I had hit a plateau for the past 3 months and was not able to shake it no matter what I did. My plateau got a little rocky though when I started my new job in May which involves working over 50 hours/week and I put on just a few pounds. It's upsetting to put on a few pounds no matter what weight you're at.
Decreasing my calories wasn't working b/c it would just put my body into starvation mode. Working out as hard as possible would make me sooo hungry and wake me up to eat in the middle of the night. So I didn't know what to do until I heard about Calorie Cycling (AKA Calorie Zig-zagging).
So instead of thinking about your daily calorie intake, you focus more on your overall weekly calorie intake (remember calories in vs. calories out, we're just thinking more on a weekly basis now). Say you usually have about 1500 calories per day, that's 10,500 calories per week. Say you want to cut out about 1500 calories per week, that's 9000 calories/week. Instead of making your daily calorie intake lower every day at an average of 1285 calories/day, you want to confuse your body to prevent it from going into starvation mode.
SO, if you alternate days of high and low calories, it will recharge your metabolism on the high days while allowing for an overall weekly defecit as long as the weekly calories add up to 9000. With this example, say we have three high calorie days at 1400 calories and four low calorie days at 1000 calories. That's 9200 calories per week, close enough to our goal of 9000 calories/week. I wouldn't recommend going below 1000 calories, ESPECIALLY if you are exercising.
Also, I only do this for ONE week every two weeks. So for two weeks, I'll eat my regular 1300-1500 calories for maintenance. I work out 5 days a week and have some small indulgences from time to time and basically eat normal, well rounded meals. Then for one week I have a calorie cycling week. My low days are about 950-1000, and my high days are about 1400. On my low days I either do cardio & abs or have a rest day . On my High calorie days I do strength training with plenty of protein and calcium so I don't lose muscle from the low calorie days.
If you try to do this every week, YOU WILL GO INSANE!! You'll probably go crazy and gain the weight back. It's just something to boost your metabolism and wake your body up. It would be considered a crash diet if you did this all the time and it would probably be unhealthy to try to do long term.
I don't know how, but the first week I did this I lost four pounds (the weight I had gained from my first 3 weeks at my new job) and a half inch off my waiste and hips. Probably some water weight, but there was definitely some legit fat loss there. My clothes just felt better and I was able to keep the weight off during the 2 week maintenance period. Now, i'm on a calorie cycling week and I just thought I would share for anybody needing some help to get out of a plateau!!