Mini Mikkiepdia - Cycling calories and metabolic toggles
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Hey everyone, it's Mikki here. You're listening to Mini Mikkipedia on a Monday. And today I wanna talk about calorie cycling and metabolic toggles. And this is a concept which I learned from Dr. Jade Tita, who you will know I've just had on the podcast. And this very early on when I was sort of looking at his work, I came across this whole notion of
understanding metabolism better and how to manipulate calories to help support metabolism. And then of course, in that same space, you've got carb cycling, calorie cycling, and ideas that manipulate calories and carbohydrate to suit the context and situation for the individual. And I thought it could be quite a good idea to sort of go over this in a mini-micropedia episode.
Primarily because I was actually asked about it for a question and answer session that I was giving to personal trainers at a gym just to help with their sort of knowledge and understanding of it. And I'll just start by saying that we all have a calorie budget, which refers to the number of calories that it might take to maintain, gain, or lose weight. And these don't necessarily reset or they don't reset after 24 hours.
helpful to view your calories across the course of a week to then allow some flexibility within that week to suit the context and to suit what's going on. And I find that this is especially helpful, obviously, for people who are in a fat loss phase, to understand or to plan better, I suppose, how the number of calories they eat in a day will potentially impact on
what they can achieve that week with regards to their fat loss. And how to manipulate it favorably. And a super easy example of this is that you go out with your friends on a Saturday night, you eat pizza and have a couple of beers. This then means that you're probably eating a thousand calories more than you would otherwise. And it's pretty easy at that point to go, oh, I've completely blown it. I'm just going to eat all the things and start again on Monday, which is sort of a general default.
an all or nothing mindset really, like if you can't do something perfectly, what's the point or you've blown it and things like that. But if you sort of step back and think about your calories across a week, a thousand extra calories across seven days is far less meaningful if you like, than 1000 calories extra on one day. And if you do the math on it, it is about 130 extra calories a day, which is less than or around an extra apple a day.
it isn't actually as catastrophic as your brain is telling you in that moment here and now. And of course, if you ate 1000 extra calories 3 times across a week, then that significantly increases your calories from your fat loss phase probably back into you just maintaining your weight. Or if you are maintaining your weight, you would end up in a surplus and you'd gain body fat. But once is really no big deal.
And if you understand it better from the framework of thinking of your calories as a budget across a week, you can then plan for it. So if you do want to go out and have a thousand extra calories on a Saturday, potentially your fat loss calories will move from, I don't know, 1600 a day normally to 1470 a day to allow for that additional thousand calories on that Saturday.
That's a very basic understanding of calorie cycling and how you can manipulate it. What I will say is that it does tend to work best if the amount that you restrict your calories down on any given day isn't so drastic that it's then going to end up creating this rebound or reactive behavior where, for example, you eat a thousand extra calories on Saturday and then you drop Sunday and Monday by 500 calories each.
that's a little bit more drastic than shaving off a few calories each day of the week. So you do want to be a bit sort of mindful of it. And it is a strategy which one, if you know what you're doing in advance, you can plan accordingly and adjust accordingly. And two, allows you the flexibility with the social occasions, particularly at this time of year, but not just social occasions either. Training and recovery.
flexibility to help fuel appropriately for a bigger training session and you're eating more calories on that day than you would on other days of the week. And if you are in a fat loss phase, for example, if you do a plan like Monday's matter, I will regardless of the rest of the plan, I will always tell you to eat more calories on a day that you train and I suggest 150 to 300 calories for every couple of hours of training.
But you might also then decide to eat in addition to that, depending on the actual goal. And then if that's the case, you can still shave off calories on other days of the week once recovery has sort of been taken care of. So not only does it allow for that flexibility with the social occasions, it can also enable better training and recovery on that particular day or couple of days. It can be also a good tool to use
with regards to hormones. For example, there are women who get massive cravings in their luteal phase, and in fact, energy expenditure can increase. We've seen in the literature up to maybe 150 calories a day. For some women, it might be a little bit lower than that, but in some, of course, higher, but that's sort of an average number. And if you use calorie cycling for your menstrual cycle, if this is you, then what you might do is
diet in the first parts of your menstrual cycle in the follicular phase, the early follicular phase where you might not have the same cravings and you might feel stronger or you might just feel like you can withstand a reduction in food at that point. So you might more aggressively diet in the follicular phase of your cycle and then you might reduce down that deficit in your luteal phase or even just abolish it altogether.
