How Zig Zag Calorie Cycling Can Help Achieve Fast Weight Loss

Zig-zag calorie cycling is a popular way to lose weight, adding a new twist to traditional ways of cutting calories. With this approach, you can change how many calories you eat every day, creating a zigzag pattern. 

Instead of maintaining a caloric deficit, zig zag calorie cycling introduces higher-calorie days to optimize metabolism and fat loss. 

If you alternate between days with a lot of calories and days with few calories, your body is less likely to adjust its metabolism to a lower calorie intake, which may help you lose weight. 

Since it uses a weekly average calorie goal instead of daily limits, this approach lets you respond to hunger, activity, and social events. 

This powerful approach helps us change our diet and overcome plateaus, while helping us lose weight faster

Let’s take a look at how zig-zag calorie cycling works better due to metabolic adaptation and how you can achieve your weight loss goals with this approach.

How Does the Zig Zag Calorie Cycling Work?

The zig-zag diet’s success is due to metabolic adaptation. The human body naturally seeks homeostasis and resists changes to its current state. This makes it hard to build muscle or lose fat.

Zig Zag Calorie Cycling, also known as “Alternate-Day Fasting (ADF)” has become popular among people who want to lose weight in an easy and effective way.

Studies have shown that people who follow this pattern can lose anywhere from 4 to 8 percent of their body weight in 8 to 12 weeks. They also improve LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, insulin resistance, and LDL particle size.

The University of Chicago studied the effects of changing calorie consumption timing on fasting days. They assigned 74 participants with a BMI between 30 and 39.9 kg/m2 to one of three groups: ADF-L, ADF-D, or ADF (consuming 25% of energy requirements at lunch, dinner, or throughout the day on fasting days).

Over the 10-week study, all participants lost about 4 kg, regardless of fasting day meal timing. They lost 75% of their weight from fat and 25% from lean mass.

Zig Zag calorie cycling, regardless of meal timing, can help you lose weight and improve your cardiovascular health, according to this study. ADF may work for people who are willing to restrict calories every other day to lose weight.

During weight loss, the body uses its energy stores to compensate for a calorie deficit. After a few weeks, the body downregulates metabolism, reducing calories burned. Metabolic slowdown conserves energy and prolongs life. Sadly, it causes weight loss to plateau. Restarting fat loss usually requires calorie reduction or exercise. 

The zig-zag diet aims to keep the body from adapting to a consistent calorie intake. Alternating high-calorie and low-calorie days challenges the body and prevents metabolism downshifting. This method may reduce thyroid hormone and testosterone levels, hunger hormones (ghrelin), and cortisol levels. Weight loss plateaus may result from these adaptations.

In an energy deficit, these adaptations will occur over time. Zig-zag calorie cycling delays these adaptations, but they will happen.

Why Zig Zag Calorie Cycling?

Zig zag calorie cycling

Zigzag calorie cycling involves alternating high- and low-calorie days. It helps prevent weight loss plateaus and has other benefits.

It preserves muscle mass, improves metabolic flexibility, overcomes plateaus, and is sustainable. 

Here are some benefits of zig zag calorie cycling;

Metabolic Boost

The best thing about zig zag calorie cycling is that it gets your metabolism going. You can avoid getting used to a calorie deficit by increasing your calorie intake from time to time.

This change throws off your metabolism, so it does not slow down. So, your body uses up calories well and you lose weight.

Sustainable Approach

Traditional calorie-restricted diets can be hard to stick to because they make you feel hungry and deprived.

Calorie cycling that goes back and forth is more flexible and long-lasting. You can have your favorite foods and treats once in a while without stopping your progress if you plan your higher calorie days well.

This balanced approach helps people feel better about food, which makes it easier to lose weight in the long run.

Psychological Well-being

A strict, low-calorie diet that you stick to for a long time can be hard on your mental health. Calorie cycling gives you variety and flexibility, which makes you feel less bored and deprived.

Having days with more calories gives your mind a break from being restricted. This makes you feel better about yourself and makes it less likely that you will eat out of emotion or binge.

This approach takes care of both the physical and emotional parts of losing weight, which is good for your overall health.

Muscle Preservation

When people lose weight, they often lose both fat and muscle mass.

But it is important to keep lean muscle mass if you want a healthy metabolism and a toned body. 

As higher calorie days are incorporated into a zig zag calorie cycling plan, muscle loss is reduced and energy for muscle preservation and repair is maximized.

You can lose weight and improve your physique at the same time.

Plateau Prevention

When trying to lose weight through calorie restriction, you may hit a wall. Over time, our bodies learn to be more efficient at using the energy they have.

Calorie cycling, in which one’s caloric intake fluctuates from day to day, disrupts this adaptation.

The changes present your body with new challenges, preventing it from reaching a weight loss plateau and reviving your weight loss efforts.

READ ALSO: 8 Surprising Ways to Optimize Your Gut Microbiome

Different Options of Calorie Cycling

Zig zag calorie cycling

Calorie cycling is used to avoid weight loss plateaus caused by the body’s adaptation to a stable caloric deficit. 

It is thought that keeping the body’s metabolism stimulated by making periodic changes to calorie intake can lead to sustained fat loss.

Here are some examples of how calorie cycling can be put into practice:

High-Low Method

This approach has you switch between high-calorie days and low-calorie days. 

On high-calorie days, you eat more calories, usually at or just above your maintenance level. 

