IF vs. Calorie counting: This might be a... - Weight Loss NHS

Weight Loss NHS
105,135 members54,969 posts

IF vs. Calorie counting

ThisTimeIsMyTime2020 May

This might be a really silly question as weight loss happens when a calorie deficit occurs.

However, I wondered if anyone had tried calorie counting on its own independently and then coupled it alongside IF calorie counting and found out their results improved as a result of introducing IF along with counting calories?

For example if you did calorie counting on its own and consume 1400 calories were your results the same as if you implement IF and eat the same amount of calories 1400. So still eating the same amount of calories over the day.

The reason I ask is because I understand that calorie deficit creates weight loss and as long as you are technically eating in a deficit you will lose weight. Is IF really only to create an eating window and helps controlling when we eat and reducing triggers to overeat because we know the window is closed. I know that this contributes to weight loss as a tool to create healthier habits but wondered if you eat the same calories on calorie counting alone, and then calorie counting along side IF will you get the same results? I’ve read that IF has its own unique health benefits and that weight loss can be improved because your body is getting a better chance to break down the food we eat. Is this true? Or does it ultimately always just come down to amount of calories we consume? So both will work exactly the same for weight loss and IF is more of a tool to help us stay on track and be sustainable in our efforts, because you are less likely to sabatage your diet in 8 hours of overeating rather than 12.

Just wondered if anyone had tried both and had an opinion if counting calories on its own / calorie counting alongside IF yielded better more effective results in terms of how much weight they were losing or whether it was more of a case they felt it provided them with more discipline and longer term longevity.

22 Replies

I think I understand :-) ThisTimeIsMyTime :-)

I think I may be doing what you are describing, but I don't describe it as IF. I only eat 2 meals a day - lunch/brunch at around midday and then dinner at 5pm. I don't eat after about 6pm. And I count calories (have been doing for 8 years plus).

I am very short, 57 years old, have a physical disability that severely limits my ability to exercise (use a wheelchair outside of the house). I've lost 4 stone, so fairly close to my goal weight - ideally I'd like to lose another stone.

But this is the way I've found works best for me and my lifestyle.

I am able to eat around the same times everyday, but this might not be as easy for others.

I'm able to devote a lot of time planning and cooking my meals from scratch.

Some people might like to eat many smaller meals over the course of the day - snacks in between main meals.

I think you just have to find something that works for you.

IF and removing snacking in between meals also helps to improve the bodies insulin response (has been shown to reverse Diabetes in some Type 2 diabetes patients).


I haven't tried both at the same time. I originally counted calories but reading and talking to people here convinced me that reducing carbohydrates, being relaxed about healthy fats and eating real food was the way to go. Over time, as I settled on that way of eating, I found that I wasn't hungry in the morning so I dropped my morning meal. I never aimed for "intermittent fasting" and I don't think of it as fasting. I just think of it as eating, eating to appetite. It came naturally, along with changing what I eat rather than worrying too much about how much.

That's just my experience. There are a couple of posts here in relation to calorie counting/deficit that may be useful to you



ThisTimeIsMyTime2020 May in reply to BridgeGirl

Thank you ☺️ Although Lchf is tempting in terms of how many people rate it, I don’t think it is for me. I feel limiting carbs, for me personally wouldn’t be something I could maintain in the long term. I have opted to have everything in moderation and calorie count.

Through doing this I find I also sometimes miss breakfast unintentionally as I am less hungry. I wondered if I continue to do this and I am actually using IF along with calorie counting will my results be better than if I calorie count only.

BridgeGirlAdministrator in reply to ThisTimeIsMyTime

You're right, you do need to find something you can sustain :)


The trials have been done. Jason Fung and Michael Mosley both underpinned their approaches with this research.

Essentially, a calorie is not a calorie, no matter how self-evident it seems. We quite easily see the extreme of emaciation when someone's body doesn't produce enough insulin, but find it difficult to accept that the body lays down too much fat when too much insulin is being produced.

