In the Zone: All You Need to Know About the Zone Diet
If you’re a believer of diets and are always on the lookout for the newest ones that come out, have you ever heard of the Zone diet? No? Well then, let’s go ahead and have a brief discussion about one of the newest diets in the health world.
What Is the Zone Diet?
Basically, this particular diet focuses on balanced levels of protein, fat, and carbohydrates. This was developed more than 30 years ago by biochemist Barry Sears. Its specific ratio for eating is consuming 40% carbs, 30% protein, and 30% fat.
The Zone diet’s main concern is controlling the body’s hormones. It believes that hormonal balance affects all the important components of the body’s wellness. These include energy utilization, blood chemistry, body composition, and many more. With the right balance of protein, fat, and carbs, you will then have the ability to control three major hormones from the human diet. These are insulin, eicosanoids, and glucagon.
This diet doesn’t guarantee immediate weight loss. In fact, you lose just 1 to 1.5 pounds in the first week of going on this diet. However, the diet guarantees that the weight that you do lose will be all fat. No water or muscle included.
What Can You Eat in the Zone Diet?
If you go by this diet, you are allowed 3 meals and 2 snacks in a day. The allowed food choices in the Zone diet are similar to the food choices in the Mediterranean diet. For example, the protein food choices allowed in the Zone diet should be lean. These include low-fat milk and yogurt, skinless chicken and turkey breast, lean beef, lean pork, lean lamb, low-fat cheese, tofu and other soy products, egg whites, and fish and shellfish.
For the fat portion, this diet prefers a type of monounsaturated fat. Some examples are tahini, nut butters, nuts, avocados, and oils like olive oil, peanut oil, canola oil, or sesame oil.
And for the carbs, try to choose vegetables with a low glycemic index and just a bit of fruit options. Carb options include grains (like barley and oatmeal), fruits (like berries, apples, plums, oranges, etc.), and vegetables (like spinach, tomatoes, chickpeas, squash, mushrooms, cucumbers, peppers, etc.).
Food to Avoid
Technically speaking, no food is banned if you’re trying out the Zone diet. However, it’s advised to steer clear of the following food choices as they promote inflammation.
- High-sugar or starchy vegetables (potatoes, peas, carrots, corn)
- High-sugar fruits (mangoes, bananas, grapes, raisins, dried fruit)
- Refined and processed carbs (bread, pasta, white flour products)
- Processed food
- Food with added sugar (candy, cakes, cookies)
- Soft drinks
Zone Diet Meal Plan
Everything that you eat in this diet should be grouped according to the three categories (protein, fat, and carbs). This is what advocates of the diet call blocks. To make it easier for beginners to understand, here’s how it works:
1 block protein = 7g protein
1 block fat = 1.5g fat
1 block carbs = 9g carbohydrates
That means that you can go ahead and choose whatever food you want in each food category, as long as they follow the right measurements. You can actually have one-block meals, two-block meals, three-block meals, and so on. You can mix and match.
The number of blocks you should eat every day depends on your height, weight, waist measurements, and hip measurements. The average female eats around 11 blocks per day. The average male eats 14 blocks per day. So how can you determine what are the ideal blocks for you? Check out the chart below.
When compared with other types of diets, the Zone diet offers more variety in food choices. Also, because of its makeup, you won’t experience moments of hunger since all of the meals you’ll be taking have a combination of both protein and fat. These two help with feelings of satiety.
Its also great for people with diabetes issues or blood sugar issues, or those who have the tendency of gaining weight fast. It limits the intake of refined sugars while emphasizing the intake of whole grains, proteins, fruits, and vegetables. Basically, the Zone diet stabilizes blood sugar levels and reduces cravings.
One of the biggest guarantees it boasts of is the reduction of inflammation in the body. Inflammation is one of the main reasons why people experience plenty of issues, like gaining weight, getting sick easily, etc. Advocates of the diet claim that the Zone diet is greatly effective in decreasing inflammation. This then leads to the reduction of the risk of getting chronic diseases. It also slows down the signs of aging and helps you lose weight in a healthy manner.
Of course, as with everything in life, there will always be cons to every single thing. Since the Zone diet doesn’t really favor dairy products, it will be quite difficult for people to get the recommended calcium intake.
And though this diet is not as restrictive as other diets, there will still be some missing nutrients. There might be some deficiencies in vitamin C, folic acid, fiber, as well as several minerals.
For someone who is eyeing the Zone diet for the first time, meal planning might be a tad burdensome. It involves some in-depth meal planning, measuring, and calorie counting. And these things take time and effort.
One major con to the Zone diet is its lack of scientific evidence. Yes, there are many followers of the diet who boast of its healthy claims. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough scientific evidence to support them.
And finally, opting to go for this lifestyle may be hard to commit to. Take note that this is not a diet that you can go on for just a couple of months, and then quit once you are able to achieve your goal. This is a complete lifestyle change.
The Final Verdict
So, should you try out the Zone diet for yourself? At the end of the day, it’s always you who’ll have the final say. Like all the diets out there, this diet has its own share of pros and cons. Its how your body takes these changes that determine if this diet is right for you or not.
And always keep in mind, before you do decide to embark on this, make sure to consult with your primary physician first. He or she is the best person to determine if the Zone diet will be beneficial for you or not.