The Zone Diet Explained and the Celebrities

Jennifer Aniston has been considered “The Zone poster girl”, since she admitted to following the Zone diet along with body exercise. Perhaps one hidden reason for this is the presumption that she convinced her ex-husband Brad Pitt to join The Zone, even if for a short time. However, the “Jennifer Aniston Zone Diet” in particular also includes a lot of exercise, as she declared herself.

Where can you find Sex and the City’s Kristen Davis, Cindy Crawford and even Demi Moore? In the zone, the diet zone that is. They’re watching their weight, and protecting themselves against chronic illnesses.

 The Zone celebrity list is even more extensive, and includes Demi Moore, Cindy Crawford, Janet Jackson, Sarah Jessica Parker, Rene Zellwegger, Sandra Bullock and Madonna. Among the men are former U.S. President Bill Clinton, stand-up comedian and soap opera star Bill Crosby, actors Brad Pitt and Charlie Sheen, and shock-jock disc jockey Howard Stern, the self-style King of all media. Italian newspapers stated that the Pope was on Zone Diet

The Zone diet is a diet popularized in books by biochemist Barry Sears. It advocates consuming calories from carbohydrates, protein and fat in a balanced ratio.

The diet centers on a “40:30:30” ratio of calories obtained daily from carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, respectively. The ideal formula has been under debate, although studies over the past several years (including a non-scientific study by the PBS documentary show Scientific American Frontiers) have shown that it can produce weight loss at reasonable rates.[citation needed] The Scientific American Frontiers study compared the effectiveness of several popular ‘diet’ regimes including the Zone; somewhat to the surprise of the show’s staff, the participants on the Zone experienced the greatest fat loss while simultaneously gaining muscle mass. Participants also reported the Zone as the easiest regime to adjust to, i.e. having the fewest adverse affects such as fatigue or hunger.Most people who report fatigue find that the fatigue diminishes by day 2 or 3.

“The Zone” is Sears’ term for proper hormone balance. When insulin levels are neither too high nor too low, and glucagon levels are not too high, then specific anti-inflammatory chemicals (types of eicosanoids) are released, which have similar effects to aspirin, but without downsides such as gastric bleeding. Sears claims that a 30:40 ratio of protein to carbohydrates triggers this effect, and this is called ‘The Zone.’ Sears claims that these natural anti-inflammatories are heart- and health-friendly. There is no evidence that eating in this way affects hormone levels.

Additionally, the human body in caloric balance is more efficient and does not have to store excess calories as fat. The human body cannot store fat and burn fat at the same time[citation needed], and Sears believes it takes time (significant time if insulin levels were high because of unbalanced eating) to switch from the former to the latter.[citation needed] Using stored fat for energy causes weight loss.

Another key feature of the Zone diet, introduced in his later books, is an intake of a particular ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acids. Dr. Sears is believed to have popularized the taking of pharmaceutical-grade Omega 3 fish oils.

Hormonal paradoxes

Sears believes in a hormonal paradox contrary to the “low-fat” rationale of most diets, claiming that low-fat diets increase the production of the hormone insulin, causing the body to store more fat. The example proposed by him is the cattle ranching practice of fattening livestock efficiently by feeding them lots of low-fat grain. However this is due to the amount of the grain, and thus the total amount of calories consumed, being large. He and others also point out the supposed irony that human diets in the West for the last twenty years have been full of low-fat carbohydrates, yet people are considered more obese now.

Additionally, Sears suggests fat consumption is essential for “burning” fat.

His rationale is: Monounsaturated fats in a meal contribute to a feeling of fullness and decrease the rate at which carbohydrates are absorbed into the bloodstream. Slower carbohydrate absorption means lower insulin levels which means less stored fat and a faster transition to fat burning. If the body needs energy and can’t burn fat because of high insulin levels, a person feels tired as their brain starves and metabolism slows to compensate. This occurs because the brain runs on glucose and high insulin levels deplete blood glucose levels. Such a condition, rebound hypoglycemia, causes sweet cravings (which just starts the high-insulin cycle all over again).

Sears describes a Zone meal as follows: “Eat as much protein as the palm of your hand, as much nonstarchy raw vegetables as you can stand for the vitamins, enough carbohydrates to maintain mental clarity because the brain runs on glucose, and enough monounsaturated oils to keep feelings of hunger away.”

Comparison to low-carb diets

Whether the Zone diet is a low-carb diet. is a matter of opinion and definition. It is much less restrictive in total carbohydrate intake as the Atkins diet that became extremely popular throughout the United States in 2003 and 2004. Sears claims that diets specifically designed as “low carb” miss the point. According to him, they ignore the importance of moderation and balance: hormonal balance, as well as the influence of dietary balance on digestion and hormone production. A reasonable argument could be made that the typical American follows a “high carb” diet, and that the Zone diet is simple a moderate one.