What do I think about the zone diet– a question that many of you ask.
What is the Zone diet?
First of all, let’s get clear what is the Zone, for those of you that aren’t familiar with this nutrition plan.
The Zone is a nutrition plan, created by Dr. Barry Sears. The goal of the diet is to sustain a hormonal balance in your body. According to him, everything comes up to sustaining the balance between insulin and glucagon. Insulin is the so called “storage” hormone, and glucagon is “the releasing” hormone. In Dr. Sears’ opinion, sustaining the balance between insulin and glucagon has a direct correlation with blood sugar levels, body fat levels and weight balance. By sustaining this hormonal balance, we could stay healthy and be in the Zone… or at least this is what Dr. Sears claims.
Being in the Zone, depend on what we eat. Dr. Sears makes the conclusion that this balance, could be achieved if the food we eat, corresponds to a proportion in the macronutrients as follows: 40% carbs; 30% proteins; 30% fats.
Dr. Sears has a formula, that helps you calculate the quantity of blocks, that you are supposed to eat. The calculation is made by using a coefficient for your present level of physical activity, as well as your present level of fitness- measured by your body fat percentage. This said in a simpler manner, means that the number of food blocks for the particular day is equal to 10% of your active weight (muscles and organs) measured in pounds. For example if you are 185 pounds and you have 10% body fat, then you should eat about 17 blocks a day.
The total amount of blocks- in this case 17, is being distributed in all your meals. The zone recommends between 5-6 meals a day.
Using our example, this would mean that the meals could be arranged like this:
1 meal: 4 blocks
2 meal: 4 blocks
3 meal : 2 blocks
4 meal: 4 blocks
5 meal: 3 blocks
What do these blocks mean?
Meals that consist of 1 block:
This means that you have to choose one block from every macronutrient. Every block corresponds to a particular amount of food- in grams or pieces.
Two blocks, would mean that you should choose a quantity that is equal to 2 times 1 block protein; 2 times 1 bloack fats; 2 times 1 block carbs.
Three blocks, would mean, that you will choose a quantity, that is equal to 3 times 1 block protein; 3 times 1 block fat; 3 times 1 block carbs.
How much of each macronutrient is in each block?
7 grams of protein = 1 block.
14 grams = 2 blocks.
21 grams = 3 blocks.
9 grams of carbs = 1 block.
18 grams = 2 blocks.
27 grams = 3 blocks.
1.5 grams of fat = 1 block.
3 grams = 2 blocks.
4.5 grams = 3 blocks.
Here you can see a table with food quantities and the corresponding blocks.
If a particular meal consists of 4 blocks, you should eat all blocks in one meal, i.e. you can’t leave a couple blocks of fat or carbs for a later meal. Actually you can do everything, but you are not supposed to do it if you follow the Zone and if your goal is to keep the macronutrient proportions.
The blocks are created with the mere goal to make your calculations easier, while they guarantee you that you will keep the balance between proteins, carbs and fats.
Examples in pictures.
This is enough as a basic information for the Zone. Now, we will get straight to my conclusions, based on my personal experience with the Zone.
What did I learn from my experience with the Zone diet?
About three-four years ago, when I just got interested in the science of nutrition, I read Barry Sears’ book and I decided to try the Zone. I sticked with it for about 5-6 months. I will save my long explanations and stories and I will try to list my conclusions below: (more…)