April 1, 2022

Nutrition How To: Calorie Cycling

Nutrition How To: Calorie Cycling

We all know that consistency is key to making progress when it comes to fat loss.

So having a daily calorie and macro target is usually considered essential, and if you're a true creature of habit and this works for you then stick with it!

However, quite often what actually happens is the daily calories are managed well during the week, then weekend rolls around and its YOLO mentality...


The problem with this is that it often means your overall week ends up being maintenance (best case scenario) or actually putting you into surplus calories. Killing your beloved fat loss gains...

A great way to manage this is by using calorie cycling.

By undulating our calories through the week and purposely choosing lower and higher calorie days based on things like your training, social calendar or general hunger levels we can potentially avoid this common reason for weight loss plateaus.

It's imperative though, that you're properly tracking and setting yourself a weekly target that's putting you into an overall deficit. The below image shows an example of how this might be calculated across a single week.

Lets look at two scenarios. Client A and Client B are both on a fat loss programme and are absolute clones of each other (for the sake of this example) ie. they are both the same height, weight and gender. They do the same job and their activity levels are the same - you the point!

As we can see with Option 1, the daily calories remain the same totalling to 11,200 calories across the course of the week, ideally putting Client A in a little deficit to help the see the sales moving in the desired direction. Awesome, but ONLY if client A doesn't fall off the wagon at the weekend and have an extra espresso martini and an entire dominos pizza...

Option 2 however tells a different story, but the end result is the same if not better.

We can see that the use of calorie cycling has allowed Client B to have higher calorie days on training days and weekends, whilst dropping the calories a little lower on rest days during the week.

This means that Client B is potentially better able to manage their diet, whilst still being able to enjoy meals out with friends and is likely able to refuel and recover a little better after their workouts too.

When using calorie cycling, your macro targets can then be set as a % of your calories on each given day. For fat loss I'd usually recommend something along the lines of P30-35% / F25-30% / C40-45% for the macro split.

Ultimately though it's about finding out what works and is sustainable for you.

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