What’s Wrong With The Zone Diet?

Dear Mark, I just watched your video about the 2 minute salad; simple, fast, and no measuring. I agree with the primal way of eating and I’m torn between the freelance style of PB and structure of The Zone. What is your opinion of The Zone? First, let me thank Rob for his question. I’ve had a lot of conversations about The Zone and other heavily publicized diet plans. It’s fair, I think, to look at the good and the bad of the diet. Unless you’re talking about the grapefruit diet or similarly comical fad, diets generally have to have at least some positive point(s) to gain a decent following, as The Zone has. Nonetheless, what can initially look like a rational foundation begins to show cracks when you look at how the philosophy actually plays out. The Zone’s Positives? It suggests vegetables and fruit as the primary sources of carbohydrates and fiber. It suggests more protein than most popular diets. It appreciates the value of omega-3s. And finally, it pays homage to the diet-hormone connection (although I take issue with how the theory gets applied in the actual diet prescription). The Zone, I’ll say, isn’t by far the worst diet out there. It gets a few key things right or somewhat close. That said, however, I think there’s big room for improvement. Since you asked, here are my “beefs” with The Zone. The “Moderate” Hobby Horse In Dr. Sears’ words, “Any diet that uses the word high or low to describe it is hormonally unsustainable. The only diet that can maintain hormonal balance for a lifetime must use the word moderate to describe it.” Just from a rhetorical standpoint, this statement gets under my skin. O.K. – moderate according to what culture, what historical (or pre-historical) age? Based on his theory, we’re genetically designed for a 40-30-30 plan kind of “moderation”. The Fear of Fat What’s with the dinky serving of almonds or avocado in each meal? Yes, monosaturated fats are great. So, why the miniscule serving? And then there’s the commandment about only the leanest meats. Sure, I get the fat-toxin connection, and it’s why I tend to often (but not always) choose relatively leaner meats, but this has nothing to do with The Zone recommendation. Dr. Sears, pardon my saying, just seems like another fat-o-phobe. But, with the higher carb allotment, I guess fat gets you into more trouble. (What about that little bit of biochemistry? Didn’t see that mentioned. Hmmm.) Too High in Carbs I already said that I applauded the focus on veggies and the secondary role of fruits. It’s true that The Zone downplays the role of grains, and I like that as well. (Little surprise, yes.) But here we find ourselves back in the land of unfounded, forced “moderation.” Sure, Dr. Sears talks insulin regulation, but the rubber doesn’t exactly meet the road in The Zone diet. For an eating plan to truly facilitate hormonal balance, you have to put the brakes on … Continue reading What’s Wrong With The Zone Diet?