The Zone diet is popular diet method presented in books by Barry Sears. It advocates consuming calories from carbohydrates, protein and fat in a balanced ratio, 30% protein, 30% fat, and 40% carbohydrates. This protein to carbohydrates ratio triggers effect called “The Zone”. Sears claims that these natural anti-inflammatories are heart and health friendly. The Zone diet contends that you can expect to turn back encroaching heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Zone diet not primarily a weight-loss “diet” (though it can be used for that purpose); rather it is a way of eating — the intake of food that produces the best results within the human body based on a hypothesis of how it has evolved to cope with varying food intake through the ages.
The Zone diet keeps saturated fats to a minimum but includes olive, canola, macadamia nuts, and avocados. The diet is higher in protein and fat than traditional diets, which would have us eat nearly three-quarters of all calories as carbohydrates.
How The Zone Diet Works
The Zone diet’s eating plan is a combination of a small amount of low-fat protein at every meal, fats, and carbohydrates in the form of fiber-rich vegetables and fruits. The plan establishes a ratio for which Sears contends the body is genetically programmed (that 40-30-30 figure).
Sears bases his theory on using diet to control the body’s production of the hormone insulin. Among insulin’s many roles, it helps regulate storage of excess energy as fat. The goal is to keep a balance between fat-storing insulin and the hormone glucagon, insulin’s opposite, whose job it is to release the stored glucose from the liver when it is needed. When insulin levels are neither too high nor too low, and glucagon levels are not too high, then specific anti-inflammatory chemicals (types of eicosanoids) are released, which have similar effects to aspirin.
Expert Review about Zone
Susan Roberts, PhD, head of the Weight Regulation Program at Tufts University and a professor of medicine and psychiatry there, also gives The Zone a qualified thumbs up. She said “Like most fad diet books, The Zone diet takes one of the several known controllers of energy, blood glucose, and blows it up into a whole book. It downplays the other factors that also determine how hungry we get and how much we eat, such as fiber and the caloric density of the food.”
Other nutritional experts, including some of Sears’ former colleagues, are critical of his conclusions from the scientific evidence, contending that he has distorted or exaggerated the meaning of much of the basic research. They point out that no direct studies to verify his conclusions have been performed.
Although the book is full of success stories, research that validates his specific claims isn’t there. That doesn’t mean that Sears’ theories are wrong; it’s just that no scientific evidence has proven that his program works.
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