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Zone Diet Basics:

Making Fat Your Friend

40:30:30 Dietary Approach
Based on Dr. Barry Sears, ENTER THE ZONE

Reported by the CDC in 2016, nationally up to 35% of all Americans were OVERWEIGHT and 30% were OBESE!! 15% of adolescents were also obese.  Heart disease and diabetes continue to rise. This is a national tragedy that threatens to overwhelm our health system as the "baby boomers" grow older. It is ironic that for the past many years we have been conducting a huge dietary experiment; our fat consumption has gone down yet our fat bellys have gone up. So what is going wrong? We should be getting slimmer by eating less fat in our diet. The answer lies in HUNGER.



Dietary Approach

Based on Dr. Barry Sears, ENTER THE ZONE
and 40-30-30 NUTRITION

Why Change the Way YouI Eat?

Reported by the CDC, up to 35% of all Americans today are OVERWEIGHT and 30% are OBESE!!

Heart disease and diabetes continue to rise.

This is a national tragedy that threatens to overwhelm our health system as the "baby boomers" grow older.

 It is ironic that for the past many years we have been conducting a huge dietary experiment;

our fat consumption has gone down yet our fat bellys have gone up.

So what is going wrong? We should be getting slimmer by eating less fat in our diet.

The answer lies in HUNGER.

The Standard Diet proposed by most dietitians and heart and diabetic specialists is based on the idea that we should get 45 - 65% of our daily calories from carbohydrates. The rest of the diet should be equally from protein and Fat. Some even get that fat percentage down to 10%. Indeed, some people have become


(I bet you know a few)

The reason low fat diets fail is because the body shifts into carbohydrate burning mode

so it needs less and less fat for energy requirements.

 The standard diet would be fine if people could follow it. What happens is that carbohydrates


You know the drill, you gorge out on a spaghetti dinner and 2 hours later, you're hungry again.

The fact is, carbos do not "stick to your ribs" so you are forced to either "ignore" your gnawing hunger or EAT MORE!!

America would be fine on a high carbohydrate diet if it could only


But it can't.

 The reason lies in the BIG CULPRIT,


Why it Works

Most lower carbohydrate diets work because they control the production of insulin. The digestive system treats all carbohydrates (pasta, rice, breads, cereals) the same ... as if they were glucose sugar.  Glucose, you may have heard, causes the pancreas to pump out insulin into the blood. Insulin tells the muscles, liver and fat cells to store away as much glucose as they can, burn the remaining carb and save the dietary fat for later.

In the presence of a lot of carbohydrates, insulin teaches the cells to reduce fat burning and burn the carbs instead.  This used to be a very good survival method back in the cave-people days but hey ... we have refrigerators now.

Here is another problem: Insulin has a long half-life in our bloodstream. Longer than it takes to store away the glucose. This causes us to run out of blood sugar and get tired in a few hours. Our head then goes into brain-fog and sends down a request for more glucose.  The fat cells say, "I'd like to oblige, Mr. Brain, but insulin is still floating around and so I'm still in STORAGE MODE. Sorry ".  The Brain says, "I don't care where you get it, just GET SOMETHING SWEET TO EAT!!" Well, that guy is the boss so you know what happens next. Grab that cookie!

 If you eat too many carbohydrates, you don't need to burn fat because you have carbs to burn instead.

 Your body stores dietary fat if it doesn't need to burn it. (read "get fat")

 Simple, huh?



Extra Health Benefits

Years and years of excessive insulin stimulation eventually burns out the cell's insulin receptors so that it now takes more insulin than ever to react normally. This is "insulin resistance" and can lead to hyperinsulinemia and Adult Onset Diabetes.

Excessive insulin has been directly linked to many health problems. Insulin stimulates the growth of the muscle lining in arteries causing them to stiffen. This coupled with the fact that insulin signals the kidneys to retain salt increases hypertension. Insulin also stimulates cholesterol synthesis completing the path to heart disease.

If the two major killers (heart disease and diabetes) could be reduced, think of the impact on our health system, not to mention your own health!
Combining protein with a moderate amount of carbohydrates controls the insulin response and allows the body to convert stored fat into energy (read: "lose your fat").

The muscles and the brain continue to function at peak efficiency even after the meal has left the small intestine. This food combining also causes digestion to be slowed a little, further helping to control appetite.

The result is the ability to go longer periods on less food and never running out of energy.

Isn't that what you have always wanted? Isn't that what you never experienced while eating all that high carbohydrate food?



Introduction to the Basic Concepts

The basic eating plan is based on a simple concept:

Every time you put food in your mouth it must be in the correct ratio of

Protein to Carbohydrate to Fats.


That ratio is simply:

Almost equal calories of each.

(Slightly more from Carbohydrates than from Protein and Fat)

The maximum control of insulin occurs

when the gram ratio of Carbohydrates to Protein to Fat are 9:7:3.

Therefore, the size of the portions will reflect this fact.

Carbohydrates will make up the largest portion of your meal,

protein next and fat last.


For simplicity sake, we refer to this quantity as





The Mechanics

1. Calculate your fat percentage. (Use ONLY the fat percentage calculation on this page)

2. Multiply fat percentage times your present weight. This is the amount of fat on your body.

3. Subtract the fat weight from your total weight to find out how much LEAN BODY MASS you must support.

4. Rate your activity level on a scale of .5 (couch potato) to 1.0 (tri-athlete)

5. Multiply your activity rate times your LEAN BODY MASS to find the amount of daily protein in grams you need to maintain your lean body mass. Some say these protein levels are too high. I contend that the RDA for protein is based on averages taken from our sedentary, ill population and should be closer to these levels for peak performance and optimum health.

6. Decide how you want to spread your protein grams throughout your day. You MUST spread your food out over at least 5 meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner, afternoon snack and bedtime snack.  (NOTE: The latest thinking is that to avoid shifing into starvation mode, the lowest limit is 11 total food blocks or 77 grams of Protein, 99 carbs, 33 fat)

Helpful Hints

1. Think of carbohydrates and protein and fat like three different powerful drugs that must be combined in just the right dosages to avoid side effects from each other. This is exactly what is happening with the insulin reaction.

2. NEVER go more than 4 or 5 hours without eating. Don't eat more than 5 blocks of food at any meal. (NOTE:  The latest thinking on blocks is that the LOWER LIMIT is 11 blocks per day, no less!)

3. This is a NON-DEPRIVATIONAL eating plan. If you get hungry, eat. Then figure out what you ate too much of or too little of at your last meal to cause you to be hungry too soon. (Hunger with fatigue = too much carb. Hunger without fatigue = too much protein)

4. It is based on a balance of foods, never a gluttony. There are no "reward meals" of excessive carbohydrates. You strive at all times to "be in the zone" of the physiological effects gained from balanced protein - carbohydrate levels.

5. In a few days, you will begin to feel full for at least 4 hours and find that the quantity of food needed at each meal is less and less. This is because you are burning the fewer calories you are consuming more efficiently.

6. Recalculate your Lean Body Mass once a month to verify that you are losing FAT and not Muscle.

7. Increase your exercise level. As you become less heavy and feel more energy, you will naturally want to be more active.

8. Each meal should be at least 1 food block in size and eaten within an hour.

9. Drink lots of water.

10. Perfectly Zone balanced meal replacement bars can be eaten when you are unable to find "real food". Several brand names are available on the market.

11. Read the book




Thanks for the letters, hope you don't mind me using them for this FAQ

I'm already familiar with Enter The Zone and have been practicing for 2 months now, with great results. I'm on the zone mailing list and watch several newsgroups for the zone discussions there. Your zone support group is the first in-person zone support group I've heard of. Do you know of others? or how to find out about such groups if they exist?

Our Low Carb group is small these days but boy is it fun! We were 5 of us last night; 2 of us have been zoning for 6 months, 2 are reading the book and 1 guy got dragged along with his girlfriend so he could help her plan meals. There are about 10 active members, some show up less than others. I have been asking for $5 or what ever to cover costs. Usually folks are more than happy to cough that up.

We talked for the first hour about general concerns and I guided the talk as much as possible into the concepts...GI index, health reasons and block size, etc. Then we created a bar recipe on the spot and cooked them in the microwave and ate them! The newbies made faces because they weren't sweet enough for their carbo-tastes but the zoners found them delicious! Pretty wild to see that sweet tooth demonstration.

There are no other live Zone groups that I know of. (Some Environ distributors run "Introductory Lectures" but many times they are simply a guise to sell bars.) There is ALOT of interest in zone support groups judging by other eMail I've received. I suggest that your create one in your area. You are as qualified as anyone to do it, it's just a way to eat.

In a way, this group is a "weight group" or "diet support group" anyway because that is the main reason people are interested in coming. That has been a little hard for me to accept but I think that is my problem, what I have started to do now is lecture more on the health reasons and deal with the fat loss as a side benefit. We'll see if that helps.

Maybe I'll hang a page on my site re starting groups and see if there is interest. I have thought of a zone chat using IRC...what do you think?

Yours from the Zone,


> I believe Sears called one fat block = 1.5 grams, yet the info in this website states 3 grams fat per block. what's the scoop?


