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The Zone diet aims for balance, but while South Beach's balance is in tune with official medical doctrine Zone is not. The American Heart Association and the AMA denounce it as "high protein" even though only 30% of its calories come from protein, while proponents of high protein diets denounce it as "high carb" and vegetarian promoters lament its ratio of protein to carbohydrates. The diet has, however, been quite popular among celebrities and supermodels.
Dr. Sears holds that the body cannot store fat and burn fat at the same time. The burn/storage cycle is controlled by insulin. He says low fat diets don't work so well because insulin levels are high and the body tries to store any fat it gets hold of. Enough fat is needed in the diet to keep that level low so fat can be burned rather than stored.
This balance point is the "Zone" and is said to offer other advantages including reduction of inflammation causing factors.
While this diet allows 30% of calories from fats, it is fairly insistent that as much as possible be monounsaturated fats. Olive oil is the most common source of monounsaturates and also features a very low level of rancidity prone polyunsaturates. This is one point just about everyone thinks is a good idea.
This diet corresponds roughly to the Mediterranean Diet but with the starchy carbohydrates (pasta, bread) replaced with low glycemic carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables - and a lot more calculation. To follow this diet for maximum benefit requires a book with Zone Food Block tables and considerable planning and calculation of blocks to get the 40:30:30 ratio right at every meal. On the other hand, for a lesser level of benefit you can just follow the general principles.
As an adjunct to the diet Dr. Sears recommends a supplement of fish oil for Omega-3 fatty acids and his site offers a specially formulated version claimed superior to normal fish oil supplements. As with any other diet site various supplements are offered (1).
Disclaimer: I neither recommend this diet nor warn against it. I have provided general information found in public circulation and recommend starting with the Links list if you wish to investigate further.
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