zone dietThe Zone Diet is a popular weight loss plan developed by biochemist Barry Sears. The diet is a low carbohydrate diet that claims to balance protein, carbohydrates and fats in a 40%-30%-30% ratio. The Zone Diet is meant to optimise the body’s metabolic function by regulating blood sugar levels. By regulating insulin production the diet claims to maximize fat loss and reduce the chances of cardiovascular disease. The idea is to keep one’s insulin level in “The Zone”.

The Zone’s eating plan is 6 small meals per day of low-fat protein, fats, and carbohydrates in the form of fibre-rich vegetables and fruits. Proteins should be eaten at every meal and snack. Portions of carbohydrates should be twice that of protein. These include vegetables, beans, and whole-grains. “Unfavorable carbohydrates” such as brown rice, pasta, bananas, bagels, etc. should be eaten in smaller portions.

The plans low intake of complex carbohydrates could be deficient in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, and would contain inadequate fiber. The diet plan is very low in calories (typically 800-1200) which is probably the most likely cause for weight loss rather than regulating insulin levels. Dr. Barry Sears, the diet’s author, suggests following the diet 75% of the time (which allows for “cheating”).

The theory behind the diet is that in order to regulate the hormones that cause the body to put on weight, you should eat a certain percentage of carbs, protein and fats. Proponents of the claim this ratio will cause more oxygen to be delivered to the muscles – the condition that many athletes experienced called “the Zone” – and lead to better mental focus and well being.

The concept behind the Zone diet is that food promotes a hormonal response in the body. The idea is that by eating a ratio of 40% carbs, 30% protein and 30% fats, the body will produce more glucagon instead of insulin. Glucagon causes the body to produce “good” eicosanoids while insulin promotes “bad” eicosanoids. The bad eicosanoids is supposedly responsible for a number of illnesses and the accumulation of fat.

The protein to carbohydrate ratio should be 0.75. If you feel hungry while doing the Zone, your meals are likely to be unbalanced. For example, if you are hungry 2 to 3 hours following you meal then you have eaten too many carbohydrates in relation to protein. In order to follow the Zone diet correctly, you should eat 5 to 6 times a day with no more than 5 hours between meals.

As with any diet, you need to make a plan so that you eat the right foods. With the Zone diet, you need to plan out your meals everyday and make sure that you eat the correct ratio of carbs, protein and fats. Keeping a journal will ensure that you stick to this plan. Don’t worry if you have a bad day or week. Just learn from whatever mistakes you made and get back in the Zone as soon as possible.

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