The Science Behind the Zone Diet Plan

Why does the Zone Diet work?

The Zone is not some mystical place. It is a state of hormonal balance that can be achieved by your diet. In particular, it can be defined as keeping the hormone insulin in a tight zone: not too high, not too low. The Zone Diet is a life-long hormonal control strategy. Once you begin to think hormonally about food instead of calorically, you begin to realize that many of the dietary recommendations made by the U.S. government and leading nutritional experts are simply dead wrong.

To understand hormonal thinking and its implications, you must realize the following:

- It is impossible for dietary fat alone to make you fat

- It is excessive levels of the hormone insulin that makes you fat and keeps you fat. How do you increase insulin levels? By eating too many fat-free carbohydrates or too many calories at any one meal. Americans do both. People tend to forget that the best way to fatten cattle is to raise their insulin levels by feeding them excessive amounts of low-fat grain. The best way to fatten humans is to raise their insulin levels by feeding them excessive amounts of low-fat grain, but now in the form of pasta and bagels.

Your stomach is politically incorrect

The stomach is basically a vat of acid that breaks all food into its basic components. From that perspective, one Snickers bar has the same amount of carbohydrate as 2 oz. of pasta. Most people would not eat four Snickers bars at one sitting, but they would eat 8 oz. of pasta. The stomach can't tell the difference. And the more carbohydrates you eat, the more insulin you produce. And the more insulin you produce, the fatter you become.

Not everyone is genetically the same

About 25% of the U.S. population are genetically lucky because they have a low insulin response to carbohydrates. These people will never become fat, and they will always do well on any high-carbohydrate diet whether it be pasta, Snickers, or Twinkies. Unfortunately the other 75% of the U.S. population aren't so lucky. As they increase the amount of fat-free carbohydrates in their diet, they increase the production of insulin.

10,000 years ago there were no grains on the face of the earth

Through much of man's evolution, he has been exposed to only two food groups: low-fat protein and fruits and vegetables. This is what man is genetically designed to eat. When grains were first introduced into the human diet, three things immediately happened:

1. Mankind shrank in size from lack of adequate protein.

2. Diseases of "modern civilization", such as heart attacks and arthritis, first appeared.

3. Obesity became prevalent.

How do we know? From comparison of Egyptian mummies to the skeletons of neo-paleolithic man. It is estimated that Egyptians had the same amount of obesity as found in the United States today. We can determine this from the excess amount of skin found around the stomachs of preserved mummies. The ancient Egyptian diet is very similar to that currently being recommended to Americans.

It takes fat to burn fat

Fat slows down the entry rate of carbohydrates into the bloodstream thereby decreasing the production of insulin. Since it's insulin that makes you fat, having more fat in the diet is important for reducing insulin, especially since it does not stimulate insulin production. The best type of fat is monounsaturated fat, like olive oil, guacamole, almonds, and macadamia nuts.

You can use food as a hormonal ATM card

The average American male or female carries a minimum of 100,000 calories of stored body fat. To put this in perspective, this amount of stored body fat is equivalent to eating 1,700 pancakes. That's a pretty big breakfast. The calories you need for energy are already stored in your body. What you need is a hormonal ATM card to release them. Maintaining insulin in a tight zone is that ATM card.

The number-one predictor of heart disease is not high cholesterol, or high blood pressure, but elevated levels of insulin. How can you tell you have elevated insulin levels? Look in the mirror. If you're fat and shaped like an apple, you have elevated insulin levels. But you can still be thin and have elevated insulin. How can you tell? You have high triglycerides and low HDL cholesterol. This is why high-carbohydrate, low-fat diets can be extremely dangerous to cardiovascular patients if they lose weight, but see an increase in triglycerides and a decrease in HDL cholesterol.

Carbohydrates are a drug

The body needs a certain amount of carbohydrates at every meal for optimal brain function, just like a drug. However, excessive consumption of any drug leads to toxic side effects. The side effect of an overdose of carbohydrates at any meal is excess production of insulin, and that can be dangerous to your health.

Implications of the Zone Diet Plan

Our growing epidemic of obesity is not caused by excess fat consumption (which has actually decreased by 14% in the past 15 years), but because of increased carbohydrate consumption. The enemy has never been fat, but excessive levels of insulin. Keeping insulin in that tight zone is where optimal performance is achieved. The only drug known to medical science that can achieve that is called food. The epidemic increase in obesity in America also has ominous implications for the future of our health care system as millions of people may be unknowingly driven toward early cardiovascular events due to increased insulin production. This statement should not be taken lightly as in 1996, the American Heart Association announced that cardiovascular deaths in the U.S. were increasing for the first time after a steady continuous decline since 1980. The hormonal consequences of our 15-year love affair with fat-free carbohydrates are now becoming apparent. Controlling insulin levels can reverse that trend. That is what the Zone diet plan is all about.


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