Weight loss or fat loss? It makes a difference

With the New Year comes the guaranteed resolution for most people to lose weight. Invariably that resolution is usually abandoned some time in February. Part of the reason is that we really don’t know what we are talking about when it comes to weight loss. Weight loss is composed of three separate components: water loss, muscle loss, and fat loss. If you restrict calories, you are going to lose weight. What that weight loss might consist of (water, muscle, or fat) is a very different question.

There are no health benefits to water loss (i.e. dehydration) or muscle loss (i.e. protein deprivation), but there is something magical about fat loss. If you can lose excess body fat, then you are virtually guaranteed to lower blood sugar levels, blood lipid levels, and blood pressure. Not surprisingly, drugs used to reduce blood sugar, blood lipids and blood pressure are the biggest sellers in the country.

Considering the continuing outcry to reverse our obesity epidemic, no one seems to bother to measure fat loss in any clinical trials. This is why you see a lot of research studies published stating it doesn’t matter what diet you follow because if you restrict calories, you will lose weight. I agree with that statement. But if you want better health (not to mention looking better in a swimsuit), then you want to make sure that you are losing fat at the fastest possible rate while conserving muscle mass at the same time. The published clinical studies that have looked at fat loss make it very clear that the anti inflammatory diet is the best dietary strategy to burn fat faster (1-3).

If the moderate-carbohydrate anti inflammatory diet is good, then shouldn’t an even lower-carbohydrate diet like the Atkins diet be better? Not so fast. The published studies comparing the anti inflammatory diet to the Atkins diet make it clear that there are no benefits to consuming a lower-carbohydrate diet that generates ketosis, but there are plenty of negative consequences, such as increased cellular inflammation and decreased capacity for exercise (4,5).

But losing weight is relatively easy compared to keeping it off. That’s why the recent DIOGENES study is so important (6). This study makes it very clear that if you want to keep lost weight off, then your best choice is maintaining a diet that has at least 25 percent of the calories coming from protein, and about 40 percent of the calories coming from low-glycemic carbohydrates. That’s the anti inflammatory diet.

So if your New Year’s resolution is to lose weight (and really lose fat) and keep it off, then the anti inflammatory diet should be your only choice.

References

1. Layman DK, Boileau RA, Erickson DJ, Painter JE, Shiue H, Sather C, and Christou DD. “A reduced ratio of dietary carbohydrate to protein improves body composition and blood lipid profiles during weight loss in adult women.” J Nutr 133: 411-417 (2003)
2. Lasker DA, Evans EM, and Layman DK, “Moderate-carbohydrate, moderate-protein weight-loss diet reduces cardiovascular disease risk compared to high-carbohydrate, low-protein diet in obese adults. A randomized clinical trial.” Nutrition and Metabolism 5: 30 (2008)
3. Fontani G, Corradeschi F, Felici A, Alfatti F, Bugarini R, Fiaschi AI, Cerretani D, Montorfano G, Rizzo AM and Berra B. “Blood profiles, body fat and mood state in healthy subjects on different diets supplemented with omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids.” Eur J Clin Invest 35: 499-507 (2005)
4. Johnston CS, Tjonn SL, Swan PD, White A, Hutchins H, and Sears B. “Ketogenic low-carbohydrate diets have no metabolic advantage over nonketogenic low-carbohydrate diets.” Am J Clin Nutr 83: 1055-1061 (2006)
5. White AM, Johnston CS, Swan PD, Tjonn SL, and Sears B. “Blood ketones are directly related to fatigue and perceived effort during exercise in overweight adults adhering to low-carbohydrate diets for weight loss: a pilot study.” J Am
Diet Assoc 107:1792-1796 (2007)
6. Larsen TM, Dalskov SM, van Baak M, Jebb SA, Papadaki A, Pfeiffer AF, Martinez JA, Handjieva-Darlenska T, Kunesova M, Pihlsgard M, Stender S, Holst C, Saris WH, and Astrup A. “Diets with high or low protein content and glycemic index for weight-loss maintenance.” N Engl J Med 363: 2102-2113 (2010)

Nothing contained in this blog is intended to be instructional for medial diagnosis or treatment. If you have a medical concern or issue, please consult your personal physician immediately.

