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The Zone Diet

The Zone Diet RecipesIf you’ve picked up an entertainment magazine or flipped on the TV in the past five years, you probably know that the Zone Diet is all the rage amongst Hollywood elite. But what is this diet? Can you create your own Zone Diet recipes? What does a day “in the zone” look like? And is this one of the best diets for your health? Read on for answers.

History of the Zone Diet

In the 1970s, Zone Diet creator Barry Sears’s father diet from a heart attack at just 53 years old. At the time, Dr. Sears was doing his postdoctoral research at the University of Virginia on the molecular structure of fat. In the wake of his father’s untimely death, Dr. Sears redirected his research to the relationship between fats and cardiovascular disease. Over the next two decades, he researched the prevention of heart disease, and concluded that the control of eicosanoids (hormone-like substances) is key. One result of his research was the belief that food and drugs aren’t that different: you have to take the right dose of each, at the right time, for them to work properly. And thus, the Zone Diet was born.

Science behind the Zone Diet plan

Sears, a biochemist, says that insulin and other hormones cause inflammation – what Sears identifies as a driver of the obesity epidemic – and makes people gain weight. Therefore, the science behind his diet is relatively simple: stay “in the zone” of proper hormone levels, and you’ll shed pounds until you reach a healthy weight. And when you’re in the zone, the right proportions mean 1,200-1,500 daily calories distributed as 40 percent carbs, 30 percent protein, and 30 percent fat.

Zone Diet recipes & sample meal plan

Women on The Zone Diet are restricted to 1,200 calories while men get a slight bump up to 1,500 calories per day. Nevertheless, Sears claims that dieters don’t need any fancy tools or complicated calculations – all you need are your eyes and hands. For each meal, divide your plate into three equal sections, one each for carbs, healthy fats, and protein. In each section, measure one portion – calculated as what you can fit in the palm of your hand.

For lean proteins, you’re encouraged to enjoy chicken breast, fish, turkey, and eggs. Carbs are encouraged to be colorful, so fresh fruits and vegetables are emphasized. Likewise, fats are restricted to healthy fats, like nuts, fish oils, avocado and olive oil. Putting this into practice, a sample Zone Diet menu would look like this:

  • Breakfast: 6 egg-white omelet with mixed vegetables (example: asparagus and mushrooms) and cooked in 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • Lunch: Fresh green salad topped with 3 ounces of grilled chicken breast; topped with 2 tbsp. olive oil and balsamic vinegar
  • Snack: ¼ cup low-fat yogurt or cottage cheese mixed with ½ cup pineapple or strawberries; topped with 1 tsp. slivered almonds
  • Dinner: Almond-crusted salmon, 2 cups steamed vegetables, and 1 cup mixed berries
  • Snack/Dessert: 8 ounces red wine with 1 ounce gourmet cheese

Pros and cons of the Zone Diet

There is little research into the short- and long-term effects of the Zone Diet, but some evidence suggests that it may help reduce cholesterol and improve cardiovascular health. Additionally, while some suggest that the plan helps regulate insulin levels, no research exists to support claims of positive effects on diabetics. However, it is true that shedding pounds and maintaining a healthy body weight are beneficial to diabetics and non-diabetics alike – and at 1,200-1,500 calories a day, you’ll likely lose weight.

But that calorie count is one of the biggest problems with the Zone Diet. At 1,200 calories for women a 1,500 calories for me, you’ll consume just two-thirds to three-quarters the generally recommended calories for healthy people. Additionally, the efficacy of the Zone Diet’s “magic” ratio – 40 percent carbs: 30 percent protein: 30 percent fat – has been questioned by nutrition research. And finally, sticking to the diet’s daily mandated calories, no matter how delicious your Zone Diet recipes, can be very difficult. And though for some the Zone diet plan has been the answer to how to lose weight fast, the burnout factor is high.

Best diets for you

Strict diet rules and severe calorie restrictions can make long-term weight loss difficult, if not impossible. That’s why the world’s best diets are the ones that feel most natural to you. What do you like to eat? How often do you get hungry? Do you prefer big meals or snacks throughout the day? The best diet for weight loss is not one-size-fits-all. That’s why physician-guided programs, which are customized to each dieter’s needs and preferences, have produced some of the most successful weight loss results.

Physician-assisted diet programs, like those provided through The Center for Medical Weight Loss, are customized to each individual. That means that they’re created based on your favorite foods and preferred exercise, as well as your medical history and lifestyle. Even more, your nutrition professional will act as your coach and cheering section, both guiding and encouraging you along the way.

Get started on the path to a healthier you today. Just enter your zip code in the box at the right, and find the Center nearest you. Don’t forget to ask about special introductory offers available to first-time visitors at select locations.