With so many fad diets that come and go, it’s sometimes hard to make an educated decision when it comes to choosing a good eating plan or diet. The Zone Diet is one worth checking out. While many CrossFitters follow the Paleo Diet, there are also many who follow the Zone Diet or better still, combine the two diets.
Biochemist, Dr Barry Sears created The Zone Diet and immensely popularised them in his books. It works with the ultimate goal of controlling your hormones as this area affects your health and well-being. The balancing of your hormones has an influence on body composition, blood chemistry and a lot more.
This method of eating works on a “40:30:30” ratio of calories. In other words, it is 40% carbohydrates, 30% protein and 30% fat. Each food group is measured in blocks and each item in each food group list refers to one block. It also seeks to regulate your food intake so you don’t take in food that is detrimental to the body and in this regard, you will avoid overeating and inflammation. So, it is not really a low carb-high protein diet but rather the right ratio and types of food. The carbs are mostly low glycaemic fruit and vegetables and the protein is from unprocessed or natural meats.
The Zone that Sears refers to as a metabolic state in which the body works at peak efficiency achieved through the “40:30:30” ratio. It is your optimal level of cellular inflammation. Sears is adamant that the underlying cause of weight gain, the acceleration of chronic disease and decreased physical, emotional and mental performance is actually excess cellular inflammation.
Sears proclaims that following this diet can assist with athletic performance and various ailments. Ingesting the correct ratio of carbohydrates, protein and fats will allow you to regulate three important hormones (insulin, glucagon and eicosanoids). Excess insulin can make and keep you fat. Glucagon is a mobilisation hormone that assists with stabilised blood sugar levels. Eicosanoids control silent inflammation.
The diet especially works well when you consume high-purity omega-3 fatty acids in the form of high quality fish oil as well as polyphenols. To get a better grasp of how to eat the Zone Diet way, consider the following: when you sit down to a meal, divide your plate into three portions. The first portion can have a protein like chicken, fish, cheese etc. Take cognisance of the portion. Its size should not exceed the size of your palm.
The other two thirds can be filled with colourful carbohydrates consisting of non-starchy vegetables and fruits. Lastly, add a small bit of fat that is low in saturated fat and omega-6 fat (e.g. olive oil, nuts, guacamole etc.). A Zone Diet meal should ideally keep you full for about four to six hours. Carbohydrates such as breads, pasta and rice are frowned upon because they release glucose quickly.
There are some critics and scholars who take shots at this diet as they argue that there is not enough evidence to support Sear’s claims. However there are scores of Zone Diet advocates who will tell you otherwise. Like any effective diet, the best results will emerge if you exhibit discipline and engage in some sort of physical activity (CrossFit, Olympic weightlifting, etc.).
What diets have you tried? What were the results?