The Zone Diet was created by biochemist Barry Sears, PhD, and is based on his 15 years of experience researching bio-nutrition. Contrary to typical low-carbohydrate diets, Dr. Sears restricts daily calorie intake and emphasizes a strict diet ratio of 40:30:30, in which each meal should contain 40% carbs, 30% protein and 30% fat. He suggests that we think of food not as "a source of calories but as a control system for hormones." Dr. Sears blames obesity on cellular inflammation caused by a hormonal imbalance between the fat-storing insulin and glucagon (insulin's opposite). By eating the right food in the correct proportions, Dr. Sears believes we can correct this imbalance, and the body will reach a metabolic state where it is operating at "peak efficiency". You not only lose weight, but you feel great, mentally and physically.
You can purchase A Week in the Zone on Amazon for $7.99, and you can also sign up as a member on their online community for free. To start, you will probably want to order the ZoneFast Program, which has two weeks worth of food for $180. After that, a week's supply of Zone 1-2-3 foods, like buns and pasta, costs about $75.
We give The Zone a B+ because it is an effective diet program that can make you look and feel great. While the program limits calorie intake, it doesn't restrict any foods and encourages dieters only to eat unhealthy foods in moderation. The Zone teaches about portion control and making healthy food choices from the beginning, so it is theoretically ideal for long-term weight loss and maintenance. Unlike some other diet programs, you shouldn't feel hungry on the Zone diet and your mind should feel clear and alert. That said, we had to deduct points when rating the Zone because it can be difficult to stick to the program's strict eating schedule and because it is also very time-consuming to accurately prepare/portion out your meals.
As with all weight-loss diets, you should check with your doctor or health care provider before starting on The Zone Diet, especially if you have any health conditions, such as diabetes or kidney disease. This diet doesn't get great online reviews despite its popularity. In a US News poll, The Zone ranked 17th in the "Best Diets Overall" category and only about 3.3% of dieters said the Zone worked for them. There's no scientific evidence that validates Dr. Sears claims, but that doesn't mean that his theories are necessarily wrong. If you have enough money to buy the pre-made meals, this could be a good plan for you, but otherwise it may be hard to follow on your own given the restricted calorie intake and importance of getting the proportions correct.
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