The Zone Diet Plan .com

A simple guide to enjoying the health and weight loss benefits of the Zone Diet...

The Zone Diet Plan is much more than just another way to lose weight and slim down. It's a complete method for   permanently improving every aspect of your physical health while helping you get a leaner, more attractive body at the same time.

Within days of starting on the Zone diet you'll most likely experience:

  • Improved mental focus and acuity
  • Greater energy and performance
  • Decreased body fat levels
  • Elevated mood
  • Better ability to handle everyday stress

Many people claim to feel "supercharged" after as little as 4 days on the diet. Within a week or two you'll notice significant weight loss which will continue until your body reaches its natural "healthy" weight (at which point you'll look and feel great!).

How different would your life be if you had more energy all the time, more mental clarity and focus, and much better health, not to mention a leaner, sexier body? With the Zone diet plan you can have all of these things and more. Tens of thousands of people enjoy the benefits of being "in the Zone" each and every day.

The biggest complaint most people have regarding the Zone diet is that it's too complicated to follow. Well the reality is that that's just not true. The goal of this web site is to show you just how easy it can be to permanently lose weight and dramatically improve your health through the use of the Zone diet plan. Everything you need to get started is right here so spend some time reading and then start doing -- and you'll be "in the Zone" in no time! Enjoy!

Helpful Zone Diet Articles

Intro to the Zone Diet Plan

Is the Zone Diet for You?

Getting Started in the Zone

Mastering the Zone

The Science Behind the Zone Diet Plan

Frequently Asked Questions

Zone Diet News

New: The Zone Diet Blog!




The Zone Diet Plan Intro

A simple introduction to a powerful eating strategy

If you've never tried the Zone diet plan before, or just don't really understand how it works, this guide is for you. We'll show you what the Zone diet is, how it works, and how it can help you lose weight and significantly improve your health in a short amount of time.

The Zone diet plan, developed by Dr. Barry Sears, is based around the principle of harnessing the powerful, drug-like effects food has on your body. When you eat according to the Zone plan, you'll keep several of your most important hormones -- especially insulin -- within the proper ranges for optimal health. With the Zone plan, you're more concerned about what you eat, rather than how much (which is very different from most other diets, which usually focus on calorie-consumption). The right types of food will put your body into "the Zone" and the wrong types will keep you out of it.

All foods affect your body's release of the hormone insulin, which has a huge affect on your health and well-being, not to mention how much fat you have around your belly, thighs, and arms! Big "swings" in insulin levels -- low to high to low, etc. -- negatively affects your mood, your mental acuity, your endurance, and your body fat levels. Your body is designed to produce and "deal" with a certain amount of insulin at any one time. When you go over that amount, which many of today's foods force you to do, your body has a hard time handling it. The result is increased body fat and decreased health.

Over time the insulin "swings" the average person (on the average modern diet) is constantly going through cause major problems. Many chronic health problems and even diseases are most likely caused by these constant hormone shifts. The Zone is mainly focused on stabilizing hormone levels, eliminating significant shifts in insulin production, and allowing the body to return to a natural "hormonal state" where it can begin to function optimally.






Is The Zone Diet For You?

by Kim Droze, eDiets Managing Editor

You’ve got a half hour for lunch and the only restaurant close enough to make is the McDonald's down the street. A crisis of conscience arises as you struggle to choose between blowing your diet with a super-sized value meal or Plan B: starvation.

You deserve a break today so we are serving up some great news: the Zone plan will let you have your McDonald's and eat it too!

You order a Chicken McGrill and a salad. You put the chicken on top of the salad and keep a quarter of the bun as a giant crouton. Voila! You’re in the Zone and following one of the hottest and most effective weight loss regimens around.

Forget about what you may think you know about the Zone and the work required to balance out your meals. There’s no need for scales or measuring cups. All you need is your hand and a good eye to coordinate permanent weight loss, hormonal balance, overall wellness and prevention of heart disease and diabetes.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re dining in the comfort of your home or if you're out on the town -- you can stay in the Zone by following Dr. Barry Sears' super simple advice for slimming success.

