18:6 Intermittent Fasting: How-to, Meal Plan and Results

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Aman Priya Khanna
Written by Charu Shrivastava, last updated on 28 December 2023
18:6 Intermittent Fasting: How-to, Meal Plan and Results

Are you tired of complicated diet plans and calorie counting? If so, intermittent fasting 18:6 might be the solution you have been searching for! This flexible and effective approach to eating allows you to enjoy your favourite foods while still achieving your health and weight loss goals.

Wilkinson MJ et al. conducted a study titled “Effects of four-hour and six-hour time-restricted feeding on weight and cardiometabolic health” in 2020. According to the study, individuals who followed an 18:6 intermittent fasting regimen experienced an average weight loss of 8% over 12 weeks. Continue reading the blog to learn about 18-hour intermittent fasting, its benefits, and some important tips. 

What is 18:6 Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting 18:6 is a time-restricted fasting regimen where you fast for 18 hours and have a 6-hour eating window. During the fasting period, you abstain from consuming calories. However, you can drink water and fast-approved beverages like black coffee and tea without milk. If your drink has under 50 calories, it won’t break your fast. The 6-hour eating window is when you consume all your daily calories and meals.

This fasting pattern can be adapted to your daily schedule, allowing flexibility in choosing when to start and end your fasting and eating periods. If your first meal is at 11 AM, you will restrict all your daily calorie consumption to the 6-hour window between 11 AM and 5 PM. This means you would fast for the remaining 18 hours of the day.

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Intermittent Fasting 16:8 vs 18:6

Intermittent fasting 16:8 and 18:6 are both fasting methods, with daily fasting periods of 16 and 18 hours, respectively. The key difference is the length of their eating windows. In 16:8, you have an 8-hour window to consume your daily meals. On the other hand, in an 18:6 fasting diet, the eating window is limited to 6 hours. 

The two-hour longer fasting period in 18:6 may intensify the benefits associated with intermittent fasting, such as improved weight management and better insulin sensitivity. However, the choice between these methods is based on individual preferences and lifestyle factors.

Weight Loss With Intermittent Fasting 18:6

The weight loss potential with intermittent fasting 18:6 varies by individual factors. Some may notice changes like improved energy within a few weeks. Other significant results may occur after several months. With consistent efforts, people may lose up to 4 kgs in 12 weeks. 

The timeline and weight loss can differ based on starting weight, diet quality, physical activity, and individual body responses.

Health Benefits of 18:6 Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting 18:6 may offer several potential health benefits when practised consistently and appropriately. Some of these benefits include:

  1. Weight Loss: Intermittent fasting can create a calorie deficit during the eating window. This helps promote weight loss. 
  2. Insulin Sensitivity: Intermittent fasting may enhance insulin sensitivity. This regulates blood sugar levels and decreases the risk of type 2 diabetes.
  3. Inflammation Reduction: Intermittent fasting may reduce chronic inflammation in the body. This diminishes the risk of several chronic diseases.
  4. Heart Health: Individuals can reduce risk factors like high blood pressure, triglycerides, and cholesterol levels with intermittent fasting. As a result, this may contribute to improved heart health.
  5. Brain Health: According to a 2021 study by Jip Gudden et al. titled “The Effects of Intermittent Fasting on Brain and Cognitive Function”, intermittent fasting may support brain function and cognitive health. It decreases the risk of neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

How to do 18:6 Intermittent Fasting?

You must follow some practical steps and guidelines to implement 18:6 intermittent fasting in your daily routine successfully. Here’s how to start your 18-hour intermittent fasting plan: 

Consult a Dietician

Consulting a dietitian before starting an 18:6 fasting diet is crucial to ensure your health and dietary needs align with this fasting approach. Dietitians provide personalised guidance, ensuring your fasting plan is tailored to your dietary preferences and underlying health conditions. 

Choose Your Eating Window 

Determine the 6-hour period during which you will eat your daily meals. You can determine the eating window based on your needs. Consider your energy needs during work or exercise, and schedule your sleep. 

