The Zone Diet was developed by Dr. Barry Sears and is a diet that is balanced between protein, carbs, and fat. It suggests that meals should consist of 30% protein, 30% fat and 40% carbs. This is calculated to correctly balance the hormones insulin, glucagon and eicosanoids.
Insulin – When you eat carbs, your body releases insulin which is a storage hormone and tells your body to store nutrients in the form of fat. The more carbs you eat, the more insulin your body releases and the more fat your body stores. A small amount of this is necessary, but the average diet is way too carb heavy. Insulin also increases inflammation, which is not a good thing.
Glucagon – Eating protein produces glucagon which is a release hormone. This is what balances out the carbs and insulin . Glucagon tells your body to release the stored fat from your cells. It also produces energy and tells your body that you are no longer hungry.
Eicosanoids – The last two pieces of this puzzle are eating healthy fats that produce eicosanoids. These eicosanoids are essential in other hormone production and will help control inflammation.
In order to keep all of this straight and balanced so that your body doesn’t have to deal with an overload of any particular hormone:
Each meal is broken down into blocks –
- 7 grams of protein = 1 block
- 9 grams carbs = 1 block
- 1.5 grams fat = 1 block
The number of blocks you eat will depend on your weight, goals and what meal of the day you are eating. If you are a smaller female, you might eat a 2 block dinner. A larger athletic male might eat a 5 block dinner. A snack might consist of 1 block. Imagine you have a list of proteins, a list of carbs and a list of fats. A 4 block dinner would consist of 4 blocks from your protein list, 4 blocks from your carbs list and 4 blocks from your fats list. A 1 block snack would consist of 1 block from each list.
It might seem like a lot to keep straight, but it gets easier the longer that you keep it up. Pretty soon you will be able to eye ball your servings into blocks automatically and know exactly how much of your favorite food you need to eat for your 3 block dinner.
If you’re interested in finding out more, let us know and we can look up some info and lists of food to go through together.
Or, if you want some more quick facts – check out this awesome article: CrossFit Impulse – The Zone Diet Explained. They have some great charts to help you out and also some good examples of a Zone friendly meal.