Picture an empty plate. Now, divide it into thirds. One third will be covered with low-fat protein (enough chicken, lean ground beef or shrimp to fit in the palm of your hand without being thicker than your hand) and two-thirds fruit and vegetables (broccoli, tomatoes, green beans, apples, strawberries, etc.). Round off your meal with a dash of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, such as olive oil, slivered almonds or guacamole.

Yes, it’s that simple.

Since first introduced by Dr. Sears in 1995, The Zone has been a huge success. Some of its biggest backers have been major celebrities, such as Jennifer Aniston, Madonna and Demi Moore. Dr. Sears, a former MIT researcher, says his diet is safe, effective and certainly no trendy, fly-by-night fad.

One of the major misconceptions held by dieters is that the Zone is too complicated. Dr. Sears says that reputation has haunted him since his book was first released to the general public. The problem: his first book was written for cardiologists. Dr. Sears, who holds more than 12 patents for cancer treatments and the dietary control of hormones, used scientific lingo and mathematical equations to discuss every last detail of the Zone.

The current version of the Zone has been tamed and is understandable to everyone. Dr. Sears' newer Zone books break down his diet formula much like his recommended foods break down insulin levels. From A Week In The Zone (HarperCollins) to The Top 100 Zone Foods, Dr. Sears is always taking strides to ensure his weight loss approach is user-friendly for all dieters.

The Zone tackles what Dr. Sears believes is the major cause of the spiraling obesity plague: excess insulin. In layman’s terms, the Zone is a dietary strategy to keep the hormone insulin in a zone that’s not too high and not too low. This is important, Dr. Sears says, because excess insulin makes you fat and keeps you fat.

Dr. Sears believes the underlying reason for our extra weight could very well be too many grains and starches in our diet. He says potatoes, rice, breads and breakfast cereals are all unfavorable carbohydrates that can elevate your insulin level. The trick of staying slim is how you treat your carb intake.

“You don’t have to avoid these carbohydrates completely,” Dr. Sears tells eDiets. “Treat them like condiments, not as a primary source of your meal. Eat significant amounts of fruits and vegetables at the same time. Balance off with an adequate amount of protein, and you have the guidelines for lifelong weight control. These are all the rules you need to control insulin."

Once you get your insulin level in the Zone, you won’t feel hunger for the next four to six hours after you eat. You won’t experience those in-between-meal hunger pains or carb cravings, because you won’t have the excess insulin levels that make you hungry. Dr. Sears says if your meals are hormonally correct, you’ll also enjoy peak mental acuity.

Dr. Sears says within the first two to three days of following the Zone, your ability to think clearer will be significantly enhanced. Within three to four days, you’ll notice a surge in energy. By day 7, you’ll notice your clothes beginning to fit better, because you’re shedding visceral fat, the dangerous fat that sits around the belly. By following the Zone, you’re going to think better, perform better, look better and feel better.

The best news of all: Dr. Sears’ amazing plan just got better. You can now get a personalized Zone diet from the leader in online weight loss programs,

“Even though the rules to the Zone are very simple, an online dietary program helps generate new meals and tells you exactly what to buy," he says. "This will always be a great aspect. People only have to eat the foods they like to eat.

"That’s the power of eDiets. People are given an unlimited number of meals and options so they don’t have to think any harder as to what they eat.

“Another aspect is that any lifestyle change usually takes a year to integrate into the rest of your life. The support groups are so important. It takes time. Losing weight is hard. Keeping it off is even more difficult. You have to find support people who have gone through the same trials and tribulations to give you the constant support basis.

"eDiets gives tremendous benefits even with a simple program like the Zone. It keeps people focused and motivated towards their long-term goal, which is a longer and better life.”

To get your copy of Dr. Sears' book, A Week In The Zone, click here.

We keep you informed of the best choices and best foods. To get started with the eDiets-personalized Zone plan, click here and fill out a free diet profile.