and just go back to maintenance calories in your luteal phase, because that's when the cravings really hit. So that's another way that you can calorie cycle. And then also, of course, just reducing diet fatigue. You might hit your diet hard three weeks of a month, and then go back to maintenance for a week. Or you might also be in a position where you travel a bit for work, and you find it far easier to diet.
when you're either at home or on the road, depending on your situation. So you choose these times to aggressively hit your diet target, which might mean quite an aggressive deficit, but then you're back at maintenance at the time that you're at home. So there are a number of reasons or ways to use calorie cycling to your advantage. And of course, there are, you know, we can set up ways to have calorie cycling. You've got like the five-two approach.
which I do naturally in Monday's Matter and my Flow program. So Monday and Thursdays, we eat far less calories on those days. Even embarking on a 24-hour fast, that's a form of calorie cycling. Doesn't have to be 24 hours, but you know what I mean. You're just not eating any calories on that day. And then not focusing on calories, but in fact, adding in carbs or restricting carbs is another form of calorie cycling.
And it can be used as a metabolic toggle, and this is how Dr. Jade Teter talks about it, because chronic dieting can down-regulate physiological processes. And we know that when you diet, you reduce your basal metabolic rate, which is the amount of energy needed for you to just exist in everyday life. In part, it is because you've reduced your overall body mass, but your non-exercise activity
reduce and neat, which is the other term for it, it reduces both consciously when you just feel less motivated to just move and be active in everyday life, but also subconsciously as well. You know, and Dr. Eric Helms has talked before about how he blinks more slowly when he's in a cutting phase for his bodybuilding competitions. You might fidget less.
things like that. So, NEAT is impacted and therefore the calories that you expend is impacted. But also, and Dr. Eric Trexler talked about this in a recent Iron Culture podcast, he studies metabolism and energy expenditure that, in fact, at the level of the organs, so the amount of energy required for your liver and your thyroid and your kidneys and your brain to do their job,
that also reduces or can reduce. So you do overall burn these calories. And I talked to Dr. Katia Martin about metabolic adaptation. And this can occur where the number of calories expended at a given body weight is less than what was predicted if you were trying to estimate how many calories would be required at the weight that you've dieted down to. So chronic dieting can have implications for
down regulating your physiological processes and reducing the calories that you need on a given day. Because one of the metabolic toggles, eat less, exercise more, which is what of course is required to create a calorie deficit. It can be aggressive at both ends of that equation of reducing intake and increasing output. And it will increase stress. And you can only do that for so long before the body starts fighting back. And to think about manipulating this
your diet advantage, Dr. Jade Teeter talks about four metabolic toggles. The first one is what I've just described, you eat less and you exercise more, which of course creates that calorie deficit, but will over time or can increase hunger and cravings. And of course it's going to result in fat loss, but can also over time, if done for too long, increase substantial muscle loss as well, depending on the
how aggressive the deficit is. The metabolic compensations that I just discussed can occur. And depending on how it's done, it can rely heavily on willpower for some people. And of course, willpower we know doesn't really exist. It can cause weight gain rebound and accelerated weight gain rebound, particularly at the end of a diet phase.
where you are more insulin sensitive, so the food that you eat is more likely to be stored. And therefore, to limit these aggressive periods of time to one to four weeks is recommended. Now, it doesn't mean that you then have to have one to four weeks off, but it does mean that a little break can help offset some of that metabolic compensation that can occur in that diet fatigue. In Monday's Matter, we have the diet breaks
give people three days of eating more carbohydrate, having a metabolic reset meal, and generally lifting calories, lifting carbohydrate. A next toggle to consider is the eat less, exercise less. And Dr. J. Teter uses that hunter-gatherer analogy, lifestyle, or ancestral lifestyle, as an illustration of this. And this
can stabilize hunger and cravings because you're not working out to the same extent, even though you're eating less, you're not moving as much. So the deficit is created largely through food. And even though you're not actually exercising, there's still a lot of movement. Active walking, you might be doing jobs around the house where you are doing some of this sort of functional activity, but it's not a structured F45 session five times a week.
