Can The Zone Diet work for Vegetarians?
The Zone Diet was developed by a biotech researcher Dr Barry Sears in 1995. Beloved of many celebs in the 90s, it's strictly a controlled-carb diet rather than a low-carb one.
Ready for the science? The theory behind the Zone Diet is that diets high in starch and sugary carbs result for some people in a metabolic imbalance called insulin resistance. Insulin resistance occur when the body turns carbs into glucose that floods into the blood stream. Insulin, (a vital hormone produced in the pancreas), travels to muscle cells around the body, and forces them to take glucose from the blood stream and store it in the liver. As insulin levels in the blood rise, glucose levels in the blood fall. When blood glucose falls below a certain level, the brain, which needs glucose to function, calls out for more by telling you to eat again. So that's the cycle. If the brain doesnt get the new carbs hit its craving, the result is tiredness and irritability. So another glucose surge, insulin floods to take it up, etc, until the body starts to resist its own hormonal instructions.
Anyway you don't have to get into all of that biochemistry to do the diet, just follow the solution, which according to Dr Sears is to maintain a "40:30:30" ratio of calories obtained daily from carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, respectively. This advice is simplified for daily living as:
On one third of your plate, put a piece of lean protein the size and thickness of your palm.
Fill the remaining two thirds with low-starch fruit and vegetables. Then add a dash of monounsaturated fat
The amount you actually eat is calculated in 'zone blocks', and you are allocated different numbers of blocks according to your sex, weight, height and waist and hip circumferences.
There is a lot of other information on Dr Sears website along with products and supplements including a dairy-based (but lactose-free) protein powder that can be used very flexibly to lower the carb-to-protein ratio is a wide range of foods, and lots of other foods that make the ratio-calculating far easier, including protein-rich bars and shakes which are nutrient packed and could be used as meal replacements in a weight loss programme. They can deliver WORLDWIDE and offer autoshipping discounts on commonly ordered items.
So, how veggie-friendly is 'The Zone Diet'?
The website recommends chosing protein sources carefully to follow the programme as a vegetarian. Ideal selections would be firm tofu, and isolated soy protein powders, as well some commercially produced meat substitutes. They warn against the higher carb sources of veggie protein like beans as being impossible to achieve the desired ratios with.
Inspired by the long-lived Okinawan Japanese, Dr Sears went on to develop a new vegetarian-friendly version of the Zone diet, The Soy Zone, which is full of delicious recipes like Baked Golden Tofu Dumplings and Tempeh Paprikash. The book isnt 100% vegetarian as it contains some fish and chicken recipes, but most of it is, and there is a lot of background to the science of the Zone as well, so it's an excellent place to start and can be ordered direct from the main website.
If you are in the US, it gets even easier, as ChefsDiet will deliver perfectly planned VEGETARIAN Zone-diet meals directly to your door each day - this really is the ideal way to see whether this plan is going to suit you or not:
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