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Weight Loss & Diet Plans

The Zone Diet

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The Promise

Can you burn fat even in your sleep, without feeling hungry, by balancing the fat, carbs, and protein you eat?

It can happen in "The Zone," claims Barry Sears, PhD, the biochemist who created this best-selling diet.

The Zone doesn't promise immediate, dramatic weight loss. You can expect to lose just 1 to 1.5 pounds in the first week. But the plan pledges that the weight you lose will be all fat, not muscle or water. As your body changes, your clothes will fit better even if the scale doesn't budge all that much at first.

What You Can Eat and What You Can't

On the Zone diet, you get 3 meals and 2 snacks a day. Each is a mix of low-fat protein, like skinless chicken, turkey, or fish; carbs (mostly fruits and veggies); and a small amount of “good” fat, like olive oil, almonds, and avocado.

No food is completely banned, but if you’re a carb-lover, you may find getting used to the Zone plan challenging. It encourages you to think of bread, pasta, grains, and other starches as condiments rather than as main or even side dishes.

Veggies and fruits that are relatively high in sugar -- like corn, carrots, bananas, and raisins -- are on the “unfavorable” list. Fatty red meat and egg yolks fall into the Zone’s “bad fats” column.

Every meal on the Zone has the same proportions: 30% protein, 30% fat, and 40% carbs.

What that looks like on the plate is a palm-sized portion of protein, two-thirds of the plate filled with nonstarchy fruits and vegetables, and a dash of monounsaturated fat like olive oil or slivered almonds.

Calories do count on the Zone diet. Women get about 1,200 calories a day. For men, it's 1,500.

Level of Effort: Medium

Staying in the Zone requires sticking to the rules. You're supposed to eat a meal within an hour of waking, never let more than five hours go by without eating, and have a snack before bedtime.

Limitations: You need to stick to the 30% protein, 30% fat, and 40% carbs formula at every meal and snack. You can’t pile on the protein at lunch and then have all carbs for dinner.

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