Weight Loss Support - Questions about calorie cycling

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08-19-2012, 06:01 PM
Currently, I eat almost the exact same amount of calories every day (+/- 100), but I've been contemplating switching to calorie cycling. For those of you who are already doing this, what do you feel the advantages are? Has your weight loss improved since you began cycling?

Also, silly question, but do you still weigh daily? I think it would drive me slightly insane to see the scale go up after all of the higher calorie days.

Thanks in advance for your help! :)

08-19-2012, 07:42 PM
I'm basically in maintenance with only 1.6 lbs left to lose. I've calorie cycled for a long time now, and I love the convenience. For example, we had a wedding to go to yesterday, and I knew that I would want to eat cake, have drinks, etc. I ate 1500 calories all week in anticipation, and I consumed *ahem* almost 4000 calories (!) yesterday. Averaged out to around 1800 calories a day for the week. That's an extreme example of course, involving wedding cake and margaritas...but you get the picture! :) A typical week would vary by a few hundred calories, give or take, per day. Sometimes less, sometimes more, just depends on my appetite, exercise, and so on. As far as weighing--I predominantly weighed once or twice a week, with one day a week being my official weigh in, when I was steadily losing. This summer, with losing the last few pounds, I've weighed daily because it really helps keep me on track. Best of luck with calorie cycling!

08-19-2012, 08:31 PM
I used calorie cycling to break my plateau and I continue to cycle through calories. I wouldn't say I'm losing considerably more weight but the small losses are more consistent. I like this plan because I don't get the urge to binge as much. I have days where I eat only 1100 calories but I also have days where I eat 1800 calories and on these days I can usually fit in a lot of foods I really enjoy. I typically eat 2 meals so I can eat a 1000-1200 calorie meal on a high cal day and feel like I was at a buffet. The next day I have no urges to eat any particular food and I am usually still quite full so a low calorie day isn't difficult.

08-19-2012, 08:37 PM
I never experienced an effect from calorie cycling, but I've heard some others use it to break plateaus.

Having an occasional "high" day (200-300 more than usual) sometimes seems to shock my body a bit into dropping.

08-19-2012, 11:22 PM
It has been working for me. Actually the last week, I stayed the same with my calories and so did my scale:( First week that I didn't show any loss at all. I don't do drastic up and downs, just enough to change it up.

08-20-2012, 11:17 PM
Thanks for all of the feedback! I'm going to try it this week just to see how it goes. :) I think this will also help me not feel "deprived," which should help make this lifestyle sustainable in the long run.

08-21-2012, 06:19 AM
I can't tell for sure, because I'm not counting anymore, but I think that what's become my "natural maintenance mode" is close to calorie cycling. I.e. if I know that there's a big dinner in the plan on the week end, I tend to eat a little less to "compensate" during a couple of days before and after. So far, it's been working for me, allowed me to grasp the concept of moderation again, and not fall back into the old restrict/binge cycle. (Which is funny in a way, because the process is similar... only the gap between both is much less wide. ^^)

As for the scale: I never weighed daily, and I don't recommend it. Weigh once a week if you feel you need regular data on your weight, but not more often. I sometimes joke about how you suddenly weigh 2 more lbs after drinking a glass of water, but it's true: depending on what kind of foods you've eaten, your weight can vary from day to day in a way that might be quite mind-boggling. You could probably calculate what kind of variation to expect (for instance, eating salty foods = water retention = artificial weight gain on the scale the next day), but it's just so tedious a process that it's not worth it.

08-21-2012, 08:03 AM
You won't necessarily see the scale go up after your high-calorie days. Your weight on any particular day is determined by many factors, but whether you ate a couple hundred more calories the day before is really not among them. The dominant factor is fluis retention, because the amount of fluid you retain can easily change by a couple of pounds in the course of a day, obscuring a couple of weeks worth of fat loss. Fluid retention depends upon a whole host of factors, some of which are within and some of which are not within your control - sodium intake, hydration, weather, hormones, changes to your exercise routine, etc.

So weigh every day if you find it useful to track your body's patterns - daily fluctuations are a part of weight loss no matter what plan you follow, calorie-cycling or not. Do not weigh every day if you don't value this information, or if the fluctuations upset you despite having nothing whatsoever to do with whether you are successfully losing fat. But the decision to weigh every day or not should not really have any bearing on whether you are calorie cycling or not.

As to calorie-cycling, I tried it for a while it didn't find it comfortable - it is easier and safer for me to have the same routine every workday, instead of arbitrarily labeling some days as high calorie and others as low calorie. That was encouraging me to eat recreationally when I had the calories to spare, instead of working on eating what I needed to, when I needed to - something I still need to work on.

I do end up doing some calorie cycling naturally - some days I am more hungry, some days less; or some days I fit in a higher-calorie restaurant meal or a treat. But it isn't formalized as on x day of the week I must eat y calories. Rather, my calorie target is more of a target range, and some days I land near the top of the range, while other days I land near the bottom.

08-21-2012, 09:46 AM
I agree with everything Carter said. Including the bit about the scale blips - it has far more to do with the makeup of what I ate instead of the caloric load. I'm having very good luck picking off my last few pounds by using a weekly calorie average, which is based on the maintenance weight of where I want to go. On Saturday morning, I have 12000 calories to work with through the following Friday night, so if I choose to indulge over the weekend, I have a natural stopping point for the weekdays. That being said ... I tolerate a much slower weight loss than a lot of people would, only a half pound per week.