16 Tips for the Zone Diet

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It was about a year ago I participated in my first Nutrition Challenge as a member of CrossFit Elysium.

The Challenge started with a lecture from the Elysium staff, a weigh-in, body fat measurements and a performance measurement (we did the CrossFit workout “Cindy”). During the Challenge I immersed myself in the books of Dr. Barry Sears. As I’ve reported,  my gains in terms of  body fat loss, performance increase and overall state of health and fitness were surprisingly good for such a short period of time.

A few tips noted from the book, “Mastering the Zone,” by Dr. Barry Sears.

1. Drink 8 ounces of water thirty minutes before a meal.
2. Always eat a Zone breakfast within 1 hour of waking up.
3. Make sure your carbs come from vegetables and fruits, and use grains, starches, pasta and breads as condiments only.
4. Never let more than 5 hours go by without eating a Zone meal or snack.
5. Have a Zone snack before you go to bed.
6. Have a Zone snack thirty minutes before you exercise 7. and within 30 minutes after exercising.
8. Never eat anymore low-fat protein than you can fit into the palm of your hand.
9. Let the volume of low-fat protein to are going to eat determine the volume of carbohydrates you are eating at the time.
10. Determine the amount of protein you need by obtaining your personal protein prescription.
11. Try having low-fat protein already prepared in the fridge. This can be in the form of tuna salad, hard boiled egg whites, sliced turkey breast and the like. It’s much easier to find carbohydrates for meals and snacks, but a little advance preparation will ensure can get your hands on the necessary amount of protein you need when you need it.
12. With your protein prescription you can map out the number of protein blocks you need for the day, keeping in mind to try and eat your first meal within an hour of waking, and not letting more than five hours go by without a meal or snack.
13. Dr. Sears writes that you should monitor your body’s response to a meal to truly dial in the Zone parameters that work best for you. Check your body’s signals for the following: Lack of hunger, lack of carbohydrate cravings, good mental focus and clarity, good physical energy and performance. These are the indicators that you have reached the hormonal sweet spot of the Zone diet. If you are hungry after a meal that Dr. Zone writes that you “have to readjust the protein-to-carb ratio of that same meal until it generates the desired responses.”
14. Dr. Sears says that during a focused-dietary work period, like a six-week diet Challenge, you should work hard to get all of your carbs from vegetables and fruits (as you would pursuing a Paleo-strict diet).
15. Eat your protein portion of a Zone meal first. The protein will stimulate a glucagon hormone response that will release stored carbohydrate in your liver. This will make it easier to contain your overall carbohydrate intake. The glucagon also will depress the release of insulin, Dr. Sears writes.
16. Get into the habit of drinking lots of water. He says that on a fat-burning diet your needs for water increase by 50%.

In Inside the Box, veteran journalist and marathoner T.J. Murphy goes all in to expose the gritty, high-intensity sport of CrossFit®. From staggering newcomer to evangelist, Murphy finds out how it feels, why it’s so popular, and whether CrossFit can fix his broken body.