Metabolic Confusion Diet: What Is It and Does It Work?

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 11/17/2023

The metabolic confusion diet is gaining popularity as a way to lose weight without too much restriction. The good news is that a metabolic confusion diet plan can work for some people!

While keto and intermittent fasting may seem too difficult for some, a metabolic confusion diet is a step in the right direction and has the potential to yield positive results.

Let’s take a look at the metabolic confusion diet!

calorie-shifting diet

What is metabolic confusion?

The metabolic confusion diet is a calorie-shifting or calorie-cycling diet. It differs from traditional calorie restriction diets because it allows you 1 to 2 days where you aren’t doing calorie counting. 

If you’re following a metabolic confusion diet plan, you reduce your caloric intake for about five days. Your low-calorie days are then followed by two high-calorie days. This eating pattern involving raising and lowering your calorie intake each day is known as calorie shifting.

Calorie shifting is thought to work by keeping your metabolism on its toes, helping you to lose body weight. 

Woman holding scale

Does the metabolic confusion diet work for weight loss?

There isn’t a lot of data showing that metabolic confusion can work long-term without slowing your metabolism, but that doesn’t mean it won’t help you lose weight. Metabolic confusion may work for some people better than other restrictive diets. 

“When you restrict energy from the body and you lose fat, the body will compensate, and the metabolism becomes more efficient,” Dr. Berg explains. “This means your body can run on smaller amounts of fuel.”

This phenomenon is known as adaptive thermogenesis. When your body has adapted to running on fewer calories, it burns less fat, making it increasingly difficult to lose weight.

Adaptive thermogenesis is a survival mechanism—dieting and calorie restriction can mimic famine and starvation. This is why low-calorie diets can often have the opposite effect as the body adapts to preserve your fat stores.

To lose weight and keep the weight off, you want to instead address your insulin level. High levels of insulin tell the body to store fat. The metabolic confusion diet has been shown to decrease fasting insulin levels, which tells your body it’s okay to use your fat stores for energy.

The relationship between the metabolic confusion diet and insulin is one of the key reasons why it works. 

Check out this video to learn more about your metabolism and the metabolic confusion diet.

Five benefits of metabolic confusion 

Combats insulin resistance

Insulin resistance is one of the most common reasons people struggle to lose weight. Poor diet, lack of exercise, inflammation, and hormonal imbalances all contribute to insulin resistance.  

A calorie-shifting diet like the metabolic confusion diet can help support healthy insulin levels. According to this study published in the National Library of Medicine, alternate-day fasting had a greater effect on insulin levels than a calorie-restriction diet. 

Not a low-calorie diet

The metabolic confusion diet does not have the same negative side effects associated with traditional calorie restriction diets.

Low-calorie eating is associated with a slow metabolism, which is often why restrictive diets fail. Your body quickly adjusts to calorie restriction and responds by slowing down your metabolic rate.


Many people like the flexibility that the metabolic confusion diet offers. It’s not very restrictive, and you don’t have to limit any particular food group. You simply alternate between high and low-calorie days. This is an attractive benefit to many people who do not want to drastically change their diet or eating patterns. 

Allows for a nutritious diet

Some diets that reduce your calorie intake also reduce your nutrient intake, leading to nutritional deficiencies. This can have detrimental effects on your endocrine system and numerous functions in the body.

On a metabolic confusion diet, you’re consuming more calories on some days and fewer calories on others. This keeps your weekly calorie range relatively average, allowing you to lose weight without losing out on important nutrients. 

Mindful eating

If you’re on a metabolic confusion diet, you will likely pay more attention to what you eat each day and the number of calories you consume. 

Paying more attention to the food you eat and the beverages you drink will allow you to become more mindful of your diet. This is a step in the right direction towards a healthier diet and healthier lifestyle.  

Eating in a calorie deficit

How to do the metabolic confusion diet

When starting a metabolic confusion diet plan, your weight loss goals will determine how many calories you eat each day. Your goals will also determine your number of low-calorie days and high-calorie days.

People typically cycle through a period of 5 to 6 low-calorie days, followed by 1 to 2 high-calorie days. On your low-calorie days, you’ll typically eat between 1200 and 1700 calories. On your high-calorie days, you can eat up to 2700 calories. 

If you are not seeing results, you can decrease your high-calorie days from 2 to 1. You can also lower the number of calories you’re consuming on your low-calorie days.

When developing a metabolic confusion strategy, it’s important to also focus on the types of calories you will consume and not just the quantity. Focus on consuming nutrient-dense foods, especially on days when you will be in a caloric deficit. 