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About Dr. Barry Sears

Dr. Barry Sears is a leading authority on the impact of the diet on hormonal response, genetic expression, and inflammation. A former research scientist at the Boston University School of Medicine and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dr. Sears has dedicated his research efforts over the past 30 years to the study of lipids. He has published more than 30 scientific articles and holds 13 U.S. patents in the areas of intravenous drug delivery systems and hormonal regulation for the treatment of cardiovascular disease. He has also written 13 books, including the New York Times #1 best-seller "The Zone". These books have sold more than 5 million copies in the U.S. and have been translated into 22 different languages.

103 thoughts on “Weight loss or fat loss? It makes a difference

  1. Hi,
    I am about to start the Zone diet, but have a few questions: On some of your meal plans it says to take a scoop of cashews or an extra large scoop. How much is a scoop or extra large scoop, etc..

    On some of the meals and snacks it says to have a certain amt of cheese. Does it matter what kind of cheese?

    With regards to milk, does it matter if it is whole milk or skim, etc..

    With regards to nuts, is it ok, for example to exchange almonds for macadamia nuts, etc…

  2. I am really liking the frequency of these posts. I find them very motivating. I’ve tried the low-carb approach. I could stay lean but I wasn’t nearly as sharp mentally nor did I feel all that great. I’ve settled on the 30-30-40 mix and couldn’t be happier.

    Of all the new year’s resolutions I’ve thought of making, going back and reading Toxic Fat would probably be the most beneficial.

    Thanks for everything Dr. Sears.

  3. I’m very interested in this approach to eating in the “zone” I had used the Atkins diet to very good success, by was lacking in verity of food choices.

    I also have been on medication for low testosterone for about 2 years now, it started with the feeling of tiredness all the time and low libedo.

    I am 50 years old 6′ 1″ and about 270 lbs.(most of the weight in the abdomin area)

    Slightly high “bad cholestrol” and low “good cholestrol” also (Trigycerides on the high side)

    I think this approach to eating correctly will even get me off the testerone replacment therapy?

  4. I started the Zone Diet in July of 2009 and reached my goal of 100 lbs weight loss (scale weight) by my 40th birthday in October 2010. I lost count of how many lbs I lost of actual body FAT. I remember in the first 6 weeks I lost of 12 lbs of body FAT! My total cholesterol is well UNDER 200 and my Triglycerides are in the low 40′s! All of my blood work was spot on perfect this year. My PCP saw me for the first time in the year for my yearly check up and could not believe the difference – size, shape and health of my insides! I gave credit where it was due – Zone Diet! I continue to live in the Zone including the Zone products with every day food. I love my new found lifestyle… I love me!! My goal for the new year is to drop another 20 lbs of body fat..I would like to be stronger and leaner. I plan to keep the Zone as part of my regimen to accomplish this goal as well as taking on some new exercise adventures. Thanks Dr. Sears for the Zone Diet!

    • Give all the thanks to yourself. I only gave you the rules to follow. The same diet used to lose excess body fat is the basically the same diet used to improved athletic performance as you will see once ZoneCompete is operational.

  5. The Zone should really be referred to as a style of eating or a lifestyle rather than a diet. Diets are doomed to fail. However, once I started to consistently feel so much better on The Zone I am not really interested in eating sugar and refined carbohydrates too much. Weight loss happens automatically on The Zone, I haven’t had to really think about that too much as my will to exercise sent through the roof. I have been using the zone for a number of years now and will continue to defy the experts with my health and well being.

  6. The Zone should really be referred to as a style of eating or a lifestyle rather than a diet. Diets are doomed to fail. However, once I started to consistently feel so much better on The Zone I am not really interested in eating sugar and refined carbohydrates too much. Weight loss happens automatically on The Zone, I haven’t had to really think about that too much as my will to exercise went through the roof. I have been using the zone for a number of years now and will continue to defy the experts with my health and well being.

