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Old 02-28-2008, 08:31 PM   #1
Júlíus Magnússon
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Are you in the Zone?

I'm reading Enter the Zone and quite frankly I'm having trouble believing how great Dr. Sears says being in the Zone is. I mean, if it's even half as great as he says I don't see any reason why the whole world isn't eating Zone.

I know it's backed up by some research but alot of what he says still sounds like marketing.


So, here are my questions:

Are you in the Zone?
For how long?
How strict is your Zoning?
How has the Zone changed your body composition?
How has the Zone changed your performance?


I'd like to say that I'm definitely going to try it for at least a month or so once I finish the book and figure out my blocks but in the mean time I would love to hear all of your opinions about the Zone and how it has affected you.
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Old 02-28-2008, 08:43 PM   #2
Oliver Gould
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Re: Are you in the Zone?

I don't believe a lot of the stuff Sears says about superior mental focus and alertness etc. To answer your questions:

1) Yes.
2) It's been 3 months (give or take, I don't remember my start date).
3) I eat a 90% paleo zone with almost entirely favorable choices. I weigh the meat and cheese (the only non-paleo part of my diet is cheddar cheese) I eat, I measure most veggies, sometimes eyeballing the ones I know by heart.
4) I didn't have a BF% measurement before I started, but I'd say that despite being thin, I didn't have much definition. Now I can see all my abs without flexing, my face is a little thinner, and my skin feels kind of "tight."
5) Prior to being on the zone I was making decent gains. Since I started everything has improved rapidly, especially my conditioning. My last Elizabeth was 4 minutes faster than the one before it for example (10:01 instead of 14:34).

As a side note, I enjoy my food more, I like putting some thought into my meals and I've learned to cook chilis, make my own pasta, make custom salad dressings out of avocado and generally cook all kinds of things I would normally buy crappy, processed versions of. For the first time in my life I know which veggies are in season and which aren't, and what to look for in a steak, etc. Also, I've been sick one time since I started the Zone, with a nasty flu that literally everyone I know caught. I haven't had any of the 5 or 6 colds that have been going around this winter.
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Old 02-28-2008, 09:10 PM   #3
Carlos Cristan
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Re: Are you in the Zone?

I've been zoning less the two months and have gone from about 215# to 205# and cut 4% BF. I was recovering from an injury when I started crossfit and zone, and was having joint pain in knee, ankle and pain in my neck. That has all dramatically decreased. My first 5k after my accident was over 33 minutes, in less than 2 months I've cut my time more than 6 minutes. On the most recent Fran my goal was to break 10 minutes. My previous PR was 14:59. I ended up getting a 7:15 and cutting my Fran time in half, and this was in the evening on the same day that I set my 27:07 5k run PR in the am. I sleep good but feel that I can go longer on less sleep when I need to. Everyone of my three kids and spouse have gotten sick a couple of times since I started zoning and I haven't. I would have to say that the biggest plus of being on the zone has been increased energy levels and much increased performance. I'm pretty strict zoner when I am zoning eating mostly fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, and lean cuts of deli meat, chicken breast and beef. I eat 16 blocks. I do cheat from time to time. Sometimes it's a meal sometimes a cup of ice cream. The ice cream don't bother me but now when I have eaten fast food after starting the zone I certainly feel the difference in how my body feels as opposed to if I hadn't. It is definitely turning into a lifestyle change for me and has affected my family as well. My kids ask for fruit at their meals, and have tried vegetable we would have never thought of giving them before. Now if I could just get my wife to try it for more than 1 meal.
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Old 02-28-2008, 10:28 PM   #4
Marko Todorovic
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Re: Are you in the Zone?

Even though I hate knocking a diet that has worked so well for me, I do have to say that much of enter the zone should be taken with a grain of salt. If you start pubmed searching many of the studies he quotes, you realize that much of it is taken out of the context of the papers and put into a zone friendly spin. That is not to say that Sears is lying, he's just twisting the truth a bit, which every diet book in the market has to do to get that fat Joe on the street to believe that this diet is better than everything else.

For example, I personally don't believe in the whole 4:3 carbrotein ratio being some sort of godsend; it by itself won't put you in some sort of amazing mental state, but it is a very good guideline to go by to eat enough carbs to function well mentally (the average male uses about 140-180g of glucose a day; this typically translates to the 16-20 blocks on sear's plan). Keeping carbs under about 40g per meal is a good guideline too; but it all comes down to what kind of carbs you consume and how fast it reaches your bloodstream. I can tell you right now, I could make you a 4 block "meal" out of all favorable carbohydrates and you will crash in about 30 minutes (if you don't believe me, try it: 280g of frozen strawberries, two kiwi's, 1 scoop of protein powder, 15g of walnuts, all in a blender) from the insulin surge.

From all of the pubmed searching that I've done, here's why I believe the zone diet works so well, without much of the Sear's marketing behind it.

