The central theme of the Zone is the importance of thinking hormonally rather than calorically. Caloric thinking is “if no fat touches my lips, then no fat reaches my hips.” Hormonal thinking says, “Elevated levels of the hormone insulin make me fat and keep me fat.” When you understand this concept, you’ll know why almost every dietary recommendation by the U. S. government and nutritional experts is hormonally wrong, increasing your risk factors for chronic disease like obesity, arthritis, heart disease and dementia.
FACT # 1 - The Zone Diet is 20 years old. In the late 1990s the Zone was the diet. Hollywood stars and presidents were reported to be following the Zone. Unfortunately, we’re an on-demand culture seeking immediate gratification; we’re looking for that silver bullet. Weight loss and the reduction of chronic-disease risk factors (primarily inflammation) are available for those who take the time and make the effort. The Zone, based on science, is alive and well for those who realize that improving their health requires simple and easy lifestyle changes. The Zone is more than just a temporary diet to look good in a swim suit. The Zone should be a wake-up call for all of us because unless this tide of highly processed, carbohydrate-rich food consumption is reversed, millions of people are unknowingly being driven to an early diabetic diagnosis and cardiovascular events that will bankrupt our health-care system.
FACT # 2 - Your Stomach is Politically Incorrect. The stomach is basically a vat of acid that breaks down food into its basic components for absorption into the bloodstream. From that perspective one Snickers’ bar has the same amount of carbohydrate as 2 oz. of pasta. However, most people would not eat 4 Snickers bars at one time, but they easily consume an 8-oz. bowl of pasta. Unfortunately, the stomach cannot tell the difference. The more carbohydrates you eat (especially whole grains, rice, pasta, even if it’s organic), the more insulin you produce; and the more insulin you produce, the fatter, dumber and sicker you become.
FACT # 3 - Carbohydrates are a Drug. The body needs a certain amount of carbohydrate at every meal for optimal physical and mental performance. Excessive consumption of any drug, including carbohydrates, has toxic side effects. An overdose of high-density carbohydrates results in the excessive production of insulin, which is toxic. Over time high levels of insulin cause diabetes, obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol, cellular inflammation and heart disease.
FACT # 4 - Eating fat will not make you fat. Consuming monounsaturated fats (olive oil, avocado, almonds, etc.) does not make you fat. It’s elevated insulin levels caused by excessive consumption of processed and high-density carbohydrates. Grains, potatoes, rice, cereals, and pasta can promote inflammation in the fat cells that lowers blood sugar making you constantly hungry throughout the day. When you are always hungry, you continue the hormonal rollercoaster ride of high and low blood sugars. When you consume a balanced meal of lean protein, non-starchy vegetables and a dash of monounsaturated fat, you control blood sugars and hunger.
FACT # 5 - The Zone is not too difficult. The Zone recommends eating the right combination of lean proteins, colorful, non-starchy vegetables, and monounsaturated fat at every meal. How difficult is this? On 1/3 of your plate place a portion of lean protein (about the size and thickness of the palm of your hand) and fill the remaining 2/3 of your plate with colorful non-starchy vegetables (add a dash of heart healthy monounsaturated fat like olive oil and a small piece of fruit for dessert. For packaged foods use the Zone 1-2-3 Method. For every gram of fat you consume, you need to eat twice as many grams of protein and three times in grams the amount of carbohydrate. Example: a female would require 10g. of fat, 20g. of protein and 30g. of carbohydrate. Too difficult? Check out the hundreds of recipes at http://www.zonediet.com/resources/recipes/
FACT # 6 - You don’t have to be 100% compliant to benefit from the Zone. You’ll get most of the benefits from following the basic guidelines 80-90% of the time. Remember, you’re encouraged to have one pig-out meal per month. Most likely you’ll feel so full, bloated, hungry and tired, you’ll wait another 30 days to again pig out.
FACT # 7 - The Zone was not intended to be a weight-loss program. The Zone was written for cardiologists to alert them on how our current high-carbohydrate guidelines are increasing cellular inflammation, which promotes heart disease. The drug companies and medical community would have you believe that cholesterol is the culprit. That is wrong. It’s inflammation caused by dietary-induced elevated levels of insulin. The Zone means controlling insulin in a tight Zone that is not too high and not too low. You will improve your health and lose weight at the same time.