The 18/6 intermittent fasting diet is where a person fasts for 18 hours of the day, with a 6 hour eating window. The meaning of “eating window” is the person must consume all daily calories within this 6 hour time slot.
For example, a person could have an eating window between 2pm-8pm. Outside of these 6 hours, they consume zero calories. This is known as your 18 hour fasting window.
You can consume zero calorie drinks such as black coffee, black tea, sparkling water, or zero calorie energy drinks (go easy on these) during your fasting window to help blunt your hunger. I suggest black coffee and sparkling water the most.
Intermittent fasting is not a new concept by any means. In fact, the idea surrounding it is to mimic the way our hunter and gatherer ancestors used to eat way back when. They would hunt for food not knowing when their next meal would be. When they caught something, they would feast like they didn’t know when their next meal would be (...because you guessed it, they didn’t know).
Today, intermittent fasting has become the adopted term to mimic this ideology in modern society. We artificially famine (fast), followed by eating all of our food in a short window (feast).
There are also many benefits on the body when intermittent fasting. I will cover these later in the article.
In my 2 years experience on fitness Twitter, I’ve come to learn that the effects of intermittent fasting are frequently over exaggerated. While I do often preach for people to try fasting, it is not a magic pill nor is it a one size fits all for people. You will not magically lose all the weight you wish to lose simply by fasting.
This is because Intermittent fasting is a TOOL we have in our arsenal to help stay satisfied with fewer calories. Losing fat comes down to expending more calories than you intake each day (caloric deficit).
Intermittent fasting, especially 18/6, is a great technique to help you be satisfied while eating less food, resulting in an enjoyable caloric deficit, resulting in long term, sustainable fat loss.
But remember, you can still gain fat while intermittent fasting if you eat too many calories.
This is why fasting is a tool, not a magic pill for fat loss.
Now, a question I get often is, “Marshal, how do you structure your day if you’re 18/6 fasting?”
It’s actually very quite simple. And it saves me so much time by not having to cook breakfast every morning.
6am: Wakeup - Drink a large glass of water, brush my teeth, brew a hot cup of delicious black coffee. Start working.
8am: Client calls - High ROI activities that require the most energy come first in the day. Another large glass of water and a second cup of black coffee.
11am: Workout - I find I am most energetic to workout while fasted with a coffee or two in my system. If this isn’t for you, you can workout later after you’ve broken your fast.
1pm: More work - This is my more laid back work. Low ROI stuff that doesn’t require as much brain power.
3pm: Meal 1 (fast breaker) - The best way to break a fast is with a high protein, high veggies plate of food. More on this later.
7pm: Meal 2 (dinner) - High protein, high carb, medium fat meal. This will be your largest meal of the day.
9pm: Snack (high protein) - I like to take a protein shake and eat some greek yogurt.
10pm: Bedtime - Make sure you are getting 7-8+ hours of sleep minimum or you are creating an uphill battle on your fat loss journey.
Personally, my favorite eating window while 18/6 intermittent fasting is from 3pm-9pm. I am able to fast most days until 3pm with the help of a few black coffees. At 3pm, I am then able to eat a high protein meal to maintain my energy levels.
However, this question is subjective. You must test and explore when breaking your fast works best for you. This schedule will certainly not work for everyone. Keep in mind you can make your eating window literally anytime you want, so long as you stick to the 18/6 rules.
I recommend breaking your fast with a high protein, low carb meal. This helps avoid mid day carb crashes, when you need to be most productive. My personal favorite is steak & veggies.
Other examples could be:
-Chicken & veggies
-Fish & veggies
-Eggs & fruit
There are endless things you could have with high protein and low carb. Use your imagination!
1. It is a great tool to help restrict calories while remaining satisfied in a caloric deficit.
2. You will save so much time everyday not having to worry about food for 18 hours.
3. Helps you to realize how truly overfed we are in today’s society.
4. Aids in reducing bloating and digestive issues.
5. Induces a process known as autophagy.
6. Improves insulin sensitivity.
7. Gives you the ability to have a flexible social life & maintain results.
8. Allows more flexibility in your diet.
9. Increased energy and may produce better mental clarity during fasting periods.
10. Reduces inflammation in the body.
Intermitttent fasting has many great benefits. Whether you are practicing 18/6 or another type, many of the benefits remain consistent while others increase the longer you fast (like autophagy).
I have found the 18 hour fasting window to be the perfect length of fast for me before I get "hangry" and the 6 hour eating window still allows me to eat sufficent calories and protein to build muscle, but not enough to eat in a huge surplus to gain fat.
The length of intermittent fasting that is best for you will ultimately have to be decided upon by you. Test various lengths over many weeks and see which length is your optimal point.
Once you've got it mastered, you will become unstoppable in a fasted state! I do all of my highest-focus work while fasted.
There's no way I could go back either.
Give it a shot and see what happens!