Getting started in the Zone

The Zone Diet Plan in a Nutshell

Remember that meal timing is everything in the Zone. Just like planning your daily schedule, treat the Zone the same exact way. All your meals and snacks should be planned the way you schedule daily appointments, meetings, even take a medication. Timing is everything in the Zone!

Simply follow these basic rules and plan your day accordingly:

Always eat within one hour after waking.

You must eat a minimum of 3 meals and 2 snacks every day. Afternoon and late evening snacks are critically important for staying in the Zone.

A Zone meal should give you 4-5 hours in the Zone, a Zone snack 2-2.5 hours. You must eat every 4-5 hours after a meal or 2-2.5 hours after a snack, whether you are hungry or not, to stay in the Zone. In fact, the best time to eat is when you aren't hungry. That means your insulin levels are stabilized.

Lack of hunger and clear mental focus are excellent barometers that you are in the Zone. Before every meal and snack always assess your hunger and mental focus.

Every meal and snack starts with low-fat protein plus carbohydrates (eat more leafy green vegetables and fruits and less pasta, breads, grains and starches) and don't forget "good" fats (i.e. olive oil).

A typical serving size of low-fat protein fits in the palm of your hand and is no thicker than your hand. For most females, this is 3 ounces of low-fat protein, and for males, this equals 4 ounces of low-fat protein. A typical snack contains 1 ounce of protein for both men and women. At first, a kitchen scale is helpful to measure the protein portion. You can soon eyeball these amounts at home, in restaurants and fast food take-outs.

Divide your plate in three equal sections. Add the protein portion and fill two-thirds of the plate with fruits and vegetables. Don't forget to add a dash of fat like olive oil. If you like, add a small dinner salad at dinnertime (a great place to add a dash of "good" fats like olive oil).

Zone living is guilt free. If you make a mistake, your next Zone meal or snack will take you right back to the Zone.

Exercise on a regular basis.

Drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day.

There you have it-- the Zone in a nutshell. You now hold the key to a longer and healthier life that starts with your very next meal. Welcome to the Zone and Zone appetite!




The Zone Diet: Master It to Lose Weight

by Barry Sears, Ph.D

Mastering the Zone. Sounds very New Age, like Yoda teaching Luke Skywalker about the Force. But it's not. Instead it's very similar to the advice your grandmother gave you about eating. Eat everything in moderation, eat lots of fruits and vegetables, and have some protein at every meal. Your grandmother didn't know it, but she was teaching you the basic principles for developing a lifelong strategy of hormonal balance. If you can achieve this hormonal balance, you are well on your way to the Zone.

What is the Zone? It is the balance of hormonal responses that occurs every time you eat. A perfect equilibrium: not too high, not too low. Why should you want to get there? Simply said, if you can keep yourself in the Zone, then you will:

A. Think better, because in the Zone you are maintaining stable blood sugar levels.

B. Perform better, because being in the Zone allows you to increase oxygen transfer to your muscle cells.

C. Look better, because in the Zone you are shedding excess body fat at the fastest possible rate.

D. Never be hungry between meals, because staying in the Zone means your brain is being constantly supplied with its primary fuel: blood sugar.

All these benefits of being in the Zone will emerge within a one- to two-week period if you follow the instructions in this book. But the best reason to want to stay in the Zone on a lifelong basis is to achieve SuperHealth. For most people, health is defined as the absence of disease. SuperHealth goes beyond that. In a state of SuperHealth you will reduce the likelihood of developing chronic disease, the types of illnesses that represent the bulk of our health care costs. If you have read The Zone, you know that SuperHealth is exactly what you are aiming for. And the only way to obtain SuperHealth is to take control of your diet, and use it to keep yourself in the Zone on a continual basis. The more time you spend in the Zone, the more control you have over the ultimate quality of your life.

Level 1: What-Your-Grandmother-Told-You Rules

- Drink at least 64 ounces of water per day (eight 8-ounce glasses). Your body is composed of 70 percent water that can be easily lost.

- Eat more fruits and vegetables, and less pasta, breads, grains, and starches during the day.

- Eat more frequent meals with fewer calories.

- Eat small amounts of low-fat protein at every meal and snack.

