Use the Zone Diet Plan to Lose Fat

The Zone Diet was the first nutrition book that I read cover to cover when I was a junior in college, and it changed the way I thought about food.

I followed the diet religiously for more than a year, and I got leaner and healthier. My body fat decreased, and I noticed that my energy improved. My digestion was superb, my skin was flawless, and my entire body felt great.

Overall, I think the philosophy laid out by Dr. Barry Sears in his book Enter the Zone can help you to lose weight, decrease your body fat percentage, lose belly fat, and get ripped abs. Following is a brief summary of the principles in his book.

Carbohydrates are the Reason You’re Fat

Throughout the beginning of his book he discusses why he believes carbohydrates make you fat. And the main reason is the hormone insulin.

When you eat carbohydrates (especially processed white flour or high fructose corn syrup), your blood sugar rises. When your blood sugar rises, your pancreas secretes insulin in order to decrease your blood sugar.

Insulin is a storage hormone—it stores energy. When your insulin is elevated, your body has difficulty accessing your stored fat for energy, and it is difficult to lose fat when your insulin is always elevated.

Dr. Sears does separate good carbs from bad carbs. He says try to avoid eating high glycemic carbohydrates. High glycemic carbohydrates are the ones that rapidly increase your blood sugar and more easily cause a hormonal imbalance.

The Zone Diet Plan recommends that you get most of your carbs from fruits and vegetables.

Protein: The Missing Ingredient

Dr. Sears feels that protein is one macronutrient that is neglected in most people’s diets. But he points out that proteins are the basis of all life. There is more protein in our bodies than anything else, except water.

Protein makes up your muscles, skin, hair, eyes, and nails. Protein is also part of your cell structure, your enzymes, and your DNA. There are essential amino acids (protein) that your body cannot make, so you must eat adequate amounts of protein in order for your body to function at the highest level.

In the Zone Diet, Dr. Sears constantly stresses the hormonal effect of food. Hormones control our metabolism and the foods we eat control our hormones. So, the foods we eat control our metabolism.

Earlier, I mentioned that carbohydrates trigger a release of the hormone insulin which is a storage hormone. Conversely, Protein stimulates the release of the hormone glucagon.

Glucagon is the opposite hormone of insulin. Glucagon stimulates the breakdown of sugar and fat to create energy.

The Secret of the Zone Diet Plan is to Balance Carbohydrates and Proteins at every meal so that you have the optimal release and interplay of the two hormones—Insulin and Glucagon.

Dr. Sears stress that you should get most of your protein from lean sources, like lean meats, poultry, and seafood.

Don’t be Afraid of Fat

Dr. Sears says not to be afraid of eating fat. He even goes as far as to say, “dietary fat does not make you fat”. And in fact he also says that “you have to eat fat to lose fat”.

Fat like Protein acts as building blocks that our body needs to ingest through eating. Just as there are essential amino acids (protein), there are essential fatty acids (fats) that your body needs but cannot produce on its own.

So you must eat fat in order for your body to work at its best. In the Zone Diet, Dr. Sears says to emphasize getting your fats from healthy unsaturated fats, such as in foods like avocados, fish oils, flax seed oil, and nut oils.

One last point that Dr. Sears makes about fat is that dietary fat has virtually zero effect on your insulin levels, and in his opinion elevated insulin is the primary reason you gain weight.

Getting into the Zone: 40-30-30

The Zone is simply a state in which all of your hormones are balanced. In his research on hormones, Dr. Sears found that the hormones were most balanced when each meal was composed of 40% of calories from carbohydrates, 30% of calories from protein, and 30% of calories from fat.
1 gram of carbohydrates has 4 calories.
1 gram of protein has 4 calories.
1 gram of fat has 9 calories.

If a meal had 100 calories, then ideally 40 calories would come from carbs, 30 calories would come from protein, and 30 calories would come from fat.

Or you can think about getting into the zone by looking at the ratio of carbohydrates to protein at each meal. For every 4 calories of carbohydrates, you would ideally eat 3 grams of protein. Dr. Sears says the ideal ratio of carbs to protein is 0.75 grams of protein per 1 gram of carbohydrate.

Although 0.75 is the middle of the Zone, Dr. Sears says there is a range for the ratio to get in the zone. The ratio can be as high as 1.0 gram of protein for every 1.0 grams of carbohydrate. Or it can be as low as 0.60 grams of protein for every 1.0 gram of carbohydrate.

Simply put, you must balance your intake of carbohydrates with the appropriate amount of protein in order to keep your hormones balanced, lose weight, and stay healthy.

Summary of the Zone Diet

This is just a brief summary of the Zone Diet Plan. I highly recommend reading this book if you want to learn about nutrition and want to lose weight and decrease your body fat percentage. There are so many lessons that are covered in great detail.

The take home message is that high glycemic carbohydrates increase your blood sugar and increases your insulin level. When Insulin is elevated it is harder to lose fat. So eat most of your carbs from fruits and vegetables.

Protein is a building block that is necessary for bodily functions. Eating protein stimulates the hormone glucagon, which helps your body to burn excess calories. Eat most of your protein from lean meats, poultry, and seafood.

You must eat fat to burn fat. Fat is an essential part of your diet. Fat has no impact on insulin. Get most of your fat from unsaturated sources, such as fish oil, avocados, olives, nuts and nut oils.

Try to eat all of your meals with a ratio of 40% of the calories from carbs, 30% from protein, and 30% from fat.

Additional Tips from the Zone Diet

Drink 64 ounces of water daily.
Eat 3 smaller meals and two snacks.
Exercise regularly.
If you have a bad meal, eat a zone favorable meal next time.

I hope you’ve found this information helpful. Remember, if you want a flat stomach, nutrition is really important. When I followed the Zone Diet, my abs were even more ripped, so I know the principles can help you also.

Food affects your metabolism, so feed your body well.

Yours in Health
Dr. Charles

P.S. Check out the site below.

Permanent Fat Loss

For useful ideas on diet, macronutrient combinations, frequency of eating, workout tips, psychological tools, and permanently losing body fat, here's a website I like: lasting-weight-loss.com.

Or Return to the Low Carb Diet Page from the Zone Diet Plan

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