According to the FAQ there is 1 block of hidden fat in each protein block. When you read the nutrition info on food packages does it include this in the fat reported?

Sears was trying to make things simple and just confused people. A block of fat is 3gms. There is a 1/2 a block of fat "buried" inside fatty meat or fish. That's all.

The hidden fat is considered to be 1.5gms per block of meat protein. That is, if you're are eating meat or oily fish, consider that there is an extra 1.5gms of fat/oil buried inside the food and so don't add more than 1.5gms of extra oils per block of protein.

I know that's confusing but think of it like this, if you eat all prepared foods and add up everything on the labels, you will know EXACTLY how much fat you are getting...there is nothing hidden from the FDA's labels. So you always figure in 3grs of fat per block of food. BUT, if you are eating meat or fish, there are no labels on them. If there were, you would see something like this...

Serving Size: 1oz.

Protein: 7gms.
Carbohydrate: 0gms.
Fat: 1.5gms

So you would compensate by reducing extra fat by 1.5gms per block.

Just one thought, remember that fat is not the problem here....Carbohydrates are. Concentrate on the C:P ratio and don't worry so much of the fat level. I know that's hard to do, we've been successfully brain washed to avoid fat in our diet.

If you eat a little more fat (1.5gms), the worse that will happen is that you will not lose body fat during that 5 hour period. You will have enough calories from the extra fat that you will not need to dip into your stored fat.

If your C:P ratio is correct, however, you will be in the Zone and able to fend off the ill effects of high fat in your diet. In fact, the high levels of glucagon and low levels of insulin in the presence of excess fat will favor the production of good eicosanoids! (Carbs effect Insulin production, Protein effects Glucagon production and Fat effects Eicosanoid production.)

Good luck! And keep on Zoning!


I am trying to follow this diet to control my hypoglycemia. There are items on the diet that concern me (such as bread). Is there specific information for someone who has severe hypoglycemia?

As you know, hypoglycemia involves periods of very low blood sugar. It's usually caused by swings in your insulin level coupled with insulin resistance that is in turn the result of years of out of control insulin levels due most likely to excessive carbohydrate intake. (Whew!).

Zoning is the perfect diet for you. You may need to eat smaller meals more frequently than suggested in the plan until you feel your insulin reactions are under control, then you can play with eating larger meals and spread them further apart until you are eating like "normal". The zone effect will eventually stabilize your insulin response and soon you will be able to eat bread without a large swing.

To start, avoid the high glycymic index foods like bread and pasta and rice. If you have a web browser you can search for the Diabetic page at http://www.cruzio.com/~mendosa/gi.html
for lists of favorable foods.

Yours, David

Hi David: I discovered the Zone stuff via the WWW yesterday and I am quite excited about it. I have been a vegetarian all my life. Although I have never had any weight problems, I had discovered a few years ago that eating carbohydrate-rich meals made me very sleepy. I modified my diet to a zone type diet (although with a lower percentage of protein) after some experimentation. I was very excited to learn about the Zone diet after reading the stuff on the web, since it seems to make a lot of sense to me (thanks to my empirical study of myself). I cooked a set of Zone type meals for today but the only means of getting the protein high enough seems to be to add soy protein powder to my meals (consisting of a lot of beans and legumes). Do you have any vegetarian specific recommendation list or pointers to related information ? Thanks.

Dear K

I have enjoyed being a vegetarian (O-L) for many years and one of my biggest peeves about zoning is that I have been tempted into eating more animal flesh now. But my true desire is non-meat sources. In our zone group there have been several harder-core vegies and so I have searched the land over for these sources both for them and my self and family.

Setian comes in tubs like tofu and in powdered form to mix with other stuff or by itself. We like to stir fry it in olive oil and ginger and then stir fry a bunch of fresh veges and serve with a little rice if you must. It is a wheat protein that has had the starch washed out. Quite good.

Of course, TVP (texturized Vegi protein) is around and quite cheap too. Just add to your beans and watch the protein content soar. Tofu and other soy based items, got to go to a health-type food store to find them.

There are some vegetarian web sites you can search for, no problem. However, they are not zone related and so I have found their info to be less helpful than you may think at first. They are still eating at the bottom of the "food pyramid". (zoners are one step higher--fruits and veges and very few grains).

Being vegi in the zone takes a lot of work and it is a little boring I'm afraid, but if you can add dairy, cheese and eggs you can do it in style. I eat NF mozzarella cheese (Precious brand even melts!), and soy cheeses, and I'm not afraid of an egg a day if I want to since zoning is so healthy for you you can do a few "bad" things and get away with it.

Maybe I'll tack on a new page on my site re: vegetarians. Thanks for the question, keep me posted if you come up with any brainstorms.

Yours in health,


Are there any nutritionists in the Los Angeles/Santa monica area who are really familiar with the Zone diet, who could help me until I get better at it?

I doubt it, but you could post your inquiry on the zone@tgv.com list and see if there is a bold nutritionist out there who is progressive. Most of them have bought the food pyramid model lock, stock and barrel.

Would it be a good idea to be in the Zone and be on the fen/fen regimen at the same time?

Well, if you must do fen/phen I think zoning at the same time would be a great idea. Doing the drugs works but what happens to people after the 3 months? They go back to old eating habits. If you zone, you will change your eating habits FOR LIFE and that is the real answer. We must give up ore carbohydrate binge! Basta to Pasta! (How about cheating for a day once in a while....I do it, just get right back on the plan asap)

I have read on the internet that having fibromyalgia interferes somehow with the blood sugar regulation in the body.

(revised answer) I'd like to see the URL on that info, please send it to me. FM appears to respond to the lo-carb approach most likely because of the beneficial hormonal effects of low and steady insulin. For many years FM was considered to be an immune system related disorder but research recently has shown there are biochemical, pathophysiological and immunological changes in the brain and other body tissues.

In the past I had suggested that people with FM push their metabolism into tilt by aerobic activity and current literature suggests this is helpful. My belief was that by changing the blood chemistry balance, the body would be "shocked" back into homeostasis. This was just my own idea and for folks who would not exercise I had suggested sometimes to use fasting as a method to induce some ketosis for that end. I find no mention of fasting as a method of treatment in the literature so I don't suggest that approach anymore however I now encourage lo-carb eating instead. I believe that what I wanted to accomplish by fasting is co-incidentally caused by the effect that fasting has on insulin levels and not due to changing the blood pH levels.

Perhaps this is what your internet information is alluding to also. FM may not "cause" carb metabolism problems but the reverse may be more true.

There is a newsletter support group FM sufferers can subscribe to and lots of Internet support too.

Yours, David

After reading the book in some depth, the one main obstacle I encounter is in trying to "migrate" to the correct balance in everything I eat. I need t get an idea on some tradeoffs if the balance is not "ideal". For instance, is it better to skip the fat component if the only fat available is mostly saturated ?

I'd say no. Omitting or lowering fat in the plan will cause problems for a few reasons. First, your body is very sensitive to fat level in foods. When it is unusually low, you shift into starvation mode where fat is conserved. You hear this referred to as "lowering one's metabolism" and fat loss in hard to do.

Secondly, you need fat to keep burning fat. It's seen as a pilot light that starts the bat burner. I know that's dumb sounding but "excess" fat in the diet will encourage the body to burn fat as fuel.

Now, about saturated vs. unsaturated. You need some saturated fat to live. If you do not eat it, the body will just go ahead and make it for itself. So Sears says that if you are zoning, your body is metabolizing fat efficiently and can deal with a lot of extra toxins and extra saturated fat too. Think of it as "unfavorable" fat and you

will make up for it at the next meal with "better" monosaturated fat.

How long of a time period do I have to ingest all the correct portions of CPF ?

If you are a normal person, you can figure you have a one hour window to do the right combinations. I have come home from a party or restaurant and gone right to the protein powder sometimes. Weird but it works for me. Some folks say that eating too many carbos first throws them out faster than they can correct in 30 minutes, but too much protein first probably is OK to do.

Also, I have an slightly elevated cholesterol level ( last checked 6/95 @ 230 ) In referring to my first questions, I almost feel like staying away from the fat component unless it consists of mostly unsaturated fats.

I wouldn't tinker with success if I were you. Stay on the plan for a few months and then get tested again. If cholesterol is still high then worry some more. Eating foods high in cholesterol is usually not the problem with elevated blood cholest., the body manufactures MORE cholest. than the food component. I have a college that claims elevated cholesterol is due to slow transit time in the colon. Eat more fiber and water and the food passes fasted and the colon doesn't have enough time to re-adsorb the stuff. Who knows for sure. Sears seems to think it is an internal problem and not from food. I agree.


I'm unsure of the activity factor to multiple by my lean body mass (83.03 lbs). In an average week, I do three, one-and-a-half hour combined aerobic and weight training sessions. I also do an additonal 40 minute aerobic session. As well, I'm a stay at home mother of a 4 year old so I regularly bike, walk, mow the lawn etc. On top of this, I would like to gain muscle mass. I understand this may mean I should add an additional protein block immediately. I tried Dr. Sears' 800 phone number but I live in New Brunswick, Canada and the phone number is not accessible here.

