Zone Diet

the-zone-dietThe Zone Diet was created by Dr. Barry Sears. At the heart of the Zone Diet is its nutrient ratios.

The Zone Diet follows a formula of 40% carbs, 30% protein, and 30% fats (sometimes called 40:30:30). This must be followed at every meal. Considered by some to be the perfect diet.

The biggest criticism of the diet is that it is too complex to follow. However the Zone has gathered a substantial following – some of it due to celebrity endorsement.

If you’re going to follow the Zone diet you need to read The Zone : Revolutionary Life Plan to Put Your Body in Total Balance for Permanent Weight Loss by Barry Sears. There are websites that offer a significant amount of support for the Zone Diet (some even deliver meals).

Macronutrient Ratios

The Zone Diet is all about ‘meal ratios’. It can be considered ‘reduced carb’ rather than low-carb due to the fact that the average person consumes about 50-60% carbohydrates in their diet, and the Zone dieter consumes 40%.

The good thing about the Zone diet is that it encourages a combination of all the nutrients in each meal – and it stresses the risks of processed carbohydrates (white pastas and breads etc).

Zone Diet in Detail

A closer look at the Zone Diet shows that it is a low(er) carbohydrate diet – with a low calorie count – at times possibly too low. Exercise is not a part of the formula (but always recommended). It does seem complex requiring dedication and discipline. It is also a diet that may be difficult to work around eating with family and friends.

The Zone diet also has assisted many in improving general health (not just weight loss). Due to the levels of proteins, it is possible to gain muscle on this diet (but only with the right weights and exercise training). However be warned that the calorie recommendations may be too low for an active person.

The Zone is complex and has a substantial list of “forbidden” foods – however there are a number of web sites with programs that have substantially simplified the Zone. At its basic principles it is a good program and would be a great improvement for anyone who currently has a typical western diet.

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The Zone Diet also focuses heavily on avoiding foods that cause inflammation, especially oils that are rich in omega 6 fatty acid.

Therefore most plant oils are forbidden as well as all processed foods. The Zone Diet believes refined grains and refined oils are the primary reasons people are fat and this is because of the inflammation these foods cause.

See the online Zone Diet here

 By Mizpah Matus B.Hlth.Sc(Hons)
  • Cheuvront, S. N. (1999). The zone diet and athletic performance. Sports medicine, 27(4), 213-228. link
  • Cheuvront, S. N. (2003). The Zone Diet phenomenon: a closer look at the science behind the claims. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 22(1), 9-17. link
  • Sears, B. (1995). The zone diet. Harperollins Pub.
  • Dansinger, M. L., Gleason, J. A., Griffith, J. L., Selker, H. P., & Schaefer, E. J. (2005). Comparison of the Atkins, Ornish, Weight Watchers, and Zone diets for weight loss and heart disease risk reduction: a randomized trial. Jama, 293(1), 43-53. link

16 Comments or Reviews

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  1. ab

    I went on this diet a few years ago. I lost 2 lbs per week for a total of 25 lbs. Miraculously, I also got rid of my spring hayfever, knee pains, low energy and tooth decay. Basically, it’s a healthy way of eating because you avoid white starches, sugar and dense carbs. It forces you to eat variety like colorful veggies and lean proteins with healthy fats added back in like olive oil. The DOWNSIDE is simply that it requires grocery shopping twice a week, food preparation, and extreme caution when eating out. These days we are mostly lazy and like convenient foods. Also, I added an extra snack a day because I needed the extra calories. I still lost weight! I was 35, female, 5’5″ and 135 lbs and found the calories a bit low. So even if you follow it 80% of the time you’ll do well.

  2. arehb

    When you use a diet that requires you to do the math on calories, fat, protein and carbs, it is alot of work – at start. After a while you will know how to compose meals with the right combination of nutritients almost without thinking about it, because you have done it so many times before.

