Zone Diet

With the Zone diet, sometimes referred to as the 40-30-30 eating plan (40% calories from carbohydrates, 30% from fat and 30% from protein), you get your calories in the right ratio of carbs, protein and fats in order to control the insulin in your bloodstream. Insulin control is achieved by balancing protein and carbs at each meal.

 

It works on the theory that excess insulin, a hormone that helps control blood sugar levels, makes us fat and keeps us fat. By closely regulating our blood sugar levels and therefore keeping our levels of insulin in a tight "zone", our body burns fat more efficiently so that we lose weight. According to some, besides losing weight, you'll also reduce the likelihood of developing heart disease, diabetes and cancer, while you enhance mental productivity, delay the signs of ageing and live a longer, healthier life.

Each meal's size is dependant upon your gender, activity level, and current body fat percentage. It is recommended that you divide your plate into three equal sections and then fill one section with low-fat protein such as chicken, making sure it's no larger or thicker than the palm of your hand, and the remaining two sections with vegetables and fruit. This can be counted by the 'eyeball method' or by "blocks", which is more exact.

The Zone Diet does not actually prohibit you from any particular food group, however carbohydrate foods with a high glycemic index (bread, cereals, rice, bagels, sweets, many fruits and juices, potatoes and snack chips) are not recommended and most grain products are limited to very small portions. High fat meats and dairy foods, sweets and snack items are also restricted.

Fruits and vegetables are the preferred source of carbs and monounsaturated fats (such as olive oil and nuts) are the ideal choice of fats. Allowed foods include all types of lean meats, poultry, seafood and low-fat dairy foods, along with small amounts of fruit and non-starchy vegetables. It also includes daily supplementation of high-dose fish oil. Meals and snacks include protein "blocks" coupled with carbohydrate "blocks".

The Zone Diet can be very complicated and time consuming if you're going to follow it properly. You'll need to invest in a book and a decent set of measuring scales and spoons. Figuring out how to make each and every meal and snack follow the 40-30-30 ratio can be daunting. There are many pre-packaged meals and snacks for delivery that you can order over the Internet, but they aren't cheap.