Some people are able to use the metabolic confusion diet as a stepping stone to keto and intermittent fasting. Keto and intermittent fasting have proven benefits and can help combat insulin resistance, helping you lose weight and keep the weight off permanently.  

Metabolic confusion diet risks 

There are few risks associated with the metabolic confusion diet. However, there isn’t a significant amount of data available on the diet.

When you are limiting your daily calorie intake, you create a caloric deficit. This means that you are burning more calories than you’re consuming. Low-calorie diets often lead to increased hunger, increased cravings, and can sometimes lead to nutritional deficiencies. 

A calorie-shifting diet combined with a high-carb intake can make it difficult for your body to tap into your fat reserve, preventing you from losing weight. If you choose to do a metabolic confusion diet, it may also be helpful to limit your carbs.

Intermittent fasting can help mitigate the risks associated with a calorie restriction diet. When done correctly, there are unique benefits to doing intermittent fasting instead of calorie restriction. 

Intermittent fasting can help you lose weight without adverse side effects. It can also help you lose body fat, slim your midsection, and maintain healthy blood sugar levels.

Intermittent fasting works best when combined with the Healthy Keto® diet. Healthy Keto helps you avoid developing nutritional deficiencies. Amino acid and fatty acid consumption while doing intermittent fasting or calorie shifting is crucial for well-being and metabolic function while dieting. 

One of the key differences between intermittent fasting and a keto diet versus calorie restriction is that you adapt your body to running on ketones. Ketosis allows you to burn your body fat reserves for energy when you’re not eating.

Healthy Keto and intermittent fasting can work as a long-term lifestyle change rather than a short-term diet. When done correctly, a keto and intermittent fasting plan is highly sustainable. In fact, hunger and cravings can decrease significantly while in ketosis, making it easy to stick to your plan. 

Keto and intermittent fasting can even help support your sympathetic nervous system, helping you to feel less stressed. They can also help you overcome a weight loss plateau.

If you’re considering a calorie-restrictive diet for weight management, make sure you consult with a healthcare professional beforehand. 

Losing weight

Key takeaways

The metabolic confusion diet has many benefits and can be beneficial in helping you lose weight. More research is necessary to determine the long-term efficacy of the diet, but it can still be a useful tool in helping you to get healthy and maintain a healthy weight.

The metabolic confusion diet allows for flexibility and mindful eating and can help combat insulin resistance. A metabolic confusion diet is also an excellent starting point for keto and intermittent fasting. 


1. What is metabolic confusion? 

Metabolic confusion involves calorie cycling so that you have a period of low-calorie days followed by high-calorie days. It differs from traditional calorie restriction diets because you make up for your calorie deficit on days of increased caloric intake.

Metabolic confusion is believed to trick your metabolism so that it doesn’t compensate and “slow down” the way it might if you followed a traditional calorie restriction diet every day.

2. What is an example of a metabolic confusion diet?  

A metabolic confusion diet plan typically calls for 5 to 6 days of low-calorie intake followed by 1 to 2 days of high-calorie intake. On low-calorie days, most people consume less than 1500 calories. On high-calorie days, people consume over 2000 calories, sometimes up to 2700.

3. Does the metabolic confusion diet work for weight loss?

Yes, a metabolic confusion diet can work for some people. It’s also sustainable, so many people can follow a metabolic confusion diet for longer periods of time.

Low-calorie intake can lead to moderate carb intake or even low-carb intake. It can also lead to techniques like carb cycling and, eventually, a ketogenic diet. A metabolic confusion diet is a great starting point for a healthy lifestyle. 

4. How long does metabolic confusion take?

The time it takes to see results from metabolic confusion will vary from person to person. Some people may experience weight loss from a metabolic confusion diet within one week. For others, it may take up to a month to see the results of metabolic confusion.

5. Is metabolic confusion safe?

Yes! Metabolic confusion is very safe and minimizes the risks associated with low-calorie diets. By reducing calorie intake on some days but increasing calories on others, you can avoid nutritional deficiencies that lead to health problems.

6. What are the health benefits of metabolic confusion?

A metabolic confusion diet supports healthy insulin levels and allows for healthier eating with less restriction. A metabolic confusion diet opens the door for mindful eating. This can lead to weight loss and a healthier lifestyle over time. 

A metabolic confusion diet avoids the risk of nutritional deficiencies associated with a low-calorie diet. Because you’re able to eat plenty of food on high-calorie days, it’s unlikely that you will become deficient in any important nutrients. 



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