Typical Day

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At the request of a few readers, here’s a quick post showing a typical day for me. My life is pretty dynamic and often busy these days, so this is just the bare bones that focus on meal patterns and exercise frequency.

Day 1

  • 6am or 7am: work — move around frequently
  • 2pm: exercise — usually strength training, no more than 30 minutes and often shorter
  • 4pm or 5pm (sometimes a little later): eat first meal — mostly whole, real food, always with 1 or 2 glasses of wine, frequently dessert
  • Early evening: work, play or read — depends on priority, but I try to also make time for friends and family
  • 8pm, 9pm, or 10pm: eat last meal — usually light, occasionally heavy
  • 11pm: sleep — sometimes earlier, sometimes later

Day 2:

  • 6am or 7am: work — move around often
  • 12 Noon: sometimes (though rarely) I eat lunch with a friend — I almost never say no to eating with friends. I never place fasting before friends
  • 4pm, 5pm, or later: Eat — I’ll probably eat lightly, as I’ll still be satisfied from lunch
  • After meal: work, play, or just read — I try to spend time with friends and family
  • 8pm: eat something light — maybe a few fresh figs (or dark chocolate) and a glass of wine
  • 10pm, sometimes earlier, sometimes later: sleep

Day 3

  • 6am or 7am: work — move around frequently
  • Late afternoon: 100 kettlebell swings, 50 burpees — less than 10 minutes
  • 4pm, 5pm, or later: go out to dinner with wife, enjoy a good (first) meal together, sometimes meet with friends for dinner, definitely some wine
  • After meal: go for a long, slow walk
  • 9pm or 10pm: last meal — sometimes a two-egg omelet with some vegetables, other times a home-made tiramisu (hell yes) with a scoop of ice cream
  • 10pm or 11pm: sleep — currently reading a novel by Jonathan Franzen, which has been keeping me up late

Day 4 (say, a weekend)

Sleep in, then walk a few miles with my wife and dog to Philz Coffee, hang out outside at the popular and crowded coffee house and enjoy the Northern California weather… twice here someone has approached me because they recognized me from The Lean Saloon. Weird.

Then we may take our dog to a quiet beach called Maverick’s Beach to hike, sprint and throw the ball. On the way back we may stop by Half Moon Bay Brewery for a late brunch — fresh smoke fish samples and a beer sampler (hell yes!).

My next post will be what kind of exercise I typically do, how much and how often.

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30 Responses to Typical Day

  1. Johnny says:

    Thanks for posting this. It seems pretty simple. One thing that stands out is the amount of wine you drink. Obviously it has not hindered your weight loss or physique.

    It would be interesting to know a more caloric breakdown at some point if you ever get to it. I have found for me that I must have been eating too much prior to IF. Eating less is much easier now, and the weight is slowly coming off. However, I have been tracking my calories, more as an experiment, to get an idea of what is working.

    • Johnny says:

      Hi J,

      I love my wine. Every day I allot about 250 calories for the complete and utter enjoyment of wine. I make sure to pour only around 5 ounces per glass. And enjoy it slowly.

      Each glass of wine is about 110 to 120 calories. Not so bad, as long as you make room for it.


      Like you imply, in the end, it is the total amount of calories that determine body weight and, with exercise, body composition. If you find that something hasn’t worked, adjust the calorie balance (and I want to remind people to never fret about something that hasn’t worked, especially because the solution is simple). IF makes it simple.


  2. Bangkok Jay says:

    Thanks for sharing, Johnny. Some of us might like to know your “typical meals” (future post) as well as it also seems your average total calories is quite light even with the wine (and occasional dessert, which doesn’t seem so occasional in reading).

    Do you purposely aim for more protein and/or fat by chance for satiety? I presume you don’t adhere to macro nutrient breakdowns but surely you must have a proclivity towards proteins, no?

    Lastly, I’ve read where some folks will indulge in rich desserts regularly but still stay lean. Is that because that in itself IS the meal and therefore keeps the daily average calories in check? That always confused/intrigued me.

