Are you struggling with your calorie deficit because you are obsessed with reaching a certain calorie goal every day? Do you have to be in a calorie deficit every day? Will you still see results if you switch things up a bit?
You do not have to be in a calorie deficit every single day. If you start planning your calorie deficit over a week or months time, you will find success in a much easier and more sustainable way.
This means that you can create a weekly calorie intake plan for yourself where you eat more on certain days than others and actually can go above your calorie deficit range slightly, and still lose weight.
Let’s dive in.
Why You Do Not Have To Be In a Calorie Deficit Every Day
You do not need to be in a calorie deficit every single day because it only matters what you do over a long period such as a weeks or months time. It is paramount that you start to think of your calorie deficit over long term, rather than a daily goal.
What I mean by this is, instead of being laser focused on a calorie goal every single day, start focusing more on a weekly goal, or even a monthly goal.
You can think of it this way, if you need to consume 2,000 calories per day to lose weight, this means you would need to consume roughly on average 14,000 calories in one week.
Instead of focusing on the 2,000 calorie daily goal, start trying to cycle through your calories, or consume more on some days and less on others.
This will help you to feel less overwhelmed and stuck in a calorie pigeonhole.
Let’s take for example, someone who needs to consume 2,000 calories per day as part of their calorie deficit goal.
Maybe this person feels they need to eat more on the days they workout, which is a good idea by the way.
Their weekly calorie setup may look something like this:
- Monday (Workout): 2500 calories
- Tuesday (Rest): 1625 calories
- Wednesday (Workout): 2500 calories
- Thursday (Rest): 1625 calories
- Friday (Workout): 2500 calories
- Saturday (Rest): 1625 calories
- Sunday (Rest): 1625 calories
Maybe you are someone who wants to indulge a little bit more when the weekend rolls around (who doesn’t?) Your calorie intake setup might look something like this:
- Monday: 1700 calories
- Tuesday: 1700 calories
- Wednesday: 1700 calories
- Thursday: 1700 calories
- Friday: 2750 calories
- Saturday: 2750 calories
- Sunday: 1700 calories
The main takeaway is this. You need to be in a calorie deficit to lose body fat, this is true. But what matters is what you do over time, rather than what you do every single day.
Try switching things up, you will find that it is a lot easier to stick to a calorie deficit this way.
By not maintaining a calorie deficit every single day, you will also find that being mindful of calories can become a way of life.
The way you eat and track calories will start to become habit and you will not obsess over it, even after you reach your goal weight.
How Many Days a Week do you Need to Be in a Calorie Deficit?
You need to be in a calorie deficit over time, not every single day. You have the ability to change how many calories you eat daily, as long as you reach the same goal at the end of the week or even monthly.
While the examples above were for someone who may want to consume more calories on workout days, or someone who wants to save their calories for the weekend, what about doing this every week?
If you are someone who wants to eat a different amount of calories every single day while still getting to the same end goal of a calorie deficit, you can do something known as calorie cycling.
What Is Calorie Cycling?
Calorie cycling is the act of changing your calorie intake every day, while still hitting the same goal over a longer period such as a week.
For example, someone who wants to eat 2,000 calories a day to lose weight could do something like this:
- Monday: 1800 calories
- Tuesday: 2200 calories
- Wednesday: 1600 calories
- Thursday: 2400 calories
- Friday: 2000 calories
- Saturday: 2600 calories
- Sunday: 1400 calories
You can see by using this calorie intake schedule above, you still end up consuming a total of 14,000 calories every single week.
By doing something like this, you are still getting to the same calorie deficit goal over time, but you are mixing up your daily intake which can help with motivation and avoiding plateau.
Benefits of Calorie Cycling
Calorie cycling does come with a host of benefits. The benefits of trying out calorie cycling can include:
If you are someone who is struggling to stick to a calorie deficit, or find the whole process extremely boring, then doing something like calorie cycling can help to motivate you by avoiding feeling stagnant and having to meet a daily calorie goal.
When you are in a calorie deficit for an extended period of time and consume the same amount of calories daily, your body will start to adapt and become more efficient at burning calories. This can lead to weight loss plateau.
This is due to metabolic adaptation. Metabolic adaptation occurs when your body becomes more efficient at burning calories as overall mass decreases. This can lead to a weight loss plateau. Calorie cycling can help prevent this from happening.
Breaking Through a Weight Loss Plateau
If you have been in a weight loss plateau for a while, trying out something like calorie cycling can help you break through that plateau. By changing up your daily intake, you are keeping your body guessing which can lead to further fat loss.
Is It Okay to Break Your Calorie Deficit?
Yes, it is perfectly fine to break your calorie deficit every once in awhile. As long as you do not make it a habit, breaking your deficit every now and then will not hinder your results as long as you are consistent over time.
Now, this does not mean you can maintain a calorie deficit all week and then on the weekends pig out and eat anything and everything in sight, this is not going to work for you because you will actually be putting yourself into a calorie surplus and not realizing it.
This is why some people have no success with losing weight in a calorie deficit, because they are actually not likely in one, because they consume far too many calories on weekends or other days and do not make up the difference.
Let’s take the same person with a goal of 2,000 calories of intake every day to lose body fat.
Suppose they have a set up that looks something like this, every single week:
- Monday: 2,000 calories
- Tuesday: 2,000 calories
- Wednesday: 2,000 calories
- Thursday: 2,000 calories
- Friday: 5,500 calories
- Saturday: 2,000 calories
- Sunday: 2,000 calories
This setup is never going to allow them to lose weight in a calorie deficit, because they are NOT actually in a calorie deficit at all.
While they calculated they would need to consume 14,000 calories every week to lose weight over time, they are actually consuming 17,500 calories every week by doing this.
You need to remain consistent over time to see results.
Yes, it is not going to hurt you to have one or two cheat days every now and then (it happens) but if you do this every single week, you are going to see that you likely will not drop any weight.
Taking a calorie deficit break every once in awhile is perfectly fine, but it is most important to know that calories do matter and what you do over time matters.
You can only lose weight by being in a caloric deficit, and if over time, your frequent breaks and cheat days are kicking you out of this deficit, your results will suffer.
Why You DO NOT Have To Fast After A Calorie Deficit Break
Many people seem to think that if they have a day where they take a break from a calorie deficit, they need to fast the day(s) after, this is not true and you should avoid this.
You do not need to fast or punish yourself after taking a calorie deficit break by dropping calories extremely low to make up the difference.
The only time you would need to consider fasting is if you are considering trying intermittent fasting as a way to change your eating schedule.
However, with intermittent fasting, you do not decrease the AMOUNT of calories you consume, you are simply changing the time at which you eat.
This could simply consist of not eating past 11 PM and then not having your first meal the next day at 1PM. You are not changing your overall calorie intake, just the time you eat.
If you have a day where you eat in a calorie surplus (whether it was on purpose or on accident) and then the next day you are back to eating in a deficit, there is no need to fast. Do not punish yourself. Do not make things harder than they have to be because you will only become miserable and discouraged.
Do not make food the enemy.
Your body will simply use the excess calories from the previous day and continue on burning fat as normal going forward.
Instead of maintaining your calorie intake goal every single day as part of your calorie deficit, try switching things up. You do not need to be in a calorie deficit every single day of your life.
Remember, it is what you are consuming over a long period of time that will make the most difference on whether you shed fat or not.
Trying calorie cycling is a great idea. It can help you to feel like you are not stuck to a daily schedule and make you feel a little bit more free with what you can eat.
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