The payoff: You will stop gaining excess body fat.

Level 2: Begin-To-Pay-Attention Rules

- Determine how much protein you require per day and consume that amount.

- Use the eyeball method to control your ratio of protein to carbohydrate at every meal.

- Add some extra monounsaturated fat to every meal.

- Drink 8 ounces of water thirty minutes before a meal.

The payoff: You are going to start losing excess body fat.

Level 3: Now-I-Have-To-Do-Some-Hormonal-Thinking Rules

- Make sure most of your carbohydrates come from fruits and vegetables, and use grains, starches, pasta, and breads as condiments. Try to keep grains, starches, pasta, and bread to no more than 25 percent of the total carbohydrates consumed at a meal.

- Never let more than five hours go by without eating a Zone meal or snack.

- Always eat a Zone breakfast within one hour of rising.

- Always have a small Zone snack before you go to bed.

- Always have a small Zone snack thirty minutes before you exercise.

The payoff: You're in the Zone, and you have done everything possible to achieve SuperHealth.



The Science Behind the Zone Diet Plan

Why does the Zone Diet work?

The Zone is not some mystical place. It is a state of hormonal balance that can be achieved by your diet. In particular, it can be defined as keeping the hormone insulin in a tight zone: not too high, not too low. The Zone Diet is a life-long hormonal control strategy. Once you begin to think hormonally about food instead of calorically, you begin to realize that many of the dietary recommendations made by the U.S. government and leading nutritional experts are simply dead wrong.

To understand hormonal thinking and its implications, you must realize the following:

- It is impossible for dietary fat alone to make you fat

- It is excessive levels of the hormone insulin that makes you fat and keeps you fat. How do you increase insulin levels? By eating too many fat-free carbohydrates or too many calories at any one meal. Americans do both. People tend to forget that the best way to fatten cattle is to raise their insulin levels by feeding them excessive amounts of low-fat grain. The best way to fatten humans is to raise their insulin levels by feeding them excessive amounts of low-fat grain, but now in the form of pasta and bagels.

Your stomach is politically incorrect

The stomach is basically a vat of acid that breaks all food into its basic components. From that perspective, one Snickers bar has the same amount of carbohydrate as 2 oz. of pasta. Most people would not eat four Snickers bars at one sitting, but they would eat 8 oz. of pasta. The stomach can't tell the difference. And the more carbohydrates you eat, the more insulin you produce. And the more insulin you produce, the fatter you become.

Not everyone is genetically the same

About 25% of the U.S. population are genetically lucky because they have a low insulin response to carbohydrates. These people will never become fat, and they will always do well on any high-carbohydrate diet whether it be pasta, Snickers, or Twinkies. Unfortunately the other 75% of the U.S. population aren't so lucky. As they increase the amount of fat-free carbohydrates in their diet, they increase the production of insulin.

10,000 years ago there were no grains on the face of the earth

Through much of man's evolution, he has been exposed to only two food groups: low-fat protein and fruits and vegetables. This is what man is genetically designed to eat. When grains were first introduced into the human diet, three things immediately happened:

1. Mankind shrank in size from lack of adequate protein.

2. Diseases of "modern civilization", such as heart attacks and arthritis, first appeared.

3. Obesity became prevalent.

How do we know? From comparison of Egyptian mummies to the skeletons of neo-paleolithic man. It is estimated that Egyptians had the same amount of obesity as found in the United States today. We can determine this from the excess amount of skin found around the stomachs of preserved mummies. The ancient Egyptian diet is very similar to that currently being recommended to Americans.

It takes fat to burn fat

Fat slows down the entry rate of carbohydrates into the bloodstream thereby decreasing the production of insulin. Since it's insulin that makes you fat, having more fat in the diet is important for reducing insulin, especially since it does not stimulate insulin production. The best type of fat is monounsaturated fat, like olive oil, guacamole, almonds, and macadamia nuts.

