Created by Dr. Barry Sears, The Zone encourages balanced carb and protein intake. Dr. Sears suggests that you divide your plate into three sections, one for protein and two for fruits and vegetables per meal. This works out to 30 percent protein, 40 percent carb, and 30 percent fat. For each meal, the protein portion should be roughly the size of your tightly closed fist. The carb portion should be the size of two loosely closed fists and the added fat portion should be about the volume of your thumb.
The Zone is all about food portion measurement and control. Another tool that dieters in the Zone can use to measure food is the “block”. Every adult is allowed at least 11 blocks per day and the proper food serving size will affect how much food by volume a dieter actually consumes each day.
This plan does not allow for unlimited protein portions or eating until satiated. Once your Zone meal portions are gone, your meal is done.
The basic Zone rules are to:
Eat a Zone meal within one hour of waking each day.
Eat a Zone balanced meal each time you eat (protein, carbohydrate, fat).
Eat five times per day; three meals, two snacks.
Never go more than five hours without eating a Zone meal.
Eat more fruits and vegetables and ease off of bread, pasta, grains and starches.
Drink 64 ounces of water per day.
If you mess up on one meal, just make your next meal Zone friendly.
While no foods are forbidden on the Zone diet, certain unfavorable carbs should be avoided or if eaten, make up no more than 25 percent of any meal or snack. The unfavorable carbs are the usual suspects: white flour, potatoes, sugar, white rice, juices, sodas, alcohol, bananas, grapes, carrots, corn and drinks with caffeine. Dr. Sears believes that these foods not only increase insulin production but can also lead to hormonal imbalances and inflammation of bodily tissues, which causes disease and overall poor health.
The Zone diet also has packaged food tie-ins such as nutritional bars, drinks, bakery products and nutritional supplements. But be careful, the Zone nutritional bar contains high fructose corn syrup, but according to the website, it is a very “high-quality” type that has a slower glycemic index than the common type and the protein in the bar helps to further slow insulin response. Consume with extreme caution.