What is The Zone Diet?

The Zone Diet was introduced in 1995 by Dr. Barry Sears, PhD. through his book “Zone Diet: Enter the Zone”. According to Dr.Sears, balancing your body’s hormonal levels is the main key for you to becoming healthy as well as maintaining your health. “The Zone” is a state of hormonal balance, where the hormone insulin is kept at equilibrium, and calorie burning is maximized. According to the book, one can achieve this state by following a diet with a fixed ratio between carbohydrates, proteins and fat, which is 40:30:30 respectively. Therefore, the Zone diet plan is also known as the 40-30-30 eating plan.

Carbohydrates and Overweight

The strategy of Zone diet calls for a return to the very old-time diet, where fruits, vegetables and meats are mainly consumed, while grains are less common. It claims that human evolution has introduced grains and starches into our daily diet (such as rice, pasta, bread, and potatoes), and these extra carbohydrates have caused imbalance and led to overweight. Too much carbohydrate in the diet will increase the production of insulin by the pancreas, which will cause our body to store more fat.

How Does The Zone Diet Work? A Good Balance of Eicosanoids

Eicosanoids are “powerful” hormones as they will affect the synthesis of other hormones in our body, they are our body’s cellular check and balance system. These eicosanoids have opposing actions. To obtain good health, there must be a BALANCE between these opposing actions. An imbalance of eicosanoids will lead to various body reactions such as allergies, asthma, chronic infection and many other diseases.

These powerful eicosanoids are controlled by the hormone insulin as well as dietary fats. This means that we can control the balance of eicosanoids by consuming the right amount of Omega-6 and Omega-3 of polyunsaturated fatty acids, and at the same time maintaining the balance between the hormone insulin and glucagon.

The zone diet aims to control insulin by keeping the levels within “The Zone”. It also encourages the daily intake of a particular ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acids. Doing these, it will help ensure both insulin and eicosanoids are under control, and subsequently, lead to good health.

The Importance of Proper Meal Time Planning 

The Zone diet emphasizes on proper meal time planning so that the proteins and carbohydrates consumed can be properly utilized by our bodies throughout the day. A well-planned Zone diet should have at least 3 main Zone meals, 1 or 2 Zone snacks between the meals and 1 late-night snack. The Zone meal you eat should be able to keep you in the zone for about 4 to 5 hours, while for Zone snack is about 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

It is important to eat all the meals and snacks as planned even though you are not feeling hungry, so as to make sure that you are always staying in the zone. Also, you must make sure that you have your morning breakfast no later than 1 hour after waking up, and your late-night snack within 1 hour before going to sleep. 

The Zone Diet Plan and Exercise

Though this diet plan does not emphasize on the importance of daily exercise, an 80/20 rule is suggested, which is 80% diet and 20% exercise. The best form of exercise is a routine that you can carry out regularly, such as a 30-minutes slow walk or slow jog in the park. You may also add some weight training to your routine.

An important thing to remember is to have a Zone snack 30 minutes before starting any exercise, this will help set the hormonal stage to trigger the burning of body fats when the workout begins.

If you are doing weight training, try doing this in the morning and limit the training time to 45 minutes. Eat another Zone snack within half an hour after the training ends, and have your Zone meal no later than 2 hours.