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Zone Diet Review

I would like to provide you with a fair and balanced Zone Diet review. This writing will seek to objectively review the Zone Diet conceived and formulated by Dr. Barry Sears, PhD and fellow health matters writer Bill Lawren. Dr. Sears is a former biotech researcher at MIT who spent 15 years researching and developing his Zone Diet theory and program. The Zone Diet is intended to get people who need to lose weight to lose those unwanted pounds and then keep them off permanently. In addition to facilitating weight loss (at the pace of one to two pounds per week, every week, down to the desired body weight), Sears with his Zone Diet claims that by eating in accordance with it you will feel “alert, refreshed, and full of energy” all day and well into the evening while never going hungry.


Indeed, the Zone Diet will have you eating five times per day. You will eat the usual “three squares” in addition to two snacks, each and every day. You will never go for longer than five hours without eating except for when your head hits the pillow each night. The Zone Diet has little to do with caloric restriction. Instead, the focus is on the quality and nature of those calories that you do eat.Zone Diet Basics

Dr. Sears certainly doesn’t condone overeating. But his diet program’s minimal concern with number of calories consumed stems from the idea that if you eat in a healthy way, with every meal, then by your very nature you won’t overeat. You won’t have to willfully restrict yourself from overeating, because the nature of your chosen diet will do that for you. There won’t be any triggers in your brain signaling you the perverse incentive to eat too much.Sears’ research has convinced him that what’s wrong with our diets (and what’s wrong with our diets is what has us enduring a severe “fatty” epidemic as well as other modern ill-health terrors like cancer and heart disease) is that they trigger the body’s releasing of too much insulin. This high insulin release leads to inflammation. It’s very true that even outside of Sears’ theory, recent scientific research efforts have largely concluded that all cancer is originated in uncontrolled and unmitigated cellular inflammation.


Sears’ theory states that rampant inflammation creates overweight people because the body’s cellular tissues go into “fat trap” mode. These cellular tissues become distorted and unable to efficiently or sufficiently release the nutrients that the body needs into the bloodstream. Not only does this inflammatory “fat trap” condition trigger the body to store, rather than burn, caloric intake, it also causes you, as a person suffering from the condition, to feel constantly or very frequently hungry. When you feel constantly hungry, you instinctively overeat. Little do you realize that your overeating, which of course contributes to a vicious cycle that makes you gain weight and feel run-down, is making your feelings of constant hunger worse…all because you’re eating mostly the wrong foods.

The basic theory behind the Zone Diet is that if you eat the right foods, in the right proportions, you will diminish cellular tissue inflammation (Sears believes that at least 90% of Americans presently suffer from a state of chronic inflammation) and, as this happens, you will naturally become healthier metabolically, and with no additional effort you will lose the unwanted pounds and become more energized and less prone to illness.

How The Diet Works

The Zone Diet is amazingly simple to put into practice, really. Whenever you eat a full meal, you mentally divide your plate into three sections. One-third of your plate will contain lean animal protein (but this usually rules out red meat), and in order to determine the amount of that protein all you do is look at the size of the palm of your hand and match it up to that, circumference-wise and thickness-wise. The second section will contain multi-colored sources of carbohydrates, which means predominantly a variegated and largely subjective selection of vegetables and fruits. The final section (which is the small section) will contain a little bit of “healthy” fats, such as avocados or almonds. You may also choose to combine the fats and carbs sections into one larger one, and add in the healthy fats by way of, for example, sauteeing your veggies in olive oil. (Olive oil is a “healthy” fat.)

You also have your two snacks per day. With these, you simply eat “smart calories”.

The trick to all of this food-plate division is that you must always maintain the balance of 40-30-30. That’s shorthand for 40% carbs, 30% protein (lean protein), and 30% fat. This balance clearly flies in the face of today’s health communities’ conventional wisdom that we should get the majority of our calories from carbohydrates. Sears says that this is nonsense just as calorie-counting is. Eating (and drinking) too many carbs, especially of the wrong kind, is the leading (not the only) cause of chronic disease and being overweight, he says.

Meal Plan

Actually, you can eat just about anything you want on the Zone Diet. You can even eat ice cream (high fat or, that is, “normal” ice cream, no less) for a snack. The crucial thing at all times is maintaining that 40-30-30 balance, in addition to eating five times per day. However, there are certain foods that are encouraged and others that are…not so much encouraged. Among foods that are not so highly encouraged you may find at least some surprises: potatoes; pasta; bread (even whole grain bread); bagels; rice; corn; carrots; bananas; raisins; fatty red meat; egg yolks; and organ meats. The ice cream that you’re “allowed to” eat should only be eaten a half-cup at a time and constitute a whole snack.

A Critical Look

There is plenty of cited anecdotal evidence that the Zone Diet works, and some of it comes from people such as professional athletes, who represent just about the healthiest people on the planet. But there’s no clinical proof that it works. Furthermore, some of the important aspects of the Zone Diet are contradicted by other health research and science. For example, the diet seeks to keep saturated fat out of the diet as much as possible. Yet, there is growing evidence that saturated fat is not culpable in creating health problems, in and of itself. There is also plenty of research that indicates that at least a lot of people should be on low-carb diets, and a 40% carb diet isn’t exactly “low”.


Although you don’t have to sacrifice much, if anything at all, taste-wise with the Zone Diet, and while you won’t go hungry, the regimented methodology of eating might make it difficult to sustain. There is ample evidence that no “one size fits all diet” works for a large number of people. Different people have various dietary needs. We have to conclude this Zone Diet review with the admonition that while it contains good aspects, it cannot offer us much proof of anything, and it does not square up with other non-fad-diet research.

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