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Level of Effort: Medium continued...

Cooking and shopping: There are at least a dozen Zone cookbooks, by Sears and others. You can also find scores of free recipes, along with grocery lists, a Zone food journal, and dining-out tips.

Packaged foods and meals? None required, although the Zone web site does sell Zone meals.

In-person meetings: No.

Exercise: The diet recommends "moderate but consistent exercise" -- for example, 30 minutes of aerobic exercise every day (brisk walking is recommended) along with 5 to 10 minutes a day of strength training.

Does It Allow for Restrictions/Preferences?

Vegetarians and vegans: With two-thirds of your plate filled with fruits and veggies, the Zone Diet is an easy fit for vegetarians or vegans.

It's also easy to be gluten-free on The Zone, since the diet strongly discourages eating wheat, barley, and rye products. However, you'll still need to check food labels carefully to completely avoid gluten.

Low-salt diet: With an emphasis on fresh ingredients rather than high-sodium processed foods, maintaining a low-salt diet while on the Zone shouldn't be a challenge.

What Else You Should Know

Cost: None beyond your shopping.

Support: There are no official online groups. But the Zone web site provides "Zone tools" including a food journal, grocery guide, dining-out tips, and recipes.

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