A Brief Summary of the Zone Diet

Dr. Barry Sears has developed a diet that stabilizes insulin levels in the body. His diet consists of lean meat and and low-fat dairy, low glycemic index carbohydrate foods from vegetables and fruits, and good fats. At each meal a person eats proteins, carbohydrates, and good fat in the proper proportion. Frequent meals are required to keep the insulin level stable. There are 3 meals a day and two snacks. You will have to read Dr. Sear's book to get all the information on the proper proportions of each food and which foods are considered low glycemic index foods. (You may also do a search on the Internet for low glycemic foods.)

Dr. Sears recommends for the best protein choices:

  • Skinless chicken
  • Turkey
  • Fish
  • Very lean cuts of meat
  • Egg whites
  • Low-fat dairy products
  • Tofu
  • Soy meat substitutes

Proteins should be balanced with low glycemic index carbohydrate foods and the use of fewer high carbohydrate foods. The higher glycemic carohydrate foods can be eaten, but in a smaller portion.

Favorable and Unfavorable Carbohydrates
Favorable (have a lower effect on insulin)
  • Most vegetables (except corn and carrots)

  • Most fruits (except bananas and raisins)

  • Selected grains (slow-cooking oatmeal, barley)

Unfavorable (have a greater effect on insulin)
  • Grains and starches (pasta, bread, bagels, cereals, potatoes, etc.)

  • Selected fruits (bananas, raisins, etc.)

  • Selected vegetables (corn and carrots)

Each Zone meal must have proteins, carbohydrates, and good fats in the correct proportion. Dr. Sears says in The Zone Connection:
There are two types of fats that fall into the category of "good" fats. These are monounsaturated fats and long-chain omega-3 fats. You get monounsaturated fats from olive oil, selected nuts, and avocados. Long-chain omega-3 fats come from fish and fish oils (like the cod liver oil your grandmother told you to take). These are exceptionally powerful allies in your quest for a longer life, .....But for the moment just think of them as good fats.

However, there are some fats you want to restrict in your diet, These are saturated fats, trans fats, and arachidonic acid. I consider these to be really "bad" fats. You find saturated fats in fatty cuts of red meat and high-fat dairy products. Another type of fat to avoid is trans fats. These artificial fats were created by the food industry and are found in virtually all processed foods. Any time you see the words "partially hydrogenated vegetable oil", you know that food contains trans fats. These alien fats make processed food more stable (why do you think your Twinkie is still good after a year in your pocket?) Furthermore, Harvard Medical School has shown that the more trans fats you eat, the more at risk you are for heart disease. Finally there is arachidonic acid, which is found primarily in fatty red meats, egg yolks, and organ meats. This particular polyunsaturated fat may be the most dangerous fat known when consumed in excess. In fact, you can inject virtually every type of fat (even saturated fat and cholesterol) into rabbits, and nothing happens. However, if you inject arachidonic acid into the same rabbilts, they are dead within three minutes. The human body needs some arachidonic acid, but too much can be toxic. Ironically, the higher your insulin levels, the more your body is stimulated to make increased levels of arachidonic acid.
"Good" and "Bad" Fats in the Zone Diet

Good Fats (monounsaturated fats and long-chain omega-3 fats)
  • Olive oil
  • Almonds
  • Avocados
  • Fish oils

Bad fats (saturated fats, trans fats, and arachidonic acid)
  • Fatty red meat
  • Egg yolks
  • Organ meats
  • Processed foods (rich in trans fats)

Make a Fat Switch

Get rid of vegetable oil, vegetable shortening, butter, whole-milk dairy products, and any other foods that contain high amounts of saturated and omega-6 polyunsaturated fats. Replace the vegetable oils and shortenings with olive oil and nut butters (almond is the best) that are rich in monounsaturated fat. Replace the whole-milk dairy products with low-fat cottage cheese, low-fat milk, and part skim ricotta cheese. Replace bologna and bacon with low-fat sources of protein like chicken, turkey, and fish. Also, stock up on soybean-based food products like meatless ground beef, soy hamburgers, and soy sausages. The key is to use low-fat protein sources so you can add back the small amounts of monounsaturated fat.

Taken from the book The Zone Connection by Dr. Barry Sears. More information can be obtained on the internet by doing a Google search for "the Zone diet."

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This information is provided for educational purposes only, and does not replace a personal consultation with the health care professional of your choice.