You can use food as a hormonal ATM card

The average American male or female carries a minimum of 100,000 calories of stored body fat. To put this in perspective, this amount of stored body fat is equivalent to eating 1,700 pancakes. That's a pretty big breakfast. The calories you need for energy are already stored in your body. What you need is a hormonal ATM card to release them. Maintaining insulin in a tight zone is that ATM card.

The number-one predictor of heart disease is not high cholesterol, or high blood pressure, but elevated levels of insulin. How can you tell you have elevated insulin levels? Look in the mirror. If you're fat and shaped like an apple, you have elevated insulin levels. But you can still be thin and have elevated insulin. How can you tell? You have high triglycerides and low HDL cholesterol. This is why high-carbohydrate, low-fat diets can be extremely dangerous to cardiovascular patients if they lose weight, but see an increase in triglycerides and a decrease in HDL cholesterol.

Carbohydrates are a drug

The body needs a certain amount of carbohydrates at every meal for optimal brain function, just like a drug. However, excessive consumption of any drug leads to toxic side effects. The side effect of an overdose of carbohydrates at any meal is excess production of insulin, and that can be dangerous to your health.

Implications of the Zone Diet Plan

Our growing epidemic of obesity is not caused by excess fat consumption (which has actually decreased by 14% in the past 15 years), but because of increased carbohydrate consumption. The enemy has never been fat, but excessive levels of insulin. Keeping insulin in that tight zone is where optimal performance is achieved. The only drug known to medical science that can achieve that is called food. The epidemic increase in obesity in America also has ominous implications for the future of our health care system as millions of people may be unknowingly driven toward early cardiovascular events due to increased insulin production. This statement should not be taken lightly as in 1996, the American Heart Association announced that cardiovascular deaths in the U.S. were increasing for the first time after a steady continuous decline since 1980. The hormonal consequences of our 15-year love affair with fat-free carbohydrates are now becoming apparent. Controlling insulin levels can reverse that trend. That is what the Zone diet plan is all about.




Zone Diet FAQ

Frequently asked questions about the Zone Diet

 How do I know if I'm in the Zone?

There are a number of things that you may experience when you are in the Zone. You may have more energy, better mental focus, or reduced hunger and cravings. You won't get that tired feeling that many experience late in the day. Basically, you should have a feeling of overall well being. If you are not experiencing these things after following the program for a couple of weeks, you are probably not in the Zone.

When can I expect to see results?

You'll be happy to learn that some changes will become apparent almost overnight. You will likely notice an increase in urination as your body naturally rids itself of excess sodium and water. Any swelling of your legs (edema) will begin to disappear. A weight loss of over five pounds in the two weeks is not unlikely but this is not true fat loss. You can expect weight loss to even out after an initial two week period. Loss of body fat occurs at a rate of a pound to a pound and a half per week. This the safe and desired physiological rate for most people and will become apparent by the third week of the ZonePerfect Nutrition Program.

As you harness the power of food, you can expect increased energy levels and better mental focus within 48 hours. Your cholesterol profile - especially the triglyceride and HDL levels - will show dramatic improvement at about six weeks.

Is the Zone a high protein diet?

No, the Zone is protein adequate. High protein diets usually allow you to eat as much protein and fat as you want and severely limit your carbohydrate intake. The Zone recommends eating only enough protein to satisfy your body's requirements. Because you are always consuming more carbohydrates than protein with the Zone you will not experience ketosis.

Can you follow the zone if you are pregnant? What adjustments do I have to make?

For pregnant women, increase your daily blocks by three adding one block to each of your major meals. This increase is to ensure adequate protein for both mother and child. Be advised, regardless of your calculations, a pregnant woman should eat a minimum of 14 blocks a day.

Can I safely breastfeed while on the Zone? What adjustments do I have to make?

For nursing mothers, increase your daily blocks by one and a half to two blocks by adding approximately one half block to each meal. If you were following the Zone throughout your pregnancy you will actually be decreasing your blocks by one to one and a half. The minimum blocks for any nursing mother is 13 blocks a day.

Can children follow the Zone?

