I'm glad that you've decided to try the Zone.
I've been on the Zone diet for 3-1/2 months and have lost 40 lbs and 10% body fat! I'm loving it and I'm convinced!
I've been following the diet pretty strictly. I've also been excercising 5-6 days a week, since the beginning of the year (except for one month, where I was just too busy!)
At the same time my wife has lost 30 lbs (she started one day after me), with no excercise, following just the Zone diet.
When I started, I was in the obese range for my height. Now I'm at the bottom of the overweight range and am almost at the top of the healthy range.
My results have been amazing! I've been posting them at
Has Anyone Tried The Zone Diet?
I started posting around my second week or so, in case you wanted to read my progress.
Now to answer your question...
The Zone isn't a diet. It's an education on how what you eat affects your body, and how you can either lose weight and gain health and energy, or maintain it. It's a lifestyle change, but you have to commit to making the change for life.
There is no guilt in the Zone. If you have an unhealthy meal, just make the next meal right. If you are craving something not so good for you, you can still make it a Zone meal if you proportion the protein, carbs and fat correctly - your meal will just be smaller than your typical meal - but you can just make your next meal a healthy one.
For instance, the other day I was craving Hot Chocolate, so for lunch I had some Hot Chocolate, and a little plate of some Tuna with Mayo.
However, you will achieve the greatest health and weight results if you make most of your meals Zone favorable meals.
Any change in lifestyle requires sacrifices. Like the Bible says, it's easier for a leopard to change its spots than for a man to change his character.
It can be daunting at first, but you can do it really easily if you try.
There are 3 methods of eating in the Zone. The Palm method, the Block method and the 1-2-3 method. The Palm method is no muss, no fuss - you measure everything out by your eyes and guesstimate. The Block method is scientific and precise, where you measure everything, and I haven't learned the 1-2-3 method, because the first two serve me fine.
I use the Palm method whenever I'm out at a restaurant, family or friends houses, etc., where I have no control over the food, and I use the Block method at home.
The Palm method is this. This will get you in the Zone, without doing all the measuring and math:
1) Your protein for a breakfast, lunch or dinner meal should be no larger than the size and width of your palm (minus the fingers and thumb).
2) If you are eating favorable carbs, your carbs can be 2 open hands full.
3) If you are eating unfavorable carbs, your carbs can be 2 tight fists full.
4) Sprinkle some healthy fat onto your meal: 6 peanuts, a teaspoon of olive oil, something like this.
5) Here is my addition: If you are eating VERY unfavorable carbs, make that 1 tight fistful. Sugary things pack an immense amount of carbs for one meal. For example, 1 package of hot chocolate contains all of the carbs that you need in a meal.
An alternative to palm method is this:
1) Take your plate and mentally divide it into 3 (like a peace sign).
2) Make 1/3 of the plate your protein.
3) The other 2/3 of the plate are favorable carbs. These can be piled sky high if they are favorable carbs.
4) If they are unfavorable carbs, don't pile them up and, instead of 2/3 of the plate, use 1/3 of the plate (leave the other 1/3 of the plate empty).
5) Sprinkle some healthy fat on something. 6 peanuts, a teaspoon of olive oil.
The Block Method is a little more challenging, but fantastic once you learn it and yields the most precise results.
In Barry Sears' Zone books, he explains it very confusingly, but there is an excellent online tutorial about this method at
I can understand why you were confused! I didn't get it until I read the online tutorial above.
To do the Block Method you have to make some calculations. You have to enter your height, weight and measurements into a Zone Body Fat Calculator.
This will tell you, for your size, how many blocks you should eat for each meal.
I'm a 3 Food Block person. That means that I can eat a 3 Food Block Breakfast, a 3 Food Block Lunch, a 1 Food Block Midday Snack, a 3 Food Block Dinner, and a 1 Food Block evening snack (3 Zone meals and 2 Zone Snacks per day).
One Food Block =
1 Mini Block (MB) of Protein (or 7 grams),
1 Mini Block (MB) of Carbs (or 9 grams) and
1 Mini Block (MB) of Fat (or 3 grams).
Just remember the numbers 7-9-3. 7 grams Protein + 9 grams Carbs + 3 grams Fat = 1 Food Block.
My Snacks are One Food Block meals, so they follow these proportions.
My Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner meals are 3 Food Block Meals, so I have to multiply the above times 3. These meals are 3 Mini Blocks (MB) of Protein (or 21 grams), 3 Mini Blocks of Carbs (or 27 grams), and 3 Mini Blocks of Fat (or 9 grams).