  1. You can choose to eat between 2 PM and 8 PM. Following this approach, you must fast during nighttime and skip breakfast. However, you can still enjoy a well-balanced lunch, dinner, and snacks throughout the day.
  2. People also prefer to eat between 10 AM and 4 PM. This provides ample time for a nutritious breakfast at approximately 10 AM, a regular lunch at noon, and a large snack at around 4 PM. 
  3. Some other common eating windows include 8 AM to 2 PM, 11 AM to 5 PM, and 12 PM to 6 PM. 

Feel free to explore and select the 6-hour window that aligns best with your daily routine and commitments.

Food List for 18:6 Intermittent Fasting

During the restricted 18-hour fast, you should avoid eating foods with calories. However, you can drink water and other no-calorie beverages like lemon water, tea, or black coffee. In the 6-hour eating window, you should eat foods that provide all the essential nutrients. These include:



Lean Proteins

  1. Legumes

  2. Chicken

  3. Fish

  4. Tofu


  1. Apples

  2. Berries

  3. Citrus fruits

Non-Starchy Vegetables

  1. Cauliflower

  2. Broccoli

  3. Leafy greens

Healthy Fats

  1. Nuts

  2. Seeds

  3. Avocados

  4. Olive oil

Whole Grains

  1. Brown rice

  2. Oats

  3. Quinoa

Calcium-Rich Foods

  1. Cheese

  2. Full-fat yoghurt

Sample Meal Plan for 18:6 Intermittent Fasting

You can customise your 18:6 intermittent fasting meal plan according to your nutritional needs and dietary preferences, which a certified dietician will recommend. It should include lean proteins, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and fruits while staying within your daily caloric requirements. The following is a sample meal plan according to different eating windows:

Early Eating Window 

  1. 8 AM (breakfast): Scrambled eggs or tofu with mixed vegetables and whole wheat toast
  2. 10 AM (morning snack): Sliced apple paired with natural peanut butter
  3. 12 PM (lunch): Stir-fry prepared with a variety of vegetables, lean protein, and brown rice or chicken curry 
  4. 2 PM (ending eating window): Grilled tofu and cut-up vegetables or a grilled fish with a side of sauteed spinach 

Midday Eating Window

  1. 11 AM (late morning snack): A serving of unsweetened yoghurt topped with fruit and granola
  2. 1 PM (lunch): Rajma or mutton curry with whole wheat chapati and a side of brown rice
  3. 3 PM (afternoon snack): Enjoy a banana with all-natural peanut butter
  4. 5 PM (ending eating window): Vegetable rice or biryani with your choice of meat

Late Eating Window

  1. 12 PM (lunch): Cottage cheese or fish curry with whole wheat chapati and a side of brown rice
  2. 2 PM (light soup): A bowl of curd or yoghurt
  3. 4 PM (afternoon snack): A vegetable sandwich made with whole wheat bread
  4. 6 PM (ending eating window): A bowl of lentil soup packed with veggies

Please Note: Consult a doctor or registered dietitian for personalised guidance and recommendations.

Tips for Intermittent Fasting 18:6

Intermittent fasting 18:6 is a more restrictive eating plan. It is difficult to follow than those with a longer eating window. Therefore, you must consider the following tips while doing this type of fasting:

  1. Consult a Specialist: Before starting any fasting routine, see a doctor or registered dietitian to ensure it is safe and suitable. It is especially true if you have underlying health conditions. 
  2. Gradual Start: If you are new to intermittent fasting, begin with shorter fasting windows, like 12:12. Gradually increase the fasting to 14 and 16 hours as your body adapts. Adopt 18-hour intermittent fasting only when you are comfortable with these fasting plans. 
  3. Stay Hydrated: During the 18:6 intermittent fasting times, increase your water intake to stay hydrated and curb hunger. You can also add electrolytes to the water to prevent dizziness and promote hydration. 
  4. Plan Ahead: Prepare your meals and snacks to avoid impulsive, unhealthy food choices during your eating window. Within your 6-hour eating window, focus on well-balanced, nutritious, and energy-providing meals.  
  5. Stick to a Schedule: Pick a schedule that supports your lifestyle and stick to it. Consider scheduling your workouts during your eating window, as you may have more energy and better performance. Furthermore, you should go to bed earlier to prevent late-night hunger and cravings. 
  6. Maintain a Positive Mindset: Embracing an intermittent fasting lifestyle is more likely to succeed when you have confidence in your ability to make it work. Focus on transforming any limiting beliefs into positive affirmations.
  7. Listen to Your Body: Notice how your body responds to intermittent fasting. It is advised to build up to 18:6 intermittent fasting. Start with 14:10 intermittent fasting and progress to an 18-hour fast when ready.  If you feel energetic and can easily manage hunger, 18:6 fasting may be the right choice. However, consider adjusting your fasting schedule if you feel unwell or overly hungry. 
  8. Breaking the Fast: When ending your fasting window, start with a gentle reintroduction of food. Consuming large meals can overwhelm the digestive system, leading to bloating. Instead, choose smoothies, soups, dry fruits, or healthy fats. 
  9. Sustaining Weight Loss in the Long Term: To maintain long-term weight loss, it is important to make healthy dietary decisions consistently. Also, exercise regularly to support your health and fitness goals. 

