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What is a Zig-Zag Diet?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated Feb 25, 2024
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Zig-zag diets are a different approach to losing weight that discourages avoiding many foods that conventional diets claim to be out of bounds. Essentially, the zig-zag diet is all about portion control and alternating consumption of different types of foods. The idea behind this rotation or zig-zag in the task of dieting is understood to trick the metabolism into using stored fat for energy while tending to not convert muscle for the daily needs of the body.

The point of a zig-zag diet is to maintain some balance between the need to lose fat by watching the calorie intake and the desire to gain muscle by consuming a wide range of foods that may in fact contain a lot of calories. Most diets are geared toward losing fat, but consider losing muscle as one of the necessary casualties of the process. Zig-zag diets claim there is no need to lose muscle while also losing fat, provided that a process of calorie shifting is employed.

Calorie shifting simply means moving away from traditional ways of eating and redefining the entire process. The zig zag diet requires dispensing with the traditional three meals a day, and eating up to seven smaller meals in the same time frame. Part of the reason for this element of the zig-zag diet is to make it possible to satisfy the body’s desire for fat and maintain a stable level of carbohydrates. This will mean the blood sugar level is less likely to fluctuate and the desire to binge is avoided.

Depending on what the individual plans on doing over the next two to three hours, the meal may be heavier in carbohydrates, with fats to come along later in the day. Eating to respond to short term needs allows the body to use what it needs before it can be stored as fat. The zig-zag diet also makes it possible for the body to slowly make use of stored fat, while converting much less muscle mass than with traditional diets.

As with all types of diet plans, it is a good idea to check with a physician before implementing the zig-zag diet approach. This precaution will make it possible to be aware of any special dietary needs that need to be addressed as part of the diet plan, and help to ensure a good level of general health while pursuing the weight loss goals.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including WiseGeek, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By umbra21 — On May 25, 2011

Eating lots of small meals can help with your metabolism as well. Eating a few bigger meals isn't quite as good for you, as it makes you feel less active and spikes your energy throughout the day.

The problem with these kinds of diets, I find, is that it is difficult to break social patterns. I like eating out with people, or eating at a regular time with my family. And not eating the same thing seems rude or something. I would have to get over that if I was going to follow a diet like this. I guess eventually people would get used to me doing that, but I hope the fat loss would be worth it.

By pleonasm — On May 23, 2011

I've never heard of this kind of diet before. I think it would be quite difficult to follow though, for me at least. If I don't have a bit of protein and fat with my carbs I tend to have blood sugar problems. So, I don't like eating just one thing at a time, unless it is something like nuts, which aren't going to set my blood sugar off.

I do like the aim of keeping muscle mass though. Losing muscle to a diet is very counter productive, as active muscle can help to keep your metabolism high.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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