Eades' explains it well. page 157 in Protein Power:

"4. Very Active. If you engage in vigorous physical activity lasting an hour or more five or more times per week, your lean mass requires 0.8 gram per pound."

You may even need 8.5 after all your running around. The group says don't under-estimate your activity rate.

Secondly, my friends are having an on-going argument regarding peanuts. In the book, Dr. Sears describes one block of fat as 6 peanuts. Is this 6 shelled peanuts (therefore making 12 individual peanuts) or 6 unshelled nuts? We're just a little confused over this.

My guess is 6 full peanuts that come 2 per shell. (you could eat the shells for more fiber...just kidding ;-> ) The following is from the list server re peanuts...no help here either.

When Sears refers in the book to 6 peanuts making up a block of fat, is he talking about peanut shells or the actual little nuts? (i.e. are the contents of six peanut shells = 1 fat block OR six joined halves = 1 fat block(3 typical shells = 1 block)) It makes a big difference in the amount of peanuts you eat obviously...

My husband and I had this very discussion last night. My argument is that if he had meant shells, he would have said shells. When someone asks you if you'd like a peanut, you most likely don't conjure up an image of a peanut shell, but rather the peanut itself.

A peanut shell contains peanuts, usually two of them.

A peanut consists of 2 half shells, which together make ....what do you say class?!!!....one peanut. Yeaaaa!

Hi David, You mention Eades Protein Power as a suggestion to help me metabolize fat better. Do you know off hand what the protein source is? I have a very frustrating problem whereby I am food sensitive to Soy & really need to stay away from any product containing such. It's really ashame since all of the Zone bars on the market use Soy for their protein source. I would really like to have the option of using them for ease & convenience.

Eades' is a low carbohydrate diet for limited time so you will run into the same problems getting your non-soy based protein as on the zone. Protein quantities are exactly the same for both plans, Lean Body Mass times activity rate (usually .8). The difference is carbo level...only 30 grams per day!! until you reach fat% goal plus 20% then you go to 55gms per day until goal, then you just zone. It is quite radical but it is a limited period. Now, mind you, I haven't tried it yet so all I can give you is information, no personal reports.

If you eat meat and fish products and cheese I don't see why you are having problems finding protein sources. (you must eat them because if you don't eat soy, there's nothing left!!) Protein powers are made with milk-egg sources. You may just have to make your own snack bars with these powders and such. A friend and I are exploring these recipes if you are interested, I'll share our research with you.

I was doing really great trying to follow the Zone there for a few weeks. But, because of my hectic lifestyle, got stuck on eating primarily fast food egg mcmuffins for breakfast, chicken sandwiches for lunch & dinner, and 1% milk for snacks there in between. Oh yeah, I did vary some of the meals with cottage cheese & fruit. Needless to say, I got extremely burned out from lack of diversity ... and, wasn't benefiting from any macronutrients. I have since fallen back to old eating habits & need to get myself motivated back to the Zone.

Well, a lot of folks do eat the same stuff alot, I do too but I think of my food sometimes as my "medicine" and take it anyway. Maybe I'm easier the please with food esteticly (sp) than you because I repeat meals alot, especially breakfast and lunch. Dinner is usually more creative.

Egg McMuffins may be zoneful if you leave off one of the buns, I fold over a hamburger after taking off the top bun.

>biggest problem (perhaps) is that I havn't taken the time to really >read Dr. Sears' book, nor learn enough about the principles/mechanics >of living this lifestyle. Being organized and planning ahead are also >difficult for me, but, I'm sure that if I'm going to make this work, I >had better get this figured out as well! >

Well, the book does cost like $20 and it will help you get motivated because he explains the health benefits in a way that you can understand them. Eades' do too, and maybe even better but wow, talk about deprivational! You really need motivation for that one.

Good luck and keep me posted!


I have hypoglycemia and am supposed to eat every 2 hrs. How does this effect my zone diet when I'm only supposed to eat 5 times a day? Should I should take the entire day's supply of meals and divide it between the number of meals I'm supposed to eat? Please advise. >

have figured this out by now but here goes:

An IV drip would be the best...low dose, zone balanced food, would keep insulin at bay. It really doesn't matter how many meals you eat in a day, but perhaps keep them to one block minimum and at least one hour apart. The more frequently you eat the smoother your insulin response.



How do you tell if you are eating too much protein? Thanks.


Too much protein and you will be pushed out of the zone effect. You will probably just get hungry before 4 hours since the excess protein will inhibit your fat metabolism.

You know what the ratios are, divide protein by carbos. .6 is the lowest you should go and 1.0 is the highest. If you err, err to the high side, that is more protein. I believe that there is more wiggle room on the high side, I feel I can go up slightly above 1.0 if I want but I never stray down into the .5 range. I know that's courting disaster. But the closer I get to .75 the better things go, I continue to drop excess fat and feel no hunger.

I hope that answers your question, if you need a more biochemical oriented explanation, I'll get them for you if you ask.

Yours, David

Bill wrote: David - what do you think of the Zone bars in combination with or in lieu of the Zone diet? My trainer has recommended them (he also sells them). Thanks Bill


I use the bars occasionally at work when I haven't planned my day right and don't have "real food" for my 4pm snack. I LOVE them and I could get very hooked on them if I wasn't so cheap. Actually I like to eat regular food better for snacks and like to be like a chemist combining carbo foods and protein foods and a dab of fat here and there to get it right. Maybe I'm the exception in that regard.

I sell the bars at my office. Just have a bunch of boxes open and sell them 2 for 5$ for anyone who wants to try them. I talk to everyone who wants to about the diet. One of the folks who sublets from us bought a box last week, he's not overweight but finds the bars give him a steady energy that he can't get from normal snacks. He used to go to the deli across the street and get a candy bar or soda so he really is excited about the bars and now we chat a lot about zone combination since he has felt the effect with the bars.

It really depends upon your lifestyle if the bars work for you. My sister uses them daily as does my mother for those times when you just cant eat or get stuck somewhere without zone food. Most people just can't afford them.

I believe that they are so perfectly balanced and Barry has honed the ingrediances so well over the years that if you want the maximum effect on the diet you probably should use them, especially for pre-workouts. I do a slight carbo load before my aerobics class but I'm still experimenting with the bars in this regard.

You might try asking Russel Swan about the bars, I think he works out a lot too. His URL is:



Hi. I'm confused...
I understand that I should eat a zone favorable snack before and after my workouts. But I need to eat so many food blocks a day, let's say 4 blocks, 3 times a day and two 1 block snacks. So how do I figure those workout snacks into this equation? Do I sutract from lunch or dinner, or does my workout need these two snacks for energy and recovery?
Thanks in advance.

Dear Ron, 
You are correct to eat a zone snack before and after a good workout. The fact that you are working out at a higher level should push up your activity factor and automatically adjust for the larger number of blocks of food. For example, me. I’m 182lbs @.85lbm%=154.7lbm. At an activity factor of .7 I need 15.4 blocks per day. If I workout everyday, my activity factor goes up to .8 which increases my blocks needed to 17.6! Just the two I need before and after my workouts. Voila!

If you find that you are losing more than 1.5 lbs of fat per week, that is too fast and probably you are losing LBM too. You would need to increase the number of total blocks in that case.

If you care “hitting the wall” during your workouts, you may also need more food before, or even add some extra carbs too. Consider also drinking your pre/post snacks so the nutrients are more easily assimilable.

Take a look at Jerry Connelly’s www sites at The Training Room...


Good luck and keep on Zoning!


Hi David,
First, let me thank you for the wonderful site on the zone diet. I am a vegetarian (milk is fine, no eggs) and was wondering if anyone has successfully followed the zone diet. Or is there any good recipies which adhere to the Zone diet principles which should also be vegan.


Thanks so much for the note.

Since starting the zone I do eat some chicken but to tell the truth, I would rather eat vegetarian. We eat ALOT of soy products. (Have you seen the Green Giant Garden Burgers yet in the frozen section?). I also live on cottage cheese and mozzarella. We eat fish too but avoid red meat. It is not easy but we do it.

I don’t have any real novel ideas for you, I’m sorry to say. But we do it and you can too. It depends how strict a vegi you are. If you do not eat anything with a face, you have to avoid fish and that is a great source of protein.

We discovered Setian, a wheat gluten product that can be stir fried with vegies. Also TVP (texturized vegetable protein) is a terrific food item to add to beans and rice or any soup. Mix in some cheese and you’re there! I also use a protein drink every morning.

The Vegetarian Web page is geared for Non-Zoners and I was disappointed with it. But check it out. I think I have a link to it on my zone page.

The zone program is very new. Low carbo diets are not very well accepted in the “real-fat world” so this is why there is not much data out there. YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!!! You can create a web page for vegetarian zoners!!! There is a great need. Then let me and others know you did it and cyberspace will be a better place because of you!!! I will promote your web site. Let me know! In fact, if you want, you can do some research, compose the page like you want it and send it to me and I'll hang it on my site with your name on it. (I think I'll eventually put one on the site anyway but you know how it goes, who has all that time???)

