Whether you are hoping to slim down, enhance your health or implement a healthy new lifestyle for you and your family, we encourage you to read this overview of the Zone Diet.
The science-based Zone Nutrition Program developed by Barry Sears, PhD takes an in depth look at the effect insulin has on the body. Dr. Sears explains how you can utilize a balanced diet of protein, fat and carbohydrates, to position your body within a hormonally controlled “Zone” 24 hours a day. By placing yourself in the “Zone,” you can achieve a healthy weight, improve your health and raise your energy level.
The Four Keys to Entering the Zone
There are four key elements to the program:
- The Zone diet
- The use of monounsaturated fats
- Supplementation of diet with Omega-3 fish oils
To begin, let’s first examine the basic theory behind low carb diets:
The consumption of too many carbohydrates causes blood sugar levels to peak. The body then experiences an increase in the production of insulin, which in turn causes blood sugar levels to suddenly dive. The result? Your appetite is spurred and you consume additional calories to counteract your hunger. Suddenly, your clothes, the bathroom mirror and the scale are all sending you the same report – you have gained weight.
But is it that simple? After all, nutrient dense vegetables and fruits are both carbs. Shouldn’t they be a part of a healthy balanced diet? The Zone Program looks at these questions and more – so let’s take a closer look:
Highlights of The Zone Diet
1) The basis of the Zone diet is insulin control. To do so, you must understand that not all carbs affect insulin production in the same way.
Carbohydrates are not all created equal. The important thing to understand is that most vegetables and fruit do not impact your blood sugar levels at the same rate as sugar, pasta or baked potatoes. The key is to eat low density carbs that are also low on the glycemic index.
The other key to staying in the “Zone” is to eat the right combination of protein, fat and carbohydrates at each meal. The ideal ratio of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats is 40-30-30 respectively. By following these guidelines, you can begin to burn your body’s stored supply of fat.
2) The importance of fiber:
Studies have proven the importance of fiber in your diet. In fact, people who eat a diet high in fiber are less likely to be obese. The reason? Fiber cannot be broken into simple sugars, and therefore, does not increase the production of insulin. In addition, foods rich in fiber keep you full longer.
3) You will be reducing your consumption of carbs, while maximizing the nutrients you receive.
A diet in the “Zone” will allow you to enjoy plenty of vegetables that are rich in vitamins and minerals. You will also be able to include fruits in your diet, which provide you with rich anti-oxidant vitamins.
4) Preparing Zone Meals.
The simplest way to prepare a Zone meal is to use the ‘eyeball’ method. Here is what the Zone recommends:
Each meal should consist of protein, fat and carbohydrates (remember, the 40-30-30 rule?) Use your hand to gauge how much protein you require. Your protein portion should be equal to the size and thickness of your palm. Enjoy chicken, lean cuts of red meat, turkey and fish (salmon is just one great way to incorporate Omega 3 Fatty Acids into your diet).
As you already know, there are different types of carbohydrates. We can term each carb as favorable or unfavorable. If your meal will consist of favorable carbohydrates, you get two big loose fists worth of it. However, if you are indulging a craving for whole-wheat pasta, you must limit your carb intake to one tight fist worth.
Finally, add a bit of fat. Enjoy a bit of olive oil drizzled on your salad, a few olives, or snack on a couple of nuts.
That’s it! And remember to eat at least 5 times a day to keep your metabolism revving.