If you're looking to lose fat or to maintain a healthy shape, weight and lifestyle, chances are that you've looked into many different types of diets. One of the more balanced approaches you could take is the 40-30-30 diet, more commonly known as The Zone diet. This diet emphasizes controlling the quantity of food you eat and the ratio of macronutrients, rather than banning or severely restricting certain foods or food groups.
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Getting in the Zone
The Zone diet was originally designed and popularized by Dr. Barry Sears in the mid 1990s. Your daily caloric intake will be around 1,200 if you're a woman, or 1,500 if you're a man. The real defining factor of the diet is the macronutrient ratio though. The 40-30-30 figure refers to the percentage of each macronutrient you should eat. Each meal should contain around 40 percent carbohydrate, 30 percent protein and 30 percent fat.
This style of eating is more balanced than one that requires you to completely cut out carbs, grains, dairy or meat. Additionally, the 40-30-30 macronutrient ratio with regular meals throughout the day can help stabilize blood sugar levels, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. A 2010 study from the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" also found that nutrient deficiencies were far less likely on a Zone-style diet than they were on other popular weight loss diets.
Following a diet where you have to calculate out how much of each macronutrient you're consuming at every meal can be complicated and time-consuming, notes registered dietitian Juliette Kellow. When preparing food at home you'll need to weigh everything, while eating out can be difficult, as you'll have to guess at portion sizes. The official Zone Diet recommends counting food in blocks, which can get confusing too, adds Kellow.
The Zone for a Day
If you don't mind weighing your food out before eating and like eating a wide variety of foods with little restriction, a 40-30-30 diet could be right for you. A sample day's breakfast could be a cup of cooked oatmeal with a tablespoon of walnuts, a small handful of blueberries and 1/2 a scoop of protein powder. Your lunch could be a small tuna and light mayo sandwich accompanied by an apple and dinner a piece of baked cod with 1/2 cup of black beans and a mixed salad with olive oil. Between meals have snacks like a boiled egg and a piece of fruit, a small dish of cottage cheese with pineapple and cashews, or 1 ounce of pre-cooked meat with vegetable sticks and hummus.