What Is the Zone Diet and Is It Healthy?
Dietitians sound off about eating Zone blocks, and whether this could be your secret to weight loss and health success.
For the past 25 years, millions of people (including Jennifer Aniston, Sandra Bullock, and many, many more) have signed on to follow the Zone Diet, created by Barry Sears, Ph.D. It promises decreased inflammation, little to no hunger, and optimal wellness…but does following the Zone diet really deliver results on the scale and promote overall health and longevity?
What Is the Zone Diet?
“The Zone Diet is designed to control diet-induced inflammation, which Sears believes is the reason we gain weight, grow sick, and age faster,” says Lauren Harris-Pincus, M.S., R.D.N., founder of NutritionStarringYOU.com and author of The Protein-Packed Breakfast Club. (Check out 15 anti-inflammatory foods you should be eating regularly.)
Once you’re “in the Zone,” you have limited that hormone-triggered inflammation that Sears swears is the cause of weight gain and premature aging. A combo of high insulin (which has been linked to weight gain and certain cancers) and high omega-6 fatty acids in the body are two culprits that can lead to inflammation, and later, obesity, according to Sears. While you do need some omega-6s, excess levels may lead to higher heart disease risk.
Supposed Benefits of the Zone Diet
There are three physiological markers Sears says you can look to determine if you’ve reached “the Zone.”
- Your triglyceride to HDL cholesterol ratio is less than 1.
- Your AA to EPA (arachidonic acid / eicosapentaenoic acid) ratio, a marker of cellular inflammation that relates to omega-3 fatty acids in the body is 1.5 to 3.
- Your Hemoglobin A1c level (aka blood sugar) is around 5 percent.
The Zone Diet promises that when you’re in the Zone, you think quicker, perform better physically, avoid illnesses, and shed pounds at “the fastest possible rate,” according to their website. The theory Sears put out is that inflammation throws off hormonal communication within cells, hampering efficiency, and therefore performance.