Most weight loss diets involve eating the same amount of calories day in and day out until the diet is completed. While this approach can certainly provide excellent results, there are other effective strategies for rapid fat loss. Calorie cycling involves eating different amounts of calories and macronutrients each day. This serves two main purposes. First, it prevents the diet fatigue that results from eating the same foods in the same amounts day after day. Second, it prevents the body from quickly adapting to a routine, which can lead to diminished results.
Keeping the Body Guessing
When using this approach, there are low calorie days in which a significant calorie deficit is achieved. There are also moderate and high calorie days that aid in recovery, muscle growth and provide some psychological relief from the rigors of dieting. Since food intake is different each day, the body does not adapt as quickly, and plateaus are typically avoided. There are four low calorie days on which fat burning is maximized, but there are also two moderate days and one high calorie day to break up the monotony and prevent burnout.
Along with calories, macronutrient amounts are also cycled throughout the week. Some days are high protein, low carbohydrate days, while others are high carbohydrate, low fat days. This is geared toward maximum fat loss, muscle growth and nervous system recovery. On the low calorie days, protein is very high and carbs are very low. This keeps insulin low and maximizes fat mobilization. On the high calorie day, fats and carbohydrates are increased to aid in muscle growth and repair the CNS. This approach allows for optimal fat loss without some of the negative side effects that can come from long-term dieting.
Getting the Timing Right
Cycling calories and macronutrients allows dieters to optimize their low, moderate and high calorie days for their given schedules. Some people prefer to schedule their low calorie days on work days, as this provides a distraction from the hunger pangs that come with a significant calorie deficit. The high calorie day can be scheduled on Saturday or Sunday to coincide with a family get together or social function. With this plan, individuals can schedule their days in the way that is most convenient for them, which makes this approach quite adaptable.
Making Minor Adjustments
Calorie cycling diets are also very flexible. They allow minor adjustments to be made in accordance with other training parameters such as upping the carbohydrates a bit for endurance exercise. In this way, calories and macronutrients can be further tweaked to suit individual styles of training.
An Average Week
- A weekly schedule for someone following a calorie cycling diet might look like this:
- Monday: Low calorie, low carbohydrate, high protein
- Tuesday: Low calorie, moderate carbohydrate, moderate protein
- Wednesday: Moderate calorie, low carbohydrate, high protein
- Thursday: Low calorie, moderate carbohydrate, moderate protein
- Friday: Moderate calorie, low carbohydrate, high protein
- Saturday: Low calorie, low carbohydrate, high protein
- Sunday: High calories, high carbohydrate, low protein
This schedule can be repeated the next week or changed to suit the needs of the individual. With a calorie cycling approach, it is the dieter who is in control.