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  8. I was so happy to see the interview on Pat Robertson’s program today. Five friends and I began your diet a week ago and are accountability partners for each other. I was happy to hear you had a website where I can get some understanding of how it works. I have tried every diet I think known to man and I’ve never been on one where I was never hungry. I still have cravings for candy so I must not yet have mastered the balance but I am excited that I hopefully I have found something that will finally work. Thank you for your information and I am still working my way through the books. Ruth Brandon

    • I think you will find that the new Zone Foods will dramatically improve your compliance. This is because of their ability to reduce hunger by improving hormonal balance in the digestive tract. The result is that hormonal signals are sent directly to the brain to tell you to stop eating.

  9. I read your book “The Zone” my dentist gave me. I loved the fact that I coould tell that you are a chemist. So am I. (Colloid, and surface of metals.) I am now fighting CHF and Diabetes. Your offerings heavy on carbohydrates confuse me. I also have Parkinson’s Disease. I’ve cured that with 36 G/day saturated fat from coconut oil. In two weeks my right arm stopped shaking and in 6 weeks my left hand could write smoothly and clearly. Why don’t you include coconut oil or milk in your diet? It is not stored as fat, but is converted to keto-acids by the liver. These also kill the two types of bacteria and the herpes virus that cause cloged arteries. Your presentation on 700 club sounded great, but I want to know more of what is going on.
    Yours turly,
    Van H. Baldwin
    Retired Chemistry teacher.

  10. I read your book “The Zone” my dentist gave me. I loved the fact that I coould tell that you are a chemist. So am I. (Colloid, and surface of metals.) I am now fighting CHF and Diabetes. Your offerings heavy on carbohydrates confuse me. I also have Parkinson’s Disease. I’ve cured that with 36 G/day saturated fat from coconut oil. In two weeks my right arm stopped shaking and in 6 weeks my left hand could write smoothly and clearly. Why don’t you include coconut oil or milk in your diet? It is not stored as fat, but is converted to keto-acids by the liver. These also kill the two types of bacteria and the herpes virus that cause cloged arteries. Your presentation on 700 club sounded great, but I want to know more of what is going on.
    Yours truly,
    Van H. Baldwin
    Retired Chemistry teacher.

    • To understand cellular inflammation is to understand how our diet affects the most primitive part of our immune system that turns on inflammatory responses. Coconut oil is very low in omega-6 fatty acids. It is omega-6 fatty acids that drive cellular inflammation. Unfortunately, coconut oil is also rich in saturated fats that can have an impact on inflammation, but to a lesser degree than omega-6 fats. The ideal choice for non-inflammatory fats would be oils low in both omega-6 and saturated fats to get even better results. These choices would include extra virgin olive oil, slivered almonds, and guacamole. Add supplemental amounts of high purity fish oil rich in omega-3 fatty acids and you have the ideal anti-inflammatory cocktail.

  11. Dr. Sears,

    I read your book, the Zone Diet not too long after it initially came out. And I followed it for over a year for my husband and myself. I had great energy as did he and we both lost many pounds.
    Somewhere along the line, with my job and that of my husband, I got off the diet and am now at age 74yrs. retired and wanting to “spring back” on it and faithfully keep at it.

    I’m not sure why I skidded-off the Plan, it was foolproof for both of us. Now I’m not sure I have the stamina to get on it and stick to it. As I recall, it seemed to take a lot of planing. And I’m sooo tired all the time

    • This is why we developed our new Zone Foods. They take all of the guesswork out of balancing protein, carbohydrate, and fat and still let you eat the foods you like to eat. Once you begin to re-balance your hormones, you will find making Zone meals is incredibly easy.

    • Postmenopausal weight gain is driven by increased insulin levels that rise as estrogen levels decrease. To counteract this insulin rise, you have to follow a relatively strict anti inflammatory diet. The new Zone Foods make this much easier than ever before.

