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The Zone Diet Review

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How To Eat In The Zone: Following The Zone Diet by Dr. Barry Sears

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The Zone Diet is a slow weight loss plan rather than rapid weight loss.  The diet was created by  Barry Sears, PHD.   The diet is presented as an anti-inflammatory diet, which will improve your health and help you to lose weight.  Your weight loss should be about 1 to 1.5 pounds per week, and the diet says that all your weight loss will be fat, rather than water or muscle.  

Dr. Sears' diet has been a number one New York times best seller and has sold over 2 million copies.

According to the diet, being in the zone,will mean:

Wellness for a longer period of time
 Loss of excess body fat 
 Better performance
 Slowing aging

How does it work?

The diet is based on balancing your plate at each meal and snack.  About 1/3 of your plate should be lean protein, about 2/3 should be carbohydrates and add a small amount of fat (monounsaturated, such as almonds, avocado, or olive oil).  

Your meals and snacks are broken down into 'blocks'.  A block is made up of your choice of a protein, carb, and a fat.

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A block is:

9 grams for carbs is one block....18g = 2....27g = 3
1.5 grams for fat  3g = 2,  4.5g= 3.
7 grams for protein  14g = 2, 21g = 3.

Your size, gender, and condition will determine your daily block needs.
The range is from 10 blocks daily (a small female) to 25 blocks daily (a large active muscular male).  

You will have 3 meals and 2 snacks daily.  You should always eat within one hour of waking, go no longer than 5 hours without eating and have a bedtime snack.

The average woman will be allowed 3 blocks for each meal and 1 for each snack, a total of 11 blocks per day.

The average man will be allowed 5 blocks for each meal and 1 for each snack, a total of 17 blocks daily.

A 3 block meal would mean 3 blocks of carbs (27g) , 3 blocks of fat (4.5g) and 3 blocks of protein (21g).  

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A 3 block meal example is
   
6.7 oz cottage cheese (3 blocks protein)
.5oz (1/8 cup) rolled oats (1 block carbs)
3.7 oz (1 cup) strawberries (1 block carbs)
2.4 oz blueberries (1 block carbs)
9 cocoa almonds (3 blocks fat)

A block guide is provided in the diet along with lots of recipes.  You can find more recipes online. The diet says that the key to an anti-inflammatory meals is to give you 4 to 6 hours of hunger satiety with the least number of calories.  Most recipes are around 400 calories and should satisfy your hunger.  

The Zone Food Pyramid is different than the FDA's.

Grains and Starches are at the top (eat the least)
Monounsaturated fat is next
Low fat protein is in the middle
Fruits
Vegetables are at the bottom (eat the most)

The pyramid claims to help fight inflammation and improve your hormonal balance.

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Being in the Zone includes the diet and supplementing with Omega 3 Fatty acids  and Polyphenols.  The diet website has the supplements, PastaRx, Zone Bars, and more.  You will also find tools such as a grocery guide, eating out tips, and a food journal.

What can you eat and not eat?

Lean protein will include food such as skinless chicken, turkey and fish.

Carbs will mostly be from vegetables and fruits.  

Good fats will come from foods like almonds, olive oil, and avocado.

While there are no foods that are banned, carbs are considered a condiment on this diet. If you are a carb lover, this diet may not work for you.  

High sugars carbs which includes veggies such as corn and carrots and fruits such as bananas and raisins are discouraged.

Red meat and egg yolks are considered to be 'bad' fats.  

Calories matter on this diet.  Women are allowed about 1200 calories, men are allowed 1500 per day.

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Meetings?

The are no in-person meetings.

Vegan or vegetarian?

Yes, this diet is adaptable to either.  Much of the diet is already centered on fruits and vegetables.

Gluten Free?

Yes.  The diet already discourages grains.

Low Salt Diet?

Yes.  The diet is based on fresh ingredients, so foods with added salt are already avoided.

Cost:

Your cost can go up, should you decide to add the Zone supplements or food products.

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Level of difficulty:

This diet is medium to high in difficulty.  The low calories may be a problem for some people, but the variety of recipes should help.  The small amount of grains and pasta may be a problem for carb lovers.

Exercise:

Exercise is recommended.  About 30 minutes daily of aerobic exercise is suggested, such as brisk walking and about 5 to 10 minutes a day of strength training.

Does it work?

You should lose weight.  Although there are no clinical studies or trials to confirm that this diet works, a calorie restrictive diet and exercise should help you to lose weight.  

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Positives:

Lose weight
Eat Healthy
Feel and look better
Reduce your risk of  obese related diseases such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
No food is banned
A long term approach to weight loss
Helpful tools
Lots of recipes
Ask Dr. Sears a question on his Zone website
Slow and steady weight loss
Excellent exercise suggestions
Anti-inflammatory diet

Negatives:

Very little grains such as bread and pasta
Low calorie
Meal Planning
Food Preparation
No packaged foods

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Conclusion:

The diet is healthy and will help you to lose weight gradually.  The exercise guidelines are right in line with the NIH and most experts feel that a one to two pound steady weight loss per week is optimal for good health.  I give the diet a thumbs up, but I do not believe that it is a good fit for many people. The low calories may be a problem and the limited amount of bread, pasta, grains, etc. may be a major obstacle.  If you like carbs and sweets, this diet is probably not a good fit.

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What do you mean, 'Carrots are an unfavorable high sugar vegetable'?

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Dr. Barry Sears - Getting Started on the Zone Diet

Dr. Barry Sears

Dr. Sears is a former research scientist at Boston University School of Medicine.  He has patented 13 drug delivery systems in the field of hormonal regulation.  

Dr. Sears research uses the power of food as if it were a drug.  Dr. Sears has been on numerous TV shows such as Good Morning America, 20/20. Today, CBS Morning News, CNN, and MSNBC.

He is the president of  the Inflammation Research Foundation ( a non profit) and continues his research in the area of how foods affect hormonal balance as well as how foods and diet affect cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and neurological conditions.

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