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Dr. Sears' Blog

Breaking down the latest research on Anti-Inflammatory Nutrition
Written By: Dr. Barry Sears, Ph. D | Creator of the Zone Diet

Written by Dr. Barry Sears
on July 12, 2018

Here's a glimpse at the questions Dr. Sears was recently asked for an  interview entitled "The Zone Diet explained by its inventor, Dr. Barry Sears" with Vogue Italy.

1."Enter the Zone" was published in the USA over twenty years ago. Do you still believe that the Zone Diet is the best for our health? 

Yes, More than 30 published clinical studies have shown that the Zone Diet is superior to other nutritional strategies from the point of view of hormone control, appetite, glycemia, blood lipids, in addition to reduction of inflammation. 

 2What are the cardinal principles of the Zone program? 

The foundation of the Zone is balance. The Zone balances protein and carbohydrate at every meal to make blood sugar levels stable. This goal is achieved through balancing hormones, which further leads to a reduction in inflammation. It should also be said that the Zone Diet is customized based on the protein needs and the current insulin resistance status of each person.

3Let's go into detail: what do you bring to the table?  

The Zone is a low-fat diet , with adequate levels of protein and moderate amounts of carbohydrates . It is also a diet rich in fermentable fibers, important for the health of the intestine, and involves a low caloric intake, without generating hunger or fatigue, since it stabilizes blood sugar levels meal after meal.

4.  Are there any foods to banish?

The Zone Diet does not prohibit any food , it merely reduces the intake of certain foods considerably. For example, white carbohydrates such as pasta, rice, bread and potatoes, are limited as they raise insulin levels rapidly. These carbohydrates are replaced by non-starchy fruits and vegetables. The Zone Diet also reduces the intake of omega-6 and saturated fats because of their pro-inflammatory effect.

5. Let's talk about the foods to be favored. 

The Zone is rich in non-starchy vegetables , which have a limited impact on insulin levels, being at the same time rich in fermentable fibers and polyphenols, essential for intestinal health. However, these carbohydrates must be balanced by adequate amounts of lean protein - for example fish or white meat - to produce that hormonal balance that prevents hunger and fatigue for the next 5 hours at the meal.

6. A typical day following the Zone Diet?

A typical meal in the Zone contains about 25 grams of protein: this amount of protein is approximately the size of the palm of your hand. The protein must be balanced by an adequate amount of carbohydrate to stabilize the hormone levels for the next 4-5 hour. A typical breakfast for a woman could provide 130 grams of lean ham with 150 grams of fruit and some walnuts. A typical meal includes 150 grams of grilled fish and 300 grams of grilled vegetables with the addition of a tablespoon of olive oil and 50 grams of fruit. For dinner we could provide 130 grams of grilled chicken with 300 grams grilled vegetables, a tablespoon of olive oil and 50 grams of fruit as dessert. Finally, a correct snack contains 50 grams of fruit and 30 grams of low-fat cheese.

7. We know that the Zone helps to reduce inflammation. 

The Zone Diet was developed to reduce inflammation by eliminating many pro-inflammatory ingredients from the diet, in particular omega 6 fatty acids and saturated fats. Furthermore, the reduction of white carbohydrates inhibits the activation of inflammatory genes. Finally, the lower intake of calories at each meal reduces inflammation in the control centers for appetite in the brain so you are not led to consume excess calories.

8What is the role of omegas in the Zone Diet?

Omega 3 fatty acids are really essential for health. While omega 6 fatty acids activate inflammation , omega 3 deactivate it . The scientific term used here is "resolution". Unresolved inflammation is in fact the reason behind weight gain, chronic diseases and accelerated aging.

9.  Men and women: what are the differences regarding the Zone? 

Men should consume a slightly higher amount of lean protein, and then slightly higher levels of carbohydrates and fats. The caloric intake for a woman is about 1,200 calories , while for a man it is 1,500 per day. However, both he and she will struggle to take on all the calories provided, as they will consume large quantities of non-starchy vegetables.

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