Keep Zoning!!! David

Please send a reference, if you can, for software that helps with menu planning on the Zone diet. Thanks.

Dear Vivian (?),

Here are a smattering of software info that I pulled together for you from the zone list. If you use Netscape to view it, you will get clickable web sites.

A freeware teaser program and a $40 full database version:
The price is $39. There is no printed manual. The registered version functions the same as the shareware version except for a larger food database. If you don't think the shareware version is any good, you should not pay for the registered version because you will be disappointed.
You can download it from http://users.aol.com/nutrigenie/ or ftp://ftp.coast.net/SimTel/win3/food/ngzdmp44.zip . Instead of occasionally finding a Zone-favorable dish/recipe, you can use the program to identify which foods in the large database are zf, and which combinations are zf. Definitely worth a look.

Ted has a GREAT zone block calculator and textlists to help pick foods but it isn't a menu planner like nutrigenie. eMail him at:
Ted Wendler for more info. $40 I think.

Zone Buddy: a spreadsheet program, free 

NutriSoft, which has a Zone Diet meal 
planning software. Don't know the URL, try to search for it.

A good nutritional software program (The Food Processor by ESHA Research) Can analyze not only macronutrients but micronutrients and essential fatty acids. No URL.

MasterCook does nutritional analysis. You can look up information for an ingredient or a recipe. You can add information for additional ingredients. No URL

Cooking Light version at Costco for $29.99. No URL

"Lifeform" program from Fitnesoft(WWW site with Demo available. The retail version comes with 11,000 foods in the database and you can add your own from the nutritional labels. This program is the best I've seen and is as easy to use as any program. I read where someone referred to as the quicken of nutritional software. The lowest cost I found was on the internet for around $40. No URL.

david, A friend and I are new to the Zone plan this week. So far we are very pleased with the way we feel and how satisfied we are after we eat our meals, which sometimes at first glance look small. 
I would like to know more about you. You said you have been zoning (?) for 6 months. you also said that you have a support group who started onthe plan primarily to lose weight. Have they been successful? Is there anythin that makes you an expert on the Zone other than having done it and read the book?

Please write back. We feel a little lost here although we are keeping the faith. Also write if you know of other support groups in NY or NJ.

Andrea and family,

Welcome to the Zone. Well, I have been a Chiropractor for 16 years and have read a lot about nutrition and biochemistry is a favorite of mine.

I like to eat healthily but I still have fun too. The Zone has been one of the best things that has happened to me. I will eat like this for the rest of my life, thank you very much. I have almost reached the 170’s. This means I have lost almost 35lbs of fat since November!

I just had my blood drawn this morning to see if my cholesterol has lowered from 269 where it was a few years ago. I can’t wait to see my doctor’s face.

I am in the writing stage of a lecture I will give in a few weeks to a local massage school here in San Diego so I am firming up my knowledge of the effects of insulin on fat metabolism which is the heart of the Zone. If that marks me as an expert than I am but I do not have studies in chemistry above the organic chem. level and a few post graduate courses in biochemistry.

You said that you feel that your meals look small. The question is “how do you feel”. It’s real important that you never feel deprived on this diet. For example, usually when I eat a meal, I could keep on eating until I burst. I don’t know when to stop. So I have to let my higher consciousness tell me that I probably have eaten my 4 or 5 blocks of food and should stop. I usually put on my plate what appears to be 3 blocks of food so that I can have a second helping of 1 or 2 depending upon how good it tasted. Then I wait for a half an hour. If my tummy does not feel full (and I mean a little uncomfortably full) then I figure that I didn’t eat enough. The next check in time is 4 hours later. If I feel hungry, I hit the ridge for a snack. If I’m not hungry, then I wait until my appastate goes off. If I can go 5 hours before feeling hunger, I know I ate IN THE ZONE at the last meal and probably just the right amount of food. Don't skimp ON FAT!!!

Does that sound crazy to you? Well maybe it does to someone who has just started and is a little skeptical but I think it beats the way I was eating before: slug down a bunch of pasta or rice and a few vegetables with a little cheese melted on top, watch TV for a while and then take a nap. What I like about this form of eating is that I have some focus and control over how I feel.

After your second week of zoning you will find that the portions are much larger than you thought they were at the start. You will find you can eat less at a sitting if you want because you know that you can always snack whenever you get hungry. That fear that “oh know, this is all I can eat until my next meal” goes away. Just eat if you’re hungry. But eat zonefully.

Yesterday I created a zone snack that I love. 1 cup low fat ricotta cheese, 1 cup Dannon vanilla yogurt lite, 2 cups water, 2 packages no fat Jello instant fudge pudding. This is zoneful (.66 - a little on the low side) and delicious! I had some ricotta left over so I tried something else: equal parts ricotta and the yogurt and I crumbled in a few graham crackers. It makes a zoneful cheese cake-like filling.

I run a zone/diet support group at my office every other week on Monday night. Most of the folks (10-12 in all right now who float in and out) want to lose weight and some are into the health benefits. We are exploring Eades’ Protein Power for a few of them who are extremely insulin resistant. PP is a true DIET. I tried it a few days and went right back to the zone. It’s all protein and vegetables, only 30 grams of carbos per day. I just don't want to subject myself to that torture.

Zone groups are fun. Most of the members are our friends, some are my patients and some co-workers. We have two children zoning too. What I suggest is that you start your own group. Just invite the people who you know who are interested and you will be surprised how quick everyone becomes an expert. We make zone snacks almost every time and swap ideas and recipes. It really helps. Just about everyone who has followed the plan has lost fat or dress sizes. My mother hasn’t lost weight but she is very happy zoning because she never is hungry anymore. Yesterday she said that she’s ready to cut down her blocks so she can lose some fat.

Sorry for the long letter, please let me know how you are doing as you go along. I will answer any question you have if I can.

Yours from the Zone,


Dave, What is the time frame for fat loss. Would it be safe to say that I should be looking long term and not instant loss. Do you have any secrects to this diet. Gary

Dear Gary,
Glucagon causes water loss in the body so at the start of the diet your insulin is under control for the first time in a long while and there is usually a water loss and rapid weight drop of 5 lbs or so. After about 10 days the system settles down and you begin to see real fat loss.

The loss, if you are normal, is steady thereafter at about 1-2 lbs per week. My loss was linear for the first 5 months and began to slow down when I reached ideal weight.

Secrets!!! Cool question. I think the secrets depend on what you are trying to accomplish but I’ll guess you want fat loss so.. I think one secret is, when you start and are highly motivated, go ahead and let yourself feel a little hunger now and then. It will speed up the fat loss even though it is said that you shouldn’t ever feel hunger. I did it as long as I could stand it and secretly enjoyed the knowledge that I know I was burning extra fat during that time period (hours). (I’m weird)

Now I look for slow weight loss with no hunger and long periods between eating. I found that I had to get away from my fear of eating fat to do this. I eat alot more fat now and find I can go sometimes 5 hours between hunger pangs.

The secret is to eat smaller, frequent meals to iron out the insulin response.

The secret (for me) is to drink soy protein drinks in the morning and when I come home from a carbo binge at a restaurant or party.

The secret is after I have snacked on triscuits, I eat a mozzarella stick.

The secret is, exercise 2 days a week and sweat.

The secret is, beer is bad, white wine and hard stuff is ok.

The secret is, carbohydrates are bad, protein is good.

The secret is, don’t eat sweets- you will begin to crave them again.

The secret is to forgive yourself when you screw up.

The secret is positive thoughts, believe in yourself when detractors say stupid things like “you look emaciated, I think you should have more meat on your bones.” They are not used to seeing people at ideal fat percentages.

The secret is, you can loss fat and keep it off forever if you want, it all you choice in the foods you eat every day, every time the dinner bell sounds.

Good luck and PLEASE write back in a few weeks,

Yours David

thanks again for all your help and concern. If their are any publications I could be referring to besides Sears' book please let me know. Andrea

Eades Protein Power is a good read and explains the low carb approach very well. You can skim it too. I wouldn't suggest trying to follow the plan, it is very restrictive and I found that I had cravings and felt deprived.

There are several low-carb newsgroups on the net too you could check out. Kinda interesting to read what people say who have been doing this for a while.

Good luck,


I see very little mention in the Zone info of the problems inherent to combining food sources..... That is - carbos break down best in an alkaline environment (intestines) and fat/protein are best digested in an acid environment(stomach). Combining carbos with fats/protein during a meal as seen in many Zone recipes can cause problems with absorption of nutrients from either, as the digestive environments actually combat each other. Has there been any Zone research done on recipes that better separate food sources to limit digestion/absorption problems? Thx, Sarah

Food combining kind of goes out the window in the zone. One of the requirements is to eat carbos and protein and fat at the same meal so that the mass of food slows down the rapid carbo uptake thus blunting the insulin rise.

I do not see why one couldn't simply eat the proteins and fats first, wait a short period of time for the stomach acid to begin it's job and then eat the carbo foods. Actually I think that sequence has been suggested for years, if I recall correctly. I do this as much as I can because I beleive that eating the carbs first and waiting too long is courting disaster and so I don't chance it. I don't like waiting more than 15minutes before adding protein and fat. That happens quite rarely. For example, I usually drink a protein drink in the AM when I'm blurry eyed and in a few minutes eat my oatmeal. It works for me.

