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Old 02-21-2008, 01:35 PM   #1
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Default High on one day, low on another. Does it work??

This is a repost from my Calorie Counters group, since they don't get as much traffic as we do over here!

I had a question... I've seen it posted before about fluctuating your calories... calorie cycling or something like that.

Do you think it really works? I'm not really interested in doing it, per se... but more for general knowledge.

Not the same thing, but similar. Say you go out to eat and eat HORRIBLY... is it okay for you to drastically cut back calories the next day in order to "compensate"? Technically that's what calorie cyclers do, just not as drastically.

Example: You normally eat 1600 cals a day. You go out to eat, share an appetizer, have an entree, share a dessert. WHOA-- your total calories for the day top out at 3300!! Is it okay to drop the next days calories to 1200 and then continue your normal 1600 for the rest of the week?

Just curious...

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Old 02-21-2008, 01:38 PM   #2
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I have always heard that it keeps your body guessing. So it's worth a try.

As far as calories, I always try and go for a weekly average. Some days I am real low and some days I am on the high end. I always look at a weekly average to see how I did. So yes, I think compensating the next day is ok. But it won't make up for the additional fat you probably had on the high day.

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Old 02-21-2008, 01:41 PM   #3
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I count carbs, but because I travel to visit family a lot, there are times when my plan goes a little higher in carbs and probably calories. I find that when I get home and get on my plan properly, I quickly lose weight and come out of stalls. I think this kind change can kick start a sluggish metabolism.

I wouldn't call what I do so extreme though. I don't think I could consume so many calories anymore and I wouldn't do it from day to day. I've done a few weeks on a less stringent plan and then go back on my very strict plan. I don't think it's a good thing to introduce really bad habits into your life again.
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Old 02-21-2008, 02:38 PM   #4
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I was just wondering that myself. I weight myself daily (sometimes a couple times a day) Well this week my weight has been all over. Maybe TOM. It has been at 211 or above since the Feb 11. I've been staying at or just below my points. Well yesterday I step on the scale and it said 213.6 YIKES!!! To make matter worse (or so I thought) I wasn't able to work out and I was over my points by 7. Well after a talk with myself about keep going we all screw up. I step on the scale. I've hit 210.0 now I won't count that as my offical weight unless I weigh that much monday but I do feel that the extra cals did kick something in the bum. I may try and do this on my own in a couple weeks and see what happens.

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Old 02-21-2008, 02:38 PM   #5
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I have a weekly total. Each day, I vary my calorie count. Some days, I have 1200, some days are 1400 and some days are 1600. Yes, I can plan to have an off-plan meal and subtract the calories from another day(s.) I've been doing this for 3 1/2 weeks and its working great for me so far.
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Old 02-21-2008, 03:15 PM   #6
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The people who calorie or point cycle who I've spoken with tend to plan out which days ahead of time are their "higher" days. That way they can add in extra activity for that day to burn a few more of the calories.

I tend to be a little leery of trying to make up for a high calorie day by skimming a ton the next. Only, because, it could lead to a bad binge/starve cycle. (Not that it would, but just that it has that potential.)
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Old 02-21-2008, 03:32 PM   #7
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I do think there's inherent risk there, as Faerie said.

I don't think it's bad to regularly cycle calories within a predtermined range. I do think it's bad to say "I'll eat whatever I want today and make up for it tomorrow" and then go hog wild and consume 5000 calories, planning to starve yourself the next day to make up for it.

OTOH, there are going to be weeks where it's just going to happen and you deal with it. For example, on Monday I was so utterly exhausted after I got home, I wound up crashing on the sofa and slept thru dinner. When I woke up I wasn't all that hungry and it was too late for me to eat comfortably, and so I just skipped. My total calories for that day were under 1000 because of that. Not optimal, but it's not like I eat that low every day or even every week, so I'm not freaked about it.

Today I went out to lunch with a frend and my calories for today will probably be a little over 2000 (which is at least 500 over the high end of my range). I'm kinda ok with that this week because of the deficit from Monday and because I've hit the gym every day this week for at least 45 mins of cardio, plus weights twice.

But again, I wouldn't make a regular habit of it, nor would I get into the mindset that you can eat anything you want and just make up for it later.

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Old 02-21-2008, 03:37 PM   #8
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Just to add:

I think that "making up for it" (whatever "it" happens to be), and true Calorie Cycling are vastly different things. At least in my head...

