Diet Plans & Programs: The "Skinny" on Popular Diet Plans

  • Author:
    Betty Kovacs, MS, RD

    Betty is a Registered Dietitian who earned her B.S. degree in Food and Nutrition from Marymount College of Fordham University and her M.S. degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University. She is the Co-Director and Director of nutrition for the New York Obesity Research Center Weight Loss Program.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: Ruchi Mathur, MD, FRCP(C)
    Ruchi Mathur, MD, FRCP(C)

    Ruchi Mathur, MD, FRCP(C)

    Ruchi Mathur, MD, FRCP(C) is an Attending Physician with the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism and Associate Director of Clinical Research, Recruitment and Phenotyping with the Center for Androgen Related Disorders, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

View Weight Gain Shockers Slideshow Pictures

Quick GuideThe Worst Foods to Eat in Your Fridge

The Worst Foods to Eat in Your Fridge

The Zone Diet

(Barry Sears, Ph.D.)

The Diet Plan Theory

The Zone diet is a high-protein, low-carbohydrate, fat-controlled eating plan. It is not as restrictive as other high-protein diets and it allows for a broad range of foods to be consumed. A small amount of protein is combined with twice the amount of "favorable" carbohydrates, including fruits and vegetables. If choosing "less desirable" carbohydrates, the portion size is smaller. Sears' Zone diet is based on the theory that the human body is genetically programmed to reach peak efficiency when all meals, including snacks, consist of a set caloric ratio of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. The diet recommends an intake of 40% of calories from carbohydrates, 30% from protein, and 30% from fats (40-30-30). When this ratio is achieved, the body is working within the "zone." The body will have maximum energy and weight loss.

Advantages

The Zone diet promotes eating a balance of each nutrient, without severely restricting calories. Protein increases your feeling of fullness, helping you to avoid eating between meals, and there is a guide to what kind of fat you can consume. Healthy fats are encouraged in place of the saturated and trans fats. The calorie restriction will help you lose weight.

Disadvantages

The claims made about the health implications of carbohydrates and protein are controversial. As with other fad diets, one nutrient is being made to look like the enemy (carbohydrates), while protein is made to look like the key to weight loss and health. Most diets that are against carbohydrates use the arguments that we consume less fat and more carbohydrates than we did 10 years ago, and obesity is on the rise. This is half true. We consume more carbohydrates, which means we consume more calories. Our fat intake remains above the recommendations, but the percent of our total calories from fat has come down because we are now consuming more calories. Again, research clearly shows that a balance of each of these nutrients is needed and that an excess or deficiency in any of them will cause problems. This diet can be difficult to stick with long-term, so weight regain can be an issue.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/5/2015

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Weight Loss/Healthy Living Newsletter

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

VIEW PATIENT COMMENTS
  • The Atkins Diet - Experience

    Please describe your experience with Atkins diet.

    Post
  • The Zone Diet - Experience

    Please describe your experience with Zone diet.

    Post
  • The Pritikin Principle Diet - Experience

    Please describe your experience with Pritikin Principle diet.

    Post
  • The South Beach Diet - Experience

    Please describe your experience with South Beach diet.

    Post
  • Jenny Craig Diet - Experience

    Please describe your experience with Jenny Craig diet.

    Post
  • NutriSystem Advanced Diet - Experience

    Please describe your experience with NutriSystem advanced diet.

    Post
  • Weight Watchers Diet - Experience

    Please describe your experience with Weight Watchers diet.

    Post

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors