Zone Diet for Dummies

I tried different diets, including paleo, keto and vegan and I found that Zone Diet works best for me. I lost the most amount of weight I’ve ever lost (44 pounds) using this diet (it was quite a while ago). It is balanced in terms of protein, fat and carbohydrates intake and, supposedly, anti-inflammatory. It allows for hard workouts in the gym as you don’t restrict your carbs too much. That’s why it was (is) the official diet of CrossFit since its inception.

Zone is incompatible with keto as you will be eating carbohydrates but it is completely compatible with paleo (just exclude foods prohibited by paleo) or vegan (you’ll have problems with protein though, prepare to consume a lot of vegan protein powder). Zone is also incompatible with intermittent fasting as you will be eating meals and snack throughout the day in regular intervals. Yes, you read it correctly, it goes agains the modern “wisdom” of having only a few big meals per day. You will be eating smaller meals in regular intervals.

I’ll dumb it down to the very simple set of instructions to follow.

  1. Get kitchen scales and measuring cups as you will be weighting and measuring everything you eat.
  2. Download the following PDF. You will be using block charts of allowed foods from this document:
  3. As accurately as possible (I recommend DEXA scan) measure your bodyfat percentage and bodyweight.
  4. Use this calculator to find out the number of “blocks” you will be eating per day:

    Sidenote: “Block” is a single unit of combination of protein, carbohydrates and fat you will be consuming. One block is about 90-100 calories of energy but you shouldn’t worry about counting calories. You should be worried about counting blocks.
  5. Use block allocation suggested by the calculator or the one from the CrossFit PDF to find out how many blocks you will be eating each time.

    For example, if your prescription is 16 block per day, you will eat three 4-block meals and two 2-block snacks between your meals.
  6. For each meal or snack, go to the block chart in CrossFit PDF and pick the required amount of protein, fat and carbohydrates from the tables. Use kitchen scales and measuring cups to get precise amount of food. Avoid unfavourable carbohydrates, if you are serious about your weight loss.

What I found out is that I ended up with having practically same meals day in, day out with very little variations. I also ate one cheat meal per week.

When you reach your target weight and/or bodyfat level you have two option:

  1. Zone way – start increasing the number of blocks you consume in increments of one until the weight stabilises
  2. CrossFit way – keep the number of blocks you consume but double the amount of fat per block (keep adding fat until the weight and/or bodyfat percentage stabilises)

Alternative resources and links:

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