Once you get used to going through long stretches of time without eating, intermittent fasting (IF) seems like a great way to lose weight and maintain it. There are other health benefits, too, such as improved digestion, more energy, and improved insulin levels. When your body goes through periods of fasting, it boosts the production of growth hormone, which helps you lose weight and gain muscle. While there are several different ways to do IF, the main tenets are still the same: periods of eating interspersed with periods of fasting.
But what do you eat during your feeding window? Technically, intermittent fasting just refers to when you eat, not how much you eat. “There are no rules about how much you should eat when you are not fasting,” Julie Upton, MS, RD told POPSUGAR. “The diet was designed so that the fasting period creates the caloric deficit so that you can lose weight.”
In fact, Kristen Mancinelli, MS, RDN, author of the book Jump Start Ketosis: Intermittent Fasting For Burning Fat and Losing Weight, said she doesn’t tell her clients to count calories. Instead, she advises them to eat until they feel satisfied. Since people who follow the 16:8 (Leangains) plan typically only eat two meals a day, they will naturally eat fewer calories since once they have acclimated to the fasting period, they tend to not get hungry outside of their feeding window.
However some people think eating on IF gives them license to throw caution to the wind and eat as much as they want. If weight loss is your goal, you need to still be mindful of how many calories you are ingesting. After all, you can’t fast for 16 hours and then eat 5,000 calories during your eight-hour feeding window and still expect to lose weight.