NEW YORK (CBS 2) -- Anyone who's ever tried to diet knows how tough it can be. Now there's a different way to your count calories. It's called "calorie cycling" and it might help you stay on track.
Marc Femenella is a weight-loss success story. He's lost 90 pounds and is working hard to keep it off.
"I feel pretty comfortable with myself. I'm definitely much happier and much healthier," Femenella told CBS 2's Maurice Dubois.
What has worked for him is mixing it up, sticking to a strict diet some days but indulging on others. It's a process called calorie cycling.
"I found it much harder to go every day restricting myself. Calorie cycling is a way to say, yeah, if I had a kind of a bad day, I can make up for it the next day," Femenella said.
Nutritionist Monica Reinagel said there's another benefit: traditional dieting can slow the metabolism and sabotage weight loss.
"Because you're not restricting calories every single day the hope is that it might sort of trick your body into not making that adjustment," Reinagel said. "This is a very deliberate technique where you're going to divide your calories up in an uneven way over the course of the week to achieve calorie reduction and weight loss."
"Just the idea of throwing your body a curve ball, whether your goals are to lose weight or to maintain, it just seemed to make sense to me," Femenella said.
Dr. Lisa Ganjhu from St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital said most people do better with a structured approach to weight loss, but change is good.
"I don't think there's any harm with it," Dr. Ganjhu said. "We get bored eating the same thing over and over again, so this at least provides variety, variety you're more apt to stick to it."
The key is to choose those extra calories wisely. One cookie is a splurge, not the whole tray.
"This not an excuse to eat poorly on your off days. That would start to look like a very unhealthy cycle of bingeing and purging," Reinagel said.
The doctors we spoke to say it's best not to vary your calories by more than 400 calories a day. Consult your doctor before trying any new diet plan.
Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below ...
for more features.