One is "Oh crap! What can I do to fix this?" The other is "How can I plan to use my calories most efficiently this week?"
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Old 02-21-2008, 03:41 PM   #9
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True calorie cycling is planned. If you aren't planning it, it's just a binge LOL!

Cycling is about eating a little more on some days, not just eating whatever for your high day (although there are people who do that).
Some people call them cheat days.

I think cycling works very well. The body is very efficient, and if you are allotting the same number of calories for yourself every day, then that is what your body will come to expect and 'gear down' your metabolism. If you vary your calories, your body won't adjust to a set point.
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Old 02-21-2008, 03:47 PM   #10
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Exclamation Well, I say NO to calorie cycling...

and I say that as one of the behaviors that I am trying to rid myself of!

It doesn't work for me and I find it demoralizing to have to work extra hard to lose whatever I may have gained even if it is only a pound!

I think it encourages playing with your behaviors, your metabolism and essentially seeing losing weight as "some kind of game" that you can cheat at once in a while and if you set yourself right then it is "okay".

It reminds me of when someone tempts you with "one can't hurt..." Well, maybe it won't one time but add those one times up together and pretty soon it does, IMO. I think if you want to live differently then you need to act differently. I believe doing this actually made me "insulin resistant" by all of the yo-yoing I did. My body didn't know what to do, I'm sure.

One of the other 3FC persons the other day caught me saying that I will be glad when I am DONE with dieting so I can have my life back. Well, this does seem hard if not impossible some days ( or most days). It is awful to say No to all those former "loves". I am grieving the lose of being able to eat that way. I'm being straight up about that. I'm sorry but broccoli doesn't make my mouth water and, quite honestly, I don't think it ever will.

Now, that I have tasted the "good life" (better health) and weight lose, why would I want to eat that way again and you know that is what calorie cycling really is---it means going back to the way we used to eat, be and live? I am still going through psychological withdrawal (the physical has long past) so why would I want to go back and have one last Krispy Kreme for "old time's sake"? It doesn't really make sense but I still do even though I know that it is not wise. I know how it feels to want to have it both ways. I really do! I

I am still struggling mentally with this as a permanent lifestyle choice everyone talks about. I will admit as much.

It is going to take me longer to change my fat head than it will my fat body.

I have fooled myself too. Then, when yet another study comes out about how obesity causes something else (the most recent being ovarian cancer which is what my Mom is dealing with and yes there is a hereditary factor besides an obesity one!) it sobers me up ---real quick!

Is cheesecake (or whatever) really worth it? What is?

She reminded me that I will have to do this for the rest of my life. I didn't want to hear that but I needed to hear that. Kudos to her! I needed that reality chick (I mean check)! Thanks, skinnydogmom!

She is right. This is no game. The main focus should be not how we can fool our body, haven't we fooled ourselves enough already, ladies (and guys)???

I think so!

Here's to learning to incorporate normal eating into a new way of living. No cycles. Just a steady ride all the way to the finish line!

Last edited by pamatga; 02-21-2008 at 04:26 PM. Reason: I really need to learn to proof what I write!
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Old 02-21-2008, 04:29 PM   #11
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My goodness, folks! Let's not confuse calorie cycling with bingeing. There is absolutely nothing wrong with planning for a high calorie day and limiting yourself to 1200 calories on another day to account for it...ie, calorie cycling! 1200 calories is not starving yourself. And, if it takes cycling calories to keep my body from stalling on weight loss, them what in the world is so very bad about that? I've taken charge of my weight loss and have not chosen to let food control me...and, I've done so in a very healthy manner. Calorie cycling is a very controlled and planned way of losing weight. Its not like I'm bingeing and purging. If I choose to have fun with this very difficult journey and make this into a game for myself while remaining accountable with myself at the same time, then I say...good for me!
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Last edited by GirlyGirlSebas; 02-21-2008 at 04:31 PM.
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Old 02-21-2008, 04:45 PM   #12
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I agree...calorie cycling is a perfectly fine thing to do! I do it naturally (as in- not specifically planned), and balance out to about 1400-1500 over the week.

It's not the same as the vicious cycle of "overeat one day, and then under eat the next to make up for it"

Two totally different things.
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Last edited by famograham; 02-21-2008 at 04:47 PM.
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Old 02-21-2008, 07:05 PM   #13
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Okay, calorie cycling is NOT eating whatever you want and just pigging out, then starving yourself the next day. That is binging and trying to make up for it, which is not calorie counting as it is to be done healthfully. I cycle, but it is all planned out and I eat the same healthy foods on higher days as lower days. The point in cycling is that your body doesn't get used to one calorie level and hit plateaus, plus it makes calorie counting a lifestyle I can stick with forever.

