The Zone Diet
What Is the Zone Diet?
Besides being the title of a mega-seller diet book, Enter The Zone, The Zone is a place where we find ourselves "feeling alert, refreshed, and full of energy," according to author Barry Sears, PhD. Sears, a former researcher in bio technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the book's co-author Bill Lawren maintain that life in The Zone is what wellness is all about.
Like other popular diet books, Enter The Zone offers more than just claims about weight-loss. By retooling your metabolism with a diet that is 30% protein, 30% fat, and 40% carbohydrates, The Zone diet authors contend that you can expect to turn back encroaching heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Another much-touted advantage is better athletic performance. Sears doesn't come right out and claim he has found the cure for heart disease or diabetes or discovered how to win athletic competitions. Instead he provides glowing anecdotes from people who have taken The Zone diet to heart.
What The Zone diet does boldly claim is that much of the current thinking about good nutrition -- a diet high in carbohydrates, low in protein, and fats -- is "dead wrong." What's more, Sears contends, that type of diet has contributed to our risk of contracting serious, even life-threatening ailments such as heart disease, diabetes, and possibly cancer. His later book, The Anti-Inflammation Zone, takes a closer look at disease and how his diet combats the inflammation he says is an underlying factor behind the development of serious illness as well as weight gain.
As a former scientist, Sears devotes considerable time to discussion of the science on which he based his theory. Put simply, The Zone diet is a "metabolic state in which the body works at peak efficiency," and that state is created by eating a set ratio of carbohydrates, protein, and fat.
What You Can Eat on The Zone Diet
The Zone diet does not recommend that you eat fewer calories than you're currently consuming, just different ones. Although the book has a complicated and exacting measure of what to eat, it can be simplified as:
- A small amount of protein at every meal (approximately the size of your palm or one small chicken breast) and at every snack (one in the late afternoon, one in the late evening).
- "Favorable" carbohydrates twice the size of the protein portion -- these include most vegetables and lentils, beans, whole grains, and most fruits.
- A smaller amount of carbohydrates if you have chosen "unfavorable" ones -- these include brown rice, pasta, papaya, mango, banana, dry breakfast cereal, bread, bagel, tortilla, carrots, and all fruit juices.
Dairy products are not verboten, but The Zone diet devotes little time to them, except to explain how quickly they release glucose. Sears prefers egg whites and egg substitutes to whole eggs, and low-fat or no-fat cheeses and milk.