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Fasting is among the best therapy options, with a rich history, and has been used over time for religious and political reasons.
Recent changes in health consciousness have led to many users turning to fast for therapeutic dietary intervention.
Furthermore, the 18/6 intermittent fasting method is also popular in losing weight.
But what is it, and how do you practice it? We have compiled this detailed guide explaining what 18/6 fasting is and how it differs from the other fasting schedules. In addition, we have described the best fasting diet, the health benefits of fasting, and much more.
Let’s get to it without further ado.
The 18/6 intermittent fasting refers to a time-restricted eating pattern whereby you fast for 18 hours and limit caloric intake for six hours. This popular fasting schedule for weight loss involves fasting for 18 hours and eating every six hours while limiting calories to improve metabolic switch.
The metabolic switch refers to your body’s shift from glucose-based to ketone-based energy. This shift is essential as it improves your physical well-being and leads to decreased incidence of health conditions. However, you can’t jump into 18/6 intermittent fasting.
So how do you go about it?
Any restrictive eating pattern that affects the eating schedule requires caution when practicing it. Therefore, speaking with your doctor before beginning a new diet would be best.
Following that, read these instructions as you begin practicing intermittent fasting 18/6:
Firstly, you will begin following a fasting schedule with a longer eating window, such as a 12-hour fast followed by a 12-hour eating window. Your body will gradually get used to it then you can build up to a 16-hour fast and 8-hour eating window. Eating fewer meals per day is best until your body adapts.
Whether your goal is losing weight, supporting your gut health, or increasing longevity, you should clearly define your goals because it is quite a challenge. Lest you may feel tempted to quit at some point, your goal will be your motivation.
Proper hydration is essential, especially when introducing your body to 18/6 intermittent fasting, because your body can confuse thirst for hunger. Therefore, it’d be best to take as much water as possible. Experts recommend mineral water, although sparkling water with sodium, black coffee, or unsweetened tea can also work.
Skipping breakfast is essential when you are on an intermittent fast because your body will capitalize on the benefits of fasting and burn more calories. When you start fasting, it’d be best to maintain this eating pattern for your body to get used to it.
You won’t be able to lose weight as quickly as you might like if you compare yourself to others and push yourself too far. Weight loss is mainly caused by differences in human metabolism. Therefore, move at your own pace. You can try different eating schedules to determine which works for you if you build up to 18/6 intermittent fasting.
There are different fasting schedules you should know about and use as you build up to 18/6 intermittent fasting. These include:
The 18/6 intermittent fasting falls under this fasting schedule, which includes 16/8 and 14/10 methods. In the 16/8 method, you will eat in the 8-hour window and fast for 16 hours. Due to the short eating window, you will likely have only two meals: breakfast and late lunch. This schedule helps your body prepare for a longer fasting window.
Time-restricted eating allows you to eat three meals, although you should control caloric intake. Moreover, these methods are essential because more extended eating periods will prepare your body for 18/6 intermittent fasting.
You will complete the fast for 24 hours before returning to your non-fasting diet. For instance, you can do it from breakfast to breakfast. However, it’d be best to note that this type of intermittent fasting can cause fatigue, low energy, irritability, and headaches. It would be best if you tried it as you prepare for the 18/6 intermittent fasting schedule.
The 5/2 intermittent fasting schedule falls in this category. It entails eating normally five days a week and then restricting your caloric intake for two days. Most people use this fasting schedule because it helps them consume fewer calories. In addition, it’s suitable and has fewer side effects on your build-up for the 18/6 intermittent fasting.
This schedule entails fasting every other day. You will limit your calorie intake to 500 on fasting days but resume your diet on non-fasting days. However, the diet should be healthy and well-balanced for you to benefit from this fasting schedule.
Maintaining a balanced diet is essential when intermittent fasting. Doing so will help you control calorie intake during the 6-hour window. Here is the diet that will give you the essential nutrients you need during fasting.
It’s essential to include proteins in your intermittent fasting diet because it will control your craving for food when fasting. Proteins take longer to digest, meaning you will feel full for a long while providing your body with the necessary nutrients. Cottage cheese, tofu, egg whites, white meat, and low-fat dairy products are some of the best foods to give you proteins when fasting.
For the best fasting results, vitamins and minerals are also crucial. Calcium and sodium are two minerals that can be obtained, in this case, from leafy vegetables and soy sauce, respectively. Magnesium, which you can find in broccoli and legumes, is also an essential mineral to include in your intermittent fasting diet.
There are both fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins. Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, and B12 are included in the first group, whereas A, D, E, and K are included in the second. The best option is to add vitamin C. But remember that the best way to get these nutrients is not through pills but through nutrient-dense foods like fish, mushrooms, and nuts.
