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Old 06-21-2010, 05:24 PM   1 links from elsewhere to this Post. Click to view. #1 (permalink)
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Default Cycling Calories / ZigZag Calories

Has anyone had any success with calorie cycling - where you vary your daily calorie intake as a way to keep your metabolism guessing? I've been gaining and losing the same 5 lbs for the past 3 months now and I've read that cycling calories is a great way to wake up your metabolism.

I consume 1200 calories a day (and approx. 1300 on weekends), I work out with a personal trainer 3 days a week and run 3 days a week (between 2- 4 miles). Yet - the weight is not coming off.

Have any of you had any success with calorie cycling? If so - can you provide me with a breakdown of how many calories you eat per day? One site told me I need to cycle between 1300 and 1600 calories (which seems high to me) - and another site told me I have to cycle between 800, 1100 and 1500) - and 800 seems super low to me.

Just looking for advice from the masses.
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Old 06-21-2010, 06:10 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I've been doing the zig-zagging since I started and it seams to work not only for my life style but for my body as well.

I try to stay at about 1100-1200 calories during the week and when I know I can't stay within that range I consider that my "zagging" day. For example, I was good all week at about 1100 calories but Saturday I was at our lake house and consumed about 1600 calories. Then Sunday I consumed about 1400 calories and hopefully the rest of the week I will go back down to about 1100 calories.

I'm not sure if this is what the plan is supposed to be like, but this is what works for me. So far I've lost 23.4 pounds since I began my weight-loss journey on March 30, 2010.
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Old 06-21-2010, 06:11 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I've had a lot of success with this.

The site I used to give me the calories and the cycle is this one:
Calorie Calculator - Daily Caloric Needs. I still follow it to some degree and I eat anywhere from 1350 - 1600 a day. I'm still trying to figure out the maintenance drill, though.

I don't think the first range you mentioned is too high at all. Mine were anywhere from 1100 to 1700 according to the calculator on the link above, and I was around 120 and 5'2" when I was using it. I lost pretty steadily at one pound a week, sometimes one and a half.

You may have problems getting the weight off because of too few calories...it's possible that your metabolism has slowed down to conserve energy. Although everyone's body is different; maybe just experiment a bit.
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Old 06-21-2010, 06:46 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Luckygirl - AWESOME job losing 23 lbs! I'm green with envy because I've been trying to lose about that same amount since the beginning of the year.

cjohnson - thanks for the advice. After eating 1200 calories for so long - it's a little intimidating having to ramp up my calories to 1500 on certain days. My mind is just too trained to think that "more calories = more weight."

I'm definitely going to try the zig-zag calories (using the link from cjohnson) and i'll see how it goes.
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Old 06-21-2010, 06:56 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I think its also important to monitor your calorie balance. I strive to have at least a balance of 950 calories each day except Sundays which are my "rest days"

What's your calorie balance been normally? You can find the balance in a few different places here, I usually just look at the foods tab and do the math myself.

Sorry if I'm calling this by the wrong name!!
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Old 06-21-2010, 09:53 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Good point from luckygirl. I usually kept mine at 500 and with all those numbers it equalled out to a pound a week.

Kathryn, I hear what you're saying...it is anxiety provoking. It worried me, too, but then I asked myself, do I really want to be training my body to get by on 1200-1330 calories a day for the rest of my life? Seeing as how the answer was a resounding no, that helped me to move on. I also did the "high" days after the low ones, so I knew I had some "in the bank." It is automatic to think more calories = more weight, and in some cases that's true, but it is also the case that your body will adjust to fewer calories and if it stays low for an extended time, once you go back up after you've lost the weight, it's easier to gain then.
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Old 06-21-2010, 11:57 PM   #7 (permalink)
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what do guys mean by a balance of calories? are you referring to the balance of calories i'll have left over after I've taken into consideration how many I've eaten and how many I've used through exercise? Like this formula:

Calories Eaten - Calories Used = Balance
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Old 06-22-2010, 12:08 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Yep. 3500 calories is a pound, so, for instance, if your calorie balance was 500 (or, technically, -500) every day for a week, you should be losing a pound a week. If it's 750 every day, a pound and a half a week, 1000 a day (that's hard for smaller people), 2 pounds per week.
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Old 06-22-2010, 12:13 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I've tried calorie cycling, its not necessary though, its a convienience thing. If you can't stick to a caloric intake then some people will cycle up to "rest". But its no more effective than a steady caloric intake as long as the overall deficit is the same. I weigh 165, and i take in about 1800 calories a day plus weight lifting three times a week, and i'm losing weight like crazy. So if you're 171 and eating 1200 - 1300 calories the weight should being dropping fast. If that isn't happening then you're most likely underestimating some calories some where.
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Old 06-22-2010, 12:45 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Actually, I did lose more on calorie cycling than on steady restriction, and for me it is much easier to maintain with cycling; I've done it both ways. I don't see it as a convenience thing; rather as a natural way to eat. Some days you expend more and take more in; other days you're not as hungry, and it all averages out. That's how it is in the real world...who, when they're not watching their weight, pays attention to eating the same number of calories every day? I don't really record during the day anymore now that I have been on maintenance for three months, but when I go back at the end of the day and load everything in, some days are naturally higher and some days are naturally lower. I don't see that it has anything to do with not being able to "stick" to a certain number of calories.
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