Get in The Zone – With the Zone Diet
Diets get a bad reputation, particularly those that include calorie counting. But the Zone Diet is teaching people that calorie counting is merely a way to better control portions. A standard for healthy eating habits, portions are often overlooked ‒ yet remain one of the most effective methods for weight loss. Learn how this popular diet works, as well as the benefits and potential results, with our Zone Diet 101.
What is the Zone Diet?
First published in 1995, the Zone Diet was created 30 years ago by biochemist Dr. Barry Sears. Originally developed to prevent early death from heart attacks, it is said to balance hormones and reduce inflammation – which Sears proposes are a factor in weight gain, illness and aging. By keeping your hormones balanced, or “in the zone,” your metabolism will work more efficiently. Dieters are said to lose between 1 to 1.5 pounds of fat a week. To achieve these results, followers eat a ratio of 40% carbohydrates, 30% protein and 30% fat.
Zone Diet Blocks
The Zone Diet can be followed using one of two methods, both of which are equally effective. Beginner – or first-time dieters – may prefer to start with the hand-eye method before progressing to the Zone food blocks. Each is based around a “zone-friendly” plate, with portions from the three major nutrient groups: fat, protein and carbs. First, divide your plate into thirds and fill it as follows:
- One-third of your plate should consist of lean protein, close to the size and thickness of your palm.
- Two-thirds of your plate will be carbs, preferably with a low glycemic index ‒ to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
- A small portion of monounsaturated fats.
The hand-eye method is a simplified version that does not require calorie-counting. By using your palm size and eyes, you can estimate a correct portion size. Your five fingers are a reminder to eat five times a day, and to never go without eating for more than five hours. For example, each meal may consist of the recommended carbs and protein, with a snack of healthy fats in between.
Once you have mastered the hand-eye method, or if you prefer calorie counting, the Zone block method will help you precisely balance every meal. Adult males are recommended around 1,500 calories daily, and adult women 1,200. A Zone block is made up of one of each nutrient block:
- Protein block: 7 grams
- Carb block: 9 grams
- Fat block: 1.5 grams (or 3 grams for a fat-free protein)
The number of zone blocks you consume in a day varies by your weight, height, waist and hip measurements. On average, an adult male will consume 14 Zone blocks a day, while a woman will consume 11. As an example, a typical meal will likely consist of three to five Zone blocks, but a snack will only be one.
Approved Zone Diet Food List:
Lean Protein – Skinless chicken or turkey, fish or shellfish, beef, pork, lamb, egg whites, tofu or soy, cheese, milk or yogurt.
Carbohydrates – Mainly vegetables, some grains and a little fruit – such as peppers, spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, squash, oatmeal, quinoa, couscous, cranberries, guavas, citrus and more.
Fat – Nuts, chia seeds, or natural peanut butter, avocados, oils and tahini.
Foods You Should Avoid:
Unlike most other diets, there are no foods that are banned in the Zone diet. However, the following should be avoided, as they increase inflammation:
High-sugar fruits and vegetables – This group can include bananas, pineapple, raisins, cranberries, peas, potatoes and corn.
Processed foods – From soda, to cereal and bread – this group includes items that are processed, refined or contain added sugars. Other items include pasta, bagels, muffins, cookies, cakes and candy.
Coffee and tea – Acceptable from time-to-time; however, a minimum of eight eight-ounce glasses of water should be consumed daily.
Pros and Cons of The Zone Diet
The Zone Diet is lax, with its own share of pros and cons. It is a long-term diet meant to improve your overall health, rather than stop once a goal is met. For this reason, it is important that you choose a method you are able to maintain. While calories do count, you are not required to count them, unless you choose to do so. When dining out, Zone-friendly plates are easily found. However, you will likely have to plan to take some home. If you prefer eating in, an abundance of recipes and meal plans are available online. And most importantly, you will never go hungry or find yourself bored. Despite being portioned, these meals will keep you full and allow for delicious dining.
At Solutions Weight Loss, we encourage all of our patients to seek a lifestyle change, rather than a temporary diet. Not only will you see long-lasting results, but you will feel them! Dr. Newsome, and our team, can help you achieve your weight loss goals and maintain a healthier life. Everyone is different and deserves personalized recommendations and individualized attention. Contact us today!
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