Children can safely follow The Zone diet. Since they are still growing, however, calculation of their correct protein needs is difficult. We recommend that you supply all meals and snacks to children in the proper ratio of protein/carbohydrate/fat, but be generous with their total block count. Once they begin to get used to eating in the Zone, and any carbohydrate addiction comes under control, your child will begin to eat more appropriately which will ensure an adequate nutrient intake. You can start easing them into the Zone Program by eliminating all soda and fruit juice, cutting up fruit and combining IT with string cheese, and eliminating all foods containing partially hydrogenated oil (especially prevalent in most peanut butter).

Is the Zone safe for diabetics?

The Zone is safe for both type I and type II diabetics. Type II diabetics will likely have much improved blood sugar control by following the ZonePerfect Nutrition Program. All diabetics should be in close contact with their physicians as they embark on the ZonePerfect Nutrition Program. Type I diabetics will likely see their insulin dosage greatly reduced almost immediately and should be working closely with a health care professional.

What is the best way to get started?

There are many ways to learn about the Zone. The ZonePerfect web site is a great place to start. It is loaded with informative resources, articles that are updated daily, and support from other Zoners. We also suggest reading at least one of Dr. Sears' books. most people who are on the Zone advise beginners to read at least one book so they will have a good background in how and why the Zone works.

ZonePerfect Nutrition has several products available for purchase that are designed to help get you into the Zone quickly and easily. The Quick Start Kit is a perfect example. It is filled with ZonePerfect Nutrition support products and ZonePerfect Food products to help you get a sense what it means to be in the Zone. You get to try the ZonePerfect Nutritional products as well as get all the information you need. We especially recommend the video, The ZonePerfect Nutrition Program Made Simple and Easy. This video is included in the Quick Start Kit as well as being offered for purchase by itself or with the ZonePerfect Handbook. For more information on any of these products you can call 800-390-6690 and speak to a sales associate or visit our web site store.

Visiting some specific areas on this website will also provide you with a lot of useful information. The Guide to the Zone and the Mastering the Zone sections offer two choices for an informative overview of the program. This FAQ section contains the most frequently asked questions, while the Health Zone Q&A section offers daily answers to reader questions by one of our health experts, Jeanne Rhynsburger RN. The discussion board is another resource that is very useful as it offers a place for readers to share tips, ideas, recipes and support.

What is a Zone Block?

The block system was developed to make entering the Zone easier. A Zone block is made up of a mini-block from each macronutrient category (protein, carbohydrate and fat). By balancing your mini-blocks in a 1:1:1 ratio, you can easily attain the proper caloric ratio of 40% carbohydrate, 30% protein, and 30% fat without having to measure grams.

What is a mini-block?

A mini-block refers to one block of carbohydrate or protein or fat. One mini-block from each macronutrient, when put together, make up one block. One mini-block of carbohydrates is equal to 9 grams. This could be a half of an apple or a cup of green beans. One mini-block of protein is equal to 7 grams. An ounce of chicken or lean meat is a good example of a mini-block of protein. One mini-block of fat is equal to 1.5 grams (or 3 grams - see below). This could be 1/3 tsp. of olive oil or a few nuts. See our online food database for more information on serving sizes for thousands of food items.

How many grams in a fat block?

Technically speaking, each fat block is 3 grams. In his writings, Dr. Sears has assumed one would be using a Low-fat protein source (not non-fat), such as chicken, for their protein requirement. In each block of low-fat protein, there is approx. 1.5 grams of "hidden" fat. Therefore, you only need to add 1.5 grams of fat to get the desired 3 grams. If you are using a NON-fat protein source, such as non-fat cottage cheese or protein powder, you should double your fat blocks from the amounts as they are listed in the books in order to get the full 3 grams of fat per block. Making this adjustment will yield the 30%P, 40%C, and 30%F Zone ratio depending on which type of protein you are using. Likewise, if you are using a protein source which is higher in fat, you shouldn't add any additional fat.

How do I find out how much food I should be eating?

Go to our online calculator to get your personal profile. It will tell you how many blocks you should be eating.

The book says I should eat 8 blocks a day and the online calculator says I should eat 11 blocks a day. How much should I eat?
The minimum number of blocks an adult should have is 11 blocks. This minimum was adjusted, due to added research, after Dr. Sears' first three books were written.