In reality, this is the norm of modern society; the vast majority of people are making too much insulin because of what they eat, and because they eat too frequently.

StillConcernedMaintainer in reply to StillConcerned

And it isn't always visible from the outside. Dr. Lustig affirms that 40% of normal weight people have metabolic problems.

ThisTimeIsMyTime2020 May in reply to StillConcerned

Do you mean that the trials have been done regarding IF? And proven that IF along with calorie deficit is the most effective way to lose weight successfully?

StillConcernedMaintainer in reply to ThisTimeIsMyTime

Yes. The ICS-NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme was established in 2015, and they say that IF is suitable for some people. The reason is that each time we eat, it raises insulin levels, so we need to eat less frequently to let the insulin levels subside, because only then can we utilise our reserves of body-fat as we are designed to do.

Similarly, we talk about the very low calorie diet, and this is a low-carb diet by the back door. If we consider the RI for protein is 200kcal per day, from an 800kcal per day diet that would only leave 600kcal. Even if the remainder of daily intake then came from pure carbohydrate, the maximum intake would be 150g = half the RDA. Such a diet would be unsustainable because of the lack of fat, leading to deficiencies.

StillConcernedMaintainer in reply to StillConcerned

It seems that some would rather we starve of nutrients than admit that they have given duff information and contributed to people's ill health for decades?


It really isn't true that "a calorie deficit creates weight loss". Certainly if you starve yourself for an extended period of time, your body will have no choice but to burn through fat and muscle in an attempt to keep you alive. However, this is hardly healthy, and when you stop doing it, your body will pack on an enormous amount of fat in expectation of another "famine".

The more accurate statement of calorie balance is this: "if you are losing weight then you must be consuming fewer calories than you are burning". This is a very mundane observation that has absolutely no implications for reaching a healthy weight.

Eating a healthy diet (as per the posts from Pineapple27 and BridgeGirl ) will naturally drive you to a two-meal-a-day pattern. It seems to be a very commonly-reported outcome. Again, though, this doesn't imply that forcing yourself to eat two meals a day will cause you to lose bodyfat. "Intermittent Fasting", as described by Jason Fung et al., only really works if your diet is inherently healthy to begin with.

The bottom line is this: if you find that you can't go more than a couple of hours between meals/snacks, the content of your meals is unhealthy, and you need to fix it. Most people in the West eat far too many carbohydrates and inadequate fat. This drives a range of metabolic adjustments, one of which is a large bodyfat mass; it's there not because you eat "too many calories", but because your body needs it to process the large peak power flows from carbohydrate-loaded meals. People who derive more of their energy from dietary fat do not need this amount of bodyfat, so they get slimmer (and healthier).

If you feel that you can't live without carbs, that's a good reason in and of itself to try to wean yourself off them. It's not nearly as difficult as you might think.

ThisTimeIsMyTime2020 May in reply to TheAwfulToad

Thank you theawfultoad. Although this is very interesting, my question was not around whether I should start a low carb diet. I am currently seeing results with counting calories and this is how I plan to continue for the time being. I also said in my post that I am unintentionally eating two meals a day because I feel less hungry through calorie counting. So it is not the fact that I cannot go a couple of hours without a snack. My question was actually whether I introduced IF alongside my calorie counting will this yield me greater benefits in terms of health and weight loss than if I did calorie counting on its own.

I really like this forum and I get that there is a lot of support for lchf lifestyles, I do. But this was not my question. However the majority of the replies, despite being very helpful, have suggested I start lchf.

With counting calories, I am finding I am unintentionally having two meals a day and I am practising IF without meaning to. It lead me to ponder whether I would see the same or better outcomes as a result of this and my post was asking if anyone had experience of better results after introducing IF alongside calorie counting, opposed to when they were calorie counting only.

I appreciate your comments and response, but I have said in the post previously that lchf wasn’t for me and I am getting results from calorie counting. I wasn’t asking in my post if I should change to lchf. However, I can’t help but feel that the replies I am receiving, not just from yourself, are not about IF and calorie counting (which I am asking about) and more a suggestion that I should begin a lchf lifestyle instead.

