THE ZONE DIET, by Dr. Barry Sears, involves balancing the kinds
of food that you eat with the goal of putting you “in the Zone.” The
basic premise is that at every meal you should have carbs, protein,
and a little bit of monounsaturated fat in the precise ratio
that Sears recommends. Carbs are divided into desirable carbs,
such as vegetables and some fruit, and undesirable carbs, such as
bread, juice, beer, and sweets. Proteins and fats are divided similarly.
This gives you freedom to eat what you want, but when
choosing undesirable foods, you must eat less of them and they
must be accompanied by other foods. For example, you can indulge
in “bad” carbs, but only in moderation, and you must accompany
them with protein and some fat. So if you’re planning to have a
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beer, plan on a side of cottage cheese and a few olives to balance
it out. This is why many people complain about the Zone—some
of the food combos can be out of the ordinary, and measuring how
much of each group you can and should eat can be overly complicated.
Sears provides formulas to determine how much of which
foods you should eat based on how much you exercise and your
level of body fat. This number can be converted to how many
“blocks” of each food you should have in a day. You can distribute
them throughout the day but not let 5 hours pass between meals.
The business of measuring, dividing, and combining can get pretty
complex to manage; even though the balance of food is pretty sensible,
you’d have to be an air traffic controller to keep everything
straight. The diet is so reliant on its central gimmick that almost
no one has the time or energy to follow it for very long.