If you meditate hard enough, you won't hear your stomach churning. (Photo by Gurumustuk Singh)
Intermittent fasting (or IF for short) means that you eat as much as you like but do so in a restricted time frame. It's a way of achieving some of the benefits of caloric restriction without having to count calories and be hungry all the time. Also, unlike with CR, it is possible to maintain one's current weight while doing IF.
I got the idea to try this from other people's blogs after coming to the conclusion that caloric restriction is too much of a hassle for me. As Patrick Donnelly explains in his blog, there are several ways of IF: fasting a few days a week, every other day or daily.
The first one means that you skip some or all meals on one or more days of the week. The second option means that you alternate between eating and fasting every 24 hours; for example, by eating from Monday 6 PM to Tuesday 6 PM, then fasting from Tuesday 6 PM to Wednesday 6 PM etc. The daily method means that you compress all meals into a short period each day; for example, by only eating between 12 PM and 6 PM.
At first, I tried fasting an entire day to see how it feels. It was fine but not really something I would want to do once or twice every week. As with caloric restriction, I felt hungry pretty much the whole day and had difficulty getting sleep that night. I think Sunday, when you can just relax at home, is the only day a 100% fast is somehow convenient. Combining it with working or exercising would be difficult, at least for me. Fasting only once per week might not get you all the benefits, however.
Currently, I am trying the second approach of alternating between eating and fasting every 24 hours. I've been doing it for a little less than two weeks, and so far it's gone well. My cut-off point has varied slightly between 4 PM and 6 PM, depending on my schedule. Consuming my usual amount of calories has been a little difficult, though, and I've probably lost some weight, but I'm going to try and fix that in the future.
Hunger has not been that much of an issue with this way of intermittent fasting. It's always nice when the fasting period is about to end, but I haven't felt like I was starving during the 24 hours that I'm not eating. I must admit, however, that I've occasionally cheated and drank alcohol even during fasting periods, but I'm not going to be to hard on myself for that. In fact, I'm thinking of calling this method Intermittent Fasting with Beer (or IFB), which I'm going to stick with for now.
For more information on intermittent fasting, see these posts:
A Typical Day of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent Fasting Improves Insulin Sensitivity Even without Weight Loss
Intermittent Fasting Experiment – Update after 5 Months
The Psychological Effects of Intermittent Fasting