18/6 Intermittent Fasting: All You Need to Know

18/6 intermittent fasting is a common form of intermittent fasting. Read on to learn about its pros and cons and how to get started.
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Most people who start 18/6 intermittent fasting already have some fasting experience. After following 16/8 fasting for a while, you can easily switch to 18/6 intermittent fasting. This switch may allow you to reach your weight loss and health goals faster.

Written by
Sarah Neidler, PhD
Freelance Science and Medical Writer

18/6 intermittent fasting? Isn’t it called 16/8 intermittent fasting?

No, 18/6 is not a typo. While 18/6 intermittent fasting is less well known than the popular 16/8 method, this version is still commonly followed. 

18/6 fasting is related to 16/8 intermittent fasting, you simply fast daily for 18 hours instead of 16.

While this may sound hard, we show you how you can slowly adapt your body to longer fasting times.

What is 18/6 intermittent fasting?

When following 18/6 intermittent fasting, you eat every day within a time window of 6 hours and fast for 18 hours

Eighteen (18) hours may sound very long, but you have to consider that, as in other intermittent fasting methods, it includes sleeping time. So you sleep for a considerable part of your fasting time, during which you usually don’t eat. 

The exact timing of the fasting window is very individual, and you can pick a schedule that suits you best.

Some people prefer to eat in the early hours of the day and may choose to eat from 7 am to 1 pm. Others prefer to eat in the afternoon and evening and have their eating window from 2 pm to 8 pm.

Most people eat either breakfast and lunch or lunch and dinner. So it comes down to the question of whether you find it easier to skip breakfast or dinner.

If you are a morning person and very active and hungry in the morning, you may prefer to choose an early eating window. If you are one of many people who are not hungry in the morning and enjoy dinner with family or friends, you probably prefer a later eating window. 

How to start with 18/6 intermittent fasting?

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The 18/6 method is not a beginner version of intermittent fasting. If you are new to intermittent fasting, we recommend you pick a method with a shorter fasting time, such as 14/10 or 16/8 intermittent fasting.

Once you get used to a beginner-friendly form of intermittent fasting, you can gradually increase the time until you reach a daily fasting time of 18 hours.

When following 14/10 intermittent fasting, you’ll likely eat three meals within the 10-hour-window: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 

When following 16/8 intermittent fasting, you may eat two or three meals, depending on your preference. The smaller your eating window gets, the more it makes sense to reduce the number of meals you eat. 

Here is how your intermittent fasting journey towards 18/6 may look like:

  • Follow 14/10 for two weeks with breakfast, lunch, and dinner between 8 am and 5 pm
  • Switch to 16/8 and follow it for two weeks with breakfast, lunch, and dinner between 9 am and 5 pm
  • Keep following 16/8 for another two weeks, but reduce the number of meals to two: breakfast and late lunch between 9 am and 5 pm
  • Switch to 18/6 with two meals (breakfast and lunch) between 9 am and 3 pm

This is just one example of approaching 18/6 intermittent fasting. You can adjust the number of steps to get there and, as mentioned above, choose the fasting time that suits you best. 

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Benefits of 18/6 intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting provides many health benefits:

  1. Can slow-down aging (1)
  2. Decreases inflammation (2)
  3. Promotes brain health (3)
  4. Improves gut health (4)
  5. Facilitates weight loss (5)
  6. Improves cardiovascular health (6)
  7. Helps to prevent diabetes (7

These benefits are due to intermittent fasting’s ability to reduce insulin resistance, promote a self-cleansing program known as autophagy, and facilitate ketosis (8, 9, 10). 

Most intermittent fasting forms promote these processes, but long fasting times are more potent than shorter fasting times. For this reason, you may achieve your goals faster with 18/6 intermittent fasting than with 14/10 or 16/8 fasting. 


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When intermittent fasting, there is always the risk of getting really hungry during your fasting window. You may then get moody, feel weak, or have trouble concentrating.

This risk is, of course, higher with longer fasting times. When you regularly have the problem of getting really hungry during your fasting window, you should reduce the fasting time. You can then slowly get used to longer fasting times until you reach a daily fasting time of 18 hours

On the other hand, if it occurs only occasionally, you can always decide to break your fast earlier than planned. You’re not supposed to experience extreme hunger while practicing intermittent fasting.

When you have to take medications with your meals, it may be problematic to eat only two meals within a six-hour window. When in doubt, ask your doctor if it’s ok to change the timing of your medication.

The bottom line

18/6 intermittent fasting is recommended for people with some fasting experience. Most people who have followed 16/8 intermittent fasting for a while find it easy to switch to 18/6 intermittent fasting. While the health benefits are similar to other intermittent fasting methods, 18/6 intermittent fasting may allow you to reach your goals faster than with shorter fasting times.

If you are curious to learn more about intermittent fasting, we invite you to join our intermittent fasting community for women only.


1. Wegman MP, Guo MH, Bennion DM, et al. Practicality of intermittent fasting in humans and its effect on oxidative stress and genes related to aging and metabolism. Rejuvenation Res. Apr 2015;18(2):162-72. doi:10.1089/rej.2014.1624

2. Faris MA, Kacimi S, Al-Kurd RA, et al. Intermittent fasting during Ramadan attenuates proinflammatory cytokines and immune cells in healthy subjects. Nutr Res. Dec 2012;32(12):947-55. doi:10.1016/j.nutres.2012.06.021

3. Phillips MCL. Fasting as a Therapy in Neurological Disease. Nutrients. Oct 17 2019;11(10)doi:10.3390/nu11102501

4. Li L, Su Y, Li F, et al. The effects of daily fasting hours on shaping gut microbiota in mice. BMC Microbiol. Mar 24 2020;20(1):65. doi:10.1186/s12866-020-01754-2

5. Anton SD, Moehl K, Donahoo WT, et al. Flipping the Metabolic Switch: Understanding and Applying the Health Benefits of Fasting. Obesity (Silver Spring). Feb 2018;26(2):254-268. doi:10.1002/oby.22065

6. Dong TA, Sandesara PB, Dhindsa DS, et al. Intermittent Fasting: A Heart Healthy Dietary Pattern? Am J Med. Aug 2020;133(8):901-907. doi:10.1016/j.amjmed.2020.03.030

7. Hutchison AT, Regmi P, Manoogian ENC, et al. Time-Restricted Feeding Improves Glucose Tolerance in Men at Risk for Type 2 Diabetes: A Randomized Crossover Trial. Obesity (Silver Spring). May 2019;27(5):724-732. doi:10.1002/oby.22449

8. Jamshed H, Beyl RA, Della Manna DL, Yang ES, Ravussin E, Peterson CM. Early Time-Restricted Feeding Improves 24-Hour Glucose Levels and Affects Markers of the Circadian Clock, Aging, and Autophagy in Humans. Nutrients. May 30 2019;11(6)doi:10.3390/nu11061234

9. Foster DW. Studies in the ketosis of fasting. J Clin Invest. Aug 1967;46(8):1283-96. doi:10.1172/JCI105621

10. Cho Y, Hong N, Kim KW, et al. The Effectiveness of Intermittent Fasting to Reduce Body Mass Index and Glucose Metabolism: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. J Clin Med. Oct 9 2019;8(10)doi:10.3390/jcm8101645

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