Is 18:6 Intermittent Fasting Safe for Everyone?

Intermittent fasting, including the 18:6 fasting pattern, may not suit everyone. While it may be safe for most people, certain situations and conditions require caution or avoidance. Here are some considerations:

  1. Underweight Individuals (body mass index less than 18.5): Intermittent fasting can aggravate insufficient calorie intake and potentially lead to further weight loss.
  2. Children and Elderly: Fasting may disrupt the important nutritional requirements for growth in children under 18. Furthermore, it may not align with the unique dietary needs and digestive capabilities of adults over 65.
  3. A History of Eating Disorder: Intermittent fasting can trigger unhealthy eating patterns or worsen a history of disordered eating, like binge eating.
  4. Medical Conditions and Medications: Fasting can affect blood sugar levels and the effectiveness of medications. This poses risks for individuals with conditions like diabetes and heart issues. 
  5. High-Performing Athletes: Those with high activity levels require sufficient energy intake to support their physical demands. This may not align with the caloric restrictions of fasting. 
  6. Pregnant or Breastfeeding Women: Fasting can disrupt hormonal balance and nutrient requirements, impacting fertility, pregnancy, or breastfeeding. This makes it unsuitable for women in these stages.

Potential Drawbacks of 18:6 Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting 18:6 offers several benefits, but it also has disadvantages and side effects. The disadvantages of 6-hour window intermittent fasting include:

  1. Overeating and Potential Weight Gain: The limited eating window may lead to excessive food consumption. Consuming excessive calories during this time to compensate for fasting can lead to weight gain instead of weight loss. Maintaining portion control and choosing nutrient-dense foods is crucial to avoid overeating.
  2. Nutrient Deficiency: If not planned properly, intermittent fasting can lead to nutrient deficiencies. This is because you have a limited time to consume essential vitamins and minerals. To prevent nutrient deficiency, you must consume nutrient-dense foods within your eating window. 
  3. Eating Disorder Risk: Intermittent fasting can trigger or worsen eating disorders. These may include over-restricting, obsessing about food, or bingeing. To mitigate this risk, maintain a healthy attitude towards food and eating. Consult a doctor if you have a history of disordered eating. 
  4. Digestive Issues: Fasting can worsen gastrointestinal symptoms or discomfort for some people, especially those with certain digestive conditions. To avoid digestive issues, stay well-hydrated, consume fibre-rich foods, and gradually adapt to the fasting schedule.
  5. Dehydration: When you consume less food during fasting, you also reduce your water intake. This is because a substantial portion of your daily water intake typically comes from your food. Therefore, drinking 2-3 litres of water during your fasting window of 18 hours is important. You can also add electrolytes to replenish the loss of essential minerals like potassium, magnesium, and sodium. 
  6. Sleep Disturbances: Intermittent fasting 18:6 can disrupt sleep if you go to bed hungry due to an early eating window. A solution to this is moving your eating window closer to bedtime to ensure you are not going to bed hungry.
  7. Decreased Athletic Performance: The alignment of your workout with your eating and fasting window can impair athletic performance. To mitigate this, schedule intense workouts within your eating window for proper recovery.
  8. Short-Term Physical Symptoms: Some people may also experience certain side effects, especially when they start intermittent fasting. These side effects include hunger, weakness, irritability, distraction, and headache. To avoid these side effects, prioritise balanced meals, stay well-hydrated, and include protein in your eating window. 


