Barry Sears – Author and Ph.D.
The Zone is a diet approach formed by Dr. Barry Sears. Dr. Sears is the author of The Zone: A dietary Road Map to Lose Weight Permanently. His background is in research with a Ph.D. from the Boston University School of Medicine, but he has spent the majority of his career studying lipids and their role in hormone regulation. In particular he’s focused his studies upon dietary fat, its role in producing eicosanoids, which are molecules made by essential fatty acids that regulate many of our bodily systems.
The Macro Nutrient Ratio
The Zone Diet calls for a macro nutrient ratio of 30:40:30 of protein, carbohydrates, and fats. So at any given caloric intake, one will be consuming 30% of calories from protein, 40% from carbohydrates, and 30% from fat. Sears encourages individuals to focus on lean protein, fruits, veggies and mono unsaturated fats with every meal. He also emphasizes supplementing with Essential Fatty Acids daily.
Reason to Apply The Zone Diet
The theory of this dietary approach is that by consuming protein, carbohydrates and fats in this ratio, the digestion of carbohydrates is slowed due to the macro nutrient combination within the meal. Ideally, if carbohydrates are absorbed slowly, insulin is controlled and therefore less fat is stored. Another reason for this ratio is to provide satiety with every meal and to keep one from over eating. Supposedly, by sticking with this “ideal” ratio of macro nutrients for each meal or snack, the dieter will achieve consistent hormonal balance. I however do not buy the hormonal ideas.
Main Points of this Diet Approach
- Consume lean protein with every meal.
- Supplement with Omega 3 and Omega 6 Essential Fatty Acids.
- 5-6 daily meals and/or snacks of suggested macro nutrient ratios.
- A focus on low glycemic carbohydrates such as fruit and vegetables.
- Use portion sizes as opposed to measuring and weighing.
Any weight loss diet that one can follow easily is the one they should commit to. I like the emphasis on protein and whole foods The Zone promotes. Satiety during a diet is the key to long-term adherence, meaning if one can consistently feel full on a hypo caloric diet, success in weight loss is inevitable.
Personally, I have used similar macro nutrient ratios when on a maintenance diet, and also whilst dieting. I can attest to the satiety this macro ratio provides. Of course, one is less likely to over eat when they are focusing on lean protein, fibrous vegetables and water dense fruit. I suspect this could be the reason many non-calorie counting dieters have had much success on this type of diet. People run into trouble when the majority of their carbohydrates are refined sugars in the form of high fructose corn syrup because the satiety factor from these types of foods is very low. If one is not monitoring their daily intake, overeating on sugary foods is very easy to do.
I feel that in terms of satiety, this type of diet would be almost ideal for maintenance. You are consuming a decent amount of healthy fats, a sufficient amount of protein (about 1+ gram per pound of body weight depending on maintenance intake) and enough calories left for plenty of nutrient dense fruits and other whole food carbohydrates.
Have any of you had success with following The Zone Diet before? Did you follow it for weight loss or maintenance?