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There are two ways of eating in the zone, they are both based on the same principles, but one is approximate and easy to follow, and the other is more complex but more precise. I will explain both as well as my understanding allows from both the ZoneDiet website and Dr. Sears website about the science behind the zone.
The Simple Zone Meal:
Start with lean protein, i.e., chicken, turkey, tofu, egg whites, soy, low-fat dairy, fish
Try to avoid high-fat protein
Choose an amount of protein approximately equivalent to the size/shape of your palm. If it doesn't fit in your palm (and isn't thicker than it) than it is too big.
Next, choose good carbohydrates for the remainder of your meal, about twice as much food as the protein, or 2/3 of your plate.
Good carbohydrates are most fruits and vegetables, as well as high fiber grains such as barley and oats.
Bad carbohydrates include high carb fruits and veggies (carrots, corn, bananas, and raisins are quoted on the website), pretty much all other grains, potatoes
The idea is to balance out the good/bad carbs, so many more vegetables, some fruits, very few grains/starches
Lastly, you want to add a dash of good fats to your meal. Good fats include olive oil, sesame oil, almonds (and some other nuts), avacado
You should try to avoid bad fats, trans fats, egg yolks, fatty meats, etc.
The idea is to include the above balance of food in every meal and every snack to best control blood sugar and insulin. The zone says that if you are hungry, eat a snack, just make sure to have some protein, some good carbs, and some fat.
The Complex Zone Diet
The way the zone is set up, the three food types are balanced through a comparison of grams. They are combined in blocks, a block of protein is 7g, most women should have three of these in a normal meal. A block of carbohydrates is 9g, and you can always subtract the fiber from the initial total carb content, women should have 3 blocks of carbs per meal. Fats come in blocks that are 1.5g each (much smaller you'll notice), again, you get 3 per meal.
For snacks, you would pick one block of each, so 7g protein (maybe a string cheese stick), 9g of carbs (some berries), and 1.5g of fat (a few almonds).
I've noticed that in preparing my meals, I often come up under/over 3 blocks of each per meal, but I try to balance so that the blacks are equal to each other, not necessarily to a specific number. Our sparkpeople food calculators give us grams of protein, carb, fiber, and fat, so this is not half bad to do. But, I'm a math whiz, so, most people would probably not enjoy counting out blacks like I do. That's okay, we can help each other!
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