  12. I have ordered the Fast Zone Two week food packages. This is an international shipment since I am based in Dubai I ordered two for both weeks so i have a total of 4 weeks now. Is this all right? I wont gain weight if i continue having these for another 2 weeks?
    Also, I am apprehensive about the white bagels and white bread and rolls options. Since I have been making such efforts to cut carbs out. I love bread but enjoy multigrain and wholemeal and giving it up for the Dukan and Atkins was a real sacrifice for me. I still did it coz i want to lose about 8 kilos that are stuck no matter how much i exercise or diet. While it fluctuates i have been stuck with these for the past 5 years since i moved here. The reason i ordered ZOne was because the diet offered special baked products thus taking away deprivation.
    I would really appreciate if you can tell me that consuming these wont affect my carb intake and make my painstakingly shed pounds creep back. I still have at least 6 kilos to lose and hopefully maintain.
    Also if you could tell me if i can use the two weeks of Zone products i ordered as a continued 4 week plan? Thanks a lot
    Faryal, Dubai, UAE

    • The Zone Protein found in the Zone Foods acts as a remarkable brake on hunger. That is one of the reasons why the Zone Foods are patented. The secret of successful weight loss consists of calorie restriction without hunger eating the foods you like to eat. The Zone Foods help fulfill these criteria.

  13. I agree losing weight is much easier than keeping the weight off. That’s why you need a lifetime program like the anti inflammatory diet. Our new Zone Foods and Zone Coach program makes that goal much easier.

  14. I am just getting started on the Zone Diet and I have a couple of questions. When you weigh your block portions, do you weigh raw or cooked?, and I know half an apple is one block, but no two apples are the same size. Has a weight measurement ever been established? Actually, for me measuring food by weight would make me feel like I was being a lot more accurate. I don’t want to foul up, I really want to make this diet work.

    • The weight of the block portions are based on the uncooked weight. You are correct about apples. A 100 gram portion of a raw apple has a little more than one block. Unfortunately most apples are in the 200-300 gram range. It is worth getting an inexpensive scale to measure the fruits you get and then compare that weight to listing of nutrients in the USDA Nutrient Database on the web. We have done so much genetic manipulation to fruits that they are now often super-sized in terms of carbohydrate content.

  15. I started the Zone on the 3rd of January 2011. I am a heavy female at weight 79kg’s. After analyses it was found that my body fat is 29% and my lean muscle mass clocked in at about 52kg’s. It is my goal to come down to at least 70kg’s, my age is 38 and I am very active. I train ona adaily basis doing CrossFit. After my first 3weeks I was very hesitatnt to get ont he scale as I reallybattle to loose weight, huge was my dissapointment that I did not loose any kg’s, my bf% came down wit 1,3% and I ost 6cm’s in measurements, I was on 11 blocks. Now I changed to 9 1 block snacks ad hoping that I will achieve my weight loss, I do drink a lot of water.
    Am i just impatient? Should I just keep on going, I really feel good on my 9 blocks thus far, is this ok or too little?

    • Hi, Charmaine,

      I’m not Dr. Sears, but I’ll tell you that of course you should keep going. Never give up!

      More specifically – if you worked out for 3 weeks and did not lose pounds, but you lost centimeters and lowered your body fat percentage, then you must have lost fat. It sounds as though you just also gained some muscle too, so your net weight remained constant. But the new muscle burns fat, so that will help your future weight loss.

      You should also eat enough blocks every day to maintain your muscle. See the point of this blog post. You want to lose fat, NOT muscle. Don’t starve yourself. If you figured you need 11 blocks with your lean body weight and activity level, then stay with 11.

      And I’d suggest you rest at least one day a week. Your body needs some rest to adapt to the stress you’re putting on it. Give your body time to recover, and rebuild itself so it’s even stronger than before.

    • You were actually gaining muscle and losing fat. That’s why the scale was not changing much. The decrease in the percent body fat along with the decrease in waist circumference is your best indication that the combination of the diet and exercise are working well. Going to 9 blocks will reduce calories, but will not supply the necessary protein you need to maintain and even build your existing muscle mass. Water loss and muscle (and organ mass) loss can be fast. Fat loss is slow. However, it is only with the loss of excess fat that all health benefits of weight loss begin to appear. You are making great progress, just keep it up and continue to measure your body fat percentage as the real measure of success.

  16. Keeping the balance of the Zone Diet made me free from sweet cravings, which is great. However I can’t imagine my daily living without wine. Is it allowed? And what about other alcoholic drinks?

    • The health benefits of wine come from the polyphenols that the alcohol extracts from the grapes. In fact, drinking two glasses of robust red wine will provide you with the same levels of polyphenols as eating about 10 servings of vegetables. On the other hand, no one talks of the health benefits of vodka. Alcohol without any extracted polyphenols is simply a good way of killing brain cells. Stick to the robust red wine, but always have protein chaser (like a piece of cheese) to balance out the alcohol which as acts as a super-carbohydrate in terms of insulin response.

