18:6 Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss: Risk, Benefits, and Results

By Ashley LoseMay 28th 2021

Fasting for Weight Loss


There are so many different approaches to losing weight. One strategy that has grown in popularity is intermittent fasting.1 Intermittent fasting can look different for everyone but to put it simply, it is a diet where you alternate between your regular eating routine and short periods of eating very little food or nothing at all. 

While there is no one diet or solution that works for everyone, intermittent fasting has been shown to aid in the obesity pandemic by helping people lose weight and maintain weight control by minimizing the number of calories people consume in a single day.2 It’s also been shown to have additional health benefits such as lowering blood sugar and cholesterol levels 3,4 and minimizing the risk of chronic health conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. 5,6

18:6 Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss: Risk, Benefits, and Results

There are several methods you can choose from when deciding on an intermittent fasting diet: 

  • The 16:8 method is one of the most popular intermittent fasting strategies. On this diet, you fast for 16 hours and then eat within an 8-hour time period. 
  • The 5:2 method is an eating pattern where you fast for five days of the week and then reduce your calorie intake to about 500-600 calories on the other two days.7
  • The warrior diet is where you eat very little for 20 hours, mostly consuming raw fruits and vegetables, hard-boiled eggs, and non-calorie liquids like water. Then you have a 4-hour non-fasting period where you can virtually eat anything you want. 
  • The eat-stop-eat method where you fast for 24 hours on two non-consecutive days of the week. On the other days, you can return to your regular diet assuming you're eating a well-rounded healthy diet. 
  • The alternate-day fasting plan is exactly the way it sounds - you fast every-other-day and then go back to your regular eating pattern. 

All of these fasting techniques can be effective for your weight loss plan but it’s important that you find one that works best for your lifestyle. In this article, we’ll discuss a different approach that isn’t as popular but still prescribes to the intermittent fasting core principles, the 18:6 intermittent fasting method. 

The 18:6 Method   

18:6 intermittent fasting involves only eating within a six-hour window during the day and fasting for the remaining 18 hours of the day. You can choose to skip breakfast and begin your eating window later in the day like 2 p.m to 8 p.m or choose to eat earlier in the day starting with a late breakfast at about 10 a.m until 4 p.m. 

18:6 Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss: Risk, Benefits, and Results

There are no set guidelines on how often you should do this fast, you can choose to repeat this cycle as frequently as you’d like as long as you feel healthy enough to do so. It is also important to note here that as with any new diet plan, you should check with your doctor or dietitian before trying low-calorie or fasting diets. This 18:6 method is one of the more rigid intermittent fasting techniques and while it can be beneficial in helping you burn fat and boost your metabolism, it is not for beginners to intermittent fasting. People tend to discover the 18:6 method after they’ve tried shorter-term intermittent fasting methods and have stalled in their weight loss journey. If you are new to intermittent fasting it is recommended that you try one of the above-mentioned methods before diving into the 18:6 method.

How does the 18:6 method help with weight loss?

The main reason that intermittent fasting has gained its reputation for helping people lose weight is that when you’re fasting, you’re consequently going to consume fewer calories during the day than you usually would. Every intermittent fasting method requires you to skip a meal or two so unless you binge eat during your eating window, you’ll most likely shift to a low-calorie eating pattern. That’s the foundation of weight loss – creating a calorie deficit in your body so that you are burning fewer calories than you consume.8

18:6 Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss: Risk, Benefits, and Results

When examining the effects of intermittent fasting practices as it pertains to reducing body fat, the method has been very successful. A 6-month study took 107 overweight and obese women and analyzed their weight loss, risk of high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, and other biomarkers for chronic diseases. The study concluded with many of the participants losing about 14 pounds. Additionally, subjects also saw reductions in their blood pressure levels, insulin resistance, and cholesterol levels.9 This gives scientists reason to believe that intermittent fasting is an effective strategy to combat diabetes, obesity, and other chronic health conditions. However, longer studies need to be conducted to truly evaluate the prolonged effects of intermittent fasting on the human body.

How to succeed at the 18:6 fasting method?

The things you eat are essential to how well your body performs but weight loss is complex. Therefore, diet alone may not get you to your weight loss goal. 

Here are our top 4 tips to successfully losing weight while intermittent fasting. 

  1. Consume quality foods. The foods and beverages you consume throughout your day are important. Even more important when you’re fasting and only have a short period of time in your day to eat the most nutritious and health-promoting foods. While each person’s dietary palette varies, it is a good idea to stay away from highly-processed foods and sugary drinks. Instead, gravitate towards foods that are a good source of protein like raw fruits and vegetables, nuts, and legumes. While many people find intermittent fasting to be simple and monitor their results on their own, it would be beneficial to your health to chat with your doctor or dietician to identify specific calorie needs, food items, health risks, and proper guidelines for your fasting.

  1. Exercise. As I mentioned before, diet alone may not get you to your weight loss goal which is why it is important to incorporate physical activity – cardio and strength. By having a consistent workout routine, you can increase the amount of fat you burn. 






  1. No binge eating. One critical component of fasting is to eat as normally as possible during your non-fasting eating window. Try not to over-consume or make up for the calories you missed during the day. 

  1. Be kind to yourself. Like anything new, it takes time for your body to adapt to changes. Be patient with yourself as you’re fasting – create a plan, be consistent, and keep a log of your progress. 

If you have a history of eating disorders, underlying medical conditions, or are currently pregnant you should consult with your doctor or dietitian prior to starting this fast. 

Sources

  1. Johnstone A. (2015). Fasting for weight loss: an effective strategy or latest dieting trend?. International journal of obesity (2005), 39(5), 727–733. https://doi.org/10.1038/ijo.2014.214

  1. Johnstone A. (2015). Fasting for weight loss: an effective strategy or latest dieting trend?. International journal of obesity (2005), 39(5), 727–733. https://doi.org/10.1038/ijo.2014.214

  1. Horne, B. D., Muhlestein, J. B., & Anderson, J. L. (2015). Health effects of intermittent fasting: hormesis or harm? A systematic review. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 102(2), 464–470. https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.115.109553

  1. Impact of intermittent fasting on the lipid profile: Assessment associated with diet and weight loss. Santos, Heitor O. et al. Clinical Nutrition ESPEN, Volume 24, 14 - 21.https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clnesp.2018.01.002

  1. Carter, S., Clifton, P. M., & Keogh, J. B. (2018). Effect of Intermittent Compared With Continuous Energy Restricted Diet on Glycemic Control in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes: A Randomized Noninferiority Trial. JAMA network open, 1(3), e180756. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.0756

  1. Mahmoud Abdellatif, Simon Sedej, Cardiovascular benefits of intermittent fasting, Cardiovascular Research, Volume 116, Issue 3, 1 March 2020, Pages e36–e38, https://doi.org/10.1093/cvr/cvaa022

  1. National Institute On Aging. (2018, August 14). Calorie Restriction and Fasting Diets: What Do We Know? Healthy Eating. https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/calorie-restriction-and-fasting-diets-what-do-we-know

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Burn More Calories Than You Take In. Participant Guide. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/prevention/pdf/t2/Participant-Module-7_Burn_More_Calories_Than_You_Take_In.pdf

  1. Harvie, M., Pegington, M., Mattson, M. et al. The effects of intermittent or continuous energy restriction on weight loss and metabolic disease risk markers: a randomized trial in young overweight women. Int J Obes 35, 714–727 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1038/ijo.2010.171

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