Pineapple274 stone in reply to ThisTimeIsMyTime

As I said in my reply ThisTimeIsMyTime , you need to find what works for you - it will be slightly different for everyone, as we all have very different likes and dislikes when it comes to food!

More importantly, is a sustainable way of eating long term.

I absolutely agree that no food should be "banned" as that just causes us to want it more. So with bread, for example, I have it at the weekend toasted - my weekend breakfast is avocado, smashed with some chilli flakes on toast with seeds sprinkled on top.

But the bread has to be absolutely spot on - sourdough is my all time favourite!

I have a tin full of chocolate bars/biscuits in the cupboard - Freddo Frogs, 2 finger Kitkats, Club biscuits, finger of fudge. I visit this tin occasionally when I want a chocolate "fix" but I only have the one, so the tins contents last me absolutely ages.

ThisTimeIsMyTime2020 May in reply to Pineapple27

Thanks pineapple27 this is helpful 🙂

TheAwfulToadAmbassador in reply to ThisTimeIsMyTime

I was not arguing for an LCHF lifestyle as such. I was simply describing the biology of the situation. You may draw your own conclusions.

I didn't realise that you were already following your appetite and adopting a two-meals-a-day pattern. If you find this natural and you're not fighting hunger, then keep doing what you're doing. Whether you want to call it "IF" is neither here nor there; the healthiest diet, as others have remarked, is one that feels right and that doesn't involve a massive exertion of willpower. The main point I was trying to make is that you're unlikely to derive any benefit from forcing yourself into such a pattern against the wishes of your body's internal machinery.

I honestly doubt that your results so far have anything to do with "calorie counting" - it may simply be that you've adopted healthier foods and your body is responding well to that. Humans can eat a pretty wide range of diets and thrive. The only one that tends to really mess you up is the modern high-carb, low-fat diet.

ThisTimeIsMyTime2020 May in reply to TheAwfulToad

Thanks 🙂


Hello what is IF? Thanks

ThisTimeIsMyTime2020 May in reply to SOLEA1

Intermittent Fasting

Kacey12Healthy BMI

I don't think it it is a silly question at all! If you are going by calorie counting, as you are, it is an interesting concept as to whether the number of calories (say 1400) would be more efficiently used by the body if spread over just two meals within a restricted time window (IF or TRE - time-restricted eating). I would hazard a guess as not necessarily, but as other posters have mentioned, IF does have benefits to the body in terms of improving blood sugar balance and insulin levels. I know you don't use lchf, but I have found - without doing it particularly strictly - that it really does reduce appetite, which is going to help with any sort of weight loss diet, including of course, going without food for longer lengths of time. Easier when you are not hungry! So, even if you just stick to calorie counting, a certain amount of increasing healthy fats and reducing carbs (especially processed ones) within that would be beneficial all round, including for general health as well as pure weight loss.

ThisTimeIsMyTime2020 May in reply to Kacey12

Thank you Kacey12 🙂👍🏻

Pineapple274 stone in reply to Kacey12

Absolutely :-) and let's not forget that the more weight we lose, the more that daily calorie allowance drops too.

For me my daily calorie allowance (for weight loss) is 1100 calories. If I want to maintain, it's just 1,295. So there's not much room for manoeuvre!

When I started my weight loss, my daily allowance for weight loss was 1,600.

ThisTimeIsMyTime2020 May in reply to Pineapple27

True pineapple27 👍🏻

Here is everything you need to know:


(you can download the pdf by filling out a form. You don't have to use your own details)

It's a review paper of many studies into IF. Heaps to read and learn in there.

Quote taken at nearly random....

"In two other trials, overweight women (approximately 100 women in each trial) were assigned to either a 5:2 intermittent-fasting regimen or a 25% reduction in daily calorie intake. The women in the two groups lost the same amount of weight during the 6-month period, but those in the group assigned to 5:2 intermittent fasting had a greater increase in insulin sensitivity and a larger reduction in waist circumference"

You may also like...