      • Thank you, Doctor. I have one more question – since I live in the UK and I am vegetarian, I eat a lot of Quorn, which as you surely know is a mycoprotein. How does it place in the Zone?

  17. I have been following Dr. Jonny Bowden and Charles Poliquin-lots of protein, high fats and now grains. I have been feeling quite good but wonder if I should switch to the Zone. Can you explain why I should?

    • You will need the protein for enhanced satiety, however high fats (greater than 30%) often means increased saturated fats that can interact with toll-like receptor 4 (TLR 4) to induce inflammation. That’s why I like to keep the fats restricted to monounsaturated and omega-3 fats. All grains have a high glycemic load and relatively low level of polyphenols compared to vegetables and fruits. I would rather decrease the grains and significantly increase the vegetables and fruits as the primary sources of carbohydrates in the diet. The end result is better hormonal control and diet that is more closely aligned with our genes that still live in the Stone Age.

      • I am want to eat in a way that is the best for optimum health. Outside of being at a good weight and body fat% what are the key verafiable markers that indicate that I have done the best that I can. Specifically what types of blood tests or other tests will show that. What are the optimum values. Is there a test for inflamation as you stress this quite a bit that will tell me that I am doing ht ebest that I can

        Alex

  18. I have been following the zone diet at 12 blocks for one month. I have noticed a significant improvement in my sugar cravings, well addicition. However, I am frustrated with the scale. I have not lost any weight to this point. I exercise at Cross Fit 4 days/week and run 1-2. Any suggestions?????

    • I have the same problems as you . Doing all I can food and working out at cross fit also.
      Just keep on keeping on is the best advice I can give you. We have Paleo diets in group challenges and joining that part of cross fit has help. Taking it of is most definitely the hardest and the older we get the harder.
      My body keeps every morsel it gets and wont give it up with out a fight. but not continuing is not an option either. GOOD LUCK and if you find out an answer let me know pleaseeeeeee

    • The lack of change in the scale weight is because you are increasing muscle mass while you are simultaneously decreasing your fat mass. This is the best of all possible outcomes. Instead of using a scale to follow your progress, use the body fat calculator found on zonediet.com to plot your body composition change.

      • Hi Dr Sears

        I am having a different problem. I have been doing the Zone since last November and have lost 3 kilos on the scale but my waist (belly button) measurement has not changed. This is annoying as this is the part that I am biggest and would love to see go down. I exercise 6 out of 7 days. The fat is just sitting there on my stomach. I am trying to be positive and hope that it will eventually disappear but after 3 months of Zoning (eating lots of veggies and salads) I thought it would be good to see a few cms loss.

        • You appear to be very insulin sensitive. I would suggest reducing your carbohydrate and replacing it with increased monounsaturated fat (for every 9 grams of carbohyrate reduced add back 3 grams of fat). The reduction of carbohydrates will further lower insulin. The fat will provide calories without affecting insulin. I would also the body fat calculator to measure your percentage of body fat which is a much better indicator of success than weight. Finally, you may want to have your physician to do a standard fasting lipid panel and then determine the ratio of TG/HDL. If it is less than 1, then you are controlling your insulin levels well.

          • Hello Dr Sears

            Thank you for your reply. I will try your suggestions and hopefully this will help. I have tried to use the body fat calculator before but my measurements are too high. Sue from the forums gave me a calculation. She also said that advised by you to assume that body fat was 50% if the statistics could not be entered on the body fat calculator. I will guess then that I have 50% body fat.

            Funny you mention about getting a blood test. I had one last week which was for my routine 3 monthly check. Everything was perfect except for the Uric Acid which was high. The doctor wasn’t concerned but said everything else was very good. Not sure if this reading has anything to do with me not being able to loose the fat around my stomach. My fasting was 6.1. I am in Australia so not sure if our tests read the same as yours in US.

  19. After many tries, I’ve settled on what I believe is the Zone Diet or as close to it as no matter. I just cut out all obvious carbs (bread, pasta, sugar, potatoes), but don’t worry about the ‘accidental’ carbs such are in the salads I consume daily (with fish) and occasional black rice, fruit, xylitol choc, etc.

