I have got to share with you an awesome tip for both fat loss and muscle building. Its called the zigzag nutrition strategy.
Its rather quite simple to put it simply.
You simply adjust your calories in a zigzag diet pattern over days, weeks or months, even years. I don't recommend you do the yearly thing or even the monthly thing for that matter as it will be far too late to know if its working for you or you are just getting fatter with less results and your hard body that lies beneath is going for a long walk down the dirt road.
What I DO recommend is you follow a zigzag nutrition pattern on a weekly and possibly a daily basis. I prefer to do it weekly.
It works like this (once you know your lean body mass requirements).
First you ZIG. Then you ZAG.
You need to first determine how many calories you currently take in or even better, how many calories you need to sustain your Lean Body Mass (LBM). That's the sexy shape and muscle tone hiding under your layers of fat and water. Once you determine what the machine needs to be fed you then start to plan your ZIGZAG diet strategy.
Now all this is assuming you are eating clean, low glycemic, moderate protein and good essential fats to start with. We can even zigzag your primary macro nutrients as well, but more on that later as we are focusing on zigzag calories for now.
Start your ZIG by reducing your total calories by 200-500 per day. I suggest you do this for the week.
Now the ZAG is to use your required daily amount and add 200-500 calories per day for 1 week.
This will provide you with the required calories to maintain your lean body mass, but surprisingly you will actually have a leaner body following this method after 1-2 months. Bill Phillips wrote about this with Dan Duchaine, Mauro DiPasquali, TC Loma and a few others many years ago (almost 20 years ago). Dan Duchaine reported that this "cycling" trick resulted in +1 to 2 pound of lean and -1 to 2 pound of body fat every 2 weeks for months on end.
That alone is amazing as it means you could be the same weight you are today in a year, but actually have 12-24 pounds less fat and 12-24 pounds more muscle than you do today. This is a HUGE opportunity to change the way you perform, look and feel without changing anything in your diet at all.
If you had a chance to NOT diet and do what you do today, just change the amounts you eat today versus tomorrow following a ZIGZAG nutrition strategy you should at least consider it.
The anecdotal reports on this come from many, including the guinea pigs with the original doctor Jekyll crew above, myself and many of my clients and they are as follows:
Increased healing and recuperation
Increase lean muscle
Increased fat loss
Decreased muscle loss
And the list goes on, its rather quite amazing, but you will need to experiment and experience it for yourself to be a real believer, trust me, you will become a believer in this ZIGZAG diet strategy.
Remember all this starts with a good nutritional baseline. If you need to do that then there are resources all over the internet, but you have to start with a great nutrition game plan to make this truly effective in the shortest possible time.
To make a ZIGZAG nutrition strategy work for you first determine how to come up with a solid, clean nutrition program. A game plan if you will.
If you goal is to lose fat, then you need to know how much to feed the body. Drop that by 200 calories and that will give you a baseline to start your Zigzag nutrition formula from.
If your goal is to gain muscle, then know what you need to feed the machine and work above your baseline by 200 calories and start your ZIGZAG diet game plan.
Let me make it easy on you.
ZIGZAG for Fat Loss using 2000 calories
2000 calories - 200 calories = 1800 calories baseline
1800 calories - 200 calories = 1600 calories on restricted ZIG days
1800 calories + 200 calories = 2000 calories on recuperation ZAG days
Net average is 1800 calories, the fat loss is much greater than that and so are the lean body mass gains in the process
ZIGZAG for Muscle Building using 2000 calories
2000 calories + 200 calories = 2200 calories baseline
2200 calories - 200 calories = 2000 restricted ZIG days
2200 calories + 200 calories = 2400 recuperation ZAG days
Net average is 2200 calories; the lean muscle gain is greater than that along with the side effect of fat loss
This is all good and done for you, but you still need to know what ratio of primary macro nutrients work for you. That is different for everyone and will change from goal to goal, season to season.
Simple math to lose fat will suggest you eat less carbs than you do today to lose fat. You can increase your protein and healthy fats slightly to offset the calories from the carbohydrate restriction and experience increased fat loss while eating the exact same calories as you did last week.
I would only suggest changing 100-200 calories of carbohydrates for proteins and fats at a time and give it 1-2 weeks to assess the net results. Once you feel you are satisfied with your fat loss results or are at a sticking point, you should then consider a ZIGZAG strategy.
If you are starting out and have no clue where to feed your machine or what ratios to eat and how to implement the ZIGZAG nutrition method, then try this simple math:
200 pounds - 20% body fat = LBM (Lean Body Mass)
200 pounds - 40 pounds body fat = 160 pounds LBM
160 pounds LBM x 10 calories per LBM = 1600 calories
ZIG days (-200 calories) = 1400 calories
ZAG days (+200 calories) = 1800 calories
This might sound lower than you are used to, but remember the goal is fat loss and lean muscle maintenance and you can't lose fat while eating too many calories.
The ratio I would recommend you start with is 40% protein, 30% carbohydrate and 30% fats.
1400 calorie ZIG days
Protein = 560 calories / 140 grams
Carbohydrates = 420 / 105 grams
Fats = 420 / 46.6 grams
1800 calorie ZAG days
Protein = 720 calories / 180 grams
Carbohydrates = 540 / 135 grams
Fats = 540 / 60 grams
Now you know how to do this for the fat loss, you can do the same process for Muscle Building, but instead of multiplying your LBM x10 calories you will use x12-15 calories per LBM. To stay lean try the same ratios, this will ensure a lean body muscle building experience without adding any unwanted fat.
Of course there are those that claim to be hard gainers, many are just too lazy to work hard enough on their nutrition, exercise and supplement programs, but even they will be surprised by using a ZIGZAG method to lean body gains. Gone are the days of raw MASS forsaking all lean attributes, but if you need that type of a program there are places and merits for that as well.
I love knowing that it comes down to 2 things with nutrition. Simple Science = Math and Personal Choices = Art of crafting a program that will work for you. Most of the Simple Science is out there for you, just choose wisely and make the right ratio, meal timings and food choices that work for you.
Get ZIGZAG programs working for you. You can go between fat loss, muscle building, MASS program every week or month and notice incredible fat loss and lean muscle gains.
I did mention ZIGZAG of the Primary Macronutrients and this can have amazing results for you as well, but is a bit more involved to suggest here and leads me to another article to increase your lean body lifestyle, fat loss and muscle building goals.
Remember when 90% of the world ZIGs to the tune of 1 strategy its time you ZAG and make a difference. 90% of the time the 10% that run the other way are successful in their endeavors.
Patrick McGuire is a Weight Loss, Fat Loss and Lean Muscle Building Specialist, Registered Nutritional Consulting Practitioner, a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, former competitive body builder, semi pro athlete, military fitness trainer with the Royal Canadian Armored Corps, President of Empowered Nutrition and the creator of Done For You Meal Plans
To see how easy it is to start your fat loss ZIGZAG program check out 'Done-For-You' Meal Plans.