Everything You Need To Know About The 18:6 Intermittent Fasting Method

We're lucky enough to live in an age where almost everything is customizable to our personal preferences. From our beauty products to the way we travel, we get to pick and choose what works best for us on an individual level. For some reason, though, many of us still force ourselves to eat three meals a day, even when we aren't particularly hungry.

Food historian Amy Bentley explained to The Atlantic that our proclivity for eating three meals a day isn't based on nutritional science or the natural human appetite, but rather a societal norm. Still, many of us force ourselves to eat at "normal meal times” because it's what we've been conditioned to do. Some people have begun moving away from this eating model in favor of a more customized eating plan that better fits their lifestyle and body's needs.

Intermittent fasting is an eating plan that regularly schedules a time for fasting and a time for eating (per Johns Hopkins Medicine). While there are many ways to fast, many prefer a daily approach that restricts eating to a six- or eight-hour window each day, referred to as 18:6 or 16:8, respectively.

How the 18:6 method works

The 18:6 fasting method involves 18 hours of fasting, leaving you with a six-hour eating window. Pop Sugar notes that this is a more rigid form of fasting than the 14:10 or 16:8 methods. It is best suited for experienced fasters who may have hit a plateau with the 16:8 method, or those who find an eight-hour eating window allows them too much time to overeat.

While 18 hours of fasting may seem intimidating, the Wharton Medical Clinic highlights that eight of those hours will be spent sleeping. While it is a stricter method of fasting, the 18:6 method also allows some flexibility in regard to when your six-hour window starts and ends. If you're not the early-to-bed type, a 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. eating window might be ideal. If breakfast is your jam (pun intended) 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. might suit you. The beauty of a short eating window is you can throw calorie counting out the window and enjoy nutritious, satisfying meals.

Rozalyn Anderson, associate professor at the University of Wisconsin, said while speaking to the BBC that intermittent fasting is better suited for us from an evolutionary standpoint. Giving our bodies a substantial break from the heavy lifting of digestion allows room for cellular repair and the release of energy from our bodies. Healthline reports that intermittent fasting can also aid in weight loss, reduce inflammation and insulin resistance, lower blood pressure, and improve brain function.