My weight is off the charts. How do I know how many blocks I should eat?

If your weight or measurements are off the charts, assume that you are 50% body fat and calculate your blocks from there. Also, estimate your activity level at least one level higher than it actually is. Once you start losing weight and your measurements are within the charts, recalculate your blocks using the calculations in the books or the online calculator.

Is a block of fat 1.5 or 3 grams?

Technically speaking, each fat block is 3 grams.The Zone assumes that one would be using a low-fat protein source (not non-fat), such as chicken, for their protein requirement. In each block of low-fat protein, there is approx. 1.5 grams of "hidden" fat. Therefore, you only need to add 1.5 grams of fat to get the desired 3 grams. If you are using a NON-fat protein source, such as non-fat cottage cheese or protein powder, you should double your fat blocks from the amounts as they are listed in the books in order to get the full 3 grams of fat per block. Making this adjustment will yield the 30%P, 40%C, and 30%F Zone ratio depending on which type of protein you are using. Likewise, if you are using a protein source which is higher in fat, you shouldn't add any additional fat.

What type of fat should I use for my required fat blocks?

You should choose monounsaturated fat sources for your added fat. Some good sources include olives, olive oil, almonds, macadamia nuts and avocados. Some saturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are required by the body but most people will likely get more than enough from their low fat protein sources.

How strict do I have to be with my fat blocks?

Since monounsaturated fat has no effect on insulin levels, strictly counting every gram is not necessary. This is not to say that you can have as much fat as you want. Remember that each gram of fat has 9 calories while each gram of protein and carbohydrate has only 4 grams. This means that those fat grams can add up rather quickly. While keeping the appropriate protein to carb ratio is important on the zone, also important is keeping total calories consumed low.

So if you are trying to lose weight, it is important to keep close to 30% fat. If you are maintaining your weight, you should be adding more fat blocks to help stabilize weight loss. See maintenance.

How do I put together a Zone meal?

A mini-block of protein is equal to 7 grams of protein, a mini block of carbohydrate is equal to 9 grams, a mini-block of fat is equal to 1.5 grams (or 3 grams when Zoning labels or when your protein source is completely fat free). To be in the Zone, you need to have your meals balanced in a 1-1-1 ratio, one mini-block of each macronutrient is equal to one block. To make a three block meal, you can put together three blocks any way you want, as long as it's balanced.

To construct a meal, look at the mini-block guide or the online block guide for a more comprehensive listing of individual food items and their one mini-block serving size. Following is an example of how to make a 4 block meal.

1. All foods listed in these resources show a one block serving size. Chicken is 1 oz. per block. You need 4 blocks so, you would need 4 ounces of chicken. 4 x 1 oz = 4 oz.

2. Do the same with carbohydrates.1/2 apple is 1 block of carbohydrate.
You would need to eat 2 apples to make 4 blocks. 4 x 1/2 = 2 (apples); or 1 apple (two blocks) and two cups of green beans (two blocks).

3. Then follow the same procedure with fat. You can add 3 tsp. of slivered almonds to your green beans or use 1 tsp. of olive oil to cook the chicken.

When measuring protein blocks of meats do I go by the weight before or after cooking?
The measurements are for uncooked portions unless otherwise noted.

How do you measure 1/8 of a teaspoon or 20 Cups?

Because of the unfavorable nature of some food items, their serving sizes appear to be very small, while other very favorable foods may appear to be so high that a person could not possibly eat one mini-block's worth at a sitting. These serving sizes should serve as an indicator of a food item's place in the Zone diet. For example, if 1/8 tsp. of an item is equal to one mini-block you may wish to choose another food with which to finish off your meal since the serving size is an indication that the food item is not very favorable. Conversely, if 20 cups of a food item makes one mini-block, you should treat a small serving of a cup or so as a "freebie" when eaten with your meal.

What types of food should I be eating while on the Zone?

