2

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How many calories should I eat on days when I IF?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created March 16, 2012 at 5:27 PM

Hi folks, I'm a 6'4" 205lb skinny-fat male, been paleo since September when I weighed about 260lb. The numbers aren't that important, but I'd say I'm trying to get down to around 190lb.

On a typical day, I consume around 2100 calories. I eat three meals, and each meal is basically 700 calories. I'm relatively inactive, since I'm recovering from a nagging back injury.

Anyway, on 2100 calories a day, I've been seeing steady weight-loss. I used to IF every now and then, but in the last few weeks, I've been skipping a meal probably 4 times a week or so, maybe more. Sometimes I'll skip breakfast if I'm in a rush in the morning; or I'll skip lunch if work is busy; or I'll skip dinner if I don't feel like cooking/cleaning. It's very easy for me to do this, and doesn't affect my energy levels. (I also like that this helps me save a little money!).

My question is, on days when I IF, should I try to "make up" the calories from the meals I skipped? If I eat my 700 cal breakfast, skip lunch, then eat my 700 cal dinner, that means I'll consume only about 1400 calories that day, which is really not much (though I feel fine when I do so). In that example, should I try to eat a much bigger dinner? Should I try to get as close to my usual 2100 cal as possible?

How often is it ok for me to skip meals like this? I'm concerned that I might lose muscle/lean body mass. Unfortunately, there's no way for me to gauge whether I'm gaining/losing strength since I'm unable to do any lifting because of my back. Do you think it's unhealthy for me to consume only 1400 calories a day, 4 or more days per week?

Medium avatar

(39831)

on March 16, 2012
at 09:04 PM

I thought the point was to eat fewer calories as a result of skipping breakfast...?

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on March 16, 2012
at 06:27 PM

That's exactly what I was going to say! During my eating window I eat a balanced meal with moderate fruit, lots of greens, some cooked vegetables and fatty meat. I eat to a good level of satiation and if I'm hungry again before the end of my eating window I eat a nourishing snack. I don't, though, normally eat after the end of my eating window even if I feel an urge to eat. I just increase my portions a little at the next main meal.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on March 16, 2012
at 05:59 PM

The benefits of IFing aren't necessarily in the calorie reduction, but rather the nutrient timing involved. I'd say up your calories when you IF, at least a bit closer to your normal daily amount.

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2 Answers

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Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32566)

on March 16, 2012
at 05:37 PM

Let your hunger be your guide.

I never purposefully eat less on my IF days, but I often will want less food.

As long as you eat sufficient protein & keep moving, you are unlikely to lose muscle mass.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on March 16, 2012
at 06:27 PM

That's exactly what I was going to say! During my eating window I eat a balanced meal with moderate fruit, lots of greens, some cooked vegetables and fatty meat. I eat to a good level of satiation and if I'm hungry again before the end of my eating window I eat a nourishing snack. I don't, though, normally eat after the end of my eating window even if I feel an urge to eat. I just increase my portions a little at the next main meal.

1
Ccacf7567273244733bc991af4ac42ed

on March 16, 2012
at 05:46 PM

In terms of the research, there's evidence that you gain benefits from IF even if you end up eating the same amount of food. On the other hand, I wouldn't say you should make an effort to eat more. Since your main goal is still weight loss, take advantage of it. If you get hungrier or do start feeling tired then you can always eat more. Personally, I'd look to make up the calories more on the other days to maintain the difference between different days. Just don't think you have to find the right answer and then do the same thing every day. Maybe stick with it for 2 days of the week, then if you find you're skipping meals a third or fourth time then try more to make it up. Plenty of options, very little risk from experimenting with them.

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