Most dedicated CrossFitters will stick to one of a few different diets. The Paleo Diet is a big one, but another plan that’s gained a lot of traction recently is the Zone Diet. Let’s take a quick look and see what exactly this plan entails to help you decide if it’s right for you.
What is The Zone Diet?
The Zone Diet was developed more than 30 years ago by Dr. Barry Sears, a leading expert in the science of controlling inflammation through diet. His program was originally created to help people suffering with inflammatory and hormonal problems; however, the Zone Diet has been found to offer many additional benefits.
Unlike other, very complex diet systems, the Zone Diet is very straightforward. It’s centered around a simple fundamental formula to determine the makeup of your plate:
1/3 Lean Protein: Items like fish, beans, egg whites, and low-fat dairy products.
2/3 Fruits and Veggies: Colorful vegetables and fruit, avoiding those high in sugar and starch.
Minimal Fat: Add a bit of monounsaturated fats like olive oil, avocadoes, and almonds.
The Zone Diet comes with its own variation of the classic food pyramid, seen below:
The Zone’s creators also have a line of supplements available intended to help you maximize the diet’s effectiveness, but these are optional and only contribute to the diet’s inherent benefits.
As mentioned above, the Zone Diet is an anti-inflammatory program centered around vegetables and lean proteins. Additional benefits to the program have attracted other interest as well, though, namely as a weight-loss and general wellness regimen.
Why is it Called The Zone Diet?
Inflammation can be a catalyst that causes you to gain weight, get sick more often, age faster, and be more susceptible to chronic diseases. The “zone” in the diet’s name refers to an actual physiological state; a kind of medical sweet spot at which you’re perfectly balancing your body’s ability to control diet-related inflammation.
The “zone” is defined by the following parameters:
TG/HDL Ratio: This is the level of insulin resistance in your liver. This ratio should be less than 1.
AA/EPA Ratio: The level of diet-related inflammation measured in your body. Should be somewhere between 1.5 and 3.
HbA1c Level: This is the level of Advanced Glycoslated Endproducts connected to your blood glucose, which is ideal at 5%.
It’s estimated that only about 1% of people in the US reach this sweet spot, but the benefits can be tremendous for those who are successful. Being in “the zone” means that your body’s metabolism is operating at its optimal level; it’s essentially a fast-track to wellness, allowing you to:
Lose excess fat at a faster rate.
Maintain long-term wellness.
Perform better during physical activity.
Think faster through improved cognition.
Slow the aging process.
Diet is Just One Part of Maintaining Health
Of course, being in the zone isn’t a one-time achievement; rather, maintaining optimal health through The Zone Diet is a life-long commitment. Optimal physical and mental health requires a disciplined lifestyle that balances diet, exercise, and stress-relieving activities. Fortunately, as Monica Eaton-Cardone explains, it’s more than possible to incorporate healthy habits into your day-to-day lifestyle with incremental adjustments.
If you’re not already committed to a diet program, it’s time to give The Zone Diet a try. Incorporate the diet’s simple—yet effective—principles into your CrossFit lifestyle, and watch the benefits roll in.