10 Tips For Converting to the Zone Diet

This week’s post is all about converting to the Zone Diet. The Zone diet has been around for decades and has generally been known as a weight loss diet; this is a shame because being in the Zone is about so much more than weight loss. It’s been proven that your body responds positively to meals balanced with 40% carbohydrates, 30% protein, and 30% fat. When you’re in the Zone, you’ll have better digestion, more energy, more power, and excess fat will almost literally fall off your body. The Zone diet is all about keeping your body “in the zone” as much as possible. This is the only diet I have followed that has given me the results it promises. I encourage everyone to give this is serious try for 30 days and watch your results both on and off the scale.

Zone measures your macro-nutrients. There are three of these: carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Learning about and implementing the Zone diet is not easy. There is so much information out there it can be hard to process. Try to keep it simple for at least a month before you begin to experiment with different balances and more complex measurements.

Everything you eat should be grouped into one of the three macro-nutrient categories (carbs, protein, fat) and broken into what we call blocks. This is to simplify the calculations.

1 block carbs = 9g carbohydrates

1 block protein = 7g protein

1 block fat = 1.5g fat

A meal or snack should consist of equal blocks carbs, protein, and fat. For example, a three block meal includes 3 blocks of carbs, 3 blocks of protein, and 3 blocks of fat. Other than a few exceptions (which we won’t even bother getting into in this post)everything you eat will fall into one of these categories based on its dominant macro-nutrient. Whatever the food item contains the most blocks of, is what it should count towards (more on that later).

The list below is designed to put you on the right track for success in your transition towards being in the Zone.

If you have any questions, please comment below or email me at will@mountainstrongdenver.com

1) Learn what the Zone Diet is. Diet is not what you eat for your attempt at a 30 day quick fix, diet is your lifestyle of eating. The definition of diet is not weight loss, contrary to what many people believe. Its true definition is what foods someone eats habitually. Read the below link to learn about what the Zone diet is:

http://www.zonediet.com/the-zone-diet/

Here is some more easy reading on Zone with examples of meals:

http://crossfitimpulse.com/the-zone-diet-explained-edited/

2) Find out what a ‘block’ is and how many you should be eating.

A block is 40% Carbs, 30% Fat, and 30% Protein. To simplify you can think about it as the following:

1 block carbs = 9g carbs

1 block fat = 1.5g fat

1 block protein = 7g protein

Zone assumes you are consuming some fat in your protein source or carb source, so there is no need to micro-manage your food. Everything you eat should be considered either a carb, fat, or protein. The dominant macro-nutrient will help you define what your food is.

For example, something that has 4g carbs, 6g fat, and 7g protein should be considered a fat source. While something that has 20g carbs, 2g fat, and 7g protein would be a carb source.

In the first example, where the primary macro-nutrient is fat, this item would equal a total of 4 blocks of fat within a meal. In order to complete the Zone-friendly meal, someone would need to eat an additional 4 blocks of carbs and 4 blocks of protein.

If you do not follow this method and micro-manage your blocks, you’re likely not going to eat enough and end up hungry (and possibly making a poor food choice as a result).

The calculator at the link below can help you decide how many blocks you should be eating each day (note that it’s only a guideline, everyone is a little different). Try following something for 30 days, then begin to tailor it to your needs:

http://www.dbhonline.com/zoneful/p_calculator.htm

3) Get a food scale. They’re cheap on Amazon and, trust me, you can’t accurately eyeball it no matter how slick you think you are. 1 block of broccoli or spinach (128g) is hard to eyeball.

4) Research Zone friendly recipes and PLAN AHEAD. You’re wasting your time if you’re not going to plan meals at minimum one day ahead of time. At the very least, stock your home with healthy options and all the ingredients you need to cook zone-balanced meals.

5) Speaking of planning…don’t forget to plan for healthy snack options, as well. When you get hungry during the day, go for a 1-2 block snack. (Example: 1/2 cup/3 large spoonfuls of cottage cheese (2P), 1 apple (2C), and a handful of sunflower seeds, or almonds (2F) would be a great 2 block snack)

6) Drink 32-48oz of water each morning as soon as you wake up, before you eat. This will gently wake your organs and digestive system, as well as get you ahead of the hydration curve for the day. It’s hard to do, but your body will adjust over a week of doing it and you’ll feel the difference it makes.

7) Read these articles:

http://library.crossfit.com/free/pdf/15_03_Nutrition_Full_Issue.pdf

http://library.crossfit.com/free/pdf/cfjissue21_May04.pdf

8) Realize that the first 3-4 weeks will be the most difficult. If you dedicate yourself you will notice results in your first month, but understand there will be hard times. If you can make it to the point when you aren’t craving sugars anymore, know the hard part is over. Some cheat meals are ok, but get back on the horse and back to planning out your healthy meals and snacks ASAP after a cheat. One cheat can lead to two, which leads to three and after three what’s another one really going to cost you..? All of a sudden you’re not following the path you wanted. One great thing about following a zone diet is that you’re always only one meal away from getting your body back in the zone.

9) Smoked salmon…try it if you haven’t. If you have and don’t like it, try it again. When done right, the salmon not only tastes fantastic, but it packs well for snacks/lunches and contains a strong nutritious punch. I find smoked salmon with some fruit and nuts make an easy, delicious snack.

10) Finally (and possibly most importantly) remember what your goals are. Change is hard and there will tough times. Win the mental battles and you will be well on your way to optimizing your eating, athletic performance, and happiness!

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