Diet Review: The Zone Diet
About the Zone Diet
Celebrities like Madonna, Demi Moore and Jennifer Aniston
swear by the results of the Zone Diet (created by Barry Sears, PhD.). The Zone
Diet contains 40%
carbohydrate, 30% protein and 30% fat and is also known as the 40-30-30 plan.
The Zone Diet works on the premise that 100,000 years ago, we were meat eaters
and our bodies was designed to handle the demands of a meat-based diet. As
we have evolved, more carbohydrates have been introduced into our daily diet,
causing an imbalance. The reason for our extra weight could be attributed
to the many grains and starches in our diet (pasta, rice, breads, and potatoes).
The Zone Diet’s strategy calls for a return to the diets of our ancestors
where meat, fruits and vegetables are the main dietary items.
How Does The Zone Diet Work?
The Zone Diet works by working the right ratio of carbohydrates to proteins
and fats in order to control the insulin in the bloodstream. Too much of
the hormone (insulin) can increase fat storage and inflammation in the body
(conditions that are associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease).
Sears asserts that by using the Zone Diet you are actually optimising the
body’s metabolic function. Through the regulation of blood sugar, you
allow your body to burn excess body fat.
The Zone Diet does not actually
prohibit you from any particular food group; however food with high fat and
carbohydrates such as grains, starches, and pastas should be avoided. Fruits
and vegetables are the preferred source of carbs and monounsaturated fats
(such as olive oil, almonds, avocados) are the ideal choice of fats. The
Zone Diet claims to use food as a drug for overall good health, weight loss
and prevention or management of heart disease and diabetes.
Sears says that
you can test to see whether you are ‘hormonally’ correct by eating
following the Zone diet and see how you feel four hours later. To simplify
the Zone Diet, fill one-third of a plate with low-fat protein, and then two-thirds
with fruits and vegetables.
The Debate on the Zone Diet
The Zone Diet has neither been rejected nor endorsed by health organisations.
Some health experts see some elements of the Zone Diet as favourable, especially
the low-fat content. The ADA (American Dietetic Association) sees the Zone
Diet as just another fad diet. Some health experts argue that there are safer
diets such as the ‘5 A Day’ program (which encourage people to
consume five servings of fruits and vegetables a day).
The Zone Diet: For:
- The Zone Diet features good amounts of
fruits and low starch vegetables and is low in saturated fats;
- Restricts low
nutrition carbohydrates; and
- If followed correctly allows for steady weight
The Zone Diet: Against
- Complicated and scientific;
- Restricts calorie intake means it’s hard
to stay on
- Eliminates some essential vitamins and minerals found in certain
- Expensive to follow
- Time consuming and inconvenient
Advocates of the Zone Diet
Advocates for the Zone Diet include celebrities and also some health experts
who say that the Zone’s recommendations don’t stray far from
the USDA’s (United States Dietary Association) dietary guidelines.
Critics have argued that the Zone Diet has flawed ratios but Sears argues
that the Zone diet is really a low glycemic-load diet that has adequate protein.
Sears also defends the criticism that Zone Diet is too complicated. He believes
this is a misconception because his first book on the Zone Diet was targeted
to cardiologists who were more scientifically-oriented.
Critics of the Zone Diet
The AHA (American Heart Association) classifies the Zone Diet as high protein
and does not recommend the Zone Diet for weight loss. They assert that the
Zone Diet has not been proven effective in the long term for weight loss.
They issued an official recommendation warning against diets like the Zone
Diet. They believe that the Zone Diet is hazardous as it restricts the intake
of essential vitamins and minerals present in certain foods. They are concerned
that the protein ratio in the Zone diet is too high even if the minimal fat
ratio is good. Robert H. Ecker M.D of the A.H.A., finds the Zone Diet’s
theory on insulin flawed and argues that there is no scientific proof that
the hormone insulin plays a big role in weight regulation.