    I also use a body composition weighing machine (Tanita) to check my fat/muscle/water/weight factors – and this diet is working fine (fat going, muscle mass increasing, weight roughly constant @ 66Kg for 171cm.

    Thank you for all your advice.

  20. I live in Italy and am looking for a good Fish Oil caplets suppliment. I would like to know what to look for in the ‘Table of Ingredients’ to know which one is a good choice to buy; as you had mentioned, some are of a lesser quality, and therefore I could be wasting my money on them. Also, some brands that I have tried seem to not ‘digest well’ and keep regurgitating-as far as the taste of fish oil staying with me and making me feel nauseous! Is there a reason why this could be happening?

    Thank you for your assistance.
    Sincerely,

    P. Tognetti

    • I would suggest using the fish oil products of our Italian partner, Enerzona. These products can be found in most pharmacies in Italy or purchased directly from them at http://www.enerzona.com. I will be in Italy in the early part of March doing a number of seminars for medical professionals.

  21. I love the Zone diet and have lost 45 lbs since April 2010. I am within 5-7 lbs of my ideal weight. I would like to know if there is any grocery store brands of sandwich bread that might fall in the Zone.

    • The only brand I can recommend is French Meadow for Males. It has a pretty good balance of protein to carbohydrate, but is only found in selected stores since it has to be frozen. Obviously my first recommendation would be patented Zone bread because of its greater impact on satiety, but French Meadow is not a bad second choice.

  22. I am curious that when people in my family(2) have Type II diabetes and are treated they do not lose weight. They seem to actually seem to have more trouble losing weight than normal. One of the people is controling their diabetes with diet, the other is insulin dependent.

    • In both cases they have significant insulin resistance caused by system cellular inflammation as I explain in my book Toxic Fat. Unless that inflammation is reduced they will continue to struggle with difficulty in losing excess weight.

  23. I love the Zone Diet. I recently became vegetarian and am having a really, really hard time finding a vegetarian zone. I have tried the few zone recipes available online but would love more. Have you considered writing a vegetarian zone book? With the popularity of vegetarian and vegan diets there is a real need for it!

    • Diann,

      There’s a book called the Soy Zone, which uses soy as the primary protein source. It’s a bit trickier since soy is part carb block, part protein block, but the book lays everything out. There are a few fish recipes, but otherwise all the recipes in that book are veggie.

    • Grains are still grains meaning they have a high glycemic load. Although the sprouted grains will have slightly more protein than whole wheat bread, they still have a high glycemic load. That’s why we developed the Zone breads. That have a much lower glycemic load than the best sprouted grains and significantly increased satiety. The best sources of carbohydrates still remains vegetables and fruits.

  24. I recently read THE CHINA STUDY which highly recommends not eating meat or dairy products at all. This seems to be 180 degrees from Zone Diet thinking and I’m confused about what to believe. Any thoughts?

    • The China Study is highly biased in its the interpretation of the mass of epidemiological data. I will write a blog on this in the near future. However in the mean time, a little common sense goes a long way. Humans have been around for about 200,000 years as a species. For the first 190,000 years, there was no agriculture, meaning no grains, no dairy, no legumes. This means for that for 95% of existence of humans, our genes were evolving on a diet consisting of animal protein, animal fat, fruits, vegetables, and nuts. The most recent data in the 2010 issue of the British Journal Nutrition estimated that composition of a Paleolithic Diet was 25-29% protein, 40% carbohydrates, and 31-35% fat with a very high omega-3 fatty acid intake. This doesn’t say this is the optimal diet, but it should serve as a starting for doing nutritional research on how changing each of these parameters will effect human health. When you look at closely controlled clinical studies (as opposed to epidemiological studies), you find that the optimal diet for the control of inflammation is about 30% protein, 40% carbohydrate, and 30% fat with a high intake of omega-3 fatty acids. In other words, science is only confirming that the analysis of paleolithic nutrition is probably the best diet for controlling inflammation. I don’t care where the protein comes from (animal or vegetable) as long as it contains adequate levels of amino acids. The carbohydrates should come primarily from vegetables and fruits (with very little coming from grains), and the fats should be rich in omega-3 fats and low in omega-6 fats. This is the anti inflammatory diet. Unfortunately that is not the Chinese diet and the Chinese are nowhere close to having the longest lifespan or health span in the world today. However, they do have the most diabetics in the world today.