Healthy fats such as olive oil, ghee, coconut oil, and chia seeds should also be in your intermittent fasting diet, as they help if you are fasting to lose weight. These healthy fats enhance the absorption of essential nutrients into your body. Furthermore, they also recharge your energy and give you a lasting feeling of fullness.
Lastly, your intermittent fasting diet must contain complex carbohydrates like brown rice, quinoa, oats, and barley. You can also include legumes like green peas, lentils, kidney beans, and starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes. These complex carbs will keep you satisfied during the fasting period.
The intermittent fasting 18/6 schedule has proven ,with several studies backing it up. Some of the potential health benefits include:
A study showed that intermittent fasting, an 18/6 schedule included, is ideal for weight loss. For starters, the eating schedule reduces calorie intake, lowers insulin levels, and increases noradrenaline. These hormones increase the breakdown of fat and use it as energy during the metabolic switch. Additionally, your body will burn stored fat during fasting hours, which reduces weight.
Intermittent fasting can also improve your gut health by improving digestion. According to research done on mice, the blooming of bacteria that aids in digestion begins 18 hours after the last meal. Moreover, fasting between meals enables a full cycle completion by migrating the motor complex. After a complete cycle, the residual undigested food is moved through and out of the digestive tract leaving your gut healthy.
The 18/6 intermittent fasting can also prevent diabetes by lowering blood glucose and insulin level, as shown in a 2022 study. In addition, intermittent fasting has shown the potential to reduce insulin resistance which helps in lowering blood sugar levels and keep type 2 diabetes at bay. However, maintaining a healthy diet is still vital because more research is still on the effects of intermittent fasting.
This time-restricted eating has also shown the potential for increased longevity through cellular repair. The intermittent fasting window increases cellular oxidative stress reducing aging and other diseases. In addition, the fasting window enables the cells to repair their pathways, improving their resistance to various stressors.
Reputable animal studies suggest that intermittent fasting can help your brain’s health by providing ketones-energy instead of glucose. As a result, your brain’s natural growth factor will increase, improving cognition. According to the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, intermittent fasting can help with Alzheimer’s disease and other brain health conditions.
Further studies have shown intermittent fasting’s potential to enhance heart health by improving heart disease risk factors such as blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and bad cholesterol. Although still limited to animals, it’s safe to say that you will reduce the chances of heart complications.
Eating for six hours and fasting for the rest of the day have also shown the potential of reduced inflammation. Fasting reduces the release of monocytes in the blood, which are pro-inflammatory cells. During the intermittent 18/6 fasting, the cells go into sleep mode, reducing inflammation compared to those who feed three meals or more daily.
Your body cells initiate waste removal through autophagy when you fast. The process entails cells breaking down and then metabolizing the dysfunctional proteins, accumulating with time. Research has shown that consistent fasting and autophagy can protect you against diseases such as cancer.
Yes, the 18/6 intermittent fasting is safe because you will get enough nutrients in the 6-hour eating window. However, avoiding this popular diet plan is best if you have blood sugar or diabetes problems. The same goes for those who suffer from heart conditions and blood pressure. However, pregnant or breastfeeding women should also avoid it.
If you’re fasting for 18 hours, eating your first meal two hours after waking up would be best. The best time is 9:00 am, followed by a 3:00 pm early dinner. However, you can synchronize your fast with your lifestyle depending on when you wake up and your daily schedule.
Your body will enter ketosis, a metabolic state where your body converts fat into energy instead of glucose. Less bloating, better focus, better sleep, and fresher skin are some of the changes you may notice. Weight loss may take up to two weeks, although you shouldn’t be discouraged if you don’t see changes by then.
It’d be best to take high protein soup like bone broth and easily digestible carbohydrates like tofu or lentils at the beginning of your six-hour window of replenishing the essential nutrients. Alternatively, you can take cooked, soft vegetables, high-fiber food, or raw vegetables are the foods you should avoid.
18/6 intermittent fasting has no time restrictions, but consistency is important if you want to experience its benefits. However, you should stop if you feel unwell. Most people may feel constipation, nausea, or diarrhea due to reduced eating. These are signs that your body is adjusting to the fasting regimen. Still, prolonged side effects call for immediate stopping and seeking medical attention.
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Intermittent fasting has been on the rise as most people become health conscious. There have been positive results in weight loss through regimens like 18/6 intermittent fasting. However, it’d be best to understand it before you start practicing intermittent fasting, which is why we have compiled this guide.
It covers in detail all the information you need about 18/6 intermittent fasting. Additionally, we have answered some of the frequently asked questions about this fasting regimen. However, note that this article isn’t for medical use. Ensure that you consult your doctor before you start intermittent fasting.
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