In recent years, more and more dieting styles have emerged and been introduced with the promise of effective weight loss. However, when it comes to losing weight, it is crucial to remember that not all dieting techniques will work the same for everyone.
Moreover, many dieters fail to accomplish their goals simply because weekends happen — when they tend to overeat foods that they are restricted from eating during their clean-eating week.
Suppose you have been sweating out in the gym to reach your fitness goals but not losing weight due to hunger and energy deprivation. In that case, calorie cycling might be the answer to your concern.
Let’s go over the fundamentals of calorie cycling and how this novel dieting technique can be your top solution for achieving your fitness goals.
Achieve New Levels of Weight Loss and Fat Loss With Calorie Cycling
What Is Calorie Cycling?
Calorie cycling, also known as a zig-zag diet, is an eating pattern that gives you more control over your calorie consumption. It involves alternating between high-calorie and low-calorie meals from day to day or from week to week.
Simply put, you can eat more calories on some days and fewer on others, depending on your fitness goals and schedules. Alternatively, you can eat moderate calories throughout the week and indulge on the weekends.
Calorie Cycling vs. Conventional Diets
To appreciate the wonders that calorie cycling delivers, you must first understand why traditional diets may not be sustainable for some people.
Restrictive dieting techniques and caloric intake calculations generally result in nutrient deficiencies, metabolic disorders, hormonal imbalances, malnutrition, starvation, and even chronic physical conditions.
In addition, a 2016 study of the TV show “The Biggest Loser” contestants found that those who lost the most weight experienced an increased slowing of resting metabolic rate. But it doesn’t stop there because the aftermath persists six years later. After the show, not only did they regain a few more pounds, but they also continued to have slower resting metabolic rates.
In some cases, extended periods of extreme weight-loss strategies may endanger a person’s overall health. It puts their body in a dangerous state and increases the risks of developing life-threatening health issues such as loss of muscle mass or gastrointestinal issues (GI).
Cycling your calories is more sustainable than traditional dieting methods because it is considered less restrictive. It doesn’t suddenly deplete your energy or make you constantly crave food.
At best, you still have enough calories to function properly, even on low-calorie days. Calorie cycling also eases food anxieties associated with calorie counting. Instead, they have more freedom when dining out.
How Calorie Cycling Works
Let’s say your goal is to consume 2,000 calories daily, which adds up to 14,000 a week. In that case, you will eat the same food worth 2,000 calories daily if you follow a regular dieting strategy. Although doing so shouldn’t be too challenging, some people may give up on their fitness goals due to impatience, indetermination, and boredom.
Another drawback is that the types of activities we engage in on a day significantly determine how much energy we need for our bodies. It means you may not need 2,000 calories on days when you are at home and chilling on the couch.
Conversely, 2,000 calories may not be enough to fuel your body when you work out another day. This is why calorie cycling comes to the rescue.
Instead of sticking to the exact calorie allowance every day, focus on the total calories you are allowed to consume, and cater it however you want as long as it hits your desired calories. More specifically, cut back on calories for days when you are not physically active, and set higher calories for days when you need it the most.
This way, your body will be provided with energy when you have a grueling workout session compared to a regular diet. Simultaneously, with this dieting style, you will not impede your progress when giving yourself a few more treats during a friend’s party, a gathering, or a social event.
Although this dieting technique is more flexible than others, it should be noted that what works for others may not equivalently work for you. Therefore, it is always crucial to strategize your plan according to your lifestyle and other factors, especially if you aim to build muscles or have weekly meetups where you eat more than usual. For a balanced calorie cycling diet, try the following routines:
- Four days of high-calorie intake and three days of low-calorie intake
- Five days of high-calorie intake and two days of low-calorie intake (the 5:2 method)
- Four weeks of low-calorie intake and one week of high-calorie intake
How Does Calorie Cycling Affect the Body?
In contrast to extreme weight-loss strategies, a person cycling their calories can sufficiently lose weight and fat and gain muscle mass without worrying about any adverse effects.
The impact of calorie cycling on the body includes:
- Reduced hunger
- Boost in metabolism
- Improved workout and exercise performance
- Optimized fat loss
- Toned up body
- Enhanced muscle growth
- Muscle building
- Malnutrition or nutrient deficiencies prevention
The Performance of Calorie Cycling on Weight Loss
Many studies and research have found a sharp decline in calories burnt when cycling calories.
According to a 2014 study comparing the impacts of calorie-restricting and calorie cycling on overweight and obese participants, participants with calorie cycling started to lose up to a total of 6.02 kilograms in weight and fat while experiencing unchanged metabolic rates after four weeks. On top of that, they also felt less hungry, accompanied by a significant decrease in plasma glucose, total cholesterol, and triacylglycerol.
Another study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition pointed out a decrease in participants’ metabolism by more than 100 calories with a 3-week low-calorie diet. Conversely, their metabolism increased above the starting levels when switching to a 4-week high-calorie diet.
Additionally, a 2001 study found approximately 250 calories burnt at rest after eight weeks following a calorie-cycling diet.
Despite promising results on metabolism, which is a key to better weight management, more studies are still needed to fully understand the long-term benefits of calorie cycling.
Calorie Cycling Tips
Calorie cycling offers more freedom in caloric intake. Still, it should not be mistaken as an excuse to eat whatever and whenever you want. Instead, it should be considered a tool that assists you in leading a healthier lifestyle and reaching a more balanced state of mind where you are guilt-free over your food choices.
Here are some considerations, tips, and tricks to keep in mind when losing weight with calorie cycling.
- Keep calorie intake under control – Make sure you are not eating too much or too little.
- Workout on high-calorie days – Aside from dieting, exercising is essential for weight loss. Consuming more calories will give your body the nutrients it needs for heavy-duty workouts and prevent energy depletion, resulting in efficient muscle development.
- Eat the right food – Protein sourced from chicken, lean beef, fish, tofu, and eggs is vital for keeping your body energized, especially when you consume fewer calories. Always invest in fresh products instead of processed foods packed with preservatives.
- Don’t drink calories – Despite the high-calorie content, sugary drinks can derail your diet progression. Water, coffee, or tea are better alternatives for staying hydrated when you are on a diet.
- Focus on balance – Whether you are eating more or fewer calories, it is crucial to load up your body with adequate nutrients to ensure proper nutrition. A balanced diet includes fresh fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. These essential nutrients also make you stay full throughout the day.
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