What is the ZONE DIET?
· Developed by Dr. Barry Sears
· Uses food to balance your hormones
· Controls hunger on fewer calories (not calorie reduction!), while maintaining the proper nutrients your body needs for long-term health.
· Divides food into three types (a.k.a macronutrients) – carbohydrate, protein, and fat
· Based upon your weight, activity level, and body fat percentage, and “prescribes” a certain amount of food per day, measured in blocks.
What are hormones and why do they matter?
· Insulin stores fat. It is released mainly by carbs. The release of insulin (and therefore the amount of fat stored in our bodies) can be controlled by nutrition and exercise.
· Too many carbs result in too much insulin. Too much insulin results in excess storage of fat.
· Over time, people can develop insulin resistance (hyperinsulinism), which is associated with a host of negative effects (e.g., type II diabetes, hypertension, polycystic ovarian syndrome).
· Is the counter hormone to insulin. It is released in response to protein.
· Glucagon releases fatty acids from storage. In essence, it tells the body to release stored carbs.
· The essential fatty acids give you the energy you need.
· Helps slow digestion, therefore helping to control insulin spikes.
The Zone Diet creates a balance between insulin and glucagon. This prevents excess storage of fat and normalizes blood sugar levels and energy.
What is a Zone Prescription? (Or, how much do I eat?)
· Zone Prescriptions are based upon a person’s weight, activity level, and body fat percentage.
· There are many online calculators that can help you find your zone prescription. Here is one of them.
· Generally, Crossfitters want to choose a “moderate activity level,” unless you do other training during the week (e.g., martial arts, running, etc). But you may have to tinker with your block prescription until you find what’s right for you.
What is a Zone Block? (Or, what do I eat?)
· A Zone Diet block contains 1 block of each macronutrient (carb, protein, fat). One block of Zone food provides a balanced 40-30-30 ratio of these macronutrients.
· One block of carb = 9 grams
· One block of protein = 7 grams
· One block of fat = 1.5 grams
· You can find a list of zone blocks for a plethora of foods here, or ask a coach!
· If your Zone Block Prescription is 16 blocks, you need to eat 16 blocks of carbs, 16 blocks of protein, and 16 blocks of fat per day. In other mathematical terms, you eat 144 grams of carbs, 112 grams of protein, and 24 grams of fats per day. Well how do I figure that out?!?! Use the Nutrition Facts label on your Food!Most people break these up into 3 meals and 2 snacks, but you can do whatever works best for you and your schedule. Your meals may look like this: 4-block breakfast, 2-block snack, 4-block lunch, 4-block dinner, and 2-block snack.
Zone Meals can be as easy or as fancy as you want them to be.
Example of an EASY 4-block Zone Meal:
· 4 oz turkey breast
· 2 apples
· 12 almonds
Example of a fancier 4-block Zone Meal:
· 6 oz grilled salmon
· 1 1/3 cup zucchini in herbs
· Large salad with 2 tbs dressing
· 2 cups strawberries
As you can see there are a lot of choices, and with a little creativity in the kitchen you’ll never get bored. For more information on putting meals together and recipes, a great reference is The Crossfit Journal #21.
One last thing – vegetarianism
· The Zone Diet is a vegetarian-friendly diet.
· Protein choices include, but are not limited to: tofu, tempeh, cheese, cottage cheese, protein powder (whey, soy, brown rice), soy burgers and other soy “meats”
· It is a little more difficult as a vegetarian to get enough protein each day, but it ispossible
If you have questions about the Zone Diet that were not answered here or specific questions about being a vegetarian on the Zone, please ask a Coach!