Now, I can use this information in one of two ways.
1) There is a Mini Block chart at
The chart lists most common Protein, Carbs and Fat. Each item on the chart is 1 Mini Block.
So if I'm making myself a 1 Food Block snack, I can choose 1 item from the Protein chart, 1 item from the Carbs chart, and 1 item from the Fat chart.
If I'm making a 3 Food Block meal, I can choose 3 items from the Protein chart (or 3 portions of 1 item, such as Tuna), 3 items from the Carbs chart (or 3 portions of 1 item, such as Grapes) and 3 items from the Fat chart (or 3 portions of 1 item, such as Olive Oil).
There, I've used Food Blocks to create my Zone meals!
2) Now, the second way to use Food Blocks is by reading the Nutritional Label on your food. If you know that you are a 3 Food Block person, then you want your main meals to be 21 grams of Protein, 27 grams of Carbs and 9 grams of fat. (793 x 3).
Here is how I typically use that. Here is an example: I have a frozen dinner. It has 7 grams of Protein, 18 grams of Carbs, and 6 grams of Fat.
Since I need 21 grams of protein for the meal (3 MB) and this meal only has 7 grams of protein (1 MB) I know that I need to add 14 grams of protein (2 MB) to it.
So, I'll check my Protein chart. I see that 1 oz of cheese is one mini block. So I can add 2 oz of cheese to this to complete the Protein portion.
Since I need 27 grams of Carbs (3 MB), and this only has 18 grams of Carbs (2 MB), I know that I need 9 grams of Carbs (1 MB). I look at the Carb chart and find that 1/2 of an Orange is 1 MB of Carbs, so I can add 1/2 of an Orange to the meal - or I can eat it separately for dessert.
Since I need 9 grams of Fat (3 MB), and this only has 6 grams (2 MB), I check my Fat chart to see what is available. I find that 6 peanuts is 1 MB, so I add this and my meal is done!
You can also do this with the things you cook. When you are cooking a meal, keep a notebook next to you and write down what you are adding to the meal. Then make sure that for each serving you have the appropriate amount of Protein, Carbs and Fat.
NOW, about being obsessive... You can drive yourself insane trying to get things perfect, so don't worry about perfection - just get as close as you can.
Cheese is a high fat food. If you use all of your protein as cheese, you may find yourself heavier in the morning. If you use cheese for protein, either use it as a small portion of your protein (1 MB) or skip the fat for this meal. By the way, 1 oz is plenty of shredded cheese.
Restaurants typically have built in fat in the food, so when I'm eating in a restaurant, I usually skip adding the fat.
Most restaurant salads have very little carbs or protein and the dressing has too much fat. I find out before I order if the chicken or fish on the salad is 3 oz or more. If it is, I get it. If less, I move on to something else for my meal, unless I get a garden salad with an order of salmon or something of this sort. If I get a restaurant salad I get it with vinaigrette on the side, and a fruit plate, because most restaurant salads don't have enough carbs. I'll use 1 tablespoon of the dressing. If my salad is still dry, I will splurge add a 2nd tablespoon, but no more. The second tablespoon will double your fat calories for the meal. Fat doesn't affect insulin, so it wont decrease your energy or make you gain weight, but it does add extra calories that need to be burned off.
I also typically go through the nutritional info for a restaurant before I go. Then I know exactly what I'm going to order, and how I'm going to supplement it. I'll take some Low Fat Berry Vinaigrette in a baggie, or an Orange, to add to my salads to get the proper proportions. If I can't find the restaurant online, I just use the Palm method. I also ask the waiters/waitresses how large the fish or chicken is, etc.
When I buy prepared meals in the stores, I make sure that none of them get to 4 Mini Blocks in either Protein, Carbs or Fat. I accept 3.5 Mini Blocks on any of these; I just don't go to 4. If a meal is a couple of grams over or under in Protein, or Carbs, or Fat; I don't sweat it. I just want it to be close. If it's under 1 Food Block in any area, I find something to replace that Food Block - Typical Replacements: Carbs: fruit or steel cut oatmeal, Protein: soy powder, cheese or sliced turkey, Fat:nuts.
The first week you will be REALLY HUNGRY - all of the time. This is because your body is overcoming your carbo addiction. Once this is over, you will feel full almost all the time, eating about half what you are used to eating.
It is really good to do it perfectly at first, then you can get the 'gist' of it. Then, once you understand, then you can let loose a little bit.