THE ZONE DIET REVIEWS REVISITED: Does This Diet Work?
The following Zone diet reviews provide the most recent studies, stats, and breakthroughs of the Zone diet since its inception. Barry Sears' original book back in 1995, Enter the Zone, was informative but way more information than what most needed to know.
Many will find it a bit like drinking from a fire hydrant. Sears' follow up book, “Mastering the Zone” however, cleans things up a bit better making it more practical for real folks.
Getting into the zone begins by eating the correct ratio of macro-nutrients (Proteins, Carbs, and Fats) in the right doses so as to maintain healthy hormone balance. By keeping your hormone levels in the zone your body returns the favor by burning fat more efficiently.
What will the Zone diet do for me now?
The claim is that your body will experience an accelerated metabolic state so that it operates at peak efficiency. More than that according to Dr. Sears, the Zone diet not only tools your metabolism up to lose weight, dieters will also experience better feelings as a result of “freedom from hunger... being refreshed, and full of energy. Testimonials abound of dieters deflecting or reversing any ongoing cardiac or diabetes conditions.
There are further testimonial claims of the diets ability to deflect heart disease, high blood pressure, cholesterol. The diet seems to cater to those serious about improved sports performance as well. Add to those benefits the diet claims enhanced mental productivity and according to one of his latest books it also delays the signs of aging. He attributes the Zone contributing to an overall improved quality of life.
On average dieters lose up to 5 pounds in 2 weeks while maintaining a steady 1 to 2 pounds thereafter.
What's the theory behind the diet?
The Zone goes into deep scientific explanation showing that the food we eat has an extremely powerful effect in regulating blood sugar levels and in turn hormonal responses in our body. You get the feeling reading the book that Sears engineered this diet down to the last minute micro nutrient.
Staying in the Zone means staying in control of your hormonal responses, particularly the big three: insulin, Glucagon, and Eicosanoids. To do that you eat small meals with the correct balance of macro-nutrients i.e. Protein, Carbs, and Fats at each meal. As well as the correct balance of micro-nutrients i.e. vitamins and minerals. Most people eat in such a way that allows their hormones to control them and their weight. Zone living gives you back that control.
What are Eicosanoids?
Eicosanoids in case you heard them are relatively unknown even to doctors and dieticians. They are what Sears calls the body's super hormones. Very few zone diet reviews attempt to tackle this issue due it complexity.
What Sears says is that eicosanoids are the master controller of a whole host of other hormones throughout our bodies as well as, “the molecular glue that holds the human body together.”
There are good and bad Eicosanoids that like insulin and glucagon are controlled by the types of foods we ingest. A balance of these super hormones brings health while an imbalance spells disease.
In short following a Zone favorable diet (balance among proteins, carbs, & fats) keeps this control system working in your favor.
How Do I follow the Zone diet?
Up until Dr. Sears' recent books as well as the new Zone home delivery meals, many of the dated zone diet reviews mentioned you had to be wired like a scientist to follow the Zone. Lots of measuring and calculating with minimal flexibility was the typical complaint. I can't say it's the easiest diet to follow but it is being taught in more simplified terms.
Again, the principles of the diet remain the same: 3 meals a day with 2 snacks in between with no more than 5 hours between meals or snacks.
The Zone favorable diet consists of a 40:30:30 ratio of carbs, proteins, and fats respectively. But it's much deeper than merely dividing your plate three ways. Your genes, activity level, and your ever changing lean body mass all play a critical role in how much of each macro-nutrient you can eat and still stay in the zone.
The Zone uses a “food block” system to help you balance not only the correct amount of each macro nutrient but the correct ratios as well. It takes a bit of work initially but soon becomes a matter of habit. As an example 1 ounce of chicken equals 7 grams of protein which equates to 1 block of protein.
The same block system applies to carbs and fats as well. Thus the goal with each meal and snack is to eat the correct number of blocks per each macro-nutrient.
Sounds hard but you do get used to it. The good news is that the block system is transferable to almost anywhere including restaurants and some frozen foods. If you're on the go the Zone has their own meal delivery company that offers gourmet good but at gourmet price...it's really expensive for my taste (about $40.00/day minimum).
A better alternative is through a company called Chef's diet. It's 5 star food, carefully prepared for Zone dieters, and best of all under $15 a day delivered to your door step.
What are the Pro's of the Zone?
Compared to the modern low-carb diet, the Zone offers more balance although still far from the standard recommended healthy diet that advocates 70% carbs, 15% proteins, and 15% fats. Yet Dr. Sears argues that the said "standard" is out of balance contributing to the obesity problem in America. The following pros are what set the Zone in good light:
- The Zone advocates consuming low GI (glycemic index) carbs, low starch carbs, raw fruits and veggies (no grains or sugars)
- The Zone is also low in fatty meats and saturated fats
- Constant steady weight loss of around 1-2 pounds per week with around a 5 pound loss within your first 2 weeks
- A Zone favorable diet normalizes insulin levels which dramatically reduces food cravings keeping dieters from cheating
- Encourages lean protein sources low in saturated fats, while fats are of the mono-unsaturated variety particularly Omega-3 fatty acids
- You eat small meals and snacks each day (3 meals / 2 snacks)
- The Zone more so than any other diet offers you the ability to customize your daily macro-nutrients, particularly proteins according to your size, daily activity levels. Whether you do next to nothing or weight train the Zone accommodates your unique lifestyle
- You’re regularly eating fruits and raw vegetables
- It emphasizes drinking 8-8ounce glasses of water daily
- Unlike Atkins and the South Beach diets, the Zone puts emphasis on “moderate exercise”
- Testimonials of the Zone resulting in increased energy, reversing diabetes conditions, and improved cholesterol, blood pressure and overall cardio health
- To date no known studies or testimonials indicate any adverse long term side effects
What are the Cons?
- Although this complaint has been minimized since Dr. Sears’ recent books and home delivery diets, the Zone is a challenging diet to follow especially in the beginning
- Could almost be considered an overall low-carb, low calorie diet. Depending upon your size and activity levels Zone dieters typically consume less than 1,700 calories
- The Zone seems to lack some essential minerals and vitamins: calcium, iron, vitamins A, D, E, folic acid (although they can be purchased seperately
- Low in fiber and the only grain allowed is oatmeal. Restricts you from anything bread
What are Doctors & Dietician Zone Diet Reviews?
Expert opinion overall offers mixed reviews of the Zone diet. The general consensus with the Zone is it offers a better balance compared to what low carb diets advocate. Nonetheless, the Zone still shows nutrient deficiencies especially complex carbohydrates as well as some vitamins and minerals.
Several doctors warned: "Due to the high protein ratios the diet [Zone Diet] should be avoided by those with kidney diseases."
Dieticians still question the diets long term following due to it’s strict methodology and focus on counting and measuring. Yet the recent improvements with portions vs. measuring and the new home delivery option through “Chef diet” that offers meals reasonably at around $15/day adds more flexibility.
The following link offers a concise and conclusive comparison zone diet review as well:
The Zone diet vs. Jenny Craig Weight Loss