The Zone Diet – created by Dr. Barry Spears
The Zone Diet was created by Dr. Barry Spears based on the idea that even if the human race has evolved over time, our genes are still those of the hunter-gatherer. Our ancestors gathered fruits and vegetables and occasionally catch some animals to feed themselves. They did it for such a long time that we are now genetically programmed to feed ourselves the same way: with lean proteins and natural carbohydrates. Since it is not in our genes to consume large amounts of processed carbohydrates, we experience weight gain, insulin fluctuations, diabetes, and heart disease when we overeat. Eating too many carbohydrates leads to excess of insulin, the hormone that helps control our blood sugar levels, making us fat. By keeping our levels of insulin in a tight ‘zone’, the body burns fat more efficiently so that we lose weight.
The Zone Diet takes into account our genetic makeup. Put simply, the Zone says our intake of food should consist of 40% carbohydrate, 30% fat and 30% protein. During this diet it is not important the number of calories, but the way we structure our meals. The food we eat should consist of:
- Proteins for each meal, including for snacks (ex: one serving: a small chicken breast);
- Carbohydrates- a serving should be a little less than twice the size of the protein portion;
- Good fat- a small portion.
To create balanced meals, the zone diet uses as a unit of measure the block.
- 7 grams of protein = 1block of protein;
- 9 grams of carbohydrate = 1 block of carbohydrate;
- 1.5 grams of fat = 1 block of fat.
When a meal is composed of equal blocks of protein, carbohydrate, and fat, it is 40 % carbohydrate, 30 % protein and 30% fat.
Here’s how the eating plan should look like:
|Body type||Breakfast||Lunch||Snack||Dinner||Snack||Total daily blocks|
Zone Diet´s tips:
- Have a Zone meal or snack no later than one hour after you wake up in the morning
- Interval between meals should be between 4 to 6 hours
- Have a meal between 2 to 2.5 hours after a snack – regardless of how hungry you are
- Consume eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day
- Start the meal/snack with low-fat protein. Then add good carbohydrates with a low glycemic index, such as vegetables and fruits, plus good fats, such as olive oil or avocado
- Typical meal protein should weigh about 4 ounces for men and 3 ounces for women.
The Pros of Zone Diet:
- The Zone Diet promotes eating healthy products, like fruits, and nuts, avocado and olive oil.
- It seems that once you enter “the zone”, you will lose weight slow, but permanent.
- The main purpose of this diet plan (balancing insulin and glucagon) is fundamentally correct. Maintaining optimal levels of certain human hormones, such as insulin is very important not only for ensuring weight loss, but for preventing diabetes and other insulin-related diseases.
The Cons of Zone Diet:
- It is a little complicate to measure exactly the 40/30/30 ratio; some may find it time consuming and inconvenient.
- The daily caloric intake is determined by your protein requirements, which can lead to incredibly low daily caloric intake. When you follow the diet precisely, you will be eating 1100-1400 calories/day, so it is absolutely normal to lose weight with such a small caloric intake.
- It is not scientifically proven that the 40/30/30 zone ratio is the perfect balance for your daily eating plan.
- The traditional approach to eating states that a diet is well-balanced if 60% of calories are derived from carbohydrates, 30% – from fats and 10% – from proteins.
Ask the medical advice of your personal physician or of a nutritionist before trying any kind of diet.