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Old 08-12-2013, 10:32 AM   #1
Louis Day
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Is the Zone a good idea?

Recently I've been researching the Zone diet, and I stumbled upon the fact that The Zone Diet was actually tested on competitive swimmers in 1992, and they've been following it ever since, and they've gotten tremendous results. This was pretty amazing for me to read since I myself am a competitive swimmer. Normally even the advice I've read through on this forum has been focused on high carb diets, which I personally still dislike. I've been on Paleo for about 2 months, (not completely strict) but I feel much more energetic when it comes to inside or outside the pool. I was thinking that maybe the Zone would be the next step.

My training days (Monday-Friday) would look something like this:
One Level 1 workout, along with a 2 hour Race Pace training session.


If I do choose to follow the Zone is there any particular alterations I need to make? Or is following hte Zone not a good idea at all?
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Old 08-12-2013, 12:48 PM   #2
Darryl Shaw
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Re: Is the Zone a good idea?

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Originally Posted by Louis Day View Post
Recently I've been researching the Zone diet, and I stumbled upon the fact that The Zone Diet was actually tested on competitive swimmers in 1992, and they've been following it ever since, and they've gotten tremendous results. This was pretty amazing for me to read since I myself am a competitive swimmer. Normally even the advice I've read through on this forum has been focused on high carb diets, which I personally still dislike. I've been on Paleo for about 2 months, (not completely strict) but I feel much more energetic when it comes to inside or outside the pool. I was thinking that maybe the Zone would be the next step.

My training days (Monday-Friday) would look something like this:
One Level 1 workout, along with a 2 hour Race Pace training session.


If I do choose to follow the Zone is there any particular alterations I need to make? Or is following hte Zone not a good idea at all?
The Zone is nothing more than a low-calorie, low-carb fad diet based on a bunch of pseudoscientific nonsense. And to my knowledge there are no studies published in any peer reviewed journal that support Sears claim that it will enhance athletic performance.

If you're serious about your sport I suggest you read the information on sports nutrition found in the following links and forget about fad diets like Paleo and The Zone.

Going Against the Grain: Flaws in the Zone Diet.
Cheuvront SN, Nutrition Today, Volume 39 - Number 2 - March/April.


The Zone Diet Phenomenon: A Closer Look at the Science behind the Claims.
Cheuvront SN, J Am Coll Nutr February 2003 vol. 22 no. 1 9-17.


The Zone Diet and Athletic Performance.
Cheuvront SN, April 1999, Volume 27, Issue 4, pp 213-228


Position of the American Dietetic Association, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and Athletic Performance.

IOC Consensus Statement on Sports Nutrition 2010.

IOC Sportsoracle.com - Nutrition for Athletes.

IAAF - Nutrition for Athletics.

British Dietetic Association Food Fact Sheet: Sport.

Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute Factsheet: Food For Sport.

Report of a Joint FAO/WHO Expert Consultation: Carbohydrates in Human Nutrition - The Role of Carbohydrates in Exercise and Physical Performance.

*All links wfs*
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Old 08-12-2013, 12:52 PM   #3
Todd Neal
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Re: Is the Zone a good idea?

Don't listen to him. I know plenty of guys that eat Zone and kill the WoDs. I wasn't going to comment before because I don't do Zone myself, but I hardly think it's "pseudoscientific nonsense".
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Old 08-12-2013, 01:59 PM   #4
Louis Day
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Re: Is the Zone a good idea?

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Originally Posted by Darryl Shaw View Post
The Zone is nothing more than a low-calorie, low-carb fad diet based on a bunch of pseudoscientific nonsense. And to my knowledge there are no studies published in any peer reviewed journal that support Sears claim that it will enhance athletic performance.

If you're serious about your sport I suggest you read the information on sports nutrition found in the following links and forget about fad diets like Paleo and The Zone.

Going Against the Grain: Flaws in the Zone Diet.
Cheuvront SN, Nutrition Today, Volume 39 - Number 2 - March/April.


The Zone Diet Phenomenon: A Closer Look at the Science behind the Claims.
Cheuvront SN, J Am Coll Nutr February 2003 vol. 22 no. 1 9-17.


The Zone Diet and Athletic Performance.
Cheuvront SN, April 1999, Volume 27, Issue 4, pp 213-228


Position of the American Dietetic Association, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and Athletic Performance.

IOC Consensus Statement on Sports Nutrition 2010.

IOC Sportsoracle.com - Nutrition for Athletes.

IAAF - Nutrition for Athletics.

British Dietetic Association Food Fact Sheet: Sport.

Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute Factsheet: Food For Sport.

Report of a Joint FAO/WHO Expert Consultation: Carbohydrates in Human Nutrition - The Role of Carbohydrates in Exercise and Physical Performance.

*All links wfs*
That may all be true, but the coach along with all the team members said their success was due to the diet, because they had changed nothing else. They went on to win 8 NCAA championships.. But I will check out the rest of those links.
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Old 08-12-2013, 02:09 PM   #5
Eric Montgomery
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Re: Is the Zone a good idea?

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Originally Posted by Todd Neal View Post
Don't listen to him. I know plenty of guys that eat Zone and kill the WoDs. I wasn't going to comment before because I don't do Zone myself, but I hardly think it's "pseudoscientific nonsense".
...and Lamar Odom was an NBA All Star several times with (reportedly) about half his daily caloric intake coming from candy. Correlation doesn't equal causation, and everyone I know who's been successful on Zone has tweaked it so much with added protein blocks or 2x-5x fat blocks that it's nowhere near the supposedly magical 40/30/30 ratio or recommended block intake anymore.

The pseudoscientific part of the Zone is that exactly zero peer-reviewed studies have upheld Sears' assertions that there's a magical insulin-neutral happy place that applies to everyone and leads to peak performance....and that doesn't even address the eicosanoid silliness.
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Old 08-12-2013, 02:15 PM   #6
Steven Wingo
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Re: Is the Zone a good idea?

Louis don't listen to anyone who says The Zone is "fad diet" or a "low-carb, low-calorie" diet. They obviously know virtually nothing about zone diet principles, which do not in any way suggest a person eat low carb or low calorie--quite the opposite, in fact, since zone principles suggest 40% of your total calories come from carbs.

The Crossfit Level 1 materials suggest that the zone diet principles are very useful in helping us gauge how much to eat. That holds true both for the proportions of carbs, protein, and fat and in regard to the total amount of food to eat. Crossfit has its own basic principle of what type of foods to eat--which is quite close to paleo although not exact. "Eat vegetables, especially leafy greens, lean meat, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, and no added sugar." That is paraphrased, but essentially sets forth the Crossfit prescription for what to eat.

I am essentially a paleo plus dairy eater. I do not follow zone principles close enough, but do at times. And when I do I notice a difference in terms of feeling better. Since you feel good eating paleo, I suggest you eat paleo but also work in zone principles on how much carbs, protein, and fat to eat--the principles of both diets in this regard are consistent.
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Old 08-12-2013, 02:30 PM   #7
Louis Day
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Re: Is the Zone a good idea?

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Originally Posted by Steven Wingo View Post
Louis don't listen to anyone who says The Zone is "fad diet" or a "low-carb, low-calorie" diet. They obviously know virtually nothing about zone diet principles, which do not in any way suggest a person eat low carb or low calorie--quite the opposite, in fact, since zone principles suggest 40% of your total calories come from carbs.

The Crossfit Level 1 materials suggest that the zone diet principles are very useful in helping us gauge how much to eat. That holds true both for the proportions of carbs, protein, and fat and in regard to the total amount of food to eat. Crossfit has its own basic principle of what type of foods to eat--which is quite close to paleo although not exact. "Eat vegetables, especially leafy greens, lean meat, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, and no added sugar." That is paraphrased, but essentially sets forth the Crossfit prescription for what to eat.

I am essentially a paleo plus dairy eater. I do not follow zone principles close enough, but do at times. And when I do I notice a difference in terms of feeling better. Since you feel good eating paleo, I suggest you eat paleo but also work in zone principles on how much carbs, protein, and fat to eat--the principles of both diets in this regard are consistent.
I'm mainly looking for athletic performance rather than cleansing of any health issues. I found it pretty amazing that Standford swimmers, whose calorie intake must be absolutely insane are holding up on the Zone and claiming to get increased performance. Paleo has made me felt better for sure, weather it just be me eating more whole/real foods or it truly is the removal of grains, it works for me.

Also I have no idea how people can claim the Zone Diet is low calorie, just 16 blocks seem like a ridiculous amount of food. One of the people at my box who eats the Zone (also makes regional) eats probably around 4000 calories a day while on the Zone. Seem to be working for him. I think what I will do is go strict Zone for 1-2 months and closely monitor my times along with any workout changes and determine if the Zone truly is helping me.

Would anyone suggest any modifications though? I will be hitting 2 hours of high intensity training at the pool 2 hours a day, everyday besides Sunday, along with my Level I crossfit.

Currently I think I'm looking at around 22 blocks a day. Which is for me an absolutely ridiculous amount of food.... I guess I'll have to make shakes or something in order to get that many blocks down..
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Old 08-12-2013, 02:36 PM   #8
Jeff Enge
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Re: Is the Zone a good idea?

Where are you in your swimming career anyhow? Just the two hours of swimming is going to get you overtrained if you dont take any rest days. Trust me on that, I had a fairly successful 13-year swimming career. And what exactly is "Level 1 CrossFit?"
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Old 08-12-2013, 02:47 PM   #9
Louis Day
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Re: Is the Zone a good idea?

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Where are you in your swimming career anyhow? Just the two hours of swimming is going to get you overtrained if you dont take any rest days. Trust me on that, I had a fairly successful 13-year swimming career. And what exactly is "Level 1 CrossFit?"
Level I Crossfit is just what they call it at my crossfit. It's normally a small strength workout followed by a metcon.

Also the training method I use for my actaul swim trianing, which is ultra short training is extremely difficult, but you remove lactate really fast, and I've never felt sore or tired after this workout. It's the same technique being used by the youngest swimmer to ever go Pro (Michael Andrew). My only worry is being tired from Crossfit which is absolutely exhausting and I always feel sore afterwards. But Crossfit is really the only dryland program I like right now. I feel like it gives me explosive power in the pool, and I am mainly a sprinter but I also include some mid-distances. Unless I do something like P90X or Insanity, I just dislike the normal high volume training.
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Old 08-12-2013, 03:02 PM   #10
Jeff Enge
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Re: Is the Zone a good idea?

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Originally Posted by Louis Day View Post
Level I Crossfit is just what they call it at my crossfit. It's normally a small strength workout followed by a metcon.

Also the training method I use for my actaul swim trianing, which is ultra short training is extremely difficult, but you remove lactate really fast, and I've never felt sore or tired after this workout. It's the same technique being used by the youngest swimmer to ever go Pro (Michael Andrew). My only worry is being tired from Crossfit which is absolutely exhausting and I always feel sore afterwards. But Crossfit is really the only dryland program I like right now. I feel like it gives me explosive power in the pool, and I am mainly a sprinter but I also include some mid-distances. Unless I do something like P90X or Insanity, I just dislike the normal high volume training.
I know who Michael Andrew is, and I won't go into my opinion on that except that I'll ask you to remember that he is basically a guinea pig for the that kind of training and also a genetic freak with his size at 14 years old.

What I mean about where you are in your career is more are you a high schooler, college swimmer, Master's swimmer? Sectionals level, Junior Nationals, Nationals?

How old you are especially will help determine your diet as well as how much recovery you need. Feeling tired right after a workout is not a great indicator of whether you are overtraining/undereating or not, rather the symptoms tend to be pretty rapid onset.
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