Dr. Sears classifies eicosanoids as “good” and “bad”. Good eicosanoids are those which have anti-inflammatory effects. Others prevent blood cells from clumping together. Bad eicosanoids have the opposite effect. In Dr. Sears’ theory, high levels of insulin (equivalent of a diet high in carbohydrates) lead to production of “bad” eicosanoids, while high levels of glucagon (equivalent of a diet high in protein) enhance the production of “good” eicosanoids.
The Zone diet emphasises a healthy way of eating. It recommends complex carbs in moderation, low GI foods and unsaturated fat consumption. The Zone encourages the consumption of lean animal protein, vegetable protein and supplementation of some foods containing fatty acids. These are important for the production of “good” eicosanoids, such as fish oil, oatmeal, evening primrose oil and borage oil.
Foods to Avoid
Refined carbs and simple sugars (bread, pasta, bagels, tortillas, breakfast cereals, candy, soda, desserts), high GI vegetables and grains (rice, papaya, mango, corn, potatoes, and carrots), saturated fats (red meat, whole-fat dairy products), foods enhancing the production of unfavorable eicosanoids (egg yolks and organ meats).
There are also some helper diet products such as nutrition bars, meals, drinks, protein powder, shake mixes and molecular distilled fish oil.
The Zone Diet Plan
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There is no distinct diet plan to follow. Food intake is balanced by the block method. The method was created to make the carb-protein balance easier to maintain.
One Zone block contains one mini-block of each type of macronutrient: protein, fat, carbohydrate.
One mini-block of protein is seven grams. Example: one ounce of chicken breast.
One mini-block of carbohydrates is nine grams. Examples: a quarter cup of pasta, one cup of strawberries, or three cups of steamed broccoli.
One mini-block of fat is three grams when eating a fat-free protein source. When eating a lowfat protein source, such as chicken or fish, the mini-block will be 1.5 grams, as there is some hidden fat there. When eating a highfat protein source, no additional fat should be added.
The important thing is to balance between the three and to keep the 1:1:1 proportion.
- Women: 11 blocks/day
- Men: 14 blocks/day
Other factors also influence the need for protein, such as muscle mass and amount of activity.
The minimum block requirement is 11 and it is not recommended to eat less.
Advantages and Disadvantages
The Zone Diet helps you lose weight and change your eating habits. It promotes healthy eating. The foods suggested are of the “good” kind. The only issue is proportionality.
Restricting carbs might result in a lack of dietary fiber.
Restricting calories does not recommend the Zone diet to people who have increased calorie needs.
The Zone Diet follows the low-carb trend. Like other, similar, diets, it has not been proven to be long-term effective. Nor have the scientific theories on which the diet is based been proven to be 100% true. Besides, although recommending good principles of eating, the protein ratio might be too high for a healthy diet. In the long run, it may cause osteoporosis, cardiovascular and kidney problems. Some food restrictions might deprive the body of essential vitamins and minerals.
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