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Barry Sears Zone Diet

Barry Sears Zone Diet

Diet Basics

Zone Diet, popularized by Dr. Barry Sears, is all about the proper combination of fat, protein and carbohydrates. Often touted as a high protein diet, the Zone is really about proper amounts of each of these things and at the right times. Dieters are allowed carbohydrates in moderation; in fact, carbohydrates are encouraged.

The idea is that you can retool and reset your metabolism if you eat a diet that’s 30% protein, 40% carbohydrate and 30% fat. By following this diet, Sears says in “Enter the Zone” that dieters can expect to stave off heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. Many athletes also follow the Zone diet because it is said to increase athletic performance.

barry sears zone diet

Dieters don’t count calories on this diet, but instead keep careful count of their carbohydrates, fat and protein numbers. Dieters reading the book will learn the complicated formula that helps them determine how many “blocks” of proteins and carbohydrates they get each day. Men and women will have different numbers.

While dieters can have carbohydrates, some are discouraged because they release glucose in the bloodstream quickly. These types of carbohydrates include breads, pastas, rice and grains. Saturated fats are limited, but dieters can enjoy limited amounts of olive oil, canola oil and some nuts as well as avocados.

Critical to the success of the program is the right combination of carbohydrates and proteins. The perfect ratio is 1:1. This means that dieters will have one block of protein to each block of carbohydrate at each meal and each snack.

One protein block might be an ounce of chicken or 1 ½ ounces of deli sliced turkey. One block of carbohydrates might be a half cup of fruit or a cup of leafy green vegetables.

It’s also important that dieters eat at the right times of day. The Zone Diet suggests that dieters eat within one hour of waking up, and that they eat every 4 to 5 hours after the last meal or 2 to 2 ½ hours after a snack. Dieters should eat a Zone-appropriate snack before bedtime and have a Zone snack 30 minutes before they exercise.

While dieters do not count calories, most women will eat around 1,200 on the diet and men will eat just a bit more.

Recommended Foods

A variety of fresh vegetables and fruits are acceptable as are a number of lean protein sources, such as chicken, turkey and lean beef. Dieters are allowed to have full fat ice cream for dessert – the fat in the ice cream is said to retard the rate at which the carbohydrate is absorbed into the body.

While traditional packaged foods are discouraged, these days there are a myriad of Zone-labeled foods on the market that have the proper balance of protein and carbohydrates and which can make food prep easier.

Pros and Cons


  • This diet encourages eating lean protein and healthy fats, all considered ideal hallmarks of a healthy diet
  • Encourages eating 5 times a day which is ideal for keeping blood sugar levels even
  • Encourages drinking 8 glasses of water a day and exercising in a moderate fashion
  • Diet is easy to accommodate to restaurant meals
  • Pre-made foods and Zone bars make for easy food preparation


  • The body often doesn’t get enough glucose and might burn protein for energy, which taxes the kidneys
  • Must eat 5 times a day, whether you’re hungry or not
  • Diet can become boring if dieters don’t work to create unique and interesting dishes
  • Diet can be complicated, especially at the start when you’re adjusting to the block system of eating
  • Prepared Zone foods can be convenient, but also expensive


A variety of books, including cookbooks, can be purchased for $10 to $20. Food can vary greatly, depending on the sources of protein that are preferred and how much prepared food the dieter relies on.  In general, a dieter will spend $80 to $100 or more on food each week.


Diet Origin

Dr. Barry Sears is a biochemist who holds many patents for intravenous cancer drug delivery. The majority of his PhD work was in the field of lipids, or fats. Sears has said that he comes from a family where many men lost their lives early to heart disease. He began to concentrate his research on finding medicines to prevent and reverse heart disease.

During his research work, Sears said he discovered the solution to optimizing health and regulating body weight. The result was the Zone Diet.

Sample Diet

Men and women will eat slightly differently on this plan. The following is a sample daily menu for a woman.
1 oz. Canadian bacon, 1 c. low-fat plain yogurt (protein), 1 c. strawberries (carbohydrate), 1 tab. slivered almonds (fat)
3 oz. grilled chicken (protein), 2 c. romaine lettuce and various vegetables along with a dressing made from lemon juice, orange and Worcestershire sauce (carbohydrate), 1 tab. olive oil (fat)
1 oz. cheese (protein), ½ apple (carbohydrate)
3 oz. pork (protein), 2 c. broccoli, ½ apple (carbohydrate), 1 tab. olive oil (fat)
1 oz. cheese (protein), ½ c. grapes (carbohydrate)



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