The Zone diet plan is an approach to eating, popularized by Dr. Barry Sears, that advocates balancing the ratio of carbohydrate, protein, and fat you eat at every meal. An ideal balance is considered "40-30-30":
The diet is based on a theory that excess insulin (a hormone that helps control your blood sugar levels), makes and keeps you fat and unhealthy. By consuming the "proper" ratio of carb, protein, and fat, you can control your insulin levels.
The Zone diet plan also involves cutting out most "bad" carbohydrates (breakfast cereals, rice, potatoes, pasta, noodles, bread, bagels, croissants, muffins, crisps, pastries, pies, chocolate, sweets, sugar, etc.), as these have the greatest effect on blood sugar and therefore insulin levels.
How The Zone Diet Plan Works
Eat carb, protein, and fat at every meal in the proper ratio.
This can be accomplished in one of two ways.
The first way is somewhat involved and technical and is best only if you're one who likes details or who is interested in learning a little more about nutrition.
To help you achieve a 40-30-30 balance at meals, the notion of "Zone Food Blocks" was developed. Each "block" of food contains a standardized amount of carbohydrate, protein or fat. You're allowed a certain number of "blocks" at each meal and snack. (If you're a "numbers fan," it works out to be approximately one gram of fat for every two grams of protein and three grams of carbohydrates.)
With help from any of the Zone diet plan books or the official Zone diet website, you can determine how many "blocks" you should have every day, and how they should be distributed throughout the day. And then you can use the website or books to help you put meals together or get some recipe ideas.
If it all seems too difficult to figure out but you'd really like to "get into the Zone," you can have fresh, gourmet chef-prepared 40-30-30 meals delivered to your door for a price via Chefs Diet meal delivery service (a page on this site). Doing so can be an education if you pay attention to the balance and portions of the meals.
You can follow the basic principles of the diet without getting so technical. All you really need are your eyeballs.
Visually balance the proportions of food on your plate each time you eat
Include a lean portion of protein at every meal that's as big (and as thick) as the palm or your hand. It should fill up about 1/3 of your plate. Best choices include:
You eat carbs at every meal on this plan, but a distinction is made between "desirable" carbs and "undesirable carbs."
2/3 of your plate should be filled with these "good" carbs, with preference given to vegetables and fruits over grains.
While not as low as The Atkins Diet, The Zone diet plan is actually considered a "low carbohydrate diet," even given the fact you can eat 2/3 of a plate full of carbs!
Fats are also important to include at every meal, and a distinction is made in this category between "good" and "bad" as well.
Only small amounts or dashes of fat are needed. Limit portions of added fat to the size of your thumb or thumbtip.
Zone Diet Plan in simple terms:
The Zone Diet PROS
The Zone Diet CONS
My Professional Opinion
I think the Zone Diet Plan is a reasonable way of eating. Adhering to the basic principles and balancing all meals with protein, carb and fat (and portion control) is smart and can be simple if you use your eyes and plate to guide you rather than relying on all the calculations.
What's more reasonable? Working with a Registered Dietitian (like me!) to design a diet built for one person (you!). Contact me.
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