Zone Diet Review


Written by Jolyne Babineau

Jolyne has a Master's degree in clinical nutrition. She has a true passion for the field and enjoys doing research on any topics related to dietetics.

The Zone Diet is another diet you have probably heard about. It was written by Dr. Barry Sears who states that the “key factor” is to eat skillfully prepared meals in order to achieve a “hormonal balance”. Dr. Sears also suggests that by eating a food plan that comprises of 40% carbohydrates; 30% fat; and 30% protein you will control your body’s insulin production which makes your body work at its peak efficiency.

So how does this diet work? The “Basic Rules” of the regime are:

  • Eat a “Zone” meal within an hour of waking up.

  • Eat 3 meals and 2 snacks per day.

  • Drink at least 8 glasses of water per day.

  • Engage in moderate exercise daily.

  • Eat with a ratio of carbohydrate to fat to protein of 40:30:30.

  • Eat more fruits and veggies; less bread, grains and starchy foods.

Foods allowed are lean proteins, low-fat dairy foods, most fruits, low-starchy vegetables, oatmeal and barley, and small amounts of vegetable oils.

Foods restricted are starchy fruits and veggies; processed foods; high glycemic index carbohydrate foods; high fat meats and alternatives and milk and alternatives.

Zone Diet Meal Plans

The problem with many diets like the Zone diet, is planning your meals. Now there's a software program to do that for you.

Find out more at:

 Meal Plans 101


So what does a typical day look like?

Breakfast - can consist of an egg white omelette with oatmeal and strawberries for example.

Lunch - can be something like a grilled chicken Caesar salad; 2 cups of grilled vegetables and an apple.

Dinner - can be 5 oz of salmon; a salad; 4 cups of steamed veggies and 1 cup of mixed berries.

Two snacks - are also recommended and can consist of 2 egg whites with hummus and 1 oz of cheese or a glass of red wine.

This equals to less than 1200 calories per day.

Let’s take a closer look at the menu. There is only 1 serving of grain products; not even one serving of milk and alternative; about six servings of meat and alternatives; and lots of fruits and veggies. So if it’s a 40:30:30 ratio, where are the carbohydrates? Although they state that this is not a low carbohydrate diet, the sample menu demonstrates the opposite.


Here are the pros and cons of this diet:


  • Have breakfast (the most important meal of the day might I add!).
  • Eat 3 meals and 2 snacks per day.
  • Drink lots of water.
  • Exercise on a daily basis.
  • Aim for lower-fat meat and alternatives.
  • Have lots of fruits and veggies.




  • Dr. Sears is a biochemist and has no formal training in nutrition.

  • Calories are too low!

  • Diet is deficient in vitamins and minerals. You have little calcium and vitamin D just to name a few.

  • False claims! Like “Increased carbohydrate intake impairs athletic performance”. In fact, there is a growing body of research that supports the importance of carbohydrates in athletes. A lot of his claims are not supported by scientific research.

  • The diet can be very complicated because you have to calculate the amount of protein, carbohydrates and fats allowed.

  • It omits too many foods and wholesome foods also! Breads, corn, carrots, bagels, etc are all restricted foods. These are actually healthy. They are high in fibre; vitamins and minerals.

On the whole, this diet is no better than other low carbohydrate diets. Although it has a few good things about it, the bad outweighs the good.

The author doesn’t seem to grasp the importance of each and every component of food. For example, Dr. Sears even goes as far as to say that your body breaks food into its basic components and that one snickers bar has the same amount of carbohydrates as 2 oz of pasta. He states that one person would eat 8 oz of pasta but not 4 Snickers bars. What about other nutrients? Pasta has vitamins and minerals that the snickers bar doesn’t.

People need to learn about how to feed their body in order to get the proper nutrition for their body to function properly. It’s not always about weight loss but rather about achieving a healthy lifestyle.



Dieting doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg either. You have to find good information from an individual trained in nutrition. Start with baby steps. You do not need to change your bad habits overnight. It’s too much. You need to start with one small goal and once you have attained that goal and feel comfortable with it you can then add on another goal.

This will eventually lead you to your bigger goal!

Publisher's Note:

One problem we found with this diet, and others like it, is the difficulty in coming up with the right Zone diet meal plans. Some people even have Zone meals delivered to their home!

There is a good software program available that will prepare nutritious meal plans, and it will work for any type of diet. You can find it at Meal Plans 101

Download a Free copy of our e-book:

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