Calorie Cycling FAQs
A few weeks back I posted Calorie Cycling: Why I Cycle My Calories and Why It Might Be Right For You, Too. A great big THANK YOU to those of you who read it and shared your thoughts. I’ve heard from a number of you with questions, general appreciation, and your own experiences after giving calorie cycling a go. I enjoy hearing from you guys so much! I get excited for the chance to celebrate your wins with you, and to help you overcome your challenges.
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I got a big response via comments and DMs on Instagram after putting up my blog post about Calorie Cycling:
Here are a few Frequently Asked Questions I received after sharing my experience with calorie cycling.
Q: Do you cycle your macros with your calories?
A: No. Personally, I do not. I tried for about a week, but it was more work than I’m interested in putting forth at this time. Maybe someday, but not today. There is absolutely nothing wrong with cycling macros along with your calories. There are plenty of “regular” people, weightlifters, and athletes alike, who carb cycle. It’s super common and boils down to personal preference and, of course, your own unique goals.
As for me, I keep my protein goal at 125 daily grams whether I’m eating 1800, 2000, or 2400 calories for the day. From the beginning of my macro tracking journey, I’ve mainly focused on my calories and protein, as I believe they’re the 2 most important of the whole bunch when it comes to weight loss and/or body recomposition. Plus, it’s less overwhelming focusing on 2 target numbers as opposed to 4.
Carbs and fat typically fall where they fall. I do, as a general rule, try to keep my fat intake under about 60 grams – if for no other reason than volume eating, honestly. I’ll talk about that further in a later post, but in short, fat contains more calories per gram than carbs or protein, so the higher the fat intake, the smaller the volume of food is for the same number of calories.
Making sure you’re eating enough is just as important as not eating too much. It’s like The Price is Right rules for calories – eat as close to your goal number as you can, without going over. As for protein, I’d say the same goes, except going over isn’t a problem, as there are legit no adverse side effects to going over your protein target.
Getting adequate amounts of both calories and protein will help you feel full and satisfied, and will set you up for success when it comes to avoiding binge eating or mindless snacking.
Q. Does the scale go up on Monday morning?
A. Yes. I plan for higher calorie Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Higher calories typically means higher carbs and more sodium, which in turn results in more water retention. Also, what comes in must go out if you know what I mean, and it takes a while for your body to take care of business…if you know what I mean.
Some Mondays I’m slightly up. Some Mondays I’m the same. Some Mondays I’m way up. Most of the time, though, I just don’t step on the scale on Mondays. When I know I’ve eaten higher calories the previous few days, I already know the scale will most likely read higher, too. There’s no point in weighing myself on Monday morning when it’s not an accurate representation of the overall process.
If you do choose to weigh-in immediately after your higher calorie day(s), and you’re disappointed in the number, know it’s not the end of the world – unless you make it that way – and maybe skip the scale next Monday.
After my weekend of higher calorie consumption, I cycle back down to my lower weekday intake goal and it all balances out as the week goes on. I generally weigh in later in the week after giving my body some time to regulate. My weight is always back to status quo by Wednesday or Thursday morning.
Q. What app do you use to track calories and macros?
A. I use the free version of MyFitnessPal to log calories and view my macros. Check out the tips and tricks section at the bottom of my calorie cycling post to see step-by-step instructions on how to view your daily macro breakdowns and calorie averages (for the US Android version of the app anyway).
I see a lot of people using LoseIt, and have heard good things about MyNetDiary (both free), as well, although I don’t personally have experience with them. MyNetDiary, I’ve heard, will show you each meal’s specific macro breakdown, which would come in handy.
I believe that feature is also available within the MyFitnessPal Pro upgrade. To do this in the free version of MFP, I copy a meal to tomorrow’s diary using the 3 dots at the bottom left of each meal, and go to Nutrition using the pie chart at the upper right of my diary. This allows me to view only that meal’s macros, separate from the rest of my day – if that makes sense. It’s a bit of a hassle, but I have it down and can do it fairly quickly so it doesn’t bug me too badly.
I listened to a podcast recently and learned about an app called Avatar Nutrition, which adjusts your macros each day, based on your previous day(s) of eating, to balance out your week. Basically, it does the calorie and macro cycling for you. Awesome, right? This one runs $9.99/mo or $97.99 for a yearly subscription.
Q. How did you figure out your macros?
I didn’t hire a macro coach, and I’ve been so pleased with my results and progress over the last year of tracking that my caloric intake and macro goals haven’t changed since I first started. Will I do a cut, reverse, or bulk someday? Honestly, I don’t know. I’m pretty happy with what I’ve got going on right now. But when and if I do change things up, I’ll be sure to share my experience.
Now to share some encouraging comments and messages I’ve received about calorie cycling that put a big ol’ smile on my face. I had to share!
“I do this, or something similar, and your post validates it.” YES! I’m so glad you’ve found balance that works for you, and no longer second guess your methods.
“Some days I’m just hungrier than others! So this helps.” YES! Leg day got your tummy rumbling? Borrow a snack or two from other, less demanding days throughout the week to satisfy your hunger while still keeping to your overall weekly goals.
“I was eating way too little, and now I’m eating more and able to balance my calories much better.” YES! I’ll say it again: making sure you’re eating enough is just as important as making sure you’re not eating too much! Your body and mind will thank you for nourishing it properly.
“This is really helpful – nice to know how to fit in some drinks on the weekends!” YES! I love me my weekend libations…and occasional Monday libation…like today, for instance…Bottom line, you can still enjoy alcoholic beverages and achieve your goals. You just need a plan.
“I increased my calories and have been calorie cycling, and what do you know…no more binge eating!” YES! Omg, you guys, this is like music to my ears! I’m so proud of you for being brave enough to take this risk. Because when coming from a weight-loss mindset, eating more sounds risky AF. But seriously, what have you got to lose? Nothing compares to achieving weight loss success through sustainable, enjoyable methods.
Again, thanks so much for sharing your experiences with me, and please connect with me on Instagram and in the comments below. I’m happy to field any other questions you may have, so don’t be shy.
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