The term ‘calorie deficit’ is slowly finding its way into common parlance. After all, counting calories isn’t a new concept, right? We know that if you want to lose weight, you must eat fewer calories than you burn.
But what happens when your friends invite you out to a fancy dinner, or you attend a birthday bash that’s catered to the nines? It can feel restrictive to be doing daily calculations, especially considering our busy lifestyles. It’s simply not practical. In fact, we believe that the journey to a leaner, fitter you shouldn’t be this hard.
So, here’s a middle ground - calorie cycling. Nutrition Expert, Chandni Haldurai, helps us get right into it.
What is Calorie Cycling?
Calorie cycling is a method of managing your calorie intake in a way that you can cycle between periods of lower and higher calorie intakes. Research shows that it:
- Boosts weight loss
- Reduces hunger, and
- Combats the negative hormonal and metabolic adaptations of a normal weight loss diet
And the best part? It improves one’s ability to stick to your calorie goals.
So how exactly do you go about Calorie Cycling?
Let's assume Person A needs to consume 1,400 calories a day to be on a calorie deficit consistently to meet their weight loss goals. What would one usually do? Struggle to stay under this number on a daily basis.
But calorie cycling makes this so much easier. With calorie cycling, you can shift calories throughout the week.
So, what would Person A’s weekly limit be? 1,400x7 = 9,800 calories.
Yep, as long as this weekly goal is adhered to, you have increased freedom to choose how much you want to eat in a day. Was your calorie intake on Wednesday higher than ideal? No problem - keep your calories in check with delicious low-calorie meals on Thursday.
It's important to understand here that weight loss / weight gain doesn't happen at a single point of time. Instead, it’s an ongoing process where you’re aware of your calorie consumption and the amount you burn.
Now, to give you a bit more structure, there are several ways of doing this. Here are two approaches that can be the easiest to begin with. Choose what works best for you.
Approach #1: Higher calories on workout days
This is the most commonly recommended approach. It simply involves consuming higher calories on the days you work out, and lower calories on rest days. This works well since your body’s energy requirements are lower on non-workout days.
On the days you do exercise, the caloric surplus helps you progress more effectively in your workout.This approach can help you build muscle and lose fat more efficiently.
Approach #2: Higher calories on the weekends
Weekends are often the hardest times to control our calories - who isn’t tempted to order a pizza or head out for a nice dinner on a Saturday night? Plus, most of us follow a set routine during the week, which makes it easiest for us to stick to a defined pattern of eating.
Honestly, we’d say the biggest benefit of this is being able to indulge a bit in your favorite meals guilt-free on the weekends!Whichever approach you’re taking, the most important aspect is to figure out two things:
- How many calories am I to eat on my ‘high’ calorie days?
- How many calories am I to eat on my ‘low’ calorie days?
To avoid any confusion, it’s best to get a professional nutritionist’s opinion and get a personalized plan.
But hold on, there’s something you need to watch out for
As sad as it is, sticking to the weekly calorie limit doesn’t mean you can eat anything. While looking at the quantity of calories, be mindful of the quality of food (nutritional value) you consume.
The key is to maintain a nutrient balance while counting your calories so you can shed fat with no complications. We’ll leave you with six tips to make sure of this:
- Consume 5 portions of fruits and vegetables in your daily diet. WHO recommends!
- From red apples to yellow capsicums, choose colorful fruits and vegetables. Eat the rainbow!
- Consume whole grain cereals avoiding refined ones. Choose wholesome!
- Include more fiber, focusing on natural and fresh plant-based options and keeping animal sources to a minimum. Go green!
- Reduce portion sizes to balance out your calories. Eat mindfully!
- Choose quality proteins in each meal and distribute them throughout the day. One protein at a time!
Now all we’ll leave you with is this - start your weight loss journey for the right reasons. Nourish your body and your mind - the rest will fall into place!