among the diet plans that have been in vogue in recent years is the zone diet, right up there with keto and whole30. This way of eating is generated to reduce inflammation, delay aging and keep you adequately satiated between meals. and the lifestyle has been said to help with weight loss, body fat, improve mental clarity and general well-being. we went straight to the source and asked dr. barry sears to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about the zone diet. do you want to go deeper? Check out his latest book, The Resolve Zone, which gives readers an overview of how to help reverse the damage caused by past inflammation and promote the body’s ability to repair itself.
Below, you’ll find everything you need to know about what the zone diet really is, how it works, its benefits, how to make it easier, and more.
what is the zone diet?
the zone diet is an anti-inflammatory diet created by dr. sears, an expert in dietary hormone response, in 1998. involves structuring his meals to include a specific balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fat, and can be combined with many other traditional dietary programs. The Zone Diet is considered a long-term eating plan, not a crash diet.
“It goes back to the original Greek root of the word diet, which means lifestyle,” says sears.
Related: 26 Things to Know About the Anti-Inflammatory Diet
why is it called the zone diet?
according to sears, this specific way of eating is geared toward keeping inflammation “in a zone” that’s not too high and not too low. Sears explains that we need some level of inflammation to be able to combat microbiome invasions and allow physical injuries sustained to heal. but if we have too much, it starts attacking our body. “So keeping inflammation in that area is really the key to treating chronic disease,” she adds.
how does the zone diet work?
all you need to diet, according to sears, is “a hand, an eye, and a watch.” The first step is to visually balance your plate: one third should contain a lean protein (no bigger than the palm of your hand); two thirds should be colorful fruits and vegetables (good carbs). Then, add a dash of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, ideally olive oil, “because it’s rich in polyphenols (antioxidant-rich micronutrients) that will basically add to the polyphenol mix of the diet,” Sears says. “It’s that simple!”
if you like to track your food in an app like myfitnesspal that calculates nutrients, these are the numbers you’re looking for: 40% of your calories come from carbohydrates, meaning fruits and vegetables, 30% protein and 30% fat.
“In a meal, if you have 25 grams of protein, about half that should be fat, monounsaturated fat, maybe 12 grams, and maybe about 30 to 35 grams of carbs, mostly non-starchy vegetables,” sears says
If you are using carbohydrates such as fruits and vegetables, with an emphasis on vegetables, the number of calories you are consuming is very low. “Those meals should be around 400 calories, but there are very large meals in terms of size,” she says.
Sears says the buzzword of intermittent fasting is essentially a form of accounting for trying to cut calories. But by zone dieting, you automatically end up cutting calories by balancing your plate “because it’s the hormones that make those proteins and carbs that keep you satiated so you’re not hungry. and if you’re not hungry, you eat fewer calories. if you eat fewer calories, you live longer,” Sears explains.
how do I know if the zone diet is working for me?
You look at your watch. “If you’re not hungry five hours later, that meal was a hormonal winner for you,” says sears.
what are the benefits of the zone diet?
“Why is that important? that’s the cause of chronic disease,” he says.
“There was a recent study that showed that if you eat 10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, that is, two kilograms of raw fruits and vegetables, your chance of death decreases by about 31%. your chance of dying from cardiovascular disease decreases by 25% and dying from stroke also decreases by 25%,” he says, adding that this is due to the polyphenols found within these foods.