What Is The Zig Zag Diet & Is It Worth It?

zig zag diet

Often referred to as “calorie cycling”, this diet is a powerful technique.

For many of us, finding a diet and hopping onto it can be one of the most challenging things. Time and time again, we are able to last about three days before someone offers you a beer, or those candy bars stare at you while you wait in line at the grocery store. And just like that, the diet is no more. With so many ways to diet, and of course those infamous fad diets, even finding the right technique can be overwhelming, leaving you in a pit of despair and pizza. But we’re here to bring you a potentially amazing dieting technique in the zig zag diet that could quite possibly change things around for you.

Let’s say you get past the first couple weeks of your new diet. You’re cruising along, seeing great gains, and then a sudden speed bump stands right before. You try and try but can’t seem to get over that hurdle. This dreaded plateau that can happen in weightlifting can happen just as much in dieting and can be soul crushing. It can make you question just how hard you’re willing to work, how resilient you are to adversity, and how much you wish you could just drop those pounds. But the zig zag diet is a great technique to burst through any plateau so you never falter when it comes to your progress.

Let’s jump into the zig zag diet and see what this technique is all about. You deserve to have the best chance at growth and your diet is a great place to start.

What Is The Zig Zag Diet?

The zig zag diet, also known as calorie cycling, is a great dieting technique that forces you to change and alternate the amount of calories you consume on a given day to really promote growth and weight loss. By changing the amount of calories you consume on a given day, you start to avoid those dreaded plateaus that can be an unfortunate side effects of constant calorie diets (1).

Typically, your days consists of those low, medium, or high calorie days, each with their own respective benefits to help you get to where you want to be. Your low days are meant to maximize the amount of fat burned so you start to see some real gains to weight loss. Those medium calorie days will work to maintain and build muscle, especially if you are active and workout during this time. Those high calorie days will boost your metabolism to burn it off and refill energy stores for future days so you no longer feel sluggish or depleted.

For those looking to avoid plateaus, the zig zag diet is right for you. Depending on your fitness level, the amount of calories per day will certainly change but you need to be make sure you have adequate amounts of fuel to carry you through your daily life.

healthy foods

Benefits Of The Zig Zag Diet

The zig zag diet does consist of a few great benefits worth noting as you consider making this lifestyle change for yourself. Benefits include:

  • Avoid plateaus: Don’t worry about hitting those dreaded plateaus that constant calorie diets follow.
  • More muscle: Work to maintain and build muscle so you don’t sacrifice current gains and those you continue to make in the gym.
  • Less fat: With your metabolism working overtime, you will work to shed that fat and really give yourself a chance at a lean physique.
  • Metabolic confusion: Test your metabolism and see just what it can do when you need it to work for you by consistently changing up the amount of calories your body processes (2).
  • Easily adjustable: Depending on your activity level, this is easily adjustable and can be done using calculations based on your information and amount of activity you perform.

How This Diet Works

We’ll offer an example of what a typical day may look like. While you will still be eating quality and nutritional food, you are changing the amount of calories on a given day. Ensuring enough protein is in your diet is huge, but you can cycle with carbs. Here is an example of what the numbers look like (always adjust calories to you and your lifestyle).

  • Monday: 1,800
  • Tuesday: 2,000
  • Wednesday: 1,800
  • Thursday: 1,600
  • Friday: 2,000
  • Saturday: 1,800
  • Sunday: 2,000

How The Zig Zag Diet Can Break A Plateau

The zig zag diet can work to break through any plateau because it requires you to zig zag your way around calories and the amount that you consume. This will cause metabolic confusion which can be helpful in the long run especially when it comes to burning off calories. By kicking your metabolism into gear, you work to lose weight while still maintaining and potentially gaining muscle mass (3).

Is It Worth It?

Dieting can be very subjective and what works for one person may not work for someone else. The zig zag diet ultimately is a safe and effective way to lose weight given that it requires you to eat healthy foods, with the right amount of calories per day (even if a day or two are slightly lower), and maintain control so you don’t diet the wrong way. Effective for bursting through plateaus, the zig zag diet is worth it, especially when it comes to staying on track and not falling victim to the dreaded dieting lull, which often times leads to you reverting back to old habits.

Wrap Up

The zig zag diet, or calorie cycling, is a great dieting technique to help break dieting plateaus and keep you on track. We all know dieting can be hard so why not set ourselves up for success with a worthwhile and effective technique that can really work to boost our gains. Check out the zig zag diet today and really see what it can do for you. When done right, you won’t be disappointed with the results.

Let us know what you think in the comments below. Also, be sure to follow Generation Iron on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. 

*Images courtesy of Envato


  1. Howell, Scott; Kones, Richard (2017). “‘Calories in, calories out’ and macronutrient intake: the hope, hype, and science of calories”. (source)
  2. Patterson, Ruth E.; Laughlin, Gail A.; Sears, Dorothy D.; LaCroix, Andrea Z.; et al. (2015). “Intermittent Fasting And Human Metabolic Health”. (source)
  3. Freire, Rachel (2020). Scientific evidence of diets for weight loss: Different macronutrient composition, intermittent fasting, and popular diets”. (source)
Austin Letorney is a writer, actor, and fitness enthusiast. As a former rower, he has shifted his focus to sharing his knowledge of the fitness world and strength sports with others.