The Zone Diet

by Barry Sears, Ph.D. – The creator of the Zone Diet

What is the Zone?

The Zone is not an abstract place. It is a real physiological state in which our body develops a higher state of metabolic efficiency as a result of improved hormonal balance. Many benefits become possible once you in the Zone: faster loss of excess body (and consequently better long-term weight control), better physical and mental performance, and greater emotional stability. The entry point to the Zone is marked by a specific dietary program and its proper integration with a healthy and active lifestyle.


How to reach the Zone

To achieve these results, it’s necessary to follow a precise path.
The four pillars of this pathway to the Zone are:

  • Following the Zone Diet to achieve better hormonal control
  • Regularly consume long-chain adequate levels of omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) and polyphenols from fruti and vegetables
  • Engage in moderate, but regular and consistent physical activity
  • Adopt mental relaxation tecniques to lower stress levels

What's the easiest way to get started?

Let's say it right away: there’s no magic formula for reaching the Zone, but there is a system.
In fact, gaining access to the Zone must become a way of life in order to maintain its long-term benefits of wellness.
The first step is to make sure that your diet provides you with an adequate daily intake of omega-3 fatty acids and polyphenols either from fruits and vegetables. For many, they will require supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids or polyphenol extracts to achieve the necessary levels to reach the Zone. Without these essential nutrients, it's impossible to stay in the Zone.
Keep in mind, however, that by following a Zone diet, the levels of these nutrients to provide all their benefits can be achieved at even lower concentrations.


How to follow the Zone Diet?

The Zone Diet is a very well-defined dietary strategy. Followed correctly, the Zone diet which reduces calories yet controls hunger without involving nutritional deficiencies. This result is a consequence that most of the carbohydrates used on the Zone diet are primarily fruits and non-starchy vegetables that are rich in micronutrients.
Clinical studies published in the last twenty years have shown that the Zone diet is highly effective in reducing diet-induced inflammation induced by unhealthy diets.


How to eat in the Zone

The first step to following the Zone Diet is to make sure each meal is balanced in carbohydrate, protein, and fat. The easiest way to follow the Zone Diet is using your eye, your hand, and your watch.
Simply start by dividing your plate into three equal parts (that's what the eyes are for). For each of your meals, fill one-third of your plate with an adequate amount (mind you, not too much) of lean, protein-rich foods. What amount? Just keep the palm of your hand as a reference in size and thickness (that's what the hand is for).
You'll then need to balance out these proteins by filling the other two-thirds of the plate with "favorable" carbohydrates, meaning any type of colorful vegetable (artichokes, asparagus, spinach, broccoli...just avoid those carbohydrates high in starches, like potatoes). Finally, you only need a dash of raw, extra virgin olive oil to complete your balanced dish.
If you calculate the percentage of calories in such a meal, you will consume about 40% the total carbohydrates from carbohydrates, 30% from protein, and the remaining 30% from fats in our meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and at least two snacks a day, so as not to fast more than 5 hours during the day). This is why Zone diet is often called the 40-30-30 method.
You could also convert this percentage of calories into grams, is to make sure your meals contain 1 gram of fat for every 2 grams of protein and 3 grams of carbohydrates.
Applying any of these methods will allow for an optimal hormonal response for the next five hours so you are not hungry and yet maximum mental focus.

If you don't suffer from hunger, then consuming fewer calories becomes much easier. That's why following the Zone diet allows us to reduce caloric intake at meals, and consequently, diet-induced inflammation.
The benefits of the Zone diet can be further enhanced as begin to eliminate foods that would reduce the sense of satiety. That is, foods rich in carbohydrates (such as white flours and starches), saturated fats, and omega-6 fatty acids.


Omega-3’s and polyphenols alone aren't enough?

Unfortunately, no. That's because any excess calories or sugars will inhibit the hormonal benefits of omega-3 and polyphenol supplementation.
In practice, it would be like filling a bucket with water – omega-3 and polyphenols represent the water we want to collect, and only the Zone diet can "plug" the holes allowing us to keep essential nutrients in our "bucket."
Only if all four "pillars" work in synergy as a team, can you reach the Zone.


How to know if you are in the Zone?

If the goal is achieved, your body will tell you right away. After your first meal in the Zone, you will start to feel less hungry in the following five hours, thanks to better control of blood sugar levels. After three days, you'll find that you're more alert and responsive throughout the day, thanks to more stable blood sugar levels over time. After seven days, your clothes will fit better because the weight you’re losing will be primarily excess fat that’s accumulated at the waistline. Within two weeks, you'll also be managing your stress levels better, thanks to an improved overall hormonal balance. And if these benefits don't seem like enough already, try adding more energy, both physical and mental..
Achieving these levels of well-being will motivate you to stay in the Zone for as long as possible. In case of some minor deviation from the rules, it will only take a few days to get back on track and continue to enjoy the full benefits of being in the Zone.