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Calorie Cycling to Lose Weight

By Lynn MacPherson ; Updated July 18, 2017

Fitness experts often recommend mixing it up when your body has become accustomed to your exercise routine, and you are not seeing results anymore. Dieting can be similar in that your body becomes accustomed to a certain amount of calories and adjusts your metabolism accordingly. By alternating the amount of calories you consume, a technique called calorie cycling, you can keep your body guessing--and burning calories.

Mix It Up

Calorie cycling consists of eating a moderate amount of calories on one day and restricting the next. Alternating amounts of calories consumed can often give you better results than calorie restricting every day. "... because there is no sustained calorie restriction, your body does not adjust its metabolism or start catabolizing lean muscle tissue as it would on a sustained low-calorie diet," according to NutritionData.


Striking a balance between dieting and enjoying life can be difficult. With calorie cycling, you can enjoy some foods or dishes you might not normally enjoy on a regular diet and still take care of your body. The goal is to consume the same amount of calories per week as you would on a low calorie diet, but with alternating high- and low-calorie days.


There is a point at which restricting calories can be unhealthy. The lowest recommended caloric intake for women as stated by the National Institutes of Health is 1,200 calories per day. For men, the lowest recommended intake is 1,500 calories a day. The exception to these guidelines is if you are in a medically supervised program.


Calorie cycling is not for everyone. Certain people are not good candidates for calorie cycling, such as hypoglycemics and pregnant women. Consulting with your doctor is the best way to determine if this type of diet is compatible with your overall health. Always consult with your doctor before beginning a new exercise program or diet.

Expert Insight

Besides breaking your monotonous dieting routine and still allowing you to maintain or lose weight, calorie cycling can have some other notable health benefits as well, such as improving insulin resistance, slowing mitochondrial aging and reducing oxidative damage, as noted by NutritionData.

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