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The Zone Diet

What is The Zone Diet?

The Zone Diet was devised by Dr. Barry Sears to help people quickly and effectively achieve and maintain their weight, health and fitness goals through the Zone Programme. Following the publication of his book, the diet and programme has become very popular internationally. The diet is based on acheiving the a hormonal balance of insulin through proportioning meals with the correct percentages of carbohydrates to protein to fats.

The Zone proportions are:

  • 40% carbohydrates
  • 30% protein
  • 30% fats

Owing to it's nutritional approach, The Zone Diet, has grown in popularity at gyms and training facilities. The diet has also been tested on many world-class athletes to ensure that people reach their optimum performace when they are 'in the zone'. Dr. Sears argues that with the correct balance between protein, fats and carbohydrates our bodies work their very best.

How does The Zone Diet work?

The Zone Diet, like many other modern diets, argues that through eating carbohydrates in excess to what our bodies require will cause weight gain. The diet aims to keep the hormone insulin in a tight zone: not too high, not too low.


Insulin levels increase if we eat too many carbohydrate or too many calories. The insulin converts the excess food required to fat. As with cattle, the best way to 'fatten humans' is to increase insulin levels by eating excessive amounts of low-fat grain, now in the form of pasta and bagels.

Each meal should contain 40% carbohydrate on The Zone Diet


The low-fat diet has been the western worlds answer to weight gain and obesity. Ironically your body needs Fat to burn Fat. Fat slows down the entry rate of carbohydrates into the bloodstream and decreases the production of insulin. Fat is therefore an important factor in your diet for reducing insulin production. Furthermore it does not stimulate insulin production. There are many kinds of Fat, but the best type is monounsaturated fat which is found in like olive oil, guacamole and almonds.

Each meal should contain 30% carbohydrate on The Zone Diet


The Zone Diet states that each meal should be 30% protein. The ratio of carbohydrate to protein is important, because carbohydrates stimulate insulin, and protein stimulates glucagon. By eating the proper ratio of carbohydrates, dietary fat,and protein you are able to control your insulin production. This enables you to burn excess body fat permanently and see an increase in energy and heightened mental focus.

An easy way to follow The Zone Diet?

Initially you can follow the diet simply by using your hand as a guide. For each meal you should eat:

  • Protein - a serving the size and thickness of your palm
  • Carbohydrate - if a favourable 'not processed'(i.e.broccoli) carbohydrate 2 lose fist fulls, if unfavourable 'highly refined' carbohydrate (i.e. pasta) 1 fist full.
  • Fat - add a few nuts or some olive oil to balance out your meal. If your protein source is high in fat, don't add any extra dietary fat.

For information on what is a favourable or unfavourable carbohydrate click here.

Five Fingers means Eat Five Times a Day!

You should eat 3 meals and 2 snacks each day following this method. You should try to eat your first meal (or snack) within an hour of waking and your last meal (or snack) an hour before going to sleep. Try to not let more than five hours pass between a meal or snack.

The Block Method for following The Zone Diet

The above approach is an easy way of following the principles of The Zone Diet. For a more precise method you could follow the ZonePerfect block method. These Zone Food Blocks were created as it is hard to keep track of every gram of carbohydrate, protein, and fat that you eat. Each Zone block contains one mini-block of protein, fat, and carbohydrate.

A zone block consists of 3 mini blocks. In the ZonePerfect Nutrition Program:

  • One mini block of protein consists of seven grams of low fat protein (i.e one ounce of chicken breast)
  • One mini-block of carbohydrates equals nine grams (i.e one cup of strawberries, or three cups of steamed broccoli, or 1/4 cup of pasta)
  • One mini-block of fat equals three grams. However if your protein contains fat you should count 1.5 grams as a mini block.

A woman on average has 11 zone blocks in the day (for example 3 meals of 3 zone blocks and 2 snacks of 1 zone block). A man on average has 14 zone blocks in the day.The blocks enable you to create versatile dishes and varied meal plans. For understandable weights and portion sizes of protein, carbohydrate and fat consitutes as a mini block click here for the mini block food guide on the Zone Perfect website.


Exercise is a key part of The Zone Diet and acheiving weight loss and a healthy lifestyle. You should try to do two basic types of exercise every day - aerobic and anaerobic. Aerobic exercise lowers insulin and anaerobic exercise builds muscle mass and prevents bone loss.It can be hard to fit in exercise into a busy schedule so start gently - the key is consistency so you need to build it in to your routine. See the Exercise section for more information and ideas.