18/6 intermittent fasting has become a popular health trend in recent years and for good reason!
It has been shown to support weight loss, improve metabolism, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
In this post, we’ll discuss this fasting method and how it can help you lose weight.
What is 18/6 Intermittent Fasting?
18/6 intermittent fasting is an eating strategy that involves fasting for 18 hours and then eating during a 6-hour window.
During the fasting period, you can consume water, tea, coffee, or other zero-calorie beverages.
A feeding window follows this fasting window where you eat healthy, nutrient-dense foods.
What does Fasting do for your Body?
Fasting offers benefits for weight loss, chronic disease prevention, and healthy aging. Below are 4 benefits of fasting for your body.
1. Improved Metabolism
As we age, our metabolism slows down, making it more difficult to maintain a healthy weight.
Intermittent fasting may improve metabolism by switching the body from glucose metabolism to fat metabolism.
This shift can promote weight loss and improved body composition.
In a 2016 study published in the Journal of Nutrition and Healthy Aging, researchers found that a 6-hour eating window and an 18-hour fasting window improved body weight, blood pressure, and oxidative stress levels in overweight individuals over a period of four months.
2. Increased Autophagy
Autophagy is the process by which the body removes damaged cells and proteins.
18/6 Intermittent fasting may increase autophagy, which can reduce the risk of age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
3. Reduced Inflammation
Chronic inflammation is a common factor in many age-related diseases, such as arthritis and cardiovascular disease.
18/6 Intermittent fasting can reduce inflammation and support a healthy immune system.
A 2018 study published in the journal Cell Metabolism found that a 16-hour fasting period improved insulin sensitivity and blood lipid levels in healthy adults.
While this study didn’t specifically test an 18/6 fasting schedule, it does suggest that a longer fasting window may have similar benefits.
4. Improved Cognitive Function
Intermittent fasting may improve cognitive function, which can help reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia.
5. Increased Longevity
18/6 intermittent fasting may increase lifespan in animals, and some studies suggest it may have similar effects in humans.
A 2010 review of animal studies published in the journal Ageing Research Reviews found that intermittent fasting can extend lifespan and delay age-related diseases in a variety of animal models, including mice, rats, and primates.
Preliminary studies suggest that intermittent fasting may have the above health benefits.
However, more research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms behind these effects and to determine the optimal fasting protocols for different populations.
How to 18/6 Intermittent Fast
1. Choose your Fasting Window
Decide on the 18-hour window for your 18 6 intermittent fast. For example, you may choose to fast from 8:00 PM until 2:00 PM the next day.
2. Determine your Eating Window
Allocate a 6-hour period for your eating window within the 24-hour day. Using the previous example, your eating window would be from 2:00 PM until 8:00 PM.
3. Plan your Meals
During the 6-hour eating window, your daily meals and snacks. It’s essential to maintain a balanced diet and focus on whole, nutritious foods. Enlist the help of a registered dietitian if needed.
4. Stay Hydrated
Drink plenty of water during the day, both during your fasting and eating periods.
5. Adjust your Schedule as Needed
If the timing of the eating window doesn’t align with your lifestyle, you can adjust it accordingly. The key is to maintain the 18-hour fasting period consistently. Fasting is not for everyone. The key is finding a strategy that works for you, so don’t get discouraged in finding what works for you!
5 Strategies for a Successful 18/6 Intermittent Fast
- Start slow and gradually increase your fasting window.
- Plan meals to promote healthy eating during your feeding window.
- Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water, tea, or coffee.
- Be consistent. Stick to the fasting and feeding windows.
- Listen to your body and break the fast if needed.
Risks of Intermittent Fasting
Below are some of the most common risks of intermittent fasting:
- Nutrient deficiencies: Since you have a shorter window to consume food, it can be challenging to consume all the required nutrients within the six-hour eating window. If you do not consume a well-balanced and nutrient-dense diet, you may be at risk of developing nutrient deficiencies.
- Hunger: Fasting for 18 hours can lead to intense hunger, which can cause you to overeat during the eating window, leading to weight gain instead of weight loss.
- Blood sugar fluctuations: Fasting can cause your blood sugar levels to fluctuate, leading to symptoms like dizziness, fatigue, and headaches. Individuals with Diabetes or low blood sugar may not be good candidates for this type of eating strategy.
- Dehydration: Not consuming enough fluids during the fasting period can lead to dehydration, which can cause several health issues such as constipation, dry skin, and headaches.
- Disordered eating: Intermittent fasting can trigger unhealthy eating patterns in individuals who have a history of eating disorders or disordered eating.
- Sleep disturbances: If you’re fasting too close to bedtime, it can cause sleep disturbances, which can lead to fatigue and other health issues.
Takeaways from 18/6 Intermittent Fasting
In conclusion, 18/6 intermittent fasting can be a powerful tool for weight loss.
Healthy aging benefits include improved metabolism, reduced inflammation, increased autophagy, improved cognitive function, and potentially increased longevity.
It’s important to approach fasting with caution and discuss this eating strategy with your healthcare provider.
With time and patience, you may experience the many benefits of this fasting method!
Interested in more information on weight loss? Visit our anti-aging weight loss category of the blog.
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Kathryn is a Registered Dietitian and a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach. She is also certified through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in Weight Management. She has 20+ years of nutrition experience working in a variety of healthcare settings. Her passion is to provide evidence-based nutrition information that supports vitality and longevity!