What Is the Best Diet Using Calorie Shifting?

Calorie shifting is a weight loss approach that focuses on eating patterns, rather than on what types of food to eat or to avoid. The result is a rapid and safe weight loss. 

Calorie shifting has become one of the most popular dieting techniques assuring a rapid, healthy and sustainable weight loss. The difference to other diets: it is faster, safer, very easy to follow and doesn’t require hard work and you can eat most of your favorite meals with this plan. 

The reason that you might not have heard about Calorie Shifting diets before is that this diet never has been really acknowledged by the weight loss industry. This industry is much more interested in low-calorie food that accounts for a multi-billion dollar market in revenue rather in a diet approach where people can eat basically what they want without restricting themselves in any kind of way. 

How does Calorie Shifting Work?

Calorie Shifting is accomplished by constantly changing what you eat, so that your body doesn’t get used to any routine. This keeps the metabolism high at all times, so your body always burns fat, leading to a rapid and continuous weight loss. 

You have to eat meals up to 4 or more times a day and no snacks or tiny meals are allowed in between. Each of the meals should have different calorie values, but must be a full meal.

It is important to drink a lot of liquids, recommended are up to 10 glasses of water a day (but you can also drink sodas, coffee and juices in addition to this). The water is essential to speed up the weight loss process as it helps to flush out the food and to keep the metabolism high.

After 11 days, you take a break of three days and you can eat exactly what you like. The difference to other diets: you don’t follow any sort of food plan at all for three days and there are no restricted foods.

Once the three days are up, you go back to the eating plan for another 11 days and basically continue this pattern until you’ve lost your excess weight.

Diets using the Calorie Shifting Approach 

Calorie Shifting (sometimes also called Calorie Cycling) in fact is not new. The basics of this diet are already practiced for decades by bodybuilders and other body-conscious people. This group of people is applying acute calorie shifting, consuming a high-calorie diet for 2 weeks followed by a low-calorie diet for 2 weeks, and then repeating this pattern over and over again. This way of applying the diet can offer significant advantages to bodybuilders seeking enhanced muscle growth without the increase in body fat which occur with most long-term nutritional programs. 

“FatLoss4Idiots” was the first diet that adapted the Calorie Shifting Approach in such a way that it results in a rapid and sustainable weight loss instead of muscle growth. Since it was published for the first time in 2005, this dieting technique has become one of the most popular weight loss diets with over 1 million people who have purchased and successfully applied this program. 

There are several different diets on the market besides Fat Loss 4 Idiots that call for a calorie shifting strategy of some kind, though not all of them call it that. Here’s a rundown of what’s available: 

Zig-Zag or Zig-Zagging Diet – The Zig-Zag diet comes with different approaches, but the best zig-zagging method I have come up with is eat high calories for 2 days, then low calories for 5 days. On the high days you generally want to make sure you are eating either at your maintenance level or even a little bit MORE than your maintenance level. For example, for a 180-pound person, eat about 2600 calories for 2 days, then eat about 1800 calories for 5 days, then repeat.  Also, as common dieting practices go, you should eat every 3 hours or so, which ends up to be about 5 meals a day. 

Johnson Upday-Downday Diet Plan – The Johnson Upday-Downday Diet Plan is based on the Calorie Shifting principles and is as easy to follow as the Fatloss4Idiots diet: every other day you will limit your calories (Down Days), and on alternate days you will be free to eat what you would like (Up Days). After a two-week induction phase, the amount of restriction necessary on Down Days will depend upon your goals. 

The two-week induction phase is the most restrictive part of the Johnson UpDay-DownDay Diet but is necessary to activate the body’s genetic response to alternate-day calorie restriction. Dr. Johnson calls this the “SIRT2 Gene”.

On Up Days you will be free to eat as much as you would like (without intentionally overeating) as well as the kind of food that you would like. It’s important to enjoy Up Days in order to avoid the diet fatigue that often sets in when following other weight loss plans.

Although Down Days in the induction phase may sound challenging, remember that a Down Day is immediately followed by an Up Day. You will never have to restrict your calories for more than one day at a time. You will be able to eat whatever and however much you would like the very next day.

The QOD Diet by John Daugirdas – The QOD Diet by Johne Daugirdas is a type of “hardcore” version of the Fatloss4idiots diet. QOD means “every other day”.  Eating QOD allows you to eat pretty much what you want (within reason) every other day (ON days), so you don’t need to feel deprived. In between, during the OFF days, you need to limit food intake to 300-400 non-protein calories, plus about 200 calories from protein, but your mineral intake (sodium, potassium, and calcium) should be kept constant. As this diet includes fasting or semi-fasting days, it is quite difficult to sustain for any significant length of time.

Tim Ferris’ Diet – You might have heard from the Tim Ferri’s Diet (“How to Lose 20 lbs. of Fat in 30 Days Without Doing Any Exercise”). According to Tim, it is possible to lose 20 lbs. of body fat in 30 days by optimizing any of three factors: exercise, diet, or drug/supplement regimen. What he is applying in his diet is basically a strict 6 days on/1 day off slow carb plan, following the basic Calorie Shifting rules.


There are several diets around using the Calorie Shifting Approach. It is hard to say if the basic concept of Calorie Shifting, applied very successfully in the Fatloss4idiots diet, is best for you or one of the above-mentioned modifications. This basically depends on your personal eating pattern, your metabolism and also motivation. For highly motivated people with a strong self-command, the QOD diet might be the diet of choice – a type of “hardcore” version of the Fatloss4idiots diet.

Visit the author’s blog ‘Healthy Weight Loss Diet’ to read more about his experiences with the Fat Loss 4 Idiots diet.


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