When you throw IF in there it actually might change conventional wisdom around because there are thoughts that IF helps you partition your nutrients better than an equal amount of calories on a 6 meal/day eating schedule. I know that when I IF I need less calories than I had in the past when I was doing the 6 meal/day thing.
For the most part I think it's true that a person is not going to get a lot stronger and gain a lot of lean mass if you are in a caloric deficit. It could be that 2000 kcals is not necessarily a huge caloric deficit for you. I've definitely found that those equations for calculating caloric needs are not the greatest.
How are you measuring all your progress? I know you can see your numbers in lifts go up pretty readily and you can see scale weight go down, how are you measuring bodyfat?
I'm not sure I've ever heard the thing about having to get lean before getting bigger and stronger. I guess I've never really followed the Zone stuff too closely.
Unfortunately I'm drinking the office coffee with heavy cream I bring in from home. I had actually kicked the habit for months but recently started back up with these 4,5 am workouts the last 2 months.
"And for crying out loud. Don't go into the pain cave. I can't stress this enough. Your Totem Animal won't be in there to help you. You'll be on your own. The Pain Cave is for cowards.
Pain is your companion, don't go hide from it."