Enter the Zone – Barry Sears

Enter the Zone” by Barry Sears is one of my all-time favorites, and I highly recommend it if you are interested in learning about the hormonal responses of food. Below are my personal notes.

Enter the zone

  •  Notes:
    • The “Zone Diet” is not really a “diet” as much as it is a way of looking at the way you eat. Rather than thinking of foods calorically, it focuses on the complex hormonal responses of what you eat.
    • Every meal we will either elicit primarily an insulin response or a glucagon response.
    • An insulin response ultimately yields to a hormonal response (under the control of super hormones known as Eicosanoids) that isn’t ideal (shrinking of blood vessels, increased platelet aggregation, increased production of inflammatory & pain mediators).
    • A glucagon response results in a hormonal response that is more ideal (increased size of blood vessels, inhibited platelet aggregation, decreased production of inflammatory and pain mediators).
    • As Americans, we have typically been eating meals that are insulin-response heavy. Chronically elevated levels of insulin help explain the major chronic diseases of America (Heart Disease). virtually every disease state – whether it be heart disease, CA, or autoimmune disease can be viewed at the molecular level as the body simply making more bad eisosanoids than good”.
    • The goal should be to balance each meal with the macronutrients (Carbohydrates, Protein, and Fat) in a way that will cause a glucagon response over an insulin response.
    • Carbohydrates (especially high-glycemic ones) cause an insulin response. With carbs, the goal should be to avoid the high-glycemic ones (pasta, bread, and rice) and focus on low-/medium-glycemic ones (vegetables and fruit).
      • *Fiber naturally decreases glycemic index, which is why vegetables are lower-glycemic*
    • Protein causes a glucagon response, and the goal should be to eat enough low-fat protein every meal to produce that response.
    • Fat does not directly stimulate insulin but has a strong impact on the hormones that follow the insulin or glucagon response. The goal with fats should be to only eat monounsaturated fats and omega-3 Fatty Acids and to avoid saturated fats, trans-fat, and arachidonic acid.
    • Steps for following the zone:
      • Find out how much daily protein you need (depending on activity, aim for .5-1g per pound of lean body mass). Spread this amount out throughout the day as necessary, making sure there is protein every meal.
      • Balance each meal with the proper balance of carbs and fats as well
        • For every 7g of protein in a meal/snack, you want 9g of carbs (good, low-/medium-glycemic ones)
        • For every 7g of protein you want 3g of healthy fats
      • To make it easy, his book gives examples of “blocks”, where he breaks down common foods and their macro content to the point where each block has the ratio amount in each. So, a 1:1:1 ratio will have that 7g protein, 9g carbs, and 3g of fat. Ie:
        • 1 block of “x protein” has 7g
        • 1 block of “x carb” has 9g
        • 1 block of “x fat” has 3g
      • That way, you can double/triple the blocks as needed (make each meal 3 blocks of “x protein”, 3 blocks of “x carb”, and 3 blocks of “x fat”) to still keep the proper ratio that is recommended while ensuring you’re eating enough. It’s an easy way to figure out what and how much to eat.

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