On the Zone we recommend that 30% of your calories come from protein, 40% of your calories should come from carbohydrates and 30% of your calories should come from fat, primarily monounsaturated fat. See our Seven Day Meal Plan for an example of some Zone meals. You can also use our Online Cookbook to make your own meal plan.

What is the difference between a favorable and unfavorable carbohydrate?

Unfavorable carbohydrates are so labeled because of their glycemic index. If a food has a number high on the glycemic index, this means that it is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream - the higher the number the more quickly it is absorbed. Your insulin levels will rise faster and you will get hungry sooner after a meal with high glycemic carbohydrates. You can still follow the Zone and use some unfavorable carbs, but the fewer you use, the more benefits you will likely see. We usually recommend that no more than 25% of your carbohydrates at each meal should come from unfavorable sources.

Some examples of the most unfavorable or high glycemic carbohydrates are highly refined food sources such as pasta, white breads, potatoes, and breakfast cereals. Some examples of the most favorable carbohydrate sources are fruits and vegetables. For a more complete listing of favorable and unfavorable carbohydrates, along with their serving sizes, see our mini-block food guide.

Can I ever have bread or potatoes again?

The Zone is not about completely avoiding certain foods, but more about making wise choices and balancing your foods. No food is absolutely banned on the Zone. While these food items should not be used often, it is ok to include them with your meals on occasion. As a general rule, you should try to keep unfavorable carbohydrates to 25% or less of your total carbohydrate allotment.

Can I have my morning coffee on the Zone?

We do not recommend the use of caffeinated beverages, including coffee and some teas, as caffeine can have a negative affect on your insulin levels. Try switching to decaffeinated coffee or limiting your coffee intake to one cup a day.

How do artificial sweeteners fit into the Zone?

Some artificial sweeteners are better than others. We do not recommend the use of many artificial sweeteners as they can stimulate insulin. Fortunately, there are some sweeteners that have a place in the Zone, Sucralose is a good Zone sweetener. It has no carbohydrate calories and it has little or no effect on insulin. For more information see the Health Zone article titled Glycemic Index of Sugar and Sweeteners.

What can I drink?

Water should be your main beverage. You should drink at least 64 oz. of water every day. The caffeine and artificial sweeteners found in coffee, tea, and soft drinks can have a negative affect on your insulin levels and should be kept to a minimum or totally avoided. You can add lemon or limes to your water or drink commercial bottled waters that have a hint of fruit flavor added to them. Remember to read the labels to be sure there are no carbohydrate calories in them.

If fat has no effect on insulin, why do we have to limit fat intake at all?

Fat, especially monounsaturated fat, has no effect on insulin, but that is not an excuse for fat gluttony. Remember that any incoming calories have to be metabolized for use as immediate energy or stored for future use. Fat is a very dense calorie source with one gram of fat containing nine calories and it is very easy to consume too much. If you consume more fat blocks than can be used immediately, the excess will be stored as fat. You will also be allowing the production of free radicals and accelerating aging.

When should Zone meals and snacks take place?

We recommend starting with a basic schedule of three major meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and using snacks in the late afternoon and right before bedtime. This schedule, however, is not set in stone. You should feel free to move your blocks around your day in any way that fits your lifestyle. In fact, many people find that eating five or six small meals throughout the day works better for them.

How frequently should I eat?

The Zone recommends eating 5-6 times a day. You shouldn't go more than 5 hours without a Zone meal or snack. You should eat a Zone meal or snack within an hour of waking and a snack should be consumed within an hour of going to sleep. This schedule will help keep your insulin at an even level during your night's sleep. A meal should sustain you for about five hours while a snack is designed to hold you over for about 2 hours.

I'm a pure vegetarian. How can I make this diet work for me?

Simply add protein-rich vegetarian foods to your existing diet to maintain the correct protein-to-carbohydrate ratio. Ideal choices would be firm and extra-firm tofu, and isolated soybean protein powder. The new generation of soybean-based imitation meat products (hot dogs, hamburgers, sausages, etc.) are another excellent way of getting protein-rich vegetarian foods into your existing meals. You don't have to eat meat to enter the Zone