Advanced Fat Loss - Part I: Calorie Cycling
Calorie cycling is essentially a zigzag routine - you eat a very low number of calories for three days, then spend one day cramming your face full of a huge amount of calories (or two days, if you're already pretty lean.) On the day that you eat a lot, you also want to have a really heavy strength-training day to benefit from the extra calories - this is usually the best day to work out either your back or your legs, since these are the two largest muscle groups in your body.
The idea behind calorie cycling is pretty simple - you want to lighten up the caloric load on a non-workout or "light" workout days, ramp up the caloric load on "tough" workout days, and all the while, maintain healthy levels of the "nutrient transport" hormone known as insulin.
Why We Need To Manage Insulin On A Zig-Zag Routine
We've already discussed insulin in-depth, but there are a few points that need to be rehashed here.
Most people know that insulin is the chemical released by our pancreas that helps us break down sugars. Most of us also know that diabetics don't make enough of this chemical (or their body isn't sensitive enough to it) which leads to potentially life-threatening surpluses or deficits of sugar in the blood.
But insulin does a lot more than maintain sugar.
It also has huge anabolic and energy benefits, provided your body makes enough of it, and that your body is sensitive enough to it that it can actually use the insulin it's making (which is why most us start on an "insulin reset" phase).
When you calorie-cycle, you put your body through intense periods of low insulin, making your body starved for the chemical (and thereby radically increasing your sensitivity to it.)
And then, on the day when you eat a high amount of calories again, your body will be so sensitive to the amount of insulin produced by your now well-rested pancreas that you'll get all of the chemical's muscle-building and energy-giving benefits.
How to Do A Calorie-Cycling Routine For Fat Loss & Some Muscle Gain
You already know how to determine your BMR and find your TDEE, so when calorie cycling, you can use these metrics to know how low to go (and how high to pop back up on high calorie days.)
If you're looking for the most possible fat loss, while still gaining some muscle, I highly recommended having 3 straight "low" days, followed by 1 "high" day, followed by 3 more "low days".
If you're below 15% body fat, you can do 3 "low days" followed by 2 "high" days, followed by 3 more "low days".
Note: You can also test out eating high or low calorie based on whether you workout or not. This is a more advanced method and especially for fat loss, requires you to be in varying levels of a deficit throughout the plan. That said, I personally find that a simple "3 low, 1 high" program is easiest to adapt to and far more convenient.
Interested in losing weight? Then click below to see the exact steps I took to lose weight and keep it off for good...
Moving forward, there are several other articles/topics I'll share so you can lose weight even faster, and feel great doing it.
Below is a list of these topics and you can use this Table of Contents to jump to the part that interests you the most.