Calorie cycling, or intermittent fasting (IF), is believed to provide the health benefits of caloric restriction (CR) without the actual caloric restriction. Based on the incredible simplicity of such a diet combined with reading a few journal items I thought I’d give it a try. I’ve been doing this consistently for just over a month now.
First, here are a few related articles…
Caloric restriction and intermittent fasting: Two potential diets for successful brain aging
Johns Hopkins Researchers Find Link Between Cell’s Energy Use and Genome Health: Another Possible Link Between Diet and Aging
Intermittent fasting dissociates beneficial effects of dietary restriction on glucose metabolism and neuronal resistance to injury from calorie intake
Intermittent fasting and dietary supplementation with 2-deoxy-D-glucose improve functional and metabolic cardiovascular risk factors in rats
Anecdotally, I find that my recovery is very good. I’m not sure that the way I am doing this leaves me “fasted” long enough, but apparently fasting does have the potential to raise plasma growth hormone levels. I speculate that after a period of low calories the body is somehow primed to make use of plentiful food energy, but I don’t really have anything to back this up.
The results over the last month have been good. I am making slow but steady gains, which I notice in the ability to increase my reps until I am doing enough that I feel it is time to again bump up the weight. At the same time I have dropped from 39" to 38.25" around the love handles and belly – basically the portion of my body that accumulates the most fat. The only other body part I’ve bothered to measure somewhat regularly is the bicep and it has stayed at 16.5" over this period.
I am noticing subtle composition changes less formally as well. I am starting to see the odd new angle or outline of where a muscle cut would be if I were ever to get lean enough to get them. Basically, I intend to keep on experimenting with this as long as the recovery stays good and I continue to make positive progress in the gym.
There is supplementation going on, but that is nothing new for me, which consists of BCAA’s, FLAMEOUT, Surge and HRX. I’ll also take caffeine and ephedrine HCL before going to the gym as it lets me up my intensity just a little bit more. I am not working very hard to be strict with my diet as I don’t count calories or anything like that at the moment – so I am sure I could certainly achieve faster fat loss if I was motivated to do so.
While there are different ways to do this I am eating in the following manner. First, I started out very basic with alternating low calorie days and higher calorie days. On a low calorie day I try to eat small quantities of protein over the day to limit muscle catabolism, but other than that I try to limit carbs so I don’t get an insulin mediated hunger attack. On a higher calorie day I tend to eat like I am bulking, and again I do not bother to track intake other than trying to keep it to nutritious foods and avoid combining high carbohydrate meals with high fat meals.
In order to speed progress I’ve recently added a second low calorie day after every other normal low calorie day. So a cycle would consist of “up day”, “down day”, “up day”, “down day”, “down day”, “up day”, etc. When fall arrives, assuming I haven’t run out of progress before then, I’ll probably double up on the higher calorie days instead in an effort to bulk while still maintaining a calorie cycling effect.
Anyway, I know there is a lot of disagreement out there about whether or not various types of dietary programs are worth attempting. I’m not trying to say this is the best way to achieve anything, but I am finding it very easy to follow this strategy. I do not have to change what I eat, count calories, or endure a long period of sustained low calorie consumption. So, as long as it keeps moving me in the right direction I’m willing to ride it out. Finally, though my weight fluctuates a lot, it looks like I am down about two pounds over the course of the last month.
If anyone wants to talk about the concept of intermittent fasting, or point out additional research or resources, this might be a good place to do it. If not, I’ll probably throw the odd update in here from time to time if anything worth noting happens.