  3. jason

    following a modified zone diet where instead of doing 40%(carbs)30%(Proteins)30%(Fats) i was along the lines of 10-20% carbs 40-50% proteins 30-40 fats. I striped away about 75 lbs of fat getting down to about 4% body fat. this took about 6 months with rigorous cardiovascular work

  4. T

    I know some crossfitters that follow this and all they talk about is “zone this”, “zone that” and they are sort of social outcasts in normal non-crossfit settings. I would give it a shot if you have the patience to measure and such, but eating a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, nuts and lean meats will be a lot easier than trying to “zone” all the time.

  5. BLAH

    It sounds really hard to follow.

  6. Eva

    the zone is not a diet, this program teach you how to eat healthy.

  7. lmw

    i started this diet in april 2006 and lost 10lbs (145 to 135) by june without feeling like – was starving all the time. by december of that year – was down to 118 which is borderline underweight for my 5’8″ frame. at first it was complicated to figure out all of the portions but i was able to download a spreadsheet online that i had copies of everywhere. if i stuck to it religiously the weight stayed off but people around me expressed concern about me never eating at public gatherings and becoming anorexic. which was not the case i was just very disciplined. i started to get really bored after a while with the limted number of food choices and combinations and started slacking in december 2007. now in dec 2008 i am back up to 140 and ready to try a new diet because this one just wont
    work for me anymore

  8. Brandon

    Have you guys even read the books? If you measure and weigh in the zone, especially if you are a crossfitter, you will experience incredible gains in performance. It is definintely one of the best performance diets out there. If you dont measure and weigh, it wont work for you, so, people try it and get horrible results because they dont adhere to the rules. If you are going on a diet, study up and do it right.

  9. makar

    Was once seduced by this diet, till I researched it properly. Problem 1: if you stick to the ratios he recommends, it’s almost impossible to get enough calories to survive. So it’s literally impossible. Turns out Sears himself doesn’t stick to it, and is often overweight. Problem 2: the science really doesn’t stack up – he is an amateur and doesn’t understand his material. Problem 3: sticking to the ratios turns you into an anti-social food fanatic. There would have to be much stronger proof than he can muster to make it worth adopting such a disruptive plan. Keep clear – there are much better alternatives.

  10. 9shadowcat9

    Diets are useless. Just exercise and cut down on sweets and carbohydrates. I don’t seee why anyone should worry about diets

  11. iwanttheweightgone

    i tryed this diet a couple of years ago and it really works i went from 200 to 150. i can say it is very confusing and at first i didn’t understand how to get the ratios but after i found out how to do it the weight just started coming off.

  12. Kristin

    I tried this diet when it first came out. It was really confusing and I was hungry constantly. I just couldn’t get the ratios correct. It worked for some friends, but it just wasn’t for me.

  13. RJL

    I lost > 70 lbs of fat and 14 inches off my waist following the Zone diet. All you have to do is look at the CrossFit site to see that the Zone diet works, it is the recommended diet of CrossFit. I would recommend it to anyone, excellent plan for changing your eating habits.

  14. Shaniqua

    Jenna I don’t think you need a diet, I think you need chill pills… damn girl.

    Anyways, I know some people who went on this diet, and it worked for them, that doesn’t make then “luzars” does it?

  15. Mike

    I went on the Zone Diet a couple years back. I went from 240 pounds down to 205. I’m a big believer in the Zone Diet. Unfortunately, due to my own fault, I am back to the 225 pound range. It is kind of a complicated diet to follow, with all the math and trying to combine foods to get to the correct “block” levels. But well worth it.

  16. TJH

    I’ve used this diet in the past and lost 70 lbs. My mother and father used it and both lost significant weight and my father was able to stop taking blood pressure medication. The only draw back is the requirement to measure foods. It’s not so much a diet as it is a way of changing how you eat. If you do work out, then make sure to eat enough food for the amount of exercise. I really recommend this diet to anybody who is serious about getting healthy.