On low-calorie days, you cut back on calories, usually trying to create a deficit to help you lose fat.

For example, on high-calorie days, you consume 2,500 calories, while on low-calorie days, you consume 1,500 calories.

Weekly Cycling

With this approach, you change between different calorie goals throughout the week. You might have a few days with more calories and then a few days with less calories.

For example, on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, you consume 2,000 calories, while on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday, you consume 1,500 calories.

Refeed Days

In this approach, you occasionally eat more calories to give your body a break from eating less for a long time.  

Most of the time, refeed days are set up once a week or every few weeks.

For example, every Saturday, you consume 2,500 calories, while the remaining days of the week, you stick to 1,500 calories.

Macro Cycling

This method focuses on varying macronutrient ratios while keeping overall calorie intake relatively constant. 

Macro Cycling is a way to lose weight in which you change how much protein, carbs, and fat you eat every two weeks. The three main nutrients our bodies need are called macros or macronutrients.

For example, on high-carb days, you consume 50% of your calories from carbs, 25% from fats, and 25% from proteins. 

On days when you eat a few carbs, 30% of your calories come from carbs, 40% from fats, and 30% from proteins.

It is important to remember that calorie cycling should be done with a diet that is balanced and full of nutrients. It is best to talk to a doctor or registered dietitian to find out what the best way to use calorie cycling is for you based on your goals, preferences, and health.

READ ALSO: 6 Ways Intuitive Eating Empowers Women During Menopause

Is Zig Zag Calorie Cycling Good for Women Over 50

Zig zag calorie cycling

Like any other diet, a zig zag diet can be good or bad for women over 50. Before starting any diet plan, it is important to think about personal factors and health conditions and talk to a doctor or registered dietitian. 

Here are a few things to consider:

Nutrient Needs

Due to changes in hormones and other factors related to age, women over 50 may need different nutrients.

It is important to make sure that a zigzag diet gives you enough vitamins, minerals, and protein to support your health and well-being as a whole.

Energy Balance

Calorie cycling can help you lose weight, but you need to find a good balance between calorie deficits and meeting your energy needs.

Older women may have different energy needs than younger people, so it is important not to go through periods with too few calories, which could hurt their energy and overall health.

Muscle Mass Preservation

As you get older, it becomes more important to keep your muscle mass because it helps you maintain your strength, mobility, and metabolic health.

You should make sure your zig zag diet has enough protein to help them keep your muscles.

Bone Health

Women who have gone through menopause are more likely to develop osteoporosis.

For bone health, eat enough calcium and vitamin D and consult a doctor. 

Individual Health Conditions

Some women over the age of 50 may have health problems like diabetes, heart disease, or high blood pressure.

It is important to think about these conditions and make sure that the zigzag diet works with any dietary restrictions or changes that a doctor has suggested.

A zigzag diet can help women over 50 lose weight, but they should tailor it to their needs and consider any risks or changes to ensure their health and well-being.

It is best to talk to a doctor or registered dietitian to figure out the best way to eat.

READ ALSO: The 10 Weight Loss Tips You Need to Get in Shape in 2023

Closing Thoughts

The zig zag calorie cycling is one weight loss approach, but it may not work for everyone. It is important to listen to your body, make adjustments, and prioritize your health and well-being throughout the process.

Diet and exercise are often needed for weight loss to go well. You can lose 500 calories a day by eating less and exercising. 

Start by cutting 250 calories through portion control or snacking. Cardio and weight training can burn the remaining 250 calories. On rest days, exercise alone will not create a calorie deficit, so adjust your diet.

You may need to increase your exercise intensity or duration as you lose weight. 

Keep in mind that finding a balance between diet and exercise leads to sustainable habits for body recomposition.

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About Author

Schellea Fowler

Schellea Fowler

Schellea Fowler, the visionary founder of Fabulous50s, brings over three decades of small business leadership and expertise to her legacy. Not only has she excelled personally, but she has also become a mentor, generously sharing her wealth of experience with emerging entrepreneurs.

After retiring at 50 in 2016, Schellea’s commitment to continuous growth led her to pursue additional qualifications. A qualified fitness instructor, she is presently continuing her master trainer program, specializing in exercise for older adults. Through Fabulous50s, Schellea remains devoted to her vision of empowering and inspiring women to embrace and celebrate their current stage of life.

Her additional qualifications include: Fashion Styling from the Australian Style Institute, Advanced Personal Colour Analysis from AOPI,  and Meditation Teacher Training from Yoga Coach.

Above all, Schellea’s mission is simple yet profound: to support women in embracing the aging process with confidence and grace.

Learn how to burn fat and build muscle fast with guided instruction.

Disclaimer: The content presented here is entirely unsponsored, and all opinions expressed are solely mine. In instances where I express admiration for a product, if there is an affiliate link, I may include it. However, it is crucial to note that I will never prioritize seeking products that offer commissions over providing genuine reviews.

Please be informed that certain links within the content may be affiliate links. Should you choose to click on these links and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission. This does not entail any additional cost to you, and your decision to use these links remains entirely at your discretion.

Moreover, it is imperative to recognize that any information disseminated through the videos or any type of content is intended solely for general entertainment and educational purposes. Prior to embarking on any exercise regimen or program mentioned, I strongly advise consulting with your physician/doctor. Engaging in any exercise is undertaken at your own risk.

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