The Zone Diet is a scientific approach to dieting. Its core focus is on controlling hormone levels in our body that are important to weight control and health. It is a moderate-carbohydrate, moderate-protein, moderate-fat diet and follows a formula of 40% carbohydrates, 30% protein, and 30% fats. It has been created by Barry Sears, PhD, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The diet plan encourages a combination of all the nutrients in each meal.
The concept of the Zone Diet is that food should be treated like a prescription drug to promote the desired hormonal response. The Zone Diet menu aims at maintaining optimum levels of important hormones, insulin in particular. A large amount of insulin can lead to a buildup of fat, causing obesity, and other medical problems. With the right balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fats, three major hormones generated by the diet – insulin, glucagon, and eicosanoids - can be controlled for optimum weight, thus avoiding health-related consequences. The Zone Diet plan promises enhanced health, improved energy levels, and improved mental clarity and helps in weight loss by utilizing fats for energy.
The diet is low in calories – the intake ranges from 1000 to 1600 calories per day. The Zone Diet plan encourages switching to smaller size meals, with the interval between means being five hours. A meal should not exceed 500 calories. The Zone Diet menu recommends consumption of fresh vegetables, fruits and nuts, leafy green vegetables, sufficient protein, and the intake of at least eight glasses of water daily. Monounsaturated fats are preferred, and high-carbohydrate, high-fat foods, processed foods, and too much salt are to be avoided.
Zone Diet recipes should include low glycemic fruits and grains (such as cherries, grapefruit, nuts, and lentils, which help maintain blood sugar levels), vegetables, lean proteins, mono-unsaturated, and omega-3 fatty acids. Vegetarians can substitute meat protein with plant protein like soy and soy products. With a Zone Diet plan, one can reduce weight up to 5 to 10 pounds per week and later on with a slower rate of 1 to 2 pounds each week. A proper food regimen may help individuals who want to lose a significant amount of weight.
When choosing Zone Diet recipes, one should think about recipes that suit their dietary profile, optimum level of macronutrients, elimination of high flavors, spices, and fats. The diet should satisfy hunger pangs, there should be variation in the recipes, and it should be low budget. A dietitian can be consulted for planning your Zone Diet regime.
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