Is The Zone Diet Right For You?

The diet called “The Zone” has been around for many years.  Dr. Barry Sears (PhD, not MD) first wrote about his revolutionary diet plan in 1995. His break-through idea was that the balance – not the quantity – of food groups is critical to weight loss.  Rather than count calories, Dr. Sears suggested that dieters control the ratio of fats to proteins to carbohydrates to put their bodies into a balanced “zone” for optimum health.

The Zone Diet consists of five meals each day: three primary meals plus two snacks. This is great for those dieters who struggle with hunger and a real fondness for chewing. Each meal/snack should have a balance of proteins and carbs, with complex carbs like brown rice and whole- or multi-grain bread preferred over “simple” or more processed carbs like white rice and Wonder bread.  The ideal Zone meal is made up of 40% carbohydrates, 30% protein and 30% fat. This balance is widely recognized as a healthy distribution and, if nothing else, will promote heart health even if weight loss does not occur.

Why the focus on balancing fat, carbs and protein? Dr. Sears says that this balance will cause the hormone secretions that happen during digestion to be optimized, leading to weight loss and better health.  Although this idea has not been proven out by any clinical studies, formal research comparing the Zone diet with similar diets showed that it produced results on par with other diets.   Plus, the overall food plan compares well with recommendations from the government and the American Heart Association.

This is a good diet for people who eat out often.  It is reasonably easy to order meals in restaurants that conform to the Zone structure.  As long as you can control your portion size, maintaining the ratio of carbs, fats and proteins is very easy.  People who struggle with calorie counting may be more comfortable with the “block” system that Dr. Sears uses to measure the different food components.

In summary, the Zone diet has had many years to accumulate success stories and true believers.  The balanced approach to fat, carbs and proteins is a responsible approach to eating, including the emphasis on complex carbs, vegetables and fruit. Although there is no scientific basis for Dr. Sears’ approach, most people who try the Zone will lose weight, so why not give it a try?

People know that it is much easier to stick with a diet when they have someone dieting with them.  Diet buddies share encouragement and support, and keep each other accountable.  If you don’t have a friend ready to join your diet, check out and find a new, local diet buddy.  You will be glad you did.

What do you think?  Click on the Comment link and let us know!

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