And this might be an appropriate strategy to use, not often, but if someone is going through a period of illness whereby they're not able to expend as much energy. I would say, however, that if you are injured and like I had my bone injury earlier, there is a period of time where you actually need more calories. So this wouldn't be recommended in the initial stages of an injury. But also like a holiday where you're not going to be as active.
could be a good time to eat less, exercise less, albeit it might not be the most favored approach. And also just times of the year or times of your life where you just can't be as active as what you would otherwise be because other things have to take priority, whatever they are, family, friends, work commitments, things like that. That is a good opportunity for you to bring in the eat less, exercise less toggle. And then on the flip side of that, you've got eat more, exercise more.
Again, this will stabilize hunger and cravings because you're eating more food and you're doing more exercise, but because of the additional calories from food, you're able to compensate for any sort of increase in cravings there. If there is a deficit, because there still can be, it will be created through exercise and not through a reduction in food per se. And the food that you have helps fuel training and fuel performance and recovery.
Unsurprisingly, this can also be used for muscle gain if you're in a surplus and potentially you get some sort of recomposition of your body if you are novice to this and you might not necessarily be in a calorie surplus, but you can still use this for muscle gain, particularly if you're new to the gym and new to strength and resistance training. And this is a, this is pretty safe. This eat more, exercise more, as long as you are active.
You can do this for long periods of time. This is a good strategy for athletes who are training for their peak event and when their body is under a lot of physical stress. But also it could be really, this is the strategy you'd use if you were someone who's sort of work dictated that you expended a lot of energy as well, laborer, builder, that kind of thing. And then finally, this is where most of the Western world sits, they eat more, exercise less.
the opposite of eat less, exercise more. And this will over time trigger more cravings, because there is an uncoupling of your appetite when you eat a lot of food and you aren't active. Your hunger hormones can get out of whack with that. This is one of the mechanisms people believe, which makes it easy for people to overeat and not compensate with activity. Obviously this is less optimal for health out of
possibly almost all of them, because it can lead to those underlying metabolic conditions which result in chronic health and disease detriments. You will get fat and muscle gain in this scenario, but obviously it's that fat gain and it's the dangerous fat gain, viscerally stored fat that you want to avoid. And if this occurs, and it can be part of the overall strategy with calorie cycling, but you only want it for one to four days,
want extended periods of overeating and not being as active as you otherwise would be. We know that if you do overeat over a period of 24 to 48 hours, your expenditure actually increases due to the metabolism of the food, but quite clearly that is offset by other things going on the longer this actually does go on. So it can be used as a metabolic reset for clients or yourself
a calorie deficit for a time. And as I talked about, this is what we do in Mondays Matter. But also, you know, if you need additional nutrients coming on board, it is easier when you're eating more food. And you can also use it for your recovery period after a training session, or sorry, an event like an ultra, an Ironman, things like that. But also the festive season, you know, like we've got Christmas coming up, we've got New Year's, there'll be times.
during that where you just want to eat and you don't want to think about exercise. For some people that will be an unfamiliar sort of place to be and don't you worry, I understand. I also am like, why would you not want to exercise? But of course this is what normal people do. And there's no problem with that. And it is just one to four days. And then maybe after a period of eat more, exercise less.
you then decide what is the best strategy from there. And probably it may well be eat less, exercise more, or it could actually just be eat more, exercise more. Understanding your stress, your hunger, and cravings, and your energy will allow you to determine which of these metabolic toggles might best be suiting you. And I think it's fair to say that most of these
do come at a metabolic cost if you follow them for an extended period of time. For example, eat less, exercise less, you will likely lose muscle mass over time. But eat more, exercise more, potentially the metabolic cost of all of that could increase oxidative stress on your system, if that is all that you do. But that is the safest place, probably from a metabolism perspective, for you to sit. So yeah.
in a nutshell is, or are my thoughts, well informed by Dr. Jade Teder on calorie cycling and the metabolic toggles. So thanks for listening. Any questions, comments, feedback, please DM me on threads, Instagram or Twitter @mikkiwilliden, Facebook @MikkiWillidenNutrition, head to my website, MikkiWilliden.com and I've got a Black Friday sale for you. So watch out for that. All right, team, have a great week.
See you later.