Zone Diet is a diet regime created by the American biochemist Barry Sears, who became very famous in the 1990s, but is followed and enjoyed even today. How does this diet work? What is possible to eat and what are its possible contraindications?
The Zone Diet is a rather complex system of weight loss based on Sears’ biochemical theories that initially aimed to treat type 2 diabetes or patients with heart disease but then noted that the benefits of this diet could also help weight loss and increase in energy. As? Acting on a hormonal level with a diet thought to be ad hoc.
This is a recommended nutrition program for those who want to increase their physical performance but at the same time take care of healthy eating health.
Let us know what are the principles on which the diet is based.
HOW ZONE DIET WORKS
The first thing to know about the Zone Diet is what Sears understands by “zone.” This term may erroneously suggest that it is a type of diet that causes weight loss in a particular area, specific area of the body. But in fact, this has nothing to do.
The “zone” in pharmacological terms is the amount of fair medicine needed to be effective. According to Sears, the drug we have par excellence is food, and we must use it as a medicine according to dosage types, quantity and times of “administration”, with the goal of achieving the highest level of psychophysical health .
The “zone” is, therefore, the ideal condition in which our organism can work to the maximum of its efficiency.
It is a diet that does not care about calories, but considers it important to regulate the production of hormones.
Specifically with the right food, one can stimulate the production of eicosanoids, hormones that enhance the metabolism and functionality of the body.
This diet specifies a precise proportion of daily intake of macronutrients, carbohydrates, proteins and fats to be divided into each meal in the following percentages: 40% carbohydrate, 30% protein and 30% fat.
It is also essential to know the foods that stimulate insulin and reduce insulin consumption. Sears reports food dividing it into favorable, unfavorable or limited based on the glycemic index they have.
Specifically, the method developed by Sears allows the production of insulin in an optimal amount to ensure that the body’s metabolism is enjoyed to its fullest.
As for carbohydrates, this is their subdivision:
All vegetables – except potatoes, pumpkin, carrot, beet
all fruit except banana, mango, papaya, watermelon, cocoa, dried grapes, dried dates and dried figs
red wine (in moderation)
Carbohydrates to be limited
cereals and derivatives (bread, pasta, rice, etc.)
fruits and vegetables previously excluded
Carbohydrates to avoid
sugary drinks, soft drinks, industrialized beverages
During the day, in order to maintain stable hormonal production, the food is divided into 3 main meals, plus 2 snacks (these also need to respect the proportion of nutrients), one of which is unusual, ie it should be made around half an hour before bed. It is also essential in this diet not to spend more than 5 hours without eating.
This diet should also be associated with: omega 3 supplements, physical activity and daily stress control (useful for reducing cortisol).
THE BLOCKS SYSTEM
The most difficult in this diet are the calculations to be made to understand how to structure your own diet that is customized based on the lean mass of the individual and the issue of having a more or less busy or sedentary lifestyle.
The dietary needs of each person are determined from the calculation of the daily proteins, but obviously other nutrients must also be taken into account, according to the pattern of so-called “blocks” designed by Sears.
Each block is composed of 3 microblocks representing the 3 macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates and fats).
The miniblock of proteins is estimated at 7 grams, that of carbohydrates in 9 grams, while that of fat, 3 grams.
While snacks consist of a single block, the main meals are made with several blocks, according to the characteristics of the person who follows the diet
The necessary proteins are calculated following the following scheme
Lean mass in kg x index of physical activity.
In this way, one reaches the amount of protein in grams. This is then divided by 7 (each block of proteins is, in fact, equal to 7 g), thus obtaining the number of blocks required per day.
You can not go down below 11 blocks to avoid that the diet is very hypocaloric.
It is a somewhat complicated system and not easy to understand by a person who suddenly decides to do a diet therefore it is always better to rely on a professional if you want to try to lose weight by doing the Zone Diet.
Alternatively, there is a simpler calculation of nutrients to be made using the palm: Each meal should be made with foods that contain enough protein that fits in the palm of the hand; carbohydrates corresponding to twice the amount of proteins if of the group of the favorable or in equal amount (one hand) if of the group of the limited carbohydrates.
In short, the basics of the Zone Diet are:
- Divide each meal into 40% carbohydrates, 30% protein, 30% fat
- Consume 3 main meals and 2 snacks (one of these, half an hour before going to bed)
- Never stay more than 5 hours without eating
- Make breakfast in half an hour after waking up
- Choosing Low Glycemic Foods
- Reduce saturated fat
- To deal with stress
- Do moderate physical activity
- Integrate omega 3
ZONE DIET: OR THAT EAT
The Zone Diet allows eating different foods, and of fundamental importance are fruits and vegetables that should be consumed in large quantities to ensure that insulin is gradually stimulated without peaks or falls.
Very important is also the intake of proteins that must come mainly from white meat, fish, eggs and legumes.
Carbohydrates, however, are very limited due to their glycemic index, while fat is preferable to vegetable origin such as olive oil, walnuts or avocado.
Some foods are banned or heavily restricted in this diet. They are sweets, cereals and other high glycemic products like pasta, rice, bread, refined cereals, but also saturated fats, caffeine and alcohol.
So to recap, the recommended foods are:
- Vegetables (vegetables in general, except potatoes, squash, carrots and beets)
- Fruits (except the very sweet ones like bananas, figs, grapes)
- White meat
- Legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas, etc.)
- Olive oil
- Nuts, hazelnuts
- Fish oil
Unacceptable or severely restrictive foods are:
- Refined cereals
- Fruit juice
- Alcoholic beverages
- Soft drinks
- Fatty cheeses
- Red meat
DIET OF THE ZONE, CARDIO
As we said, the Zone Diet is a type of diet to be personalized based on the individual characteristics of each person.
It is planned through a “block” scheme that follows a 40:30:30 ratio of carbohydrates, proteins and fats which is not easy to do alone without the help of a professional. However, here is an example of a menu of a day of those who follow this diet:
- Breakfast: yogurt, fresh or dried fruits
- Snack: fresh fruits of those allowed, boiled egg, yogurt, lean ham or similar or fresh ricotta.
- Lunch: chicken breast with mixed cooked vegetables or salad seasoned with oil and vinegar
- Dinner: fish with salad or vegetables, tofu or omelette with other vegetables. You can add some cereals like oats, barley, etc.
- Snack: (half an hour before bedtime): fresh fruit allowed, yogurt, boiled egg, lean ham, turkey breast or fresh ricotta.
The Zone Diet is excessively hyperproteic and therefore can carry with it, especially if it lasts for a long time, all the disadvantages of a very unbalanced diet in favor of protein, particularly overloading the kidneys and liver, which can cause problems in these organs.
In addition, most nutritionists agree that this diet, in addition to not being nutritionally correct, is not very effective, and many believe that Dr. Sears’ hormonal theory is not properly substantiated.
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