  25. Hello, I registered a few days ago, then about 20 minutes ago ordered the two-week meal plan, and now I am trying to find where to get a Zone coach. I have searched the website and cant figure it out! If someone could help, please do!

  26. I asked about the forums on 11 January and when they will be coming back. I was told that Dr Sears has to approve everything before it goes on to the website. He was travelling then so it could be a while yet before we see the forum again ….

  27. Diann – there is a book by Dr Sears called The Soy Zone (I have a copy). It is really good. There are lots of vegetarian and vegan recipes as well as non-vegetarian ones. He also explains all the things you can eat as a vegetarian such as soy beans, tempeh, soy sausages, soy flour, soy protein flours, tofu, soy nuts etc etc … heaps of choices! I am not a vegetarian but love this book and have made lots of the recipes.

  28. Kasia – yes – you can have wine. One carb block is 4 ounces. Other alcohol – beer light (6 ounces), beer regular (4 ounces), distilled spirits (1 ounce)

    • Thank, you, Margaret, it’s very helpful. The problem is that I live in the UK, so I’m not sure what is light or regular beer. Is it about the alcohol content or the malt extract?

  29. I have followed the ZONE for many years and enjoyed the resources on the website regarding food blocks. Will these guidelines be returning? I am looking for information on how Greek yogurt fits into the ZONE diet. The labeling makes it seem suitalbe, but wanted to verify how to count in blocks.

  30. I am diabetic. When I tried zone fish oil, 4 caps, my blood sugar was higher. Is there a way around this? I also have tremors in my right hand that are making writing very difficult. I saw where someone was using coconut oil for tremors with success. Your recommendation was zone recommended fats. Same success for tremors? Zone diet with fish oil caps? I really need help with diabetes and tremors.

  31. I have read 3 of the books Dr. Sears published and tried to follow the zone way of eating. Unfortunately a year ago I had a hip replacement surgery and I gained a lot of weigh. I was used to exercised daily, not anymore.I want to follow Dr. Sears diet but somehow I have been with the urge from craving the high glycemic carbs. Shall I try the zone foods in order to stop this?
    I also had been taking the fish oil from Dr Sears for several years now.

  32. I bought and have been using the Enerzone (Italian version) of your soy protein powder; I was adding some to my oatmeal and some cookies that I baked (to up the protein level-if that is right to do?). For one thing, I am unable to sucessfully find your Enerzone whey protein powder here in Italy-I’m not sure why
    My concern is the new research data that shows a link between too much soy and (for women) breast cancer. Can you please qualify what ‘too much’ means? Moreover, is this the reason it is also written on the label to stop using the soy after a few weeks? I never really understood why one must give your body a rest period from soy protein?
    Since there is a history of breast cancer in my family, I prefer to use the whey protein powder to be on the safe side-and really limit the amount (?) of soy protein powder.
    Could you please explain this issue in detail please?
    Thank-you for your assistance.
    Sincerely,
    P. Tognetti
    Also, when in March and where in Italy will you be speaking at? Is the forum open to the general public, as well as medical professionals?

    • The problem with soy protein are the phytoestrogens that can bind to the thyroid receptor thereby decreasing thyroid action. I recommend not consuming more than 50 mg. of soy phytoestrogens per day. If the product contain primarily soy concentrates, then the levels of the phytoestrogens will be lower than in soy isolates. Both soy protein and whey protein contain leucine that is important in stimulating muscle protein synthesis. However, both are rapidly absorbed thus they have little impact on satiety. On the other hand, milk protein is absorbed more slowly and has a greater effect on satiety.

      I believe my speaking in Italy is an educational Zone Consultant event for certification. Please contact Enerzona for more details.

  33. I work shift work and long hours (12-16). Some days due to the switch from night to day, or afternoon shifts, I am awake many hours after my last meal (according to planned times 2-2-2-2-2-1). Should I break from eating as though I am sleeping, or should I continue to have 2 block meals or 1 block meals? I’m very confused as it is NOT possible to maintain a completely regular schedule.

