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Four steps to the Zone

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Principles of the Zone Diet

You've heard about the Zone Diet for years. You've read about movie stars like Jennifer Aniston, Olympic athletes and Tour de France cyclists who swear by the Zone Diet principles. But how can you move from your current diet world to the Zone World? According to Dr Barry Sears, the creator of the Zone Diet, it is as simple as following these four simple steps.

Principles of the Zone Diet

The Zone Diet is a balanced approach to nutrition

People are still confused about what the Zone really is. Many think it's a low-carb diet -- not true. Many think it requires that they give up their favorite foods. Again not true. When you are in the Zone, you eat five times a day. Your foods consist of lean protein, lots of fruits and vegetables along with a small dose of healthy fat like olive oil. It's really that simple.

Four principles of the Zone Diet

  1. Plan to eat five times a day (three Zone Diet meals and two Zone Diet snacks).
  2. Always eat breakfast within one hour after getting up.
  3. Never let more than five hours go by without eating a Zone Diet meal or snack. The best time to eat is when you aren't hungry since that means blood sugar levels are stabilized.
  4. Eat a Zone Diet snack before you go to bed to prevent nocturnal hypoglycemia.

How to construct Zone Diet meals

Dr Sears suggests using your hand and eye to put together Zone Diet meals and snacks. He suggests the following portion control tips.

  • Divide a dinner-size plate into three equal sections. If you're having a snack, make it a dessert plate.
  • Cover one-third of your plate with some low-fat protein that is no larger or thicker than the palm of your hand. This is approximately three ounces of low-fat protein for the average female, and four ounces of low-fat protein for the average male. Protein could be in the form of chicken, turkey, fish, extra-lean cuts of beef, egg whites or low-fat cheese products. You can also use tofu and soy imitation meat products as a protein source.
  • Cover the other two-thirds of the plate with colorful low glycemic-load carbohydrates, such as non-starchy vegetables and fruits. (Note: If you want to use high glycemic-load carbohydrates such as potatoes, rice or pasta using this approach, then fill only one-third of the plate with a volume equal to the volume of low-fat protein.)
  • Finally, add a dash (that's a small amount) of non-inflammatory monounsaturated fat. This might be a teaspoon of olive oil, a few teaspoons of slivered almonds, or a few slices of avocado.

You are only as good as your last meal

There you have it: four basic rules for building Zone meals that are easy to follow. The only trick is to follow these rules the best you can at every meal for the rest of your life. Remember, you're only as hormonally good as your last meal. However, that means there is no guilt on the Zone Diet, since no matter how bad your last meal was, your next meal can take you right back into the Zone.

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