    • Johnny says:

      Hi Jay,

      I don’t aim for any specific nutrient profile. However, because I love meat, I consume a fair share of protein. Also, most of my carbs come from vegetables and fruits because I eat mostly whole, real food (that’s closest to its natural state).

      However, even on days when I eat mostly carbs, I’m fine with IF the next day, as I think after doing IF for a while the body just gets used to it. I haven’t been noticing diminishing satiety or increased hunger. I suspect, however, this is not the case with everyone (as the satiety-hunger cycle is complex), especially for those new to, or inconsistent with, intermittent fasting.

      For me, regardless of what food content I eat, when I turn off the valve, I’m OK. I haven’t seen studies looking into satiety/hunger rating while doing IF, but I’ve seen at least one study that shows “gorging” does NOT typically occur after a fast.

      I think, for many people, the decision that you’re just going to fast (and thus removing any ambiguity or any chance of eating) makes the entire experience accessible for even those who are infatuated with the act of eating.

      Concerning dessert — it is intermittent fasting that makes eating dessert possible. Of course, I control myself around dessert by enjoying every single bite, letting it cover the tongue and being thankful that I can taste it. It’s an amazing experience when one learns to eat slowly.


  3. batty says:

    thank you for this! i’m a huge follower of you, and i appreciate the guidelines. thank you for sharing and being such an inspiration.

  4. Jim Arkus says:

    Excellent post! I’ve wanted to see something like this for awhile. I second the other commenter’s request for a more detailed look at what a ‘typical meal’ is.



  5. KevinT says:

    Hey Johnny, Thanks for posting this!

    And I’ll say “ditto” to the two previous comments & questions above … to help keep things in check for myself as well.

    Just thought of another question. Is this similar to how you ate when you started IF’ing after the “before” picture you’ve posted on this blog?

    • Johnny says:

      Hi Kevin,

      The “before” picture was taken when I was eating a nearly 100% Paleo diet. The circa-Paleo diet was a very useful (still is) in getting me to drop some initial weight, from above 20% to around 15%. And I was certainly healthier for both the weight loss and the maximum nutrients. But it wasn’t until IF that I was able to move from around 15% to well under 10%. Now I just eat a Paleo-ish diet, but regularly include grains (mostly sprouted, sometimes not), some sugar in homemade dessert, and a little bit of processed foods (like home-made bread or even pasta).

      I truly believe that IF and mostly whole, real food have kept me lean, well nourished, and healthy for nearly 2 years.


  6. Jordan D. says:

    “I never place fasting before friends”

    Yeah, but would you put a calorie maintenance/ deficit before friends? I think I might! lol. At least until I lose the rest of the weight.

    Do you ever have any issues with eating socially at 4-5 pm? Does your wife or friends/ family ever want to eat dinner later than that?

    • Johnny says:

      Hi Jordan,

      Absolutely no issue eating socially at any time. If dinner company wants to eat later, then I’ll just eat later. This would be one of those occasions that I might eat my first meal later than usual, as mentioned in the post. I find it very liberating to keep meal timing flexible, and far more enjoyable to eat with friends and family!


  7. Marie says:

    Hi Johnny,
    I subscribed to your blog several months ago. I’m fascinated by IF and how you’ve implemented it into your lifestyle. I looked around your website, but haven’t found a complete answer to my question – when you are not eating (from the time you wake up until dinner), are you taking in fluids? What do you drink besides water, if anything? For instance, would drinking coffee + cream in the morning disrupt the metabolism enough that the body is not in a fasting state anymore? Thanks for your thoughts.

  8. Steve says:

    During the 6 a.m. to 4-5 p.m. time do you consume coffee or water? just curious because I really want to start IF’ing and I am currently in College where I love black coffee and it is easier for me to eat at 3 p.m. the earliest. The only thing that scares me is that I train at a very high intensity because I am an asst. strength coach and have incorporated Martin Berkhan’s idea of BCAA’s. What is your opinion on this? I really want to get to a single digit BF%, I am currently around 13%, I love the Paleo/PB lifestyle but think IF is definitely for me due to schedule and I am really never hungry in the morning anyway. Just looking for some tips and love reading your posts, thanks!

