All you need to know about Zone diet
“I have tried everything and still I didn’t lose any weight”. “I just hate the feeling of not being able to cut down no matter what I do.” Do these statements sound familiar to you? Does looking good mean you have to work hard and exercise only? Or can we incorporate some fabulous diets in our day to day schedule and make a long term change? Are you looking for a diet that can help you burn calories even while sleeping and without feeling hungry?
Then you should follow the zone diet. Zone diet was a rage with many Hollywood celebrities like Demi Moore, Jennifer Aniston, Sandra Bullock and Jessica Parker in the early 90’s. They followed this diet to maintain their body and look beautiful.
What is Zone?
The zone is the physiological state in which hormones are balanced to support the healthy inflammatory response. Excess cellular inflammation is the underlying cause of weight gain, chronic diseases and decreased physical, mental and emotional performance.
The zone diet was created by Dr. Barry Sears and is concerned with controlling the elevated hormones in the body. According to Dr. Barry Sears, the key to weight loss is by achieving proper hormone balance and keeping the blood sugar levels stable. Elevated levels of insulin help to control blood sugar while other hormones promote inflammation, leading to weight gain. He believes this is the major cause of obesity in people today. By regulating the blood sugar level and keeping the insulin levels in the tight zone, the body can burn fat more efficiently.
Thus, the aim of the zone diet is to make insulin and hormones stay in the right zone – neither being too high nor too low. This can be achieved by maintaining a perfect balance of carbohydrates, fats and protein. Achieving this balance means following a low carbohydrate and high protein diet along with moderate fat consumption. Our body needs the right balance of these nutrients to operate at its best and stay slim.
Zone diet does not promise dramatic weight loss. However, you can easily lose one to two pounds in the first week. The diet plan also claims that the weight loss will be all fat and not water or muscle. The diet also proclaims that it can help enhance the mental productivity and delay the signs of aging.
How does the Zone Diet work?
The diet recommends dividing our meals into eating five a day. Three of which are meals and two are snacks. Each meal should ideally comprise about 40% of carbohydrates, 30% fat and 30% protein. While preparing the dinner, divide your plate into 3 sections. Place a low fat protein rich food in one section, not more than the size of your palm. Fill the other two sections with carbohydrate rich foods like vegetables and whole grains. Add a little olive oil and nuts to boost the mono-unsaturated fat intake. The daily recommended amount of calories is 1200 for women and 1500 for men.
A right balance of protein, fats and carbohydrates controls the three essential hormones namely insulin, glucagon and eicosanoids.
Insulin is a storage hormone. Regulation of insulin in our body is necessary as excess of it can make us fat and accelerate inflammation.
Glucagon is a mobilization hormone that sends signals to our body to release stored carbohydrates at a steady rate. This leads to stabilized blood sugar levels.
These hormones control the silent inflammation. They are the master hormones that orchestrate an array of other hormones in the body.
How effective is the zone diet for weight loss?
According to the research reports, the Zone diet is moderately effective for weight loss. The scientific evidence casts doubt on the efficacy of its carb/protein and fat ratio for weight loss.
The evidence on the effects of the zone diet on the heart health is scant, but it is believed that the diet can help to bring down the cholesterol levels. The intake of lean protein and healthy fats as recommended by the diet, which prevent the absorption of low-density lipoprotein in the blood. It also encourages the production of good cholesterol in the blood.
Zone diet targets obesity, one of the main causes of diabetes. A healthy weight management keeps type 2 diabetes at bay. The diet also emphasis consumption of the right food and discourages eating the wrong ones.
How easy is it to follow?
People often find it difficult to follow the zone diet. The Zone diet’s eating schedule- breakfast within one hour after waking up and then eating every five hours seems daunting to some people. People also find dividing the food in carbohydrate- protein and fat tedious and time consuming. You have to follow the 30% protein, 30% fat, and 40% carbohydrates rule at every meal or snack. You cannot eat high amounts of protein at lunch or carbohydrates for breakfast. It has to be balanced for the diet to work.
The Zone diet experts emphasize greatly on the importance of satiety. Hunger is not a problem with this diet, as you do not need to go more than five hours without eating. This will prevent blood sugar spike and hunger pangs from striking.
