Zig Zag Diet - How To Cycle Your Calories For Weight Loss
Almost anyone, especially trainers, who have spent anytime around the fitness world have heard the many complaints regarding weight loss. These are complaints like, "I tried everything but it doesnʼt work" or " I barely eat" or better yet, "I donʼt eat at all" or "I will never be like you, itʼs genetics".
First, let me say this. Yes, genetically the women in my family tend to be smaller, however, they all watch what they eat. I have taken myself further, breaking through my supposed genetic barrier and have increased my muscle mass, lost body fat and have done it all naturally with vitamins, supplements and food.
Too often when a person seems stuck in a rut, they are closed minded and believe that weight loss is not for them. Whenever I find myself faced with this type of client, I suggest the zig zag diet approach. There still tends to be a tug-of-war. Since I am asking them to increase calorie intake (with quality food mind you) for a short time followed by a drop in calorie intake. This is called the zig zag approach. It seems these people who have claimed to have tried everything are scared to death when I tell them that they have to increase their calorie intake for a short time. They have been conditioned to believe that starvation and less food will create a lean body. Well, in actuality, it will create a flaccid body which means less lean body mass and in turn, results in a slower metabolism which aids in additional weight gain. This can carrying through teen years, young adult years and then adult hood, where as we all know, it becomes harder and harder to shed the excess weight and then the health issues start to come rushing in.
To help shed some light and look at this approach in a more scientific way, I have broken it down in the best way I can. Hopefully a better understanding will be accepted and if just one person changes their ways, then this article is not in vain.
Okay, Try This One On For Size:
In laymanʼs terms, low calorie diets bring about serious health issues. A low calorie diet leads to muscle breakdown, which will slow your metabolism down, and a slower metabolism will burn fat slower.
Another major issue one should consider, is during the process of muscle breakdown, due to your low calorie diet, your heart can become especially vulnerable. Your heart is a muscle, and when your body turns on itself and breaks muscle down for energy, nothing is spared, not even your heart.
Another side effect of the low calorie diet is malnourishment. Your vital organs and body systems require and rely on you to provide the necessary calories for them to function well.
Okay, So That Being Said, How Do You Do a Zig Zag Diet?
Its simple. You will still be eating quality foods. You just alter your calorie intake up and then down. For example:
- Monday: 1,300 calories
- Tuesday: 1,600 calories
- Wednesday: 1,300 calories
- Thursday: 1,200 calories
- Friday: 1,600 calories
- Saturday: 1,300 calories
- Sunday: 1,600 calories
You can also zig zag your carbohydrate intake. One day is low carbs, the next day is moderate carbs, then the next day is high carbs. Make sure its always quality carbs though. You can add additional days to this type of zig zagging, 1-7 high and 1-3 low, however, I do not recommend you continue your low days for longer than three days. This can provoke a starvation mode, and then your body would turn on itself, break down muscle for protein and amino acids, lower your metabolism rate, and this would start a vicious cycle.
With this program (the additional days of highs and low), the concept is to prepare your metabolism, and get it speeding up, which when you start on your low days, will encourage fat loss. The advice to not go beyond the 3 low carbs days, is due to the lack of carbs. This deficit carb intake can cause your body to begin searching for energy, protein, amino acids, and will find it in the last place you wish it would, which is your lean muscle tissue!
Another approach could be changing the intensity of your workouts. Zig Zag your training. Your food intake should reflect your training. Donʼt eat like a horse, if you trained like a mouse. Our bodies can only metabolize so much. Then the rest is simply stored as fat.
As you can see, when many say they have tried it all, 9 times out a 10, they simply have not. I understand the frustration. But we all need to know we are individuals and different things work for different people. The important thing is to never give up. You were not made to walk around with excess energy and that is exactly what that body fat is, excess energy. Just find a way to burn it. Turn up the notch, add an extra day, play with your calories (while still eating quality foods). Just donʼt settle for "this is the way I am" because I do not believe that for one second. I have had 4 children and have been left with weight to lose, and I can say at the age of 39, I look better than when I was 25. Itʼs a matter of finding what works for you. Give the zig zag diet approach a try.
If you have any questions, or need help getting it started or understanding concepts better, I will whole heartily offer every bit of knowledge I have locked up in my brain. Just make sure you donʼt give up. I didnʼt, and let me tell you, I am happy I didnʼt.
By Diane Mohlman