No research that I'm aware of regarding the zone effect but you could contact Sears directly by phone and ask.

Good Zoning, David

Dr. Brown, I recently started eating in The Zone and your page has been very helpful. However, I don't feel I've quite reached The Zone. I have been calculating my portions very carefully, but still seem to get hungry within a couple of hours after a meal. Where do I go from here? Do I add more fat, lessen carbs, add carbs, add protein or what? My main goal (along with more energy) is fat loss and I am afraid of adding too much fat even if it is monounsaturated. I'd appreciate some suggestions on how to figure out what my body needs to reach The Zone and eliminate this constant hunger. I read some suggestions by Sears on this matter, but it mostly confused me. Thanks so much. Carol P.S. Also, I thought that alot of fat-free products had extra sugar in them which I would think would enter the bloodstream too fast thus causing that awful cycle...in a handout from Sears he recommends some fat-free dressing on a salad. What do you think? Are fat-free dressings and other similiar products ok or is it better to go with the low-fat or regular version?

Dear Carol, Thanks. I’m glad you have found my pages helpful, now let’s see if I can help you here. The answer is most likely that you are still “fat phobic”. You simply MUST give that up, it just is not true that eating fat makes you fat. The fat is the secret to lasting more than a few hours before feeling hungry.

Are you feeling tired or sleepy after 2 hours post eating? If so, you may be eating too may carbos at your last meal. You missed the zone and spiked insulin, dropped blood sugar in two hours and zonked.

If you are just hungry, it is probably just not enough fat. Fat does not spike insulin, only incorrect carb/protein ratios. (low pro-high carb.).

If you are perfectly balanced, try adding an extra block of food at your meal, even if you go over your total daily allotment. As you ease into the diet and the dust settles you can start cutting back. Be good to yourself. Remember, as long as you are eating the correct balance of food, you can eat up to 5 blocks at one meal. That’s alot of food and it will last you a long time. Just forget about fat loss for now and concentrate on correct hormone balance (which is the REAL reason to Zone, fat loss is a by-poroduct).

Fat loss will come but you must get in the zone first. If you are way overweight, you are probably very insulin resistant and it will take a few weeks for your cells to get used to normal insulin stimulation. They will eventually calm down, begin to react normally, and start converting fat into glucose.

Start mild exercise to stimulate your circulation. Drink lots of water to help the process. Maybe eat closer to the .9 side of the ratio, that is, try higher protein levels and smaller carbs. (7gms pro for every 8 grms Carb) but stay at 3 grams of fat.

It will work, David

My family is vegetarian. we were wondering about protein sources. which are the best? protein powders, spirulina, etc. we have all gained weight since becoming vegan. we need to loose weight because there are diabetics on both sides of the family. thanks, sheryl

When I was a vegi I ate tofu a lot but I ate eggs and milk products too so protein is not too problematical. Have you tried seitan or TVP? These can be added to any meal in various ways. Boy, if you can see your way to eating fish, you would have it made. But I know, they have a face.

All protein powders are great in my book (all are equal in their effect too). Some folks hate them because they make them feel like they are on a diet but I really enjoy the big "hit" they provide. I look at this diet as providing a constant series of choices for me. I decide just how I am going to "spend" my carbohydrate allotment at each meal. Of course the protein level sets this for me too so I like PP since it is so concentrated that I can always get enough carbos to satisfy me.

I think I have read that there are added benifits when eating soy products so maybe soy protein is better for you than egg or milk type. I don't think you can eat enough spirulina to make a meal out of it but if you like that stuff, try it. It is very good for you, full of enzymes.

You are doing the right thing if you are pre-diabetic following the Zone. It is a sensible diet, one you can stay with for life. My triglycerides dropped from 238 in 1994 to 63 last week! Cholest/hdl from 7.0 to 3.6!!! This diet works, no doubt.

Stay with it and drop me a note if you are having any trouble. David

I had read that protein drinks (so easy! I like chocolate whey......) are not recommended because of the large surface area they have in the stomach, being liquid. This makes absorption less reliably slow maybe.......and that solid proteins are better....... But in the AM I just can't manage anything too solid and my whey shake is always the preferred choice for breakfast. Have you heard anything about protein drinks to tha effect?


I'm sure that digestion is enhanced with liquids due to increased surface area but don't forget you always eat carbo foods and fats with the drinks so those foods will slow down the stomach emptying time too. PP drinks are very successful for me and most people so I don't think the small nuance of slightly increased uptake will effect the zone.

Of course the insulin spike is what you are trying to control by combining foods properly. Protein has very little effect on insulin anyway so if it did get up taken rapidly, not much would happen anyway. It is the carbohydrate in the presence of very little protein that causes the most insulin release. Eades' book Protein Power has a very good explanation of all this stuff if Sears' book wasn't clear to you.

I drink them all and use them anytime I'm in trouble; I have rushed home after a high carbo meal at a restaurant and gobbled up a Pro drink. I know it may be a little late but I also know that my stomach is still full of food from the dinner so at least I can zone the contents of my stomach. Pretty weird thinking, huh?

Yours, David

ps. The following is from zone listserver...

Does not the amount of chewing rather than the degree to which the food is processed determine its surface area, so if foods with the same fiber content are all chewed to the same liquid consistancy, would they not end up being absorbed at the same rate regardless of their state prior to consumption? 
Answer: Great observation. Chewing has been recomended since grandma's apple pie was on the stove cooking. Chewing does help break the foods apart and expose more active sites for breakdown in the stomach and more importantly in the small intestine where all the absorption goes on. But likewise, the chewing breaks down the food much like a canonball beaks down a brick building: eventhough the building is down and bricks everywhere, the bricks, in many cases, are still bricks and therefore suseptible to the same digestive processes. It isn't until the bricks become grains of sand that the real efficiency comes in.

Some questions: (all these are from Cindy) How serious are you about avoiding the "bad foods" - like whole grain breads, pasta, rice etc.? I think if I could have those things it would make this a reasonable diet. I love pasta with pesto, and homemade pizza once a week. I have a bread machine - which I have weaned myself from already except on rare occasions. I do beleive that bread is a real downer for me and many people. But is it reasonable to think you could have one slice per day? If so, then should you not have pasta in that day?

I now think in these terms: Instead of eating cooked vegetables on top of my rice or pasta, I eat pasta or rice on top of my vegetables. A Simple Twist of Food. I have found Vogel Bread which has only 6 gms of C per slice. I now have a sandwich whenever I want to. Just be sure you have protein and fat with your bread and that it doesn’t exceed 5 blocks per meal.

You mention protein drinks in the morning. Could you tell me what exactly you have in the morning with your protein drink and what kind of drink is it?

I use two kinds of PP. One is high protein and nocarb (24P, 1c) and the other is like 17P with 9C. I mix them like 2:1 so until the P:C ratio gives me about 4 blocks of P and 1 B of C. This lets me eat up to 3 blocks of carb foods and fat to get to zone. I con’t give you actual scoops because yours will be different. You just have to sit down and do some figuring and then write it on your can and refer to it until you just “know it”.

I like soy protein because I read that it is the best for your body, but any PP is OK. It’s all protein.

Is there a source of vegetarian/vegan recipes for the Zone diet? I am usually very creative, but would love to see some to get me started.

I am working with vegetarian in my group to add a kitchen on my web site. Look for it on the menus page. It’s Cooking with Karen.

Do you take any supplements? I currently take Evening Primrose Oil capsules - 135 mg GLA per day. According to Sears, I should take 50 - 100 times more EPA in supplement form, if I am taking GLA supplements. I bought some fish body oil caps at GNC, but can't tell if they are of the distilled variety.

If they say “Cholesterol Free” they are distilled. I take an EPA tablet per day and some Super Blue Green Algae because it is a good source of GLA and eat oatmeal. I take a multi min and vit from Bronson. I take stuff for my prostate when I remember. I drink 1 oz of liquid mineral toddy from Soaring Eagle. I gobble a few calcium tabs and chew vit C during the day.

What do you think of total body detoxification programs that include a few days of fasting beginning with easy to digest fruits and veggies - raw and juices etc. I was about to begin such a program before I read the Zone book. I am now really perplexed as to whether to follow this 3 week detoxification program or not. It certainly does not come close to meeting the Zone requirements. Three weeks is a long time. It just sounded wonderful - to totally rid your system of all toxins. Maybe it would be a good starting point and them launch into the Zone???????

By all means, fast. But fasting is not zoning. they have to be done separately.

One thing that makes me wonder about Sears is that he does not seem to be concerned with where the macronutrients come from - organic produce - organic sources for meat and protein etc. He dosen't mention quality of the food. I also am shocked that he advocates fast food as if it were just as acceptable as health food. He only lightly indicates that it is for emergencies etc. I would really wonder how healthy a person is that is eating the "typical American diet" of fast food even though they were staying in the Zone????

