Most weight loss diets require that you restrict certain foods, but what if you could eat what you want as long as you're not eating after 6 p.m.? It's known as intermittent fasting or time-restricted eating. Here's how the after six diet works and some of the pros and cons.
Not eating after 6 p.m. can be a helpful weight loss strategy, and research shows it might have some additional health benefits.
How the Diet Works
Not eating after 6 p.m. is a diet strategy that's also known as intermittent fasting or time-restricted eating. Some people might also refer to it as the 8-hour diet. Basically, you eat your usual food, but you restrict your eating to an 8-hour window — usually between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Time-restricted eating has its roots in traditional fasting for health or religious reasons. Much of the research has been on Ramadan fasting. A review of nearly 3,000 people who fasted for the month of Ramadan was published in the February 2019 issue of the journal Nutrients. Researchers found that while fasting, those with overweight or obesity lost weight and fat mass, even without any changes in the types of foods they ate.
Not Eating After 6 Benefits
According to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, intermittent fasting, or not eating after 6 p.m., may be more effective for weight loss than eating a low-calorie diet day after day.
Cycling your calories over a 24-hour time period can help prevent the slowdown in your metabolism that often occurs with calorie restriction. Additionally, the after six diet works for many people because they find it easier to stick to than a low-calorie diet.
The after six diet results can vary, and most of the positive after six diet results come from animal, rather than human studies.
A review published in the August 2017 Annual Review of Nutrition found that in rats, fasting between 12 and 21 hours results in lower weight, cholesterol, triglycerides, glucose, insulin and inflammatory markers. Among the human studies they looked at, some showed similar results, but others showed no benefit.
Downsides of Intermittent Fasting
Although some people report very positive after six diet results, this way of eating may not be for everyone. If you tend to work late or have evening family commitments and late dinners, not eating after 6 p.m. would be a challenge. People who prefer to graze or eat every few hours throughout the day may also find it hard to stick to this diet.
Most importantly, if you need to eat at regular intervals for health reasons, as with diabetes or hypoglycemia, intermittent fasting may not work for you. It's important to check with your doctor.
Read more: 13 DOs and DON'Ts of Intermittent Fasting
For most people, this diet can be helpful because the after 6 diet results in less late-night eating. Cutting out those excess late night calories and forcing yourself to eat earlier in the day can automatically help you to eat fewer calories each day — and it's usually much easier than you might think. No matter which way of eating you choose, it's important that it works for you, your health goals and your lifestyle.
- Annual Review of Nutrition: "Metabolic Benefits of Intermittent Fasting”
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: “Diet Review: Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss”
- Nutrients: “Effect of Ramadan Fasting on Weight and Body Composition in Healthy Non-Athlete Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis”