The Zone Diet

 In Nutrition

Starting today we are going to doing a daily recipe and giving you all more information on both the Zone Diet and the Paleo diet. Most serious CrossFitters adhere to either the Paleo Diet, the Zone Diet, or some blend of the two. I will be posting various links and articles daily outlining each of these diets to help you better understand them, as well as, basic nutrition and how it will play a role in helping each you reach your fitness and weight loss (if that is what you are looking for) goals.

I am going to start first with The Zone. I have compiled some information to make it easy for anyone to understand and begin this type of diet. I have also included a thorough Zone block chart and a few pictures of Zone type meals.

The Zone is all about balancing your portions and carb/protein/fat intake; it is an incredibly valuable tool for both elite athletes seeking the best CrossFit diet and everyday people seeking weight loss. To take your nutrition to the next level you need the hormonal balance that the Zone Diet provides.

Let me emphasize that The Zone Diet isn’t about eating “low-carb” or “high-protein” or anything like that. It’s a diet balanced in:

  • Protein (lean, natural meats are preferred)
  • Carbs (mostly low glycemic-load fruits and vegetables)
  • Fat (one of the most important macronutrients and what you need to give you that “I am full” feeling!)

Intro to Zone Living

Here is a link to the CrossFit Journal article on the Zone along with a chart of the most common foods and how they fit into The Zone Diet. Feel free to print the article out and use it as a reference when you are figuring out your meals for the day or week.

CrossFit Journal #21

For your convenience I have outlined below what a 1, 2, and 3 block meal will consist of.

A One Block meal – consists of one (1) item from the Protein List , one (1) item from the Carbohydrate Listand one (1) item from the Fat List.

Two Block – meal consists of 2 items from each category on the list

Three Block – meal consists of 3 items from each category…and so on.

You can mix and match blocks as you wish.  If you aren’t very hungry when you first wake up, then a 2 block meal might be just right for you, perhaps with then a 3 block lunch and dinner. Or maybe you prefer to start your day with 3 blocks and have a lighter dinner or lunch. You can tailor your diet any way you so choose just make sure you stay within your recommended daily block allowance.

Here is a sample menu of a possible routine (times can be adjusted 30 minutes or so either way):

7:30 am          10am           1:00pm         3:30pm         6:30pm        9pm/9:30 (bedtime)

bkfst                snack            lunch                 snack             dinner               snack

2 Block           1 Block         3 Block         1 Block           3 Block           1 Block    = 11 total

10 to 11 blocks of balanced food is about right for a small woman.  Feel free to experiment with your number of daily blocks and move them around as you see fit.  Every athlete is different.  The below chart will also help you determine your block requirements. (You can also find this chart in the CrossFit Journal article I linked above).

Zone Chart

Zone Chart

You don’t have to set alarms. The point is to develop the habit of eating at regular intervals so your hormones are balanced all day. Eat within an hour of waking up in the morning, don’t go more than 4 hours without eating something, and eat a snack before you go to sleep so you have some fuel to dream on.

Buying a digital food scale is a great idea since it makes measuring blocks fast and easy. Use “tare” to make it even easier, and you won’t have to use math at all!  Put your plate on the scale and hit the tare button. It subtracts the weight of the plate and makes the scale read zero. Measure out one of the items. Hit the tare button and again it starts you at zero once more for the next item. Finally your plate will be full of all your foods, all measured individually, but all on one plate. Very easy!

After about a month you’ll be able to “eyeball” the food and you won’t need to measure precisely anymore…unless you’re having something new you’ve never measured into blocks.

Don’t worry too much about being exact; this isn’t a chemistry test!  You’re never going to eat many of the items on the list anyway, and some items you like to eat may not be on the list, but you can find out how to convert anything into blocks.

One last thing: Read the label on already prepared foods you like. FOLLOW THESE TO GET YOUR EXACT BLOCK MEASUREMENTS!

7 grams of protein = 1 block.     14 grams = 2 blocks.      21 grams = 3 blocks.

9 grams of carbs    = 1 block.     18 grams = 2 blocks.      27 grams = 3 blocks.

1.5 grams of fat  = 1 block.        3 grams = 2 blocks.        4.5 grams = 3 blocks.

For example, if you get a snack bar that says:

  • 8 grams of protein
  • 29 grams of carbohydrates
  • 6 grams of fat

You should count this as a carbohydrate and not worry about the protein and fat in the snack bar. You must be careful not to micromanage your nutrients! If you incorrectly count all of the macro-nutrients in this snack bar (~1 block of protein, ~3 blocks carbs, ~4 blocks fat) then you will end up underfed and driving yourself crazy.   In the case of this snack bar you should just count it as 3 blocks of carbohydrates. Add 3 blocks of protein and fat for a complete 3 block meal.  This takes practice and can be frustrating at times, but the results will make the effort worthwhile!

Please do not hesitate to talk to us regarding any questions or concerns you may have about this diet. I know how frustrating it can be starting out but again once you have been eating this way for roughly a month it will just come naturally. Also for further information check out www.zonediet.com. There is a TON of awesome information about The Zone and how it plays into your body composition and weight and the goals you may have for yourself.

Hope this was helpful and keep checking back for more info and recipes!

Next up, detailing Paleo!

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