1. Everything about the diet is biochemically sound; you aren't going to do something horribly bad to your body by following it. The typical male requires somewhere between 110-140g of protein a day and 140-180g of carbohydrates to function well, without being forced into a massive ketogenic state. If you do block calculations on this, it equates to about a 16-20 block diet. The rest of the diet being healthy fats is also a very sound part of the diet. Even though Sear's doesn't call the zone diet a low fat diet, chances are that once you start eating in zone ratios, you will be consuming less fat than you did before; hell, 16 blocks equates to 48g of fat, which is nothing really.

2. Even Sears says this in his books, but the zone diet is a diet of moderation. There is little fancy fluff about what is going on here; if you eat 1600 calories a day, you will lose weight, period; while you certainly can't make a flawless thermodynamic arguement about what goes on the human body, if you consume less calories than you use, you will lose weight, assuming you aren't doing something horrendously stupid like only eating carbs and turning your body into a hormonal mess. The zone is a diet consisting of WEIGHING and MEASURING; this is why it is so effective!

3. As for performance, I personally struggle with this one, just because I did not see the same massive performance boost that others on this board have seen with this diet; as such, I don't really feel like I have any say on this matter.

Personally, I've been on 16 blocks on and off for 2+ months and have lost about 8 pounds of fat, while visibly gaining muscle as well. It is a great diet, it's easy to follow, and the foods that you can make taste GOOD. It does bring a sense of euphoria when I do it for long periods of time because really, once you get over the first painful part of eating significantly less than you normally do, fasting is a euphoric experience in general. I have tried many a diet, but the zone was really the only one that delivered.
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Old 02-28-2008, 10:46 PM   #5
George Mounce
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Re: Are you in the Zone?

I did the Zone for 8 months it worked great, I lost 30 pounds.

I started IFing in December 2007. I will not go back to the Zone, but I do measure my food one week out of every month. I haven't failed at hitting 1900-2100 calories each day of those weeks eating my standard fare. I gained 5 pounds of muscle by leaving the Zone - that tells me something.

I think the Zone is great as far as combining fat, protein, and carbs together, and I still do it with IF. But do I think the Zone is the only way to go? Absolutely not.
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Old 02-29-2008, 12:12 PM   #6
Júlíus Magnússon
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Re: Are you in the Zone?

Thanks for the comments everyone.

Oliver: About the improved immune system. I'm hoping starting the Zone will be the last step to immortality for me since I haven't so much as caught a cold in over a year. The whole cooking food and stuff is what scares me the most. I'm pretty busy with school, work and exercises and on top of that I'm pretty damn lazy so having to start weighing and measuring my food intake is going to be hell for me. Hope I get used to it pretty quickly.

Carlos: Wow. That is one sick Fran improvement for two months.

Marko: Great comment, thanks. You don't have the links to some of the studies you mentioned, do you? I'd love to take a look at them. Most of the studies' results Dr. Sears quotes sound way too good to be true so I'm pretty interested in knowing how he's twisting them around.

George: What's IF?
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Old 02-29-2008, 05:11 PM   #7
Derek Weaver
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Re: Are you in the Zone?

Julius,
Since George hasn't responded, I'll answer. IF is "Intermittent Fasting". It goes along with Calorie Restriction. Various health benefits. Some practice daily, some 1-3 days/week or more. Others more haphazard. IF for 7 days straight and not again for a few days. The fast isn't necessarily 24 hours, just a reduced eating window. For a 19 hour fast, you've got 5 hours straight to eat, then no eating for 19 hours again.

The benefits include, but aren't limited to: improved insulin sensitivity, mental clarity (provided you can deal with the hunger pangs), improved fat loss depending on when you hit a WOD, a chance for your body to clean itself out.
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Old 02-29-2008, 07:07 PM   #8
Marko Todorovic
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Re: Are you in the Zone?

Julius,

Its been a while since I've gone pubmed searching on the subject, but if you look in the back of the book, all the references are there.
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Old 02-29-2008, 07:53 PM   #9
Daniel Hubbard
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Re: Are you in the Zone?

I know you're looking more for answers from those with Zone experience, but your first question was whether or not we're zoning, so I feel I can answer.
About 4 years before I found CF I started a diet with two rules.
1 - no refined sugar
2 - no MSG
It's worked really well for me, I feel great, maintain great composition, and I don't measure anything. I haven't read any of Dr. Sears' books, but from the messages I see on this forum, zone seems complicated. I have trouble believing that any improvement I would see from switching (and my guess is very little) would be worth the hassle of measuring and fussing over food more than I do now. Maybe I'm wrong and zone is easier than people's comments lead me to believe. I'm totally open to checking it out, just haven't yet, I only starting hearing about zone through CF. Whatever you decide, it's great that diet is as important to you as the exercises are. Good luck. -hub
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