Using calorie cycling for weight loss can be a more effective way to achieve your fat loss goals than the traditional daily calorie deficit. The following article will explain what it is and how to most effectively implement it into your eating plan.
What is Calorie Cycling?
Calorie cycling is one of many methods for achieving weight loss. Instead of creating a daily 500 calorie deficit, you instead create varying days of calorie deficits mixed in with days of calorie surpluses. Doing so has many benefits. Some of these include:
- Resetting of Hunger Hormones – “Hunger” hormones like leptin and ghrelin are reset after periodic refeeds.
- Psychological Boost – Being able to eat higher calorie days and feel full can help you mentally during prolonged calorie restriction.
- Improved Insulin Sensitivity – Lower calorie days can improve insulin sensitivity which can help you reap the anabolic benefits of insulin on the days you increase you carbohydrate and calorie intake.
- Acceleration of Fat Loss – When all your hormones are optimized, you have the potential to lose more fat.
Look at Your Calorie Intake Over a Week – Not Day
Most of us approach weight loss by cutting a certain amount of calories and then eating that amount every single day. When weight loss stalls, you cut them some more.
Calorie cycling takes a different approach. Instead of approaching weight loss and calorie intakes on a day to day timeline, you instead look at it over a period of time – such as a week.
For example, let’s say you need 2,000 calories per day to maintain your current weight. Generally speaking, cutting your calories by 500 per day will result in weight loss of 1 pound over a week (500 * 7 = 3500 calories = 1lb). Eating 1500 calories a day means we end up eating 10,500 calories over the course of a week (1500 * 7 = 10,500).
How many different ways can we get in 10,500 calories over the course of a week? There are many possibilities. Some of these might be:
- 1200, 1200, 2100, 1200, 1200, 1200, 2400
- 1400, 1400, 1400, 1400, 1400, 1400, 2100
- 1500, 1200, 1200, 1700, 1200, 1200, 2500
In reality, the possibilities are endless. However, every single one of these will net you the same 10,500 calories over the course of the week.
The end result on your weight could be very different from one scenario to the next because your metabolism could be a changing variable. And this is what we are aiming to achieve – a maximized metabolism so that our fat loss continues and doesn’t plateau.
How to Cycle Your Calories
My preferred method for calorie cycling is to have 2 calorie surplus days each week. Calorie intake tends to look something along the lines of – low, low, high, low, low, low, high. When I do it, I also cycle my carbohydrate intake. To give you a better idea, here is what I might do:
- Monday: 2100 calories – Protein, fat, veggies, and 200 grams of carbohydrates
- Tuesday: 2100 calories – Protein, fat, veggies, and 200 grams of carbohydrates
- Wednesday: 3000 calories – Protein, fat, veggies, and 400 grams of carbohydrates
- Thursday: 2100 calories – Protein, fat, veggies, and 200 grams of carbohydrates
- Friday: 2100 calories – Protein, fat, veggies, and 200 grams of carbohydrates
- Saturday: 2100 calories – Protein, fat, veggies, and 200 grams of carbohydrates
- Sunday: 3000 calories – Protein, fat, veggies, and 400 grams of carbohydrates
All of this averages out to 2350 calories per day. It also averages out to about 250 grams of carbohydrates per day and .8-1 gram per pound of lean body weight in protein per day. The rest of the calories are filled with healthy fats.
You certainly don’t have to cycle your carbohydrate intake when you do calorie cycling. I just feel like it works better, as I’m able to keep a better hormonal profile that is conducive to fat loss – lower insulin levels, higher growth hormone, higher leptin levels, etc.
I could have just as easily eaten 2350 calories per day, each and every single day, but then I wouldn’t be able to reap the benefits of calorie cycling outlined at the beginning of the article. I find that calorie cycling is the perfect way to eat for the person with a highly adaptable metabolism.
Give calorie cycling a try and see how it works out for you. You might just find that it fits your lifestyle better, and improves your fat loss too.