I think Sears is trying to be as realistic as possible to meat the needs of “average Americans”. If you told a typical red blooded American male that he can’t ever have a Big Mac again, he’d burn the book and forget the plan. The more you do this diet, the healthier choices you will make. You will start buying organic instead of commercial fresh foods. You will buy hormone free meats. Because you are eating less you are spending less and can afford to pay a little more for the food you eat.

There is another thing. Your body is more efficient on the diet. You use the food you eat more effectively, like a well tuned carburetor. You are making better hormones and so you can deal better with toxins in the diet than before.

I have a nutrition program that calculates everything (Eat Smart, Think Smart - which btw is a philosophy itself that I have followed for years). Would it be acceptable to just count my grams of CPFs in each meal and forget about those blocks - as long as I divide my requirements up between 3 meals and 2 snacks?


You mention letting yourself get hungry - why do you do this when Sears says that you should eat only when you are not hungry. I thought I understood that letting yourself get hungry throws you out of the Zone?????

(I understand that feeling hunger means you are out of the zone but)I like to experience my stomach growling occasionally just to remind myself what real hunger feels like. When I mentioned that in my FAQ I said “don’t let anyone know this but...” I was just joking a little. But a small amount of hunger is OK before a meal.


Zone Diet FAQ

Dr. Sears'authentic Zone FAQ

Zone Diet Basics

Dr. Brown shares his clear understanding of how to start Zoning today.

Zone Mailbag

Dr. Brown answeres many questions about the eating plan from people like you.

Zone Lectures

These are transcrips of several lectures on important Zone concepts.



Well, come on, let’s be real. If you eat excessive amounts of fat, you will gain fat on your body. What we are talking about here is unlike ultra low fat diets, moderate amounts of fat in your diet can be burned for energy and your stored body fat will also be burned when you are eating in the Zone balanced way.

This does not easily occur while eating the standard diet. The key here is that you must be eating in a Zone balanced way (40-30-30) in order for the fat burning to take place. Otherwise most of your dietary fat will be stored away in your fat cells, inexorably increasing your body fat year by year. This is the dilemma that most Americans face today as they scratch their heads wondering why they are not losing weight as they eat all those non-fat products like rice cakes, pasta, bread, and cereal.

Let’s see why this happens. First certain assumptions must be made. 1. Eating a carbohydrate loaded meal will increase your blood glucose. I don’t think anyone would disagree with that. 2. A rapid rise in blood sugar will stimulate the pancreas to squirt extra insulin into the blood in an attempt to lower the glucose to a safe level. 3. High insulin levels block carnitine from bringing fatty acids into muscle cell’s mitochondria to make energy. The FA’s are therefore turned away, reform into triglycerides and re-enter the blood stream. 4. Meanwhile, the elevated insulin stimulates lipoprotein lipase which helps transport the extra fatty acids into the fat cells. 5. The biochemical mechanism for this effect on the fat cells is not thoroughly understood although we believe that insulin causes the fat cells to be less sensitive to normal levels of circulating epinephrine. Epinephrine normally would encourage the breakdown of triglycerides in the fat cells and cause them to release free fatty acids into the blood stream for use as energy fuel but since this is not happening, more FA stays in the fat cells than exits.

Think of insulin as a storage hormone, it makes all the cells into a one way street: it packs away the carbs into the liver and muscles while at the same time keeps the fat cells in the storage mode. High levels of insulin dulls the fat cell’s ability to convert their stored fat into free fatty acids that can be used by the body as fuel. I think you can begin to see what is happening already with the fat in your diet. It hasn’t got a chance to be burned for energy, it is busy being stored away by insulin.

 Now let’s see how lower carb eating effects the picture. If you lower your percentage of carbohydrate in the diet you will maintain a lower insulin level. This will increase the fat cells sensitivity to epinepherine which will encourage them to release their stored body fat. At the same time low insulin levels produce higher glucagon levels. Glycogen acts to elevate another hormone, Hormone Sensitive Lipase (HSL) which mobilizes fatty acids out of the fat cells to provide more energy for the muscles. By eating low carb, you train your body to favor fat burning hormones. (HSL) It is not a lower level of fat in the diet that stimulates the fat cells to disgorge their stored fuel, it is the ABSENCE OF EXTRA CARBOHYDRATES. In other words: FAT DOES NOT MAKE YOU FAT, CARBOHYDRATES DO.

 Let’s look at a typical scenario of fat loss at 1 1/2 lbs per week. This amounts to 750 cals per day. That is the amount derived from 83 grams of fat per day. But since you are already eating around 50 grams of fat in your diet, the total amount of fat you need to burn per day to lose 1.5 lbs per week is 133 grams (the 50 from the diet and the 83 from the fat cells). This is about 1200 cals of energy derived solely from fat. Now, 50 grams of dietary fat daily divided by 3 grams per block = 15 blocks. When you add 15 blocks of Protein and carbs to the fat your total daily caloric intake is only about 1365. But since you are burning 750 cals in body fat, the total calories used daily is 2115, which is close to what is suggested by the ADA, etc. This is how Zone burns fat while still maintaining adequate caloric needs.

So lets look at some actual numbers. Using a 15 daily block zone diet (40-30-30): this is a total of 1365 cals. 30% from fat means you eat 45 grams daily of dietary fat. This is NOT a high fat diet, that is considered a low fat diet. 30% from protein is 102 grams daily. This is just slightly higher than the ADA recommendation which I may add is based upon the average, sedentary (SICK) population. 40% carbs is 136 grams daily, just enough to keep the fat burning TCA cycle operational, avoiding ketosis and muscle wasting but low enough to avoid insulin elevation and encourage fat burning hormones to elevate.



This method of weight control is not as concerned with dietary fat control as it is with insulin control. Elevated insulin levels block fat from leaving the fat cells causing us to always store fat as opposed to releasing it and losing our fat padding. So the question remains, how do we regulate insulin so as to maximize fat loss as well as other cardiovascular health benefits? The answer hinges on how INSULIN RESISTANT you are.

The Reaven studies indicated that about 25% of the population are insulin resistant and that most of them were overweight. In the US, 80% of the 16 million type II diabetes were overweight before getting diabetes. To be fair, 30 million US adults are obese, yet only about 15% are type II diabetics. So obesity does not always lead to diabetes. Genetics also play a part as perhaps other unknown risk factors as well. Nevertheless, the best way for most people to avoid progression to diabetes is to lose fat.

Obesity leads to NIDDM (Non-Insulin dependent diabetes myelitis) by decreasing the body’s ability of use insulin. This is called INSULIN RESISTANCE. Two mechanisms have been proposed: either the fat cells become so engorged that the surface receptors for insulin are distorted and do not work as well, or the receptors are “burned out” from over stimulation of insulin, which is a very harsh hormone.

On the other extreme, there appears to be an equal number of folks that seem to be immune from overproduction of insulin and and the development of obesity no matter how much food they eat. Between these two extremes are the majority of people who are usually most successful with dietary control similar to Zone levels.

So visualize yourself on a continuum from LOW INSULIN RESISTANCE to HIGH INSULIN RESISTANCE. It is your unique position that determines how stringent you must be in Zone balance of foods. HIGH IR means you must eat fewer carbs per unit of protein. You need to eat closer to a one to one ratio ie. 7 grams protein to 7 grams carb. Low IR means you can eat higher levels of carbs. You can eat closer to .6 ie. 6 grams protein to 10 grams carb. For the AVERAGE IR, the best ratio is .77 For each 7 grams of protein, you must eat 9 grams of carbs.

Some foods are more insulin productive than others. These foods roughly correspond to the glycymic index of carbs. These are listed in the book and other lists. A HIGH IR person needs to eat more low glycymic index foods and a Low IR person may eat more high GI foods. An AVERAGE IR can mix the GI. It is suggested that you begin the eating plan at the average .77 level. You will find out after a month if you need to push the ratio up closer to 1.0 or if you can relax it down toward .6  So with these concepts in mind, let’s begin to look at food combinations that control excessive insulin output. Remember as we go along that these meals can be modified to more closely match where you fall on the continuum of IR.



 Good evening, My name is David Brown. I am a chiropractor right down the street from here. Last November I tipped the scales at 215 lbs. I was buying size 40 waist pants because my 38’s were getting snug and I was into acceptance. I found that I needed to take a nap after lunch several times a week and my back hurt me most of the time. My doctor wasn’t too excited with my blood work, he explained that my elevated cholesterol was probably due to my triglycerides being so high and suggested that I cut down foods that were high in fat, like cheese and butter. I just ignored him because I knew that I was eating a very good diet that was high in complex carbohydrates just like the ADA recommends in the food pyramid. I had some bad food habits but if I cut them out I’d be eating like a monk and anyway, his waistline was as big as mine.

Then one day my mother handed me a diet book to review for her. It had this corny title .. ENTER THE ZONE by Dr. Barry Sears. (HOLD UP BOOK). I went into immediate resistance .. My very first thought was “Oh no, not another fad diet book.” But for some reason I read it. And the darn thing has changed my life. I made a small change in the balance of my food intake and within days I started to lose fat that I had been carrying around and complaining about for nearly 30 years. I’m now closing in on 35lbs less fat, I don’t feel tired anymore, my low back feels good, I’m doing aerobics twice a week. My cholesterol/HDL ratio is down from 7.0 (high cardiac risk) to 3.6 (below the low range) and my triglycerides are the lowest my doctor has ever seen: They plummeted from a high of 238 to only 63! And cholesterol dropped 16% into the safe range. Basically I have gone from a high cardiac risk to a low cardiac risk and I intend to stay that way.

