I n 1995, Barry Sears, MD (1947-) created the zone diet after the popularity of the low-fat diets of the late 1980s. He suggests that it is not low-fat diets that are related to weight gain and chronic diseases but rather hormonal imbalances. He claims that a diet balanced in fat, carbohydrates, and protein will lead to balanced insulin levels and lower caloric requirements. The recommended diet consists of meals in which 40 percent of the calories come from carbohydrates, 30 percent from protein, and 30 percent from fat. Many nutritionists place the Zone Diet in the category of high-protein diets. By eating this balance of macronutrients, the person will prevent the body from releasing the large quantities of insulin that make people hungry right after eating. The lower insulin levels prevent the blood sugar levels from dropping too rapidly, which leads to increased satiety. In addition Sears says that eating a "hormonally balanced" meal allows the person to eat fewer calories, which again leads to weight loss.
Many celebrities, such as Jennifer Aniston, have used the Zone Diet to lose weight, which has helped to increase the popularity of the diet. In a clinical trial comparing the Zone Diet to the Dean Ornish diet, patients on the Zone Diet lost more weight in the initial six months of the diet, but after one year the weight lost on both diets was equal. However, the Zone diet is a very restrictive diet since it requires that all meals be balanced, so the person on the diet has to be aware of the ratio of fat, carbohydrates, and protein at every meal. The restrictive nature of the diet has made compliance rates very low leading to weight gain when the person stops following the diet (Womble and Wadden 2002).
SLG/Suzanne Judd See also Atkins; Celebrities; Ornish; Sugar Busters
References and Further Reading
Sears, Barry (1995) Enter the Zone, New York:
HarperCollins Inc. Womble, Leslie G. and Wadden, Thomas (2002)
"Commercial and Self-Help Weight Loss Programs," in Christopher G. Fairburn and Kelly D. Brownell (eds), Eating Disorders and Obesity: A Comprehensive Handbook, 2nd edn, New York: Guilford Press, pp. 546-50.
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