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What is the “Zone” Diet and is there a comparison to the “Mediterranean” Diet?

What is the “Zone” Diet and is there a comparison to the “Mediterranean” Diet?

Written by Coach Connie,

Lifestyle Health Mentor

 

Did you know there are over 100 dietary theories out there and that’s just the ones that have been referenced or documented? When we look back on our ancestor’s daily meal habits, we most likely seen meat, potatoes, vegetables and occasionally the dessert daunting us to have a piece. There are so many ways to get our nutrients and diets are the focus of society’s outtake on living healthy.

So what is the right “diet”?  There’s a reason there are so many “diets” in reach, but what does each do and how do we know what works and doesn’t. As someone who has been in the health industry for years, I’ve been there. I felt like I was my own test subject to figuring my body out. That’s why no diet works for everyone, we all are different, but knowing what we can have and what our body needs is half the battle.

I started with the “Zone Diet” and then switched to the “Mediterranean Diet” due to changes in my exercise routine and metabolic changes. Once I achieved my goal weight, I wanted to ensure that I would recover more rapidly from exercise by controlling my levels of inflammation, and doing this in a way that allows me to perform at my highest possible level.

Dr. Barry Sears wrote the book on the “Zone Diet” and then almost 20 years later, wrote the book titled, “The Mediterranean Zone”.  It has very similar attributes, but unlike the Mediterranean diet, the Zone Diet shifts on view on the healthy eating plate. The Zone diet contains 40% of the calories as carbohydrates, 30% of the calories as protein, and 30% of the calories as fat. This improved protein-to-carbohydrate balance means decreased insulin levels and decreased cellular inflammation. A Mediterranean diet shifts the carbohydrates to 50%, protein goes down to 20% and the fat remains at 30%. That’s why it’s been highly recommended for weight loss and cardiovascular health.  Technically, they both have benefits that tie together. Again, depending on our inflammation and metabolic factors and how it affects our insulin responses.

To ensure the best results, time out your meals to help stabilize blood sugar levels and add in physical activity at least three days per week.

An example of a daily meal plan:

  • 7am: breakfast (should be eaten within 1 hour of waking)
  • 12pm: lunch (eaten no more than 5 hours later)
  • 5pm: a mid-afternoon snack
  • 7pm: dinner (2-3 hours after snack)
  • 11pm: a late night snack right before bed to balance blood sugar levels in the brain while sleeping

The Zone Diet states that a 1/3 of the plate (about 3oz for women and 4oz for men) should be made up of protein, and the remaining 2/3 should be fruits and vegetables – with a dash of monounsaturated oil to finish off the meal.

So let’s clarify, what are the some examples of the right foods and ones to avoid and the pros & cons to the Zone Diet:

Foods to include:

  • Skinless chicken
  • Fish
  • Egg whites
  • Tofu
  • Legumes
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Olive oil
  • Almonds
  • Avocado
  • Turkey
  • Low-fat dairy
  • Soy meat substitutes

Foods to avoid:

  • Trans-fats
  • High sugar fruits and veggies like corn and bananas
  • Breads
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Fruit juices
  • Tortillas
  • Bagels

Pros:

  • Discourages the consumption of trans-fats
  • Promotes consistent eating habits
  • Recommends adequate intake of fruits and vegetables

Cons:

  • Zone products are processed
  • Excludes certain plant based foods

The Mediterranean diet consists of natural, whole foods such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, meat, fish, nuts, dairy, and pure oils, and excludes processed and refined foods. The diet includes an abundance of extra virgin olive oil and seasonal fruits and vegetables as well as whole, unprocessed grains. It’s recommended that wine consumption remain at 1-2 small glasses daily, and coffee is consumed moderately for pleasure and mental stimulation.

Now let’s take a look at some of the examples of the right foods and ones to avoid and the pros & cons to the Mediterranean Diet:

Foods to include:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Whole grain
  • Fish
  • Meats
  • Dairy
  • Nuts
  • Olive oil

Foods to avoid:

  • Processed foods
  • Refined foods

Pros:

  • Moderate, flexible approach
  • Considers primary food
  • May become a sustainable lifestyle approach

Cons:

  • Some may require firmer guidelines to feel their best
  • Some may not react well to wine and coffee
  • Some may not have the willpower to moderate rich foods

 

To put things in perspective, the zone diet is the evolution of the Mediterranean diet. There is no “one–size fits all” diets, but reviewing both methods shows very comparable methods, but unique when comparing our overall dietary guidelines.

Find what works best for your body type and always consult your health professional. I hope this article finds you in good health.

 

Sources:

Get started with the Mediterranean Diet www.mediterraneandietforall.com

Mediterranean Diet www.health.usnews.com

Mediterranean Diet www.mediterraneandiet.com

The Zone Diet. webmd.com. 6 February 2009

What is the Mediterranean Diet and The Zone Diet? www.Zonediet.com? 21 March 2011

2017 Integrative Nutrition, Inc. Learning Center under Dietary Theories

Connie

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