The Zone diet burst onto the scene in 1995 when Dr. Barry Sears, published his best-selling book "Enter the Zone" with the help of Bill Lawren. Sears was a researcher of biotechnology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before becoming a dieting guru [source: Web MD]. His new approach was revolutionary and easy to understand. His book sold by the millions.
The diet is aptly named. It is based on the idea that eating the right foods in the right ratio will help your body operate within a certain optimal zone. This is achieved by controlling the levels of a certain hormone in your body. The result is better health and better concentration. Another reason for the diet's popularity is the fact that it barely affects the amount of time and money you have to spend preparing meals.
As far as the Zone diet is concerned, the right ratio of foods is more important than the number of calories you consume. No matter the size of your meal, the ratio of protein, fat and carbs never changes. Once you've mastered the ratio, you'll also know what kind of foods to eat. Luckily, there isn't much that's off limits.
Like any weight loss program, the Zone diet has its fair share of critics. There are those who feel the diet raises some health concerns but the majority of experts out there don't believe it to be harmful. Read on to find out how the Zone diet plan works.
Zone Diet PlanLet's face it -- dieting isn't always easy. It takes will power and the Zone diet is no exception. However, it is easier to understand than most. It's probably better to think of it as a lifestyle change rather than a diet. Diets tend to be thought of as temporary, but the Zone requires a long-term commitment. Unlike the Atkins diet and the South Beach diet, there are no levels or phases. Here are the basics.
The Zone diet is built around the idea of maintaining a proper balance between insulin, which stores fat in our bodies, and glucagons, which release fat so it can be utilized. In a sense, with the Zone diet, you are simply eating to regulate hormone levels [source: Web MD]. According to Dr. Sears, this can be accomplished by eating meals that consist of 30 percent protein, 30 percent fat and 40 percent carbohydrates [source: Zone Diet Info]. For the visual thinkers out there, look at it this way -- divide a regular-size dinner plate into thirds. One third of the plate will be taken up by protein, like a chicken breast, and the other two thirds will be filled with vegetables and fruit. The only thing missing is a small dose of fat -- the healthy kind of course -- like olive oil or avocado [source: Zone Diet].
As far as the protein is concerned, the right size serving should fit in the palm of your hand and be relatively the same thickness. With carbohydrates, try to stick to vegetables and fruits that are high in fiber. Rice, bread and many other carbohydrates should only be eaten in small portions because they release glucose too rapidly.
Now that you know the basics of what to eat and how to divide it up, let's talk about when you should eat it. The Zone dictates that you should eat a meal or snack within an hour of waking up. Then eat every four to six hours after a meal and every two to two and a half hours after a snack. It also states that you need to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water throughout the day and supplement your meals with a dose of Omega-3 concentrate [source: Zone Diet].
While exercise isn't a requirement of the diet, it is highly recommended. Thirty minutes a day, six days a week is what you should aim for. If you follow these simple guidelines, Sears claims that you'll feel better, think better and lose weight in a surprisingly short amount of time.