The Zone diet: Meal plans, FAQs, and risks

The Zone diet involves reducing intake of carbohydrates to ensure healthy insulin levels, and consuming plenty of omega-3 fatty acids and polyphenols. The goal of this diet is to reduce inflammation.

Dr. Barry Sears, who developed the Zone diet, claims it is closely linked to ideas of human evolution, with the aim of preventing “diet-controlled inflammation.” The benefits include healthier weight, less sickness, and slower aging.

Just 8,000 years ago, grains, bread, and pasta were not part of the human diet. Human genes change as their environment changes, but this is a slow process.

Therefore, even 100,000 years is a relatively short period in evolutionary terms. The Zone diet takes this into account and provides a diet plan based on what foods we should eat, according to our genetic makeup.

Fast facts on the Zone diet:

Meal plans make use of lean meats and natural carbohydrates.

Reducing inflammation is the primary goal.

Critics of the diet point out that fewer carbohydrates can lead to a lower fiber intake.

Maintaining insulin levels within what Dr. Sears calls a “therapeutic zone,” makes it easier to burn excess body fat and keep it off permanently.

What is the Zone diet?

the zone diet

The Zone diet was designed to reduce so-called dietary inflammation. The development of many conditions and diseases involves inflammation. These range in severity from mild gastrointestinal or digestive issues, to playing a role in the onset of cancers and other serious illnesses.

The Zone diet involves some basic rules:

A meal or snack should be eaten no later than 1 hour after waking up in the morning.

The interval between meals should be 4-6 hours.

A meal should be eaten between 2-2.5 hours after a snack, whether the person is hungry or not.

The individual should drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day.

The meal or snack should start with a low-fat protein. Then the person can add good carbohydrates with a low glycemic index, such as vegetables and fruits, and good fats, such as olive oil or avocado.

Typical meal protein should be about 4 ounces for men and 3 ounces for women.

Before every meal or snack, a person should assess their hunger level. If they are not hungry and their mind is clear, they are in “The Zone.”

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Meal plans

Guidelines include eating three meals and two snacks every day. Each meal must have some protein, about the size of a small chicken breast, and each snack should contain some protein.

The more carbohydrates people consume, the more insulin they secrete. Insulin turns excess carbohydrates into stored fat. Dietary fat does not trigger insulin secretion.

As a result, Zone diet meal plans focus on eating:

low-density carbohydrates

dietary fat


The Zone diet has four “pillars,” or aims that a person has to bring together to make it part of their way of life. They are to:

restrict calories without hunger or fatigue

maintain appropriate levels of inflammation in the body

use dietary polyphenols to activate genes for improved wellness

control the inflammation caused by gut microbes

People who follow the diet should balance carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in the following proportions:

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