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Diet Profiler: The Zone Diet

When was the last time you were on a diet? Last year? Last month? Yesterday? Shedding unwanted weight is never easy, and many people turn to popular diets or weight-loss methods to try to reach their goal. But not every diet works for every person. So, which diet is the right one for you? In our special series of Diet Profilers, let’s start by taking a look at one option: The Zone Diet.

The Zone Diet
Invented by Dr. Barry Sears, the Zone diet focuses on achieving a good balance of hormones through careful eating. People following this diet pay close attention to the portions of each type of food and can eat almost anything – including carbohydrates, red meats, and desserts. It is helpful for anyone wanting to slim down or reduce the risk of diabetes or artery disease.

A typical meal for someone on the Zone diet consists of a low-carbohydrate meal that helps the dieter get the maximum amount of energy from carbs, not fats. While proteins are still important, they are not the main source of energy in the Zone diet.

What does it do?
The Zone diet uses a formula to calculate the right amount of carbs, protein, and fat. When eating a meal from this diet, your plate will have 30% protein, 30% fat, and 40% carbs. This is meant to keep your energy up and help regulate insulin activity in the body. Insulin is important when dieting, because it causes extra energy to turn into fat.

What can I eat?
On the Zone diet, few foods are really off-limits. In fact, you can even eat ice cream, which has enough fat to slow down the process by which carbohydrates are taken into the body. Most types of meat are allowed on the diet, but proteins that also contain fat should be avoided as this kind of food will throw off the 40-30-30 ratio that the diet is based on. Fruits and vegetables fall under the carb category, and should be chosen with an eye for high fiber content. Monosaturated fats are allowed, including olive oil, avocados, and macadamia nuts.

You’ll want to keep in mind that that all carbs are not created equal! Foods that cause glucose to spike quickly should be eaten in smaller quantities than their slow-reacting counterparts. The unfavorable carbs include grains, rice, pasta, and bread. Fruit juices, bananas, and carrots also fit into this category.

Good carbs include lentils, many fruits, and almost any vegetable. As you can see, the Zone method offers a great deal of variety and is definitely not a “starvation” diet.

How big are the portions?
Each meal will vary a little bit, depending on the type of carbohydrate you have. For a normal Zone meal, you’ll have a serving of protein about the size of a large, circular cookie-cutter; just look at your palm for an approximate serving size. The carbs will take up twice as much room on your plate as the protein. Fats are allowed, and can come in the form of salad dressing if desired.

The Zone diet uses a system of calorie “blocks” to determine the precise amount of food necessary for your life. You can customize your meal plans according to your diet needs. Menus are available that break down meals, including snacks throughout the day.

What about my kids?
The Zone diet is useful for children as well! Because kids are constantly growing, they’ll need to enlarge their meal size from time to time. Dr. Sears even has options for athletes and vegetarians who want to use the Zone diet.

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