How does calorie cycling work? So you can lose weight sustainably without giving up

In order to lose weight, the calorie balance is crucial, so you should always be in a moderate calorie deficit. This means that you take in fewer calories than you expend.

Sufficient exercise and sport help to increase calorie consumption.

However, eating the same number of calories every day can be exhausting and frustrating at times, especially if, for example, you’re going to a birthday party with friends and you can’t treat yourself.

This is where the so-called calorie cycling comes in – a method to lose weight in the long term without giving up. But how does it actually work?

Calorie Cycling: Lose weight according to your needs

In the classic diet plan, you look at the calorie balance within a day. The individual basal metabolic rate should not be exceeded in order to lose body fat.

As nutritionist Andra Riehl explains, calorie cycling (also known as calorie shifting) looks at a period of one week. This means that you can divide up the daily number of calories individually.

Calculation example: This is what a week could look like

With a total calorie count of 12,600kcal, you could eat 1,800kcal per day. However, if you divide up the calories variably, you can only eat 1,512.5 kcal on two days, 1,725 ​​kcal on three days and then 2,200 kcal on each of the remaining two days, for example at the weekend. D

as enables you to adapt your diet to your everyday life – and not the other way around.

The days when you eat more are called refeed days. They are not to be confused with the well-known cheat days, when you can enjoy without paying attention to calories.

Photo gallery: The 10 basics of a healthy diet

Benefits of Calorie Cycling

A study has shown that people who adjust their calorie needs individually lose weight more consistently and stay on the ball for longer.

Since this method gives you more freedom in designing your diet, it will be easier for you to achieve your goal.

Due to evolution, the human body is adjusted to the fact that it does not get the same energy supply every day. Since there are days when you are sometimes more and sometimes less hungry, calorie cycling is ideal for responding to your body’s needs.

It is important with this weight loss method that you calculate exactly on which days you want to eat more or less. If you already know at the beginning of the week that you will be going to the all-you-can-eat buffet with friends on Friday, then plan a refeed day for that day.

This means you don’t have to do without, you can look forward to the evening and still remain in a calorie deficit at the end of the week.

This method takes a bit more effort, but if you can manage to stay in deficit and lose weight long-term, it’s worth trying calorie cycling.

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Antonia Barbarino, Online Editor


Davoodi, S., Ajama M, et. al. (2014): Calorie Shifting Diet Versus Calorie Restriction Diet: A Comparative Clinical Trial Study, retrieved on 04/12/2022:

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