Intermittent fasting 18:6 is an effective approach to weight loss, enhance insulin sensitivity, and improves heart health. While it may not suit everyone, it can provide numerous benefits when practised in consultation with a medical specialist. Remember that individual results may vary. Finding the right fasting pattern for your lifestyle and goals is key to success.

For concerns regarding weight loss and other medical conditions, you can contact an expert at HexaHealth. We will help you connect with the best doctors and hospitals for personalised solutions and quality healthcare. Schedule an appointment TODAY! 

Suggested Reads

Intermittent Fasting 12 Hours
20:4 Intermittent Fasting: How-to, Meal Plan and Results
15:9 Intermittent Fasting: How-to, Meal Plan and Results
Intermittent Fasting 14/10: Meal Plan, Benefits & Results
7 Days Indian Diet Plan for Intermittent Fasting Right Way to Break Intermittent Fasting - Expert's Guide

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the 18:6 intermittent fasting method?

Intermittent fasting 18:6 involves fasting for 18 hours and restricting eating to a 6-hour window. It can help with weight loss, boost cognitive function, and provide other benefits when practised safely and appropriately.

How do I start 18:6 intermittent fasting?

To start an 18:6 intermittent fasting plan, choose a 6-hour eating time slot that suits your schedule and lifestyle. Plan your meals and try to include balanced, nutritious foods.

What is the best time to start 18:6 intermittent fasting?

The ideal time to start intermittent fasting 18:6 varies based on your daily routine. The most popular time slots to start intermittent fasting are as follows:

  1. 8 PM to 2 PM

  2. 4 PM to 10 AM

  3. 2 PM to 8 AM 

  4. 5 PM to 11 AM 

  5. 6 PM to 12 PM

Can you explain the 18-hour fast and 6-hour eating window?

The 18-hour intermittent fasting in the 18:6 method means restricting calorie consumption during this duration. The 6-hour eating window is when you can consume your daily meals.

What are the benefits of 18:6 intermittent fasting?

The benefits of 18:6 intermittent fasting include:

  1. Weight management

  2. Boost in mental health

  3. Reduced inflammation

  4. Lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer

Are there any before-and-after results for 18:6 intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting 18:6 before and after results can vary between individuals. Generally, it takes 2-4 weeks for the body to get used to intermittent fasting. Once it adapts to fasting, you can expect 3-8% weight loss in about 8-12 weeks.

How does 18:6 intermittent fasting compare to 16:8 fasting?

Intermittent fasting 16:8 vs 18:6 differs based on their eating and fasting windows and severity. 

  1. In the 16:8 method, you fast for 16 hours and eat during an 8-hour window. 

  2. 18:6 is a more advanced method in which you fast for 18 hours and eat during the 6-hour window. 

You may also experience better digestion in the 18:6 method than in the 16:8 method. 

How many calories should I eat during 18:6 intermittent fasting?

The calorie intake during 18:6 intermittent fasting can vary depending on a person’s age, weight, and activity level. Individuals should consume a minimum of 1,200 calories during the eating window.

However, ensure not to consume too many calories during the eating period as it may not help with weight loss.

What are the drawbacks of the 18:6 intermittent fasting diet plan?

Drawbacks or risks of the 18:6 intermittent fasting meal plan include:

  1. Nutrient deficiencies

  2. Dehydration

  3. Disordered eating like over-restricting, bingeing, or obsessing over food

  4. Feeling tired, weak, or grumpy

  5. Headache 

Can I drink water or coffee during the 18-hour fast?

Yes, you can drink calorie-free beverages like water and coffee during the 18-hour fast. However, not all types of coffee are suitable during the fast. While drinking black coffee won’t break your fast, adding other ingredients like milk and sugar can. Therefore, do not consume cappuccinos, lattes, and other sweetened coffee drinks.

Do you have a sample meal plan for 18:6 intermittent fasting?

The sample meal plan can depend on the time of your eating window. A sample meal plan for a late eating window is as follows:

  • 12 PM: Cottage cheese or fish curry with whole wheat chapati

  • 2 PM: A bowl of yoghurt or curd

  • 4 PM: A vegetable sandwich made from whole-wheat bread

  • 6 PM: A bowl of vegetables-packed lentil soup

Is 18:6 intermittent fasting effective for weight loss?

