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One of the most revolutionary diet ideas to come along is something called the Zone, which was originated by Barry Sears, Ph.D. The Zone is based on the idea that we should return to the diets of ancient peoples—diets which stress fruits, vegetables, and meat. The diet does not deny people carbohydrates, but simply limits their use. Dieters are encouraged to sharply curtail their intake of pasta and potatoes. The Zone works according to a formula of 40/30/30, meaning 40 percent carbohydrates, 30 percent fat, and 30 percent protein.

There is a physiological basis to the Zone. Dr. Sears developed the diet in an effort to limit the amount of insulin in the body. This is because a large amount of insulin can lead to a build up of fat, causing obesity and other medical problems. People on the diet are encouraged to obtain their carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables and their fat from olive oil and other monounsaturated fats.

The biggest advantage to the Zone diet is that it can lead to significant weight loss. It is also healthier than some diets, since it eliminates non-nutritious carbohydrates and emphasizes fruits and vegetables. The diet encourages people to eat often—at least every five hours. It is also a low-calorie diet; the typical female dieter will consume only about 1300 calories at most following the Zone. Another positive aspect of the Zone is that it discourages consumption of junk food, which may be the basis of much weight gain.

Some dieticians heartily endorse the Zone, while others dismiss it as being too difficult to follow. The diet can also be costly, because of its heavy reliance on protein products. In addition, some critics see the Zone as being too complex, forcing dieters to spend too much time trying to do various calculations.

But perhaps the biggest disadvantage of the Zone is its high protein content. Such a diet has been linked to heart disease and is actually condemned by the American Heart Association. In addition, the Heart Association questions whether the Zone is actually effective in enabling an individual to lose weight over the long term.

It has been said that the Zone diet is the polar opposite of a vegetarian diet. This is curious, considering that vegetarians are generally healthy and are less likely to suffer from heart disease. The fact that vegetarians tend to be slim also seems to poke a hole through Dr. Sears' theory that starchy vegetables can lead to weight gain.

People tend to gravitate to the Zone because it offers them the opportunity to indulge in foods that would be restricted on other diets. Also, the diet can be more filling than other weight loss plans. The problem, however, is that a number of the claims made about the Zone are unproven. As a result, despite Dr. Sears' research, the diet has been dismissed as a fad in some quarters.

Dr. Sears contends that people are overweight because of insulin resistance; however, it is difficult to verify his claims. It would appear that people are fat for all sorts of reasons—because of family history of obesity, eating patterns, emotional eating, and lack of nutritional knowledge. As a result, it might be said that Dr. Sears' diet is based upon a false assumption.

The Zone benefits from a number of celebrity endorsements. Actresses in Hollywood credit the Zone with helping them to lose weight. On average, a dieter can expect to lose five pounds during the initial two weeks and one pound a week after that introductory period.

Still, some critics charge that the Zone takes the fun out of eating. Whether this is true or not depends upon the opinion of the individual dieter. However, one thing is clear: the Zone is a diet phenomenon. Love it or hate it, it's one of the hottest diet trends on the market today. And it appears that, despite some negative publicity, the Zone is here to stay. As always, you should check with your physician before starting any weight loss regimen. He or she will closely monitor your progress and can determine whether you are suffering any ill effects as a result of your diet

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