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Zone Living

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

Written by Kelly Fitzsimmons
on July 19, 2016


Find out how to personalize your Zone, just like our intern Kelly did, by utilizing Zone resources to help individualize, balance, and plan her daily life. The Body Fat Calculator,  Food Blocks, Daily Food Journal, Insulin Resistance Quiz and Cellular Inflammation Test Kit all came in handy.


This summer, I interned in the Marketing Department at Zone Labs. Because I am passionate about health and fitness, I was excited to learn valuable lessons about nutrition that I can utilize for the rest of my life.


Beyond the science and products, I learned the Zone Diet can be personalized so that it’s unique for every Zoner. During my internship, I was lucky enough to discover my own Zone by individualizing it to fit my needs, balancing my plate for each meal, and planning ahead to keep testing and reducing my inflammation to ensure a healthier life.


The Zone Isn’t a Diet (Don’t Tell Dr. Sears!)

If you’re like me, you feel dread and mistrust when you see the word “diet.” Thankfully, I’ve come to realize that the Zone Diet is actually not a diet, but a way of life that can be followed in each Zoner’s own way.


Because of my huge sweet tooth, my philosophy was to just workout more so I could eat whatever I wanted. However, in an office environment my activity level quickly decreased, and I had to be careful of what I was eating. I needed an easy plan to follow that would correspond with my individual needs and lifestyle.


Luckily, I found The Zone is really simple to follow. It’s just filling your plate with 1/3 protein, 2/3 carbohydrates (not bread or cake unfortunately), and a dash of fat (avocado, nuts, olive oil, etc).


Plus, if I break the rules one meal, then my next Zone meal will put me back in the Zone and help my body get back to normal. I love this because it allows me to have imperfect meals every once in a while without having to start over, and I don’t have to wait weeks for the “diet” to kick in.


Even though I used to work out regularly and now I rarely do, I have lost 8 pounds because of the Zone. The best part is, it hasn’t been a constant battle to fight off cravings, since the whole idea behind the Zone is balancing blood sugar so I don’t get hungry and overeat.


To make it more individualized, I took the Body Fat Calculator to measure myself and see how many food blocks I should be consuming a day in order to be in my Zone. From the food block information, I planned my meals and used the daily food journal provided on the website to track myself.


Conveniently, there are also a large variety of recipes on the website. In fact, part of my job was to add links to the recipes on the food blocks page to make it easier for people to find meals that will fit with their required food blocks.


I Never Thought I Could Eat Pasta and Lose Weight

Zone Spicy Margherrita PastaIf I could eat one thing in the world for the rest of my life it would be pasta, especially since Zone Labs made a guilt-free pasta. I’m serious, I wouldn’t joke about pasta.


Zone PastaRx is one of my favorite products that we sell. There are two styles: fusilli and orzo. Each has a perfect balance of 20 grams of protein with only 28 grams of carbohydrates per serving – which is much more protein and less carbohydrates than regular pasta, which usually has 42 grams of carbohydrates per serving and almost no protein.


During my internship, I went through all 400+ Zone Recipes on the website tagging, categorizing, and editing to make it easier for our customers to navigate through them all. I’d like to think I’m now an expert. That’s how I got into the pastas and was inspired by all the different ways they could be made.


After working so long on these recipes (weeks!), I, of course, had to try making some. The Spicy Margherita Pasta is probably my favorite, but there are a ton of Zone Recipes that never ceased to make me hungry while going through them.


Not to mention, every delicious Zone Recipe is 400 calories or less and is expected to control your appetite for 4-6 hours. Every day I would experience the impact of the Zone; if I packed a balanced Zone lunch, with the PastaRx or the correct Zone plate, it would satisfy me until dinner time. It’s easier to lose weight if you aren’t hungry.


PastaRx is not really pasta. It’s more of a super protein that looks and tastes like pasta. The balance of protein and carbohydrates helps with your wellness and weight loss by satisfying your hunger, while stabilizing your blood sugar levels to lower your insulin resistance.


Insulin is a hormone released by the body to help bring blood sugar levels back to normal after a meal. If the body becomes resistant to insulin it can become a driver of inflammation.


Zone has an Insulin Resistance Quiz that will tell you if you have high or low insulin resistance, and what you can do to help lower it or maintain a low resistance. One of the first recommendations, if your score is high, is to replace your normal proteins with the PastaRx for at least two meals a day. I scored relatively low, but I still eat the PastaRx and use it as my protein for some meals to maintain a good balance.


I Had to Bleed for My Job, Literally. But it Was Worth it.

Intern Kelly's Cellular Inflammation Test ResultsCellular Inflammation: Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there.


Cellular inflammation causes weight gain, aging, and chronic disease, and it’s scary since it’s below our perception of pain so we don’t even know when we’re inflamed. You don’t know what could be happening on the inside of your body, so you must plan ahead and take precautions.


To lower inflammation, it requires a good diet but also fish oil rich in EPA and DHA.  The key is to be careful with which fish oil you use.  As part of my marketing role, I created a competitive analysis on other fish oils that had strong claims on their website. Using our Fish Oil Calculator to compare them, I learned that many other fish oils turned out to be bad for you, and definitely did not stand up to Zone purity and strength standards. Of course, to find out the right amount of omega-3s to take personally, you need to test yourself to see the impact on your own blood levels.


Before I joined Zone, I was taking two capsules of OmegaRx fish oil a day (when I remembered to take it). During my first week at Zone, I tested my inflammation levels using the Cellular Inflammation Test Kit; a simple finger stick blood test to measure your level of inflammation.


I got a Cellular Inflammation Score of 14.5, which compared to the average adult American who scores about 18 is low, but not ideal. I was still surprised I scored so high since I’m not even twenty, eat well, and am quite active athletically. I thought I would have a much lower score and be closer to the goal range of 1.5-3. The test proved scientifically that I wasn’t taking enough fish oil to help lower my inflammation.


That’s the thing about inflammation: You can’t see it or feel it, which is why planning ahead by taking fish oil and testing your blood regularly is so important. A month after taking the recommended four capsules a day, I reduced my Cellular Inflammation Score to 6.4 – good, but still above target.


I was shocked to see how fast the OmegaRx lowered my inflammation rate. Although I didn’t gain super strength or recognize increased alertness from it per se, I feel better knowing that my body is now healthier and I’m strengthening it for the long term.


3 Learnings for a Lifetime

Individuality, Balance and Planning are Needed for Success in the ZoneWorking at Zone helped improve my business skills and also my health – that is not something most interns can claim. I discovered a great deal from this internship that I’ll take with me for the rest of my life. The main lessons can be broken down to three categories:

  1. Individuality: Diet is a personal way of life. Just like finding a job that works best for your lifestyle, you have to make your diet fit your individual needs – and it needs to taste right. Find what works best for you and honor your individuality.
  1. Balance: Whether balancing your plate, or your work and lifestyle; if there’s too much of one or the other, you’ll tip. Maintain your balance to optimize your future wellness; whether through enjoying a bowl of PastaRx, or a family outing on the weekend.
  1. Planning: Preparation is critical for a healthy and successful future. Just as I take my fish oil every day and know it helps my health, you must recognize that it’s important to plan ahead and take steps today to reduce the uncertainty of the future.

There’s a lot we can learn about life through nutrition. I’m thrilled I had the opportunity to have a blend of marketing, wellness, and life experiences I couldn’t get anywhere else. It taught me how much I can achieve from one opportunity, if I do my best to make the most of it.


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