Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Wisdom Wednesday: The Zone Diet

For the last few hundreds of thousands of years we have spent most of our time eating two food groups:
  • Lean protein
  • Natural carbohydrates, such as fruits and fiber rich vegetables

Our genes are still those of the hunter-gatherer, rather than the farmer. Farming is a relatively new phenomenon, as far as our genes are concerned. In other words, our genes have not yet adapted to consuming farmed products.

Although our genes are programmed to gather fruit and vegetables and catch the occasional prey, we are consuming huge quantities of very dense, highly processed carbohydrates, such as grains and products made from pasta, bread, corn flakes, bagels, etc. are generally made from highly processed carbohydrates.

When we consume large amounts of processed carbohydrates unpleasant biochemical reactions occur in our bodies.
  • Weight gain
  • Insulin fluctuations
  • Pre-diabetes and diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Poor overall health

The Zone Diet, developed by Dr. Sears takes into account our genetic makeup. Insulin production can be controlled if we eat low-density carbs, dietary fat, and protein in the right proportions. If we can maintain insulin levels within what Dr. Sears calls a “therapeutic zone”, it is easier to burn off excess body fat – and to keep it off permanently. Dr. Sears says it is possible, through the Zone to improve mental focus, enjoy increased energy and vitality.

Keeping you insulin levels within the therapeutic zone means staying in The Zone – hence, the name Zone Diet.

Carbohydrate, protein and fat balance
  • 40% carbohydrate
  • 30% fat
  • 30% protein

Calorie consumption on the Zone
Unlike many other diets, the Zone does not tell you to eat fewer calories. Your calorie intake does not have to go down, but what you are eating has to change. The food you eat should consist of:
  • Each meal must have some protein – about the size of a small chicken breast, or the palm of your hand (4 ounces).
  • Each snack should have some protein in it (two snacks per day).
  • The carbohydrate portion of a meal or snack should be about twice the size of the protein portion. Most of the carbs should be favorable carbohydrates, such as those found in vegetables, lentils, beans, whole grains and the majority of fruits.
  • A small proportion of the carbs may be unfavorable ones, such as those found in brown rice, pasta, dry breakfast cereal, bread, bagels, tortilla, carrots, fruit juices, and some fruits (mango, banana and papaya).
  • A meal or snack should also include some fat – good fat. Such as that fat found in avocado, olive oil, fish oils, and nuts.

The Zone Diet’s basic rules
  • Have a Zone meal or snack no later than one hour after you wake up in the morning.
  • Interval between meals should be between 4 to 6 hours.
  • Have a meal between 2 to 2.5 hours after a snack – regardless of how hungry you are.
  • Before every meal or snack, assess your hunger level. If you are not hungry and your mind is clear, you are in The Zone.
  • Consume eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day.
  • Start the meal/snack with a low-fat protein. Then add good carbohydrates with a low glycemic index, such as vegetables and fruits, plus good fats, such as olive oil or avocado.
  • Typical meal protein should weight about 4 ounces for men and 3 ounces for women.

The Bottom Line:
This diet should be an easy transition for virtually anyone. It doesn’t prohibit any food, it just limits the refined foods and urges you to make healthier choices. This is a great place for you start to improve your diet.

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