    • Johnny says:


      I snatched 93 kilos and clean and jerked 115 kilos at a body weight of 69 kilos after a 3-day fast to drop to my weight class. Given enough time and adaptation, many people find that their strength training does not suffer.


  9. Johnny says:

    Hi Marie,

    I definitely drink water during the intermittent fast. I drink low or no calorie fluids, but mostly water or lemon water.

    I also enjoy a cup or two of coffee with real, heavy cream. I’m not too worried about the calories from the cream. The metabolic effect of fasting is not a black-and-white thing. The cream may slightly reduce the burning of stored fat but probably only by a little and only momentarily, until all the cream is metabolized from circulation. I consider this little intake of cream to be a “blip” in the fasting metabolism of stored fat. Not a big enough deal for me to eliminate something I really enjoy during my day — coffee and cream.

    In the end, it’s the total calorie intake that truly matters for body composition and for health… although the actual time extension between meals also offers health benefits similar to calorie restriction.


  10. Steve says:

    any thoughts on the BCAA’s or supplements in general? Want to gain muscle but also get lean.

    • Johnny says:

      Hi Steve,

      I don’t think much of BCAAs. I used to take them, but I find that, for my goal of being lean with an athletic physique, they’re a waste of money. I get BCAAs from Greek yogurt and just normal food. The supplement form of BCAAs probably does nothing more for muscle gain than a good exercise program and real food can.

      But if you’re looking for meal timing, BCAA intake and maximum muscle growth, you can check out Martin’s excellent Lean Gains blog.


      • KevinT says:

        Do you take Fish Oil or Multivitamins?

      • Johnny says:

        Hi Kevin,

        Although I have a bottle of Carlsen’s Norwegian fish oil in the fridge, I mostly forget to take it. I eat a lot of fish, though.

        Fish oil offers a lot of health benefits, but fat loss and being lean is first and foremost a result of exercise and, mostly, diet.


  11. lolo says:

    funny stuff, we both fast and enjoy the benefits, but at the same time its like we are total opposites! 1) i eat my food FAST, and usually don’t stop till im completely full,
    ( that includes my ice cream and chocolate!) 2) my feeding window is small ( 1 hr) so no multiple meals for me ( tend to overeat otherwise) 3) dont really move much,
    ( but hit my muscles from time to time) 4) fast every single day. 5) Finally i place my fasting ( and sleeping) before ANYTHING! you kidding me? is what keeps me health@slim! 6) oh, and ( thank good) also hate alcohol so no drinks for me. so people out there, just give fasting a go and find what works for you, you don’t really need to carbon copy every single detail… find what -works- best for you, and keep doing just that.

  12. Mike says:

    This is interesting, but I assume you clearly in a maintenance phase of your life.

    I saw some comments about a before picture, were you previously not lean? I’m curious how an IF typical day would differ if you were trying to drop major weight.

    • KevinT says:

      Here’s the post Mike:


      In the before, Johnny was doing solid Paleo/real food. In his after pics, he included Int. Fasting.

      I think the main thing to do first is get used to eating just about all real food. You may go through carb “detox”, withdrawals, etc for a few weeks… maybe not. I don’t remember having a hard time with it.

      Once you’re past that, then have a way to sort of keep an eye on calories… but make it as simple and stress free as possible. That’s where IF can work well.

      I don’t have the desire to read deep into it, but from what Johnny reports to us all, not only does IF help create a simple calorie deficit, but it also creates other healthy effects on the body and helps you get a solid feel for real hunger, level energy, etc.

      As for the dessert, grains, etc … I think that’s more of a decision to enjoy a little bit of the different kinds of “food” out there and not become an uptight “Paleo Police Officer” or whatever.

