfy you. Moreover, when you eat bigger meals, you are bound to feel full compared to when you eat three to six smaller meals during the day.
It Can Improve Your Sleep
An 18/6 intermittent fasting regimen can be useful for those who sleep earlier. For example, if you have dinner by 6 pm, you don’t have to worry about bingeing on snacks after since you would head to bed with a full stomach. This can help you imbibe a new night routine, where you have a cup of tea and simply go to sleep.
It Can Give You Increased Energy and a Clear Mind
Once your body adjusts to your new intermittent fasting schedule, you will gain an enhanced sense of focus and mental clarity. This means you have more energy and never have to deal with brain fog.
It Can Improve Digestion
Consuming less food during the day has been shown to help prevent or reduce bloating while improving digestion.
It Is Flexible
The 18/6 intermittent fasting regimen is quite adaptable for those that require it. For example, if you enjoy having a late lunch, you could always shift your eating window to earlier or later.
It Is Easy to Stick to Every Day
The 18/6 intermittent fasting doesn’t provide too much disruption to your schedule. You simply have to skip breakfast and then eat dinner earlier. This makes it an easy intermittent fasting program to follow.
Disadvantages of 18:6 Intermittent Fasting
It Can Result in Binge Eating
This is especially true for any type of intermittent fasting; however, since 18/6 intermittent fasting is quite strict, it can trigger some unhealthy behaviors, particularly in individuals with a history of eating disorders.
You should carry out any type of intermittent fasting method only after a medical practitioner has given you the all-clear. While you might be comfortable doing a less stressful intermittent fasting method, it is still important to speak to a professional, especially if you have an eating disorder; intermittent fasting shouldn’t harm your life.
It Can Make You Feel Hungry
If you do not make it a point to consume enough healthy fats, protein, and calories, you can feel tired or hungry during your 18/6 intermittent fasting schedule.
It Can Result in Digestive Problems
While certain people undergoing an intermittent fasting regimen can experience improvement in their gut health from simply eating fewer hours, some can struggle to achieve their daily calorie intake without feeling stuffed.
It Can Feel Restrictive
If you are used to eating whatever you want all day, sticking to a program that utilizes a form of calorie restriction can seem almost impossible.
How to Be Successful When Starting 18/6 Intermittent Fasting
Just as with any eating change, there is always an adjustment period. One thing to remember when attempting 18/6 intermittent fasting is not to dive into it. This is especially true if you have never attempted intermittent fasting.
You should begin with a half a day fasting window and then steadily work up through 14 and then 16 hours. While undergoing intermittent fasting, ensure that you only drink plain water, carbonated water, tea, and black coffee. Consuming anything else, such as stevia or cream in your tea or coffee, can induce hunger, making the fasting window even more difficult.
Sleeping at least 7 hours every night is important to eliminate fatigue-induced cravings. When eating, always select nutrient-packed foods and eat until you are full, not stuffed. The focus should be on consuming healthy fats, plenty of fiber, complex carbs, and protein.
Furthermore, you can use an application to help you track your 18/6 intermittent fasting plan. The app can be used to track your day-to-day progress and provide you with inspiration and motivation to continue.
About the author:
Rob Jones is a father of two who lives in Massachusetts and enjoys cooking and his dog Beau. Rob has spent years studying food and its effects on the body and mind. He believes in moderation and enjoyment.