Yes, intermittent fasting 18:6 is effective for weight loss. It is one of the simplest ways to lose weight, as it helps burn stored fat. However, it is important to consult a doctor for personalised guidance.

Is 16/8 intermittent fasting right for you?

16/8 intermittent fasting offers several health benefits. However, it can also have some risks and may not be right for everyone. You should not practise intermittent fasting if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or trying to conceive. Furthermore, you should consult your doctor if you take medications or have the following conditions:

  1. Diabetes

  2. Low blood pressure 

  3. History of disordered eating

How does the 16:8 intermittent fasting diet plan compare to other methods?

The 16:8 intermittent fasting is a popular form of fasting. It works similarly to other intermittent fasting methods. However, it is easier to follow than other methods like 18:6 or 20:4. 

In this method, people must fast for 16 hours and eat during an 8-hour window. People new to intermittent fasting can start with a 16:8 plan before moving to more aggressive methods.


All the articles on HexaHealth are supported by verified medically-recognized sources such as; peer-reviewed academic research papers, research institutions, and medical journals. Our medical reviewers also check references of the articles to prioritize accuracy and relevance. Refer to our detailed editorial policy for more information.

  1. Ağagündüz D, Acar-Tek N, Bozkurt O. Effect of Intermittent Fasting (18/6) on Energy Expenditure, Nutritional Status, and Body Composition in Healthy Adults. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2021 Dec 18;2021:7809611. doi: 10.1155/2021/7809611. PMID: 34961821; PMCID: PMC8710159.link
  2. Welton S, Minty R, O'Driscoll T, Willms H, Poirier D, Madden S, Kelly L. Intermittent fasting and weight loss: Systematic review. Can Fam Physician. 2020 Feb;66(2):117-125. PMID: 32060194; PMCID: PMC7021351.link
  3. Soliman GA. Intermittent fasting and time-restricted eating role in dietary interventions and precision nutrition. Front Public Health. 2022 Oct 28;10:1017254. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2022.1017254. PMID: 36388372; PMCID: PMC9650338.link
  4. Shalabi H, Hassan AS 4th, Al-Zahrani FA, Alarbeidi AH, Mesawa M, Rizk H, Aljubayri AA. Intermittent Fasting: Benefits, Side Effects, Quality of Life, and Knowledge of the Saudi Population. Cureus. 2023 Feb 7;15(2):e34722. doi: 10.7759/cureus.34722. PMID: 36909028; PMCID: PMC9998115.link
  5. Vasim I, Majeed CN, DeBoer MD. Intermittent Fasting and Metabolic Health. Nutrients. 2022 Jan 31;14(3):631. doi: 10.3390/nu14030631. PMID: 35276989; PMCID: PMC8839325.link
  6. Mandal S, Simmons N, Awan S, Chamari K, Ahmed I. Intermittent fasting: eating by the clock for health and exercise performance. BMJ Open Sport Exerc Med. 2022 Jan 7;8(1):e001206. doi: 10.1136/bmjsem-2021-001206. PMID: 35070352; PMCID: PMC8744103.link
  7. Collier R. Intermittent fasting: the science of going without. CMAJ. 2013 Jun 11;185(9):E363-4. doi: 10.1503/cmaj.109-4451. Epub 2013 Apr 8. PMID: 23569168; PMCID: PMC3680567.link
  8. Longo VD, Di Tano M, Mattson MP, Guidi N. Intermittent and periodic fasting, longevity and disease. Nat Aging. 2021 Jan;1(1):47-59. doi: 10.1038/s43587-020-00013-3. Epub 2021 Jan 14. PMID: 35310455; PMCID: PMC8932957.link

Updated on : 28 December 2023


Dr. Aman Priya Khanna

Dr. Aman Priya Khanna

MBBS, DNB General Surgery, Fellowship in Minimal Access Surgery, FIAGES

12 Years Experience

Dr Aman Priya Khanna is a well-known General Surgeon, Proctologist and Bariatric Surgeon currently associated with HealthFort Clinic, Health First Multispecialty Clinic in Delhi. He has 12 years of experience in General Surgery and worke...View More


Charu Shrivastava

Charu Shrivastava

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