      I find that eating those kinds of foods still triggers me to want more & makes me feel terrible for a while …. so for the transition I’m in now … it’s probably not the best thing to do very often. Not for the “damage” that one meal may do… but more the mental struggle & cravings I’ll probably have to fight later.

      Also, the effect on health that whole food / Paleo has is a no brainer. Losing migraines, clearer skin, energy, brain & eye health, reducing inflammation, true hunger, drop cravings, clarity, using fat for energy, etc, etc, etc.

      The main point is to eat real food for health (real food being full of nutrients, lower in calories) and have a calorie deficit so your body uses body fat for energy. IF can help keep calories low over time so you can really enjoy meals to satisfaction when you’re truly hungry and not have to eat like a bird every 3 hours or get all nuts with calorie/point counting & worrying about what and when you can eat. Also, get more active, exercise to help keep off the fat you’ve lost & retain/build muscle, get sun, get rest, and keep stress low.

      • Johnny says:

        KevinT, you pretty much said it all. Thanks.


      • Mike says:

        Thanks for the link.

        I’m not changing my diet at all (yet), and eating what I have always normally ate, but introducing IF. Today is my 11th straight day of 20 hour fasts, and each day it feels easier/ more normal. (Each day I also run a minimum of 5 miles at ~7:00 to 8:00 miles/min pace).

        My initial goal was to use IF to get back to my high school/college weight, which was 15lbs less than I currently weigh, and then if successful go another 10lbs to what I consider my ideal weight (leaner).

        So far so good, I’m down a solid 6+ lbs in the last 11 days and I don’t feel like I starving myself or limiting myself from any foods (and like Johnny, this has included a fair bit of wine).

        Also, a couple days ago I finally gave in and told my wife about IF (she wasn’t even aware I was only eating 4 hours per day). She’s very skeptical and didn’t want to hear anything I had to say after “intermittent fasting” and instead wanted to do her own research. I was shocked when an hour later she indicated she wanted to try it. She has a significant amount of weight to lose and has been unsuccessful with weight watchers (points, ugh).

        Well I was impressed that she made the first day 18 hours and I thought it was a great start. I noticed on Martin’s leangains site that he finds women have a tougher time after 16+ hours and has a different fasting length for women. She did another 18 hours today, so if it’s doable for a breakfast lover like her, I’m sure anyone can do it.

        I don’t know how to explain it, but I’m running better than ever, I feel energetic all day long, I feel a constant level energy, not a lot of highs and lows. I don’t seem to get as tired either until it is time to go to sleep. Although I have desk job and sit all day, I’m pretty active on the weekends and IF has had no impact on that (if anything, I’ve felt more energetic).

    • Johnny says:

      Hi Mike,

      I would say that I’m never in a “maintenance phase.” I’m always in a Yin Yang phase. There are days when I eat way more, and there are days when I eat less through extended IF (up to 20 hours or so, instead of the usual 17 or so). This periodic, temporary extended IF gives me less opportunity to take in as much calories, as long as I pay attention and have some control during the feeding window.

      Where there’s more, there must be less.

      When I went from 15% to below 10% (where I am currently), my average caloric deficit was greater by, say, a couple hundred calories (guestimate). That’s the only difference and it’s that simple!


  13. malpaz says:

    like the post! i agree that to “get” IF you NEED TO be able to do and accept all things ‘real’ like family and friends before yourself or else you just being obsessive and selfish. i like how you show your able to manage time frames and such

    ps- if i ever run into someone who knows me from my blog….well, that would be weird haha

  14. Pingback: Typical Meal | The Lean Saloon

  15. Hien says:

    Just wanted to give you major props for the website and insightful content. Because of you Ive adopted an IF lifestyle now for almost two months. In March I weighed 195lbs and today Im at 170lbs (Im 5’6″ btw). I cant stress enough how Ive been able to incorporate IF now that I started grad school. Thank you!

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