The most important aspect of any diet (outside of safety factors) is it’s likelihood of being sustainable over the long-term. It is consistency that gets you results (i.e, the longer or more often you do something the greater the results).
Many prioritize seeking out the “best diet” not realizing that as long as it puts you in a caloric deficit, the diet WILL work. Knowing this we can shift our focus from, which diet is the best, to what can I sustain over the long-term.
If you have tried to eat a better, healthier diet you know that it is not as easy as it seems (eating better is simple in theory, complicated in practice). We are all so different in our discipline, likes, dislikes, what we are accustomed to, etc. In other words, what works really well for me may not be the best fit for you.
If we want to be successful, we have to focus more on what is sustainable rather than what is the “best”. Best is a relative term, and logically (because of our differences) something labeled as best could turn out, and surely does for some, to be useless, i.e what is best for you may not be best for me and vice versa.
Calorie cycling is just one of the many patterns of eating that could possibly be a solid fit for you and help you achieve your goals (by being more sustainable for you than a regular deficit diet). Remember it is all about (safely) experimenting with diets and workouts to find those that work best for us so that we can be successful.
What is Calorie Cycling?
Calorie Cycling is a pattern of eating that fluctuates the amount of calories you eat per day, throughout the week, while making sure you are still in an overall deficit at the end of the week (or at your overall targeted calories in general, depending on your goals). So, instead of eating a set amount of calories each day of the week, you would have higher calorie intake days and lower calorie intake days. Let’s look at an example.
Let’s say my daily intake, in order to lose weight, is 2100 calories a day. I would multiply 2100 by 7 and get 14,700. This is my total weekly calorie intake needed to lose fat.
Now I need to make sure that regardless of what my high and low intake days are, that at the end of the week, my total intake does not exceed 14,700 calories (ensuring, also however that my low intake days are not below my current resting metabolic rate).
Below are two ways you could set up your weekly calorie intake (the pattern (high and low) being most relevant, not so much the numbers because everyone’s calorie needs are different):
Again, these are just examples, however you could set it up anyway you want as long as you follow these two main rules.
1. Never eat under your RMR (Resting Metabolic Rate) and…
2. Make sure at the end of the week you are in an energy deficit. (Take your daily weight loss calorie intake (TDEE-500) and multiply it by 7). For more on calculating TDEE, see this article.
The biggest aspect of any diet is it’s likelihood of being sustainable over the long-term. So, whether planning to follow a calorie cycling eating pattern, standard everyday deficit, or any other style/pattern of eating ask yourself first, is it healthy/safe for you in particular and second, is it sustainable for you long-term. Many negate the importance of sustainability and that is a key aspect of dieting that must be focused on if we aim to be successful (again safety should always be a primary concern). I hope this pattern of eating can be a fit for someone and aid them in developing a sustainable diet. Good luck!
(If you are not in any disease state you can skip and/or disregard this) if you are in any disease state it is never safe to take dietary information from anyone who is not a Registered Dietitian. It is always strongly recommended to take any advice, tips, etc given by someone who is not one of these specialists, and run it by one to make sure it is safe to implement for YOU. Safety should always be our number one priority.