*This is for advanced users only. It should only be done under a nutritionists recommendation and guidance. It does not work for everyone.*
In comparison to common diets, such as low calorie or low carbohydrate, calorie shifting and carb cycling are unconventional. Both diets theoretically yield significant weight loss by manipulating your eating habits. Follow just one of these diets, but learn about both to decide which is best for your lifestyle.
Calorie-Shifting (Cycling) Diet
Calorie shifting — like calorie counting — requires you to track the calories you eat daily. The difference is you change your daily intake regularly, rather than eating a set number each day. First, you set a basic daily goal, such as 1,600 calories per day. For four days a week, you eat just that; on three days, you change it. For example, on Tuesday you eat 1,300, on Friday you eat 1,200 and on Sunday you eat 1,350. The next week, increase your intake for two days. Following the example of a basic 1,600-calorie diet, on Wednesday and Saturday of the week, eat 1,850 calories.
Calorie-Shifting (Cycling) Theory
The idea of calorie shifting is to keep your metabolism guessing and prevent weight loss plateaus. Your metabolism affects the rate that you burn calories, and therefore, fat. When you do not eat enough calories for a long period, your metabolism slows. When you eat more than enough calories, your metabolism accelerates. The base intake is a healthy amount for your body; when you eat fewer calories three days weekly, your metabolism does not have time to slow, resulting in weight loss. When you eat additional calories a couple days weekly, your body has more than enough to support function, speeding up your metabolism. This cycling is theorized to keep your metabolism high at all times and cause your body to burn fat.
Carb cycling is a method often employed by bodybuilders to reduce body fat in preparation for a competition. Rather than counting calories, you count carbohydrates. The diet consists of alternating between high and low carbohydrate intake. For example, if your average carbohydrate intake is 225 grams, you reduce it to 75 grams for two to three days. Once the low-carb days are over, you increase your intake back to 225 days for the remainder of the week.
Carbohydrates are an efficient source of energy for your body. When your body is not getting its usual amount of carbohydrates, it begins using fat for energy in place of them. As a result, your body fat decreases and — in the case of a bodybuilder — your muscles appear more defined.
Before altering your diet, consult a physician or nutritionist for a personal health assessment. Your health-care professional can determine how much weight you need to lose, how many calories you need daily and what the best diet is for you. For the first month or two of your new diet, professional supervision ensures it is not damaging your health.