I have been calorie cycling for awhile now and I do not gain even a fraction of a pound from my higher calorie days. There is nothing to "make up for" if you are doing it right, it all just balances out. And a higher calorie day doesn't mean go grab some candy or eat an entire pizza...and honestly my high days wouldn't even be enough to eat the way I used to. I saw a mention of 2000 or 3000 calories in a day here there shouldn't be a day that high in calorie cycling. My range has been between 1200-1700 calories, and now I have cut out all 1200 days because I exercise a lot and it wasn't enough for me. This week my range falls between 1500-1800 calories with 500 extra calories that I set aside for whenever I need them. Now, they are only that high because I put in mad hours of exercise, without my exercise I'd be cycling more like 1200-1600 a day. I will eat the same healthy type foods on a 1500 day or a 1800 day...I might just add a little extra cheese to a salad or have a special snack in the evening, that's about the only difference really. In the end, my body gets what it needs and I shed pounds...and have never hit a plateau!

Weight loss is not about what you eat one day, it's more the comibination of larger time frames like a week. I have my set calories for the week and I split them out, giving a little higher limit to days I may need them. This does not mean I go all out and eat like a piggie on those higher days, it just means I may be going out to dinner with friends or celebrating a birthday and want to have a peice of cake. Those things are planned and wrapped up in the overall week plan, I lose without feeling deprived or ever being hungry. If you go into this saying you will NEVER EVER eat those things you love, I don't see it sticking long term. Deprivation is not required to be healthy. But binging and eating 3000 calories a day is not going to make you healthy either. It's about moderation and changing your lifestyle, not depriving yourself.

I do agree that we should not go back to how we used to eat and the habits that made us fat to begin with...of course! This is a lifestyle change and should be something you can stick with forever. Calorie cycling makes it a natural fit for me. The calories I need change so often. As you age, increase or decrease daily activity, switch exercise hours, etc. you will require different calorie levels. What I follows accounts for all those fluctuations and I come to a healthy weekly calorie goal and how I break it down is up to me.

There is a big, big difference between cycling your calories to fit your life and avoid plateaus and going hog wild, eating out of control, then trying to make up for it. I do the exact opposite of that. If I have something higher calorie, or something lower calorie but not real healthy even, it depends on my calorie limit for the day and week...and in turn, the calorie level for day and week depends on my current weight, activity level, age, exercise I'm putting in, etc. It isn't even necessary to put in extra activity on a higher calorie day....and I lose after a 1800 calorie day the same as a 1300 calorie day because it's the overall week that brings off the pounds.

We are all different and thus all the different diet plans. I think the most successful plans are ones that you throw together yourself based on what works for YOU. I would totally respect someone saying cycling isn't for them, that's fine...BUT some of the posts on here are bashing calorie cycling without even understanding how it is done correctly. You don't eat the way you used to, there is no crazy eating or accepted binging. It is something that really works and can keep you healthy for the long haul because it so easily adapts to your life and changes while holding you accountable to health and weight loss...when done correctly!

To answer the original question that started this thread...calorie cycling does work, but it is not for making up for a slip or binge. It is not for allowing you to eat out of control either...actually, I laughed when I read that part in this thread about it allowing you to eat whatever out of control cycling is all about controlling what goes in your mouth...I have never been in more control than I am with this way of eating. I can control even more this way than when on a strict daily calorie limit where it's the same everyday.

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Old 02-21-2008, 07:54 PM   #14
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I totally agree that it is okay to eat more on some days and less on others, but it needs to always stay within a reasonable amount. I went for 6 weeks without losing anything so I used this method to start losing again. I'm like Rhonda I may increase my intake by about 200 - 300 calories on my higher day and then back down to my normal the next day. It worked for me. I still do basically the same thing during maintenance (thanks to reading the post of the very wise people on the maintenance board). I realize that I will never ever be able to eat everything I want whenever I want.

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Old 02-21-2008, 08:06 PM   #15
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I would like to do calorie cycling, because there are days where I eat 1100 calories or so and feel fine. But I am a little hesitant because I am afraid that during my planned day to be lower in calories I will be extra hungry- and feel unsatisfied. Then I might say "Well I'll eat higher calories today, then do the lower tomorrow." But then that lower day would never come...

How do you calorie cyclers avoid this?
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