    Thanks

    • I feel so sorry that your question has not been answered as it is a tough one. Keep an eye on this site for when the forum is back again. If your question is not answered by Dr Sears in the meantime (I am sure it is overwhelming for him having to answer so many and might have lost track of yours), I would then suggest you put it to the forum and I know that you will get an answer to help you.

      Have you Googled for a topic about shift workers for suggestions? I would think you would have to stop eating for say 7-8 hours which would be the time that one would be sleeping as we dont eat in our sleep ….

    • On such a difficult shift schedule, try to position your meals to your waking schedule. That is try to eat your first meal within an hour after waking, then eat your next meal within five hours after the first meal, etc. Never let more than five hours go by without a Zone meal or snack in order to maintain a consistent hormonal balance. Also taking extra fish oil will help with the disturbances in the circadian timing that is being disturbed by the shift work.

  34. Hi Dr Sears

    My daughter has Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and struggles with her weight. She is a gym instructor so gets lots of exercise. If she follows the Zone strictly would she loose the body fat? She is a healthy eater but with a busy social life there is the occassional slip now and again. I was wonderiing should I give her the advice that you gave me to cut one carb and add one fat to each meal. It has worked very well for me. I have lost another kilo since speaking to you.

  35. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is characterized by hyperinsulinemia. This all the more reason to follow a very strict anti inflammatory diet especially using more non-inflammatory food ingredients.

  36. Hello Dr. Sears

    I’m from Mexico and I started the diet zone last sunday. My clothes fit a little bit better now even when it’s been only a few days since i started. However I have been experiencing a rather strong headache, do you have any idea why that might be?

  37. I am just finishing my fourth week on the zone diet at 11 blocks. I am 5’2″, 120 lbs, 30% body fat. I crossfit 4x per week and cardio 2x per week. I am 33 years old. My problem is my weight & fat percentage have not changed. Is there something you can suggest? Am I doing something wrong?

    • I would suggest using the Hormonal Adjustment Diagnostic Chart in the Tools section of drsears.com. If you haven’t observed any drop-off in your exercise performance, then you are probably getting adequate protein. You may wish to reduce the number of carbohydrate block by one in each meal and increase the number of fat blocks (using extra olive oil) by one in each meal. I would also suggesting using only vegetables as your carbohydrate source until you begin to see a change in body fat percentage. Finally I would suggest fish oil on a daily basis to reduce the cellular inflammation in the fat cells that is preventing the release of stored fat for conversion into chemical energy.

    • Breakfast: Oatmeal with a splash of soy milk, eggs cooked in olive oil, and ham. Lunch: Chicken, plum (or some other serving of fruit), mixed veggies, and nuts. Snack: Small serving of protein usually chicken, small fruit, and nuts. Dinner: 3 oz of protein, mixed veggies, and usually avocado for fat. Late snack: 1 oz of protein, fruit or veggie serving, and usually nuts. I take a multi vitamin daily, but not usually fish oil as I forgot. I probably take fish oil 2-3 times per week.

      • Marianne

        I hope Dr Sears jumps in here with some advice!

        You definitely should be taking the fish oil every day. I do it straight after dinner – making it a habit. The fish oil is a vital part of the Zone.

        Are you having whole eggs or egg whites? What sort of mixed veggies?

        Did you enter your stats on the DrSears.com website to see if you are having the right amount of blocks? You are doing a lot of exercise so maybe the blocks arent right – you might be needing more. Are you feeling like you have more energy?

        Maybe just have one fruit a day.

        • I would suggest using the Hormonal Adjustment Diagnostic Chart in the Tools sections of drsears.com. If you haven’t observed any drop-off in your exercise performance, then you are getting adequate protein. You may wish to reduce the number of carbohydrate block by one in each meal and increase the number of fat blocks (using extra olive oil) by one in meal meal. I would also suggesting using only vegetables as your carbohydrate source until you begin to see a change in body fat percentage. Finally I would suggest fish oil on a daily basis to reduce the cellular inflammation in the fat cells that is preventing the release of stored fat for conversion into chemical energy.

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