The Zone Diet
If completely cutting out grains, breads, pastas and dairy are just too much for you, The Zone Diet ® offers a more forgiving approach to eating right that doesn’t completely nix some of your favorite foods. The Zone Diet ® is the creation of Dr. Barry Sears, a former research scientist from the Boston University School of Medicine. He is a leading authority on the dietary control of hormonal response. The Zone Diet ® is where I first started my quest to health and wellness and it was the first real method that gave me significant results. Over the years, I have simply chosen to eliminate a few of the foods allowed on The Zone Diet ®. But make no mistake, this method works great and may be the best choice for someone who is not ready to make drastic dietary changes such as cutting out grains and dairy. Baby steps, right?
The Zone Diet ® focuses on providing foods in the right portions for your body type and activity level. One of the best things about the Zone Diet ® is its emphasis on lowering the body’s inflammatory response to your food. It’s not high or low in anything, but moderate in everything you consume. The Zone Diet ® allows a very wide variety of different foods and places each of the major categories (Proteins, Carbohydrates, Fats, Fruits, etc) into Best Choice, Fair Choice and Poor Choice categories. Yes, you can still have some cheeses, breads and pastas. It does, however, require a bit more preparation and the understanding of some concepts. It’s still pretty easy, though, so don’t fret.
HOW TO GET STARTED:
The official website at www.zonediet.com is truly the best and easiest way to get started. Their website is an amazing resource for the ideals and science behind the plan, recipes and products. I’ve summed up quite a few of the basics for you and will provide some internet links for fast reference while you read through this.
First off, you should register on the website. You have to input some minor information such as your email address and create a password to access the site. They occasionally send you some emails that are full of tips on how to stay “in the zone”. Once you are registered, get a tape measure and take some rough measurements of your body structure. You’ll want to measure your weight (lbs), height (inches), waist (inches), and wrist (inches). Write down these numbers and input them into the Zone Body Fat Calculator. You’ll also need to input your activity level and it will calculate several things for you including your daily “Zone” block numbers.
DERP, WHAT’S A “BLOCK”?
The numbers you get from the Body Fat Calculator indicate the number of “blocks” you should consume per day in your diet. A “block” is simply a portion of food. For example, if you are at 16 blocks, this means you will split up these 16 blocks into your meals for the day. This means you will consume 16 blocks of proteins, 16 blocks of Carbohydrates, and 16 blocks of “good” fats per day. Your food intake may look something like this:
Breakfast: 3 blocks Protein, 3 blocks Carbohydrates, 3 blocks good Fats
Mid-Morning Snack: 2 blocks Protein, 2 blocks Carbohydrates, 2 blocks good fats
Lunch: 4 blocks Protein, 4 blocks Carbohydrates, 4 blocks Good Fats
Mid-Afternoon Snack: 2 blocks Protein, 2 blocks Carbohydrates, 2 blocks good fats
Dinner: 3 blocks Protein, 3 blocks Carbohydrates, 3 blocks good Fats
Before Bed Snack (yes, it is OK to eat before bed):
2 blocks Protein, 2 blocks Carbohydrates, 2 blocks good fats.
*If you count up all the proteins, carbs and fats you’ll see they each equal 16 blocks.
For the first week or two, you’ll be measuring things quite a bit to find out what the correct amounts would be. After that it gets pretty easy to eyeball it.
PRO-TIPS: The following are some good tips to get you on the right track with the Zone Diet.
*Usually, a block is about an ounce, or a small handful.
*Usually a 3 or 4 block portion of protein is the size of your palm.
*Be careful with the fats, because the portions are MUCH smaller. For example, 3 almonds is 1 block of fats.
*You can pre-cook meats and pre-cut fruits and vegetables for fast meals on the go.
*Always plan to have foods available, because when you are hungry, you’ll need food fast. Remember your body will burn EVERYTHING you are eating and store very little, so don’t run on fumes….it sucks.
This meal plan is very effective. It does require a bit of preparation, calculation and understanding of some basic concepts, specifically the idea of eating your food in blocks as stated above. When you’re really looking for a plan that doesn’t eliminate too many meal options, or if you just don’t buy into the idea of no grains or dairy, this is the option for you.