Calorie Cycling – It Works!


I don’t know how many of you know what “calorie cycling” is but it’s pretty much what it sounds like.  Calorie cycling is adjusting your caloric intake per day while maintaining a desired weekly caloric intake average.

Say what?

In other words, “calorie cycling” is the daily adjustment of total calories (one day higher the other lower) to average your desired weekly total.  So, “calorie cycling” is a week approach to weight control as opposed to a day to day low-calorie diet.


What Is Calorie Cycling Good For?

Calorie cycling is supposedly good for losing weight, but it is especially good for busting through weight-loss plateaus.


This is actually a huge deal because instead of being on a low calorie diet all week you’ll be eating more calories on certain days and less on others.  Because calorie cycling allows you to enjoy a bit more/less every other day, you’ll be able to have that dessert or drink Friday night without ruining your eating plan.  This very important tidbit is easily and greatly overlooked when it comes to calorie cycling.

Most people hate dieting because they’ll have to constantly think about “watching” what they eat, but with calorie cycling this stress only exists every other day…which is much more tolerable and much more in line with our daily lifestyles…I mean your not going to indulge in that huge piece of cheesecake every night right? So don’t sweat it.


How Does It Work?

Calorie cycling works because you are in essence “tricking” your metabolism into thinking two things;

1.High Calorie Days – “I don’t need to store calories because I’ll be getting more tomorrow.”

2. Low Calorie Days – “I better use some calories because I don’t know if I’ll be getting more tomorrow.”

So, on days you’re eating a lower amount of calories your body is losing weight due to the calorie deficiency.  Now, at this point your body might normally stop burning as much calories because it thinks it will need to save some calories for future use due to a lack of nutrients.  But, the very next day your body gets a boost of calories and thinks, “guess we are not running low on food…lets start calorie burning again.”  Then, on the next low calorie day, your body will keep burning past the normal “fail-safe-calorie-preservation point” resulting in MORE WEIGHT LOSS!


Does It Work?

I can tell you first hand that calorie cycling works for me.

As you may or may not know, I am all about trying different approaches and techniques to both eating and working out…and tracking their results.  As you may also already know, I normally workout early in the morning and follow the LeanGains eating style with a 18/6 plan (I eat only from 3pm to 9pm and fast from 9pm to 3pm the next day). Though this workout/eating plan works pretty perfectly for me, I had just finished a gaining phase I had been in for the last 3 months (I wanted to gain about 5 lbs. of muscle but I had gained about 8 lbs. total…and I could visually see the difference in my abdominal area.

So, I found myself with a handful of pounds to lose and a scientific itch to scratch.  That itch was a simple question –

“Would the Spartan Diet work better than LeanGains?”

Being that my work situation had changed I found myself in the perfect situation to test out this question.


The Spartan Diet vs. An IF (LeanGains Approach)

The Spartan Diet is really just eating once a day (in other words you have one huge meal a day) as opposed to LeanGains which is an Intermittent Fasting approach which calls for calorie and macronutrients cycling (to find out more about LeanGains and macronutrients cycling check out this 3-part series on the LeanGains IF approach).

So, being that the Spartan Diet is all about consuming one big-ass meal a day, I threw out calorie counting and focused on eating.

 To be perfectly honest, I say I threw caution to the wind when it came to calorie counting, but, after so much calorie counting to lose my initial 75 lbs., I pretty much know how many calories (almost) every food I eat has…and when your daily caloric intake becomes second nature to you and your body you really will never have to calorie count again because you’ll know what makes you gain, lose, and/or maintain weight.

Though I was not actively controlling the amount of food I was eating (i.e., I was just eating to my stomach’s content), I was keeping track of the calories I was ingesting…I mean how could I share my results without knowing exactly what I was doing…?

It turns out that on the Spartan Diet I was consuming an average of 1,500 – 1,800 calories a day.  I was eating the same foods I would normally eat during LeanGains, BUT I was NOT calorie cycling.

On LeanGains I normally eat 3,200-3,500 calories 3-4 days week, 4,200 once a week, and about 2,000 1-2 days a week.  But while on the Spartan Diet I ate about 1,500-1,800 calories a day for 6 weeks straight.


The Spartan Diet Results

I followed the Spartan Diet, eating 1,500-1,800 calories a day, for 6 weeks and…


So, Calorie Cycling…It Really Does Work?

Well, yes, it works better for me than just maintaining a low calorie diet.  I don’t know if it really has to do with “tricking” the body or not, but what I do know is, as stated above, when I kept a constant low calorie diet via the Spartan Diet I WAS NOT LOSING WEIGHT.

On the other hand, when I started calorie cycling again for my 12 lbs. in 2 weeks challenge, via the LeanGains 18/6 plan, I dropped more pounds than I bargained for…as is usually the case with LeanGains.