Most people feel that they should loose some fat and need to go on a diet. In fact the statistics show that 75% of Americans are over their ideal weight and 20% are considered obese. (Hold up article) How many here have tried a diet and found they couldn’t stay on it? (raise arm) So what stops us from dieting?
*Diet food tastes bad.
*You get bored eating the same foods.
*You eat in fast food restaurants a lot.
*Can’t eat some of your favorite foods.
*Losing fat is slow so you don’t get rewarded with fast results.
*You have to be in the right mind set to diet.
*Fatty foods are bad to eat yet they taste the best.
*No snacking
( * = These are not a problem on Zone Diet)
?Easier if you are single and living alone because you don’t have to cook for others or have bad food around.
?You can’t just grab and eat anything you see.
?You have to go grocery shopping more.
?It takes too much time to cook good meals.
?Bad foods are easier to cook.
?Dieting is a chore, it’s a job to focus on your food.
?Have to have family support.
( ? = These are questionable )
!You have to eat regularly.
(! = This is necessary on the Zone diet)

Can you think of any others... (look at audience...) It appears that changing eating habits is extremely difficult yet millions of people are on some kind of diet right now. Why are we trying to do the impossible? Is it for our health? Our vanity? Why?.... Why Change the way we eat?
*To lose fat and look better
*To get healthier
*To feel better
*To gain muscle
*To control your sweet tooth cravings
*The Doctor told you to lower your cholesterol

Can you think of any others?.... (Look at audience...) But tonight lets look at one reason to decrease our body fat. And that is for better HEALTH . Here are the deadly diseases of civilization: hypertension, heart disease, diabetes and obesity. The common thread found with all of these diseases is EXCESS UPPER-BODY FAT. The popular belief supported by the ADA, AHA, FDA, and most dietitians is that excess fat consumption leads to excess body fat. If you eat fat, you get fat. The fat that touches my lips goes to my hips. We have all been told to reduce our fat consumption in our diet to 15% of our daily calories and increase our grains and cereal, rice and pasta consumption to 70%.

(hold up cereal box with food pyramid) But here is a paradox: Americans have heeded the call to eat less fat. Food corporations have heeded the call to produce low fat/no fat foods for our consumption. We have succeeded in reducing per capita fat consumption over the past 10 years. And yet the deadly diseases of hypertension, heart disease, high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity have steadily risen over the same period. WHY? The answer is INSULIN.

Now, I would like to ask you, how do you fatten cattle and other animals? You fatten cattle and other animals by feeding them lots and lots of low fat grains and cereals. So, how to you fatten the human animal? By feeding them lots and lots of low fat grains and cereals. Could it be that it isn’t FAT that makes you FAT? Could it be that good old carbohydrates make you FAT?

How can eating healthy grains and cereals cause these diseases of hypertension, heart disease, high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity? Because the stomach is scared. It wants to survive. Our stomach is the same stomach that the cave people had. (Paleolythic) The other reason is that the stomach can’t tell the difference between a 16 oz coca-cola and a plate full of spegetti. The intestines convert all the carbohydrates into glucose and dump it into the bloodstream for our brain and muscles and organs to use. And any sugar left over is tucked away in the fat cells for that rainy day in the cave when the pickings are slim. The stomach is afraid that this is the last meal it will have for a few days. It wants to save all the glucose it can for those long cold nights in the cave. So we developed a special hormone through evolutionary selection. A powerful hormone that sweeps the precious glucose out of the blood and stores it safely away in the cells. That hormone is INSULIN.

But we don’t live in caves anymore. We have refrigerators.!! We have cars to take us to supermarkets so we can fill those refrigerators! And yet we have insulin ... an extremely efficient storage hormone. This is a deadly combination because we also have access to the most abundant food supply in the world while at the same time we have an extremely efficient biochemistry to convert it all into fat.

Excess body fat is due to over eating. The old nutritional advice that excess calories leads to excess fat is true. But what is unknown is that excess fat is a result of excess insulin production. Too much insulin and the blood rapidly clears out all the glucose in it. We get hungry and eat more. Excess insulin leads directly to hypoglycemia or low blood sugar which leads to cravings for sweets, feeling hunger and low energy levels. Hunger is what makes us over eat. If we could just control the amount of food we eat, we could stay thin but America is fat because it just can’t stop eating.

It’s not a matter of controlling how much FAT is on our plate, it is a matter of controlling how much INSULIN is in our blood. To control insulin is to control the desire to over-eat. But high insulin levels cause more than excess fat on our bodies. It is responsible for something more deadly than that. (DRAW ICEBERGS) (Four peaks labeled HEART DISEASE, HYPERTENSION, DIABETES, OBESITY) Our well meaning doctors and researchers have been battling these diseases with every medical miracle that they can muster. For Hypertension they use beta blockers and diuretics. For Heart disease they slice open the chest and perform 300,000 coronary bypasses last year alone. For High cholesterol we use clofibrate but research has shown that although cholesterol blocking drugs reduced death from heart disease, an equal number of patients died of violent deaths, like suicide and homicide. (Hold up Death Curve Charts) For Diabetes we inject more insulin. And for Obesity we are put on fen/phen and starvation diets that lead to a yo-yo effect where we gain all the fat back and more.

What is under all of these icebergs? What is the root cause of these modern diseases? (Write on the bottom of the icebergs) “HYPERINSULINEMIA” Basically what you eat causes a hormonal reaction in your cells between Glucagon and Insulin. The pancreas produces these two hormones which are opposites. If one is elevated, the other is suppressed. Carbohydrate intake stimulates insulin production while protein intake stimulates Glucagon production and also effects fat metabolsim.

(Hold up and read “The Roles of Insulin and Glucagon) (Hold up “Eicosanoids ar Controlled By Dietary Fat”) When you metabolize fat in the presence of Glucagon, you produce more P1 hormones (Positive effects or “good” hormones). When you burn Fat in the presence of insulin you produce more P2 hormones (Negative effects) or “bad” hormones. (metabolites of Aracodonic Acid) (Hold up Eicosanoid Hormone Chart) Prostacyclins act as vasodilators or vasoconstrictors. These effect all arterioles and can restrict or enhance the flow of blood to the heart muscles. Prostaglandins a similar but are more involved with controlling inflammation and pain. Thromboxanes activate platelet aggregation and can cause blood clots that lead to heart attacks. Leukotrienes Dilate airways or cause bronchial constriction. They play a role in the allergic response and asthma. Lipoxins are involved in the inflammatory response. And hydroxylated fatty acids regulate immune function.

The production of positive hormones is The Zone Effect. It is the goal of the diet, the reason for eating. It turns out that it is strongly controlled by the balance of protein foods to carbohydrate foods at each meal. So strongly, in fact, that food alone is probably more powerful than any drug in controlling insulin levels, glucagon levels and shifting the activated fatty acids into favorable metabolic pathways. This Zone balance shifts the production of positive hormones to the side of anti-inflammation, anti-thrombosis, vasodilation and bronco dilation.  Furthermore there is an experience of increased physical endurance. This is the reason why being in the Zone has had a powerful impact on athletes and will play a major role in the Olympic Games this summer.

(Hold up Protein to Carbohydrate Ratio chart) The portal to the Zone effect depends upon eating combinations of Protein and Carbohydrates that come as close to the center of the Zone as possible. Depending on the person’s sensitivity to insulin, a “slop factor” allows most people to “eyeball” the quantities after a little practice. Some of the people in my Zone Group consider the diet to be a “thinking person’s diet” because sometimes you have to do some additions and multiplications. If you know that, for example, 7 goes into 28 four times you will find this part easy.

What leads to HYPERINSULINEMIA?  Eating too much sugar. But what is sugar? A carbohydrate. So eating too many carbohydrates leads to hyperinsulinemia. Here is the process: Eat carbos  - blood sugar rises rapidly -  pancreas reacts by releasing large amounts of insulin  - the insulin clears the blood of the extra sugar  (it is a storage hormone) - blood sugar level over shoots to the low side -  the brain gets sleepy and tells the body to shut down for a nap - the stomach sends out pangs of hunger- you go in search of more carbohydrates (read cookies).

Over years and years of over eating pure carbohydrates our cells are in constant stimulation and eventually become resistant to the insulin and the pancreas has to put out even more insulin than it did before to produce the same action that it used to get. This is the beginning of a condition called “Adult Onset Diabetes”. Another more accurate way of looking at this is to call it “Insulin Resistance”.