The diet does not compromise on taste. The recipes mentioned in the book range from blueberry pancake to cheese wine. Occasional splurging is ok, but you have to get back on track the next day. You can also customize the diet according to your needs.
Too much emphasize in not laid on exercises in the Zone diet. According to Dr. Sears, exercise is required for weight maintenance, not weight loss. The mainstream community does not agree with this viewpoint. Most of the experts recommend at least 2 ½ hours of moderate exercise daily, whether for losing weight or for general health. Physical activity and exercise also reduce the risk of developing heart problems and other chronic diseases.
Food Sources for Zone Diet:
Each snack and meal should have some protein in it. Each protein serving should be around 4 ounces for men and 3 ounces for women. Eat a mix of low fat protein like fish, turkey, skinless chicken and nuts.
The carbohydrate portion of the meal or snack should be about twice than the protein portion. You can find favorable carbohydrates in vegetables, beans, whole grains and fruits.
The meal or snack should include some good fats like the fat found in avocados, nuts and olive oil. Only a small amount of fat is permitted in this diet.
What not to eat?
No food is completely banned in the zone diet, but fruits high in sugar and carbohydrates like banana, corn, carrots and raisins should be avoided. These foods lie in the “unfavorable list” in the Zone diet plan. Fatty red meat and egg yolk fall in the “bad fats” list. Refined grain products like pasta, bread, tortilla and starches should be used as condiments rather than the main or side dish.
Rules you should follow:
Staying in the Zone requires you to stick to some rules. The rules include:
- You are supposed to eat breakfast within one hour of waking up.
- Do not give a gap of more that 5 hours between meals.
- You need to have a snack before bedtime.
- Have a meal between 2 to 2.5 hours of snacking, regardless of how hungry you are.
- Try to assess your hunger level before every meal or snack.
- Drink 8 ounces of water daily.
- Start the meal with a low fat and protein food. Follow it with low glycemic index food like fruits and good fats.
For the vegetarians:
Vegetarians and vegans can easily follow the zone diet without any discomfort. The two thirds of the plate requires you to fill with fruits and vegetables, making it fit for the vegetarians. Tofu, lentils and paneer are excellent meat substitutes. You can also be gluten free in this diet as it discourages eating barley, wheat and rye products.
The number of zone food blocks you should have each day is calculated according to the dieter’s weight, waist, hip circumference and height. You can mix and match the blocks according to your needs.
- A 1- block meal provides one choice from the protein list, one from the carbohydrate list and one from the fat list.
- A 2-block meal consists of two choices from each list.
- A 3-block meal consists of three choices from each list.
Creating meals and snacks that have the correct number of zone food blocks can be quite daunting. You will definitely need a zone diet book to put these meals together. According to the zone diet book, each block contains a standardized amount of protein, fat and carbohydrate. A number of blocks are also allocated for each meal and snack. The zone book also lists some healthy recipes. There are at least a dozen of Zone cookbooks for you to refer. You will find several free recipes along with the grocery list and dining out tips. If you still find it hard, then you can purchase prepackaged zone diet meals and snacks over the internet.
Pros of Zone diet:
- The zone diet has fewer dietary restrictions as compared to other low carb diet plan.
- It recommends eating more fruits and vegetables.
- The diet recommends giving up on junk and processed foods like chips, cakes, chocolate and biscuits from your diet.
- Eating monounsaturated fatty acids is heart healthy too.
Cons of Zone Diet:
- The zone diet is very complicated and time consuming for you follow it properly. You will need to invest in the Zone diet book and a set of measuring scales and spoons. It can turn the mealtime into chores.
- Zone diet recommends eliminating nutritious foods like wholegrain cereals and cheese. These foods are packed with fiber, vitamins and other essential nutrients.
- Prepackaged zone foods are very expensive.
Losing weight surely has never been a cake walk but it isn’t difficult too. All you need is determination and follow the well known saying “ where there is a will, there is a way”. So, people choose your diet smartly and get started. Flaunt an awesome bikini ready body for your next holiday season. We hope this article did help you in clearly understanding the complexities of zone diet. We would love to know your views.