“Formally, calorie needs will remain the same as with any other diet plan, and differ based on the person’s frame size, gender, starting weight, goal weight, and activity level,” Mancinelli told POPSUGAR. To calculate what your calorie target is to lose weight, use this equation. Just make sure you aren’t going below 1,200 calories a day. The only exception is if you are doing the 5:2 method: five days a week you eat normally (for example, 2,000 calories a day) and two days a week on your fasting days, you eat only 20 to 25 percent of your average calories (so 400 to 500 calories). Even if weight loss is your goal, you don’t need to eat in a calorie deficit on your feeding days; those 2,000 calories should still yield weight loss results along with the other two fasting days a week. Over the course of the week, this creates and average daily calorie deficit.
Whether you are doing the 16:8, 5:2, or some other variation of IF, you should still eat whole, unprocessed foods during your feeding window. To reap the benefits of intermittent fasting, stick to fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and limited sugar and refined carbohydrates. Of course you can enjoy treats on occasion; just make sure they only make up 20 percent of your diet. Eventually, your body will get used to this way of eating and naturally crave healthy food.
“People are surprised that they don’t gorge on their eating days or during their eating window after they’ve been fasting for a while,” Mancinelli said. “One of the things intermittent fasting teaches you is how to notice and respond to hunger and satiety signals. So, rather than counting calories, practitioners can respond to their body’s natural signals; it’s very freeing!”
Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Sheila Gim
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