There are 14 Million Diabetics in USA and 90% are Adult onset, the type that responds well to dietary control. It is the long term over-eating of carbohydrates that leads to insulin resistance, excess insulin blood levels and the diseases that are associated with excess insulin; heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and obesity. How do you control the release of insulin? By slowing the digestion of the carbohydrates we eat. This is actually a simple and effective method and this is where the Zone Diet comes in. The Zone plan is a lot like your grandmother. Remember she used to say “You should always eat regular, balanced meals”? She was right. But now we have medical and practical evidence that proves she was right. (Hold up Diet Composition circle graphs) Here is why balanced meals are helpful. When you eat carbohydrates along with protein and fat, the extra foods slow down the carbohydrates from leaving the stomach too fast and alarming the pancreas. Also protein foods have stimulate the production of Glucagon which has the opposite effect of insulin. Fat in the diet is slow to be converted into glucose in the blood so you stay satisfied longer between meals so you are not tempted to snack on carbohydrates. Also fat and protein do not stimulate insulin release. (show “How Food Affects Insulin and Glucagon”)

How ironic this all is?! Fat does not turn into fat. Those healthy grains and pastas at the base of the food pyramid turns out to be bad for our health. And it turns out that it may be more healthy to eat those fat laden meats than a plate of healthy rice and beans. Good heavens, how can this be? Now how about this? ...  Eat a Mars bar and two fat free cheese sticks and you have a better balance of food that will produce healthy hormones for 3 hours than if you had the same amount of calories of spegetti with marinara sauce. You will probably find that you won’t be hungry in two hours either. The reason is because the stomach is Politically incorrect (as Dr. Sears puts it). It can not tell the difference between one carbohydrate and another. They all turn into glucose and that’s that.

Now actually some carbohydrate foods enter the blood stream quicker than others and so are said to be less desirable than others but you can go a long way to counteracting the stimulating effect of any carbohydrate on insulin by adding a balancing amount of protein and fat (in this case, the cheese sticks). I know that I am the only parent on my block who says to my little girl “Sure honey, you can have that slurpie ..... but be sure to eat a cheese stick with it.”

OK. Now I’ll just finish up here with a quick list of the mechanics of the diet and then I’ll answer some questions if I can. The diet may be considered to be a reduced carbohydrate diet. But actually it is more accurate to say “a moderate carbohydrate diet” because you are eating more than you need to provide quick energy and keep you out of ketosis. The diet is considered to be a protein adequate diet- not high protein. In fact, the entire diet is based on the exact amount of protein your body needs daily. All other quantities of food are based on this initial calculation to insure that your muscles, bones and blood receive enough protein to grow and repair. The diet is considered to be a low fat diet although based on what the dietitians have been telling us, it feels like a liberal fat diet because fat is required and sought after instead of feared and avoided. The diet is based on consistency and balance and never gluttony or lopsidedness. You never think of eating only cabbage soup all day or other strange, fad diets. The meals are spread as evenly as possible through out the day: Breakfast, Lunch, afternoon snack, dinner, bedtime snack. This is the key to smoothing out the insulin spikes. Each meal ALWAYS consists of all three macro nutrients in as close to the same ratio as possible. For every 7 grams of protein you eat, combine it with 9 grams of carbohydrates and 3 grams of fat. This is the second key to smoothing out the insulin spikes.

Certain foods are considered desirable over other foods. For example, olive oil is superior to corn oil. Avocados are superior to cream cheese. Green beans are superior to carrots. Fish and turkey are superior to beef or liver. These "lower quality"  foods can still be eaten but with awareness and they can be adjusted for by altering one of the other foods in combination. (Remember the Mars bar and cheese sticks?)

Meals have a limit to their size both as to too much and too little. Too much at one time will stimulate insulin and too little will not be enough to create the Zone that enhance the production of positive hormones. The positive hormones are what make you feel good and shift your fat burning mechanisms into high gear. So if you want to feel better, stronger, and be free of the risk of heart attack or diabetes, this is the way to eat.

Oh , and by the way... losing excess body fat ...That’s also a byproduct of being in the Zone too.



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>>Phinney SD, Bistrian BR, Evans WI, CervinoE, and Blackburn CL. "The human metabolic response to chronic ketosis without caloric restriction." Metabolism 32: 769-776 (1983)

>>Sherman WM, Doyle JA, Lamb DR, and Strauss RH. "Dietary carbohydrate, muscle glycogen and excercise performance during 7d of training," Amer. 3. Clin. Nutr. 57: 21-31 (1993)

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Muojo DM, Leddy JJ. Horvath PJ' Awad AB, and Pendergast DR. "Effect of dietary fat on metabolic adjustments to maximal V02 and endurance in runners." Med. sci. Sports Exerc. 26: 8148 (1994)V

Phinney SD, Bistrian BR, Evans WI, CervinoE, and Blackburn CL. "The human metabolic response to chronic ketosis without caloric restriction." Metabolism 32: 769-776 (1983)

Sherman WM, Doyle JA, Lamb DR, and Strauss RH. "Dietary carbohydrate, muscle glycogen and excercise performance during 7d of training," Amer. 3. Clin. Nutr. 57: 21-31 (1993)

>>Sinzinger H and Rogatti W (eds.) Prostaglandin El in Atherosclerosis". Spinger-Verlag. New York, NY. (1986)

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Accordingly, the 2nd National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1983), published data on food consumption in the US. The number one foods are White bread, rolls, and crackers, #2 doughnuts, cookis and cake.

The newest NHANES III report shows a reduction in fat intake and an increase in obesity.

Hawley JA and Hopkins WG. Aerobic glycolytic and aerobic lipolytic power systems: A new paradigm with implications for endurance and ultra-endurance events. Sports Med. 1995, 19(4):240-250.

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Sherman WM and Leenders N. Fat loading: the next magic bullet? Int J Sports Nutr. 1995, 5(S):S1-S12.

Some papers on the issues of dietary adaptation, metabolism and performance:

Jones NL, Heigenhauser GJF, Kuksis A, Matsos CG, Sutton JR and Toews CJ. Fat metabolism in heavy exercise. Clin Sci. 1980, 59:469-478.

Callow M, Mortin A and Guppy M. Marathon fatigue: the role of plasma fatty acids, muscle glycogen and blood glucose. Eur J Appl Physiol. 1986, 55:654-661.

Fuerst ML. "Fat loading" improved endurance performance. Phys and Sportsmed. 1982, 10(10):28-29.

Lambert EV et al. Enhanced endurance in trained cyclists during moderate intensity exercise following 2 weeks adaptation to a high fat diet. Eur J Appl Physiol 1994, 69:287-293.

Muoio DM, Leddy JL, Hovath PJ, et al. Effect of dietary fat on metabolic adjustments to maximal VO2 and endurance in runners. Med. Sci Sports Exerc 1994, 26: 81-8.

Sherman WM, Costill DL, Fink WJ and Miller JM. Effects of exercise-diet manipulation on muscle glycogen and its subsequent utiliation during performance. Int J Sports Med. 1981, 2:1-15.

Simonsen JC, Sherman WM, Lamb DR, Dernbach AR, Doyle JA and Strass R. Dietary carbohydrate, muscle glycogen and power output during rowing training. J Appl Physiol. 1991, 70(4):1500-1505.

Simi B, Sempore B, Mayet M-H and Favier RJ. Additive effects of training and high-fat diet on energy metabolism during exercise. J Appl Physiol. 1991, 71(1):197-203.

Van Zyl C et al. Effect of a low carbohydrate, low fat diet on endurance cycling performance (Abstract). In: Conference abstracts of the ninth international conference of the biochemistry of exercise. 1994: 32-33

Jansson E and Kaijser L. Effect of diet on the utilization of blood-bourne and intramuscular substrates during exercise in man. Acta Physiol Scand 1982, 115: 19-30.

Phinney SD, Bistrian BR, Wolfe RR and Blackburn GL. The human metabolic response to chronic ketosis without caloric restriction: physical and biochemical adaptation. Metabolism. 1983a, 32(8):757-768.

Phinney SD, Bistrian BR, Evans WJ, Gervino E and Blackburn GL. The human metabolic response to chronic ketosis without caloric restriction: preservation of substrate exercise capability with reduced carbohydrate oxidation. Metabolism, 1983b, 32(8):769-776.

Millar WC, Bryce GR and Conlee RK. Adaptations to a high-fat diet that increase exercise endurance in male rats. J Appl Physiol. 1984, 56(1):78-83.

Conlee RK, Hammer RL, Winder WW, Bracken ML, Nelson AG and Barnett DW. Glycogen repletion and exercise endurance in rats adapted to a high fat diet. Metabolism. 1990, 39(3): 289-294.

Mole PA, Oscai LB, Holloszy JO. Adaptation of muscle to exercise. Increase in levels of palmityl transferase and palmityl CoA dehydrogenase and the capacity to oxidise fatty acids. J Clin Invest. 1971, 50: 2323-2330.

Kiens B, Essen-Gustavsson B, Gad P and Lithell H. Lipoprotein lipase activity and intramuscular triglyceride stores after long term high fat and high carbohydrate diets in physically trained men. Clin Physiol.1987, 7:1-9.

Reynolds AJ, Fuhrer L, Dunlap HL, Finke M and Kallfelz FA. Effect of diet and training on muscle glycogen storage and utilization in sled dogs. J Appl Physiol. 1995, 79(5): 1601-1607.


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