Ask Alfonso: Should I Cycle My Calorie Intake?
I’m a fitness enthusiast and I seem to have success with my workouts. But when it to comes to nutrition, I’m calorically challenged.
As far as keeping your metabolism up, what are your thoughts on the concept of calorie shifting; having a low calorie day followed by a high calorie day?
Also, I have heard that when a plateau is reached and weight loss halts, to not only change up the exercise routine, but to tweak your diet too. I’ve even heard it’s good to go completely off your diet for as long as a week to reset your metabolism. Will this impede my weight loss efforts, or in fact help me to lose those last 5 pounds?
Hey Kristen, how are you?
I like the catchphrase “calorically challenged” and am going to use it from now on! So let me explain a bit about calorie cycling.
First of all, it’s important to know that most people, even those on a healthy diet, fluctuate their daily calories from day to day. It’s very unlikely that you, or anyone else is consuming identical amounts each day. Unless you’re weighing everything, and have it measured out to perfection, then the daily total probably swings 100 or more calories each day.
Throughout the years, there have been various different calorie cycling plans. The one I remember most was the 2 weeks over-eating, 2 weeks under-eating strategy that I read about in Bill Phillips now defunct Muscle Media 2K. Basically the excess calories were supposed to elicit a hormonal response and help build muscle tissue, while the two-week deprivation burned off body-fat. It was a ‘2 step forward, 1 step back’ plan and when combined with high volume weight training, worked wonders for me.
When you think about calories, you have to remember above all that they’re fuel. That’s also one reason why on the higher calorie days my workouts were much more intense, longer, and had more total volume. So unless your activity level is identical everyday, you should be fluctuating calories to meet the supply your body needs. With that said, you can manipulate your metabolism to run a bit faster.
If someone can lower their metabolism be eating too little, it makes sense that one can speed it up a bit by eating more. However I must caution you in that when I say more, I mean just 200-300 of additional calories for a few days. I notice that when I go off my normal diet due to a function, or party, I sweat uncontrollably, especially when I sleep. My rational for this is that my body is revving trying to process and burn the calories. I do believe that like exercise, your body gets accustomed to what you eat, and that by changing up the variables you can once again coax it into dropping fat.
I would not only suggest maybe trying a couple of days of a higher calorie intake, followed by lower calories, but I would also suggest you tweak your nutrients as well. I’ve used a lower and higher carbohydrates diet for a week, followed by a high protein diet, and also a version with more dietary fat. Although my total calories didn’t change all that much, where they were coming from was different. In each one of these phases, my body responded favorably. Additionally you can add more variables by altering how long each phase lasts for – 1, 2, 3 days of each, etc.
My recommendation would be this: figure out what you eat per day now, and swing that amount no more than 200 calories over or under. Additionally, change up the source of where the calories come from to make your body use different energy sources. Also be sure to change up your workout routine and on those days when you eat more, work for it! Try some H.I.T.T. training, super set weight training, and really push hard. Give your body a reason to use those calories.
Lastly, remember there’s only one way to gain body fat – by eating too many calories consistently for too long. The days when you eat more than usual can be psychologically challenging, and can sometimes lead to binging. Make sure you stay focused on the goal, and DON’T use a calorie cycling plan as an excuse to pig out! The idea of completely going off a diet is not sound in my opinion for two reasons. 1) A diet is a lifestyle that consists of an eating regime, not a tool to take a vacation from and 2) going “off” for a week will surely lead to emotional and psychological issues, and most likely set off a downward spiral. Trust me, I know – I’ve been there.
Let me know how it goes and if any of you out there would like to book a more in-depth consultation with me – just drop me a line via the How To Book button in the sidebar.
And if you have a question – please just click here. I’d love to help you!
All information contained within this site, Angry Trainer Fitness.com, is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any health problem – nor is it intended to replace the advice of a physician. No action should be taken solely on the contents of this website. Always consult your physician or qualified health professional on any matters regarding your health or on any opinions expressed within this website. Please see your physician before changing your diet, starting an exercise program, or taking any supplements of any kind.
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