|Book Review: Enter the Zone|
By Josh Logan
There have been many comments on this book, some thinking this is a great book; others don't believe in this theory at all.
The full title of this book is 'Enter The Zone' - a dietary road map to: lose weight permanently, reset your genetic code, prevent disease, achieve maximum physical performance and enhance mental productivity. The author is Dr. Barry Sears Phd. Doctor Sears is a pioneer in biotechnology, developing drug delivery systems for cancer and heart patients and holds 12 patents for cancer treatments and dietary control of hormonal responses.
The reader is obviously aware of the vast multitude of 'diet' books, by the way, there is an absolute 'glut' of such material. I am not a worshiper of the printed word. If you take the printed word as gospel, you may die of a misprint! Keeping this attitude in mind, I ask you to listen to the following with an open mind.
This book, THE ZONE, is the result of many years of research, application and testing. At first it sounds too good to be true, a dietary program that benefits overall health, improves athletic performance, mental acuity, and strongly encourages healing in many serious illnesses. From personal experience I suspect that these claims are, in fact, well founded.
Presently, the accepted dietary practice is that fat is bad; therefore eat little fat. Companies spend many millions of dollars to come out with 'low fat' or 'fat free' products! Carbohydrates are wonderful clean foods, eat them in abundance. Protein practices vary with the program being advocated. Some diets recommend large amounts of protein, while other programs say low protein.
Depending on how and what you eat, and your level of physical activity, you can either burn fat or not! This fat (that is burned) is both that fat that you consume as food and/or available fat stores in your body. Fat is a wonderful source of energy! Why not use it? How do you encourage the body to enter the Fat Burning Zone all the time and in the process create a favorable hormonal balance for robust health?
According to THE ZONE, the dietary program that does this consists of the These come from a certain Zone: favorable foods not just anything! Let's begin at the beginning: First, Dr. Sears says you must know your percent of bodyfat. Using a tape measure, he shows you how to approximate your body fat percentage; there are different procedures for men and women. Once you have your percent bodyfat you must determine your level of activity using a physical activity table in the book. For example: a sedentary male of 150 pounds of lean body mass would require 75 grams of complete protein a day. If he did 1 hour per day of moderate exercise 5 days a week, he would require 120 grams per day. If he did heavy weight training or twice a day intense exercise, he would require 150 grams per day. In otherwords, lean body mass and level of activity determine your protein requirements! Great protein sources are lean poultry, all fish, egg whites, fat free cottage cheese, protein drinks, etc. Dr. Sears calls portions "blocks" and he has a great way of quickly understanding how much of a food you need to eat and in what proportions. You can measure with scales, or Dr. Sears gives an easy way to approximate portions quickly just by eyesight.
Next come your carbohydrate needs. All carbs are not created equal! I can hear you say 'I know that, there are sugars and complex carbs like starches'. Well, it is not that simple! Favorable carbs have a low glycemic index, they enter the bloodstream slowly, raise blood sugar levels slowly, and produce a moderate insulin response. High on the list of these foods (glycemic index 30-50%) are: barley, oatmeal (slow-cooking), whole-grain rye bread, apples, pears, grapes, peaches, kidney beans, lentils, black eyed peas, lima beans, etc. Very undesirable are all the boxed breakfast cereals, white bread, brown rice (yes), bananas, raisins, ice cream (low fat), etc. Your portions will be equal (in terms of calories) to that of your protein portions. Extensive tables of desirability and portion sizes for carbohydrates are provided, they are easy to use. Simple carbohydrates are an addiction, after a week or so on a Zone favorable diet these carbo cravings will leave you! True story!
Next come fats: the best says Dr. Sears are high in monounsaturated fats like: almond butter, olive oil, olives, avocado, tahini, peanuts, etc. Dr. Sears loves olive oil. Very undesirable are butter, cream, cream cheese, vegetable shortening, sour cream, egg yolks, fats from red meats, etc. I can hear you saying 30% from fats! That isn't healthy! Not, necessarily so; your overall caloric intake will not be high. And remember you are seeking out certain fats. Personally I think olive oil is holy, holy stuff; Olive Oil has been kept for 7 years without refrigeration in a cool dry place without going rancid! Mediterranean diets use olive oil abundantly along with garlic and moderate wine intake. The health of these people is relatively good! Of course, the poorer people get lots of physical exercise, A zone favorable diet is medium in carbs, medium in protein, and believe or not low in overall fat intake!
Let's drop in to 'science class' for a minute. All the very popular high carbohydrate diets cause a rapid rise in blood sugar. To prevent excessive blood sugar levels, the body produces the hormone insulin, which acts to store blood sugar in the muscle and liver in the form of glycogen and any excess as body fat! The problem is that too much blood sugar is stored away and the brain is deprived of adequate amounts of its only fuel, glucose. So, because of low blood sugar, you begin to feel tired, moody, blood sugar prevents the release of fat from the adipose tissue and forces you to burn sugars (glucose) for energy. Excess carbs are converted to and stored as fat, and if the diet is low in protein, this can cause loss of lean body mass (LBM) which further lowers the metabolism. In this case you are 'above the Zone'.
What happens if you are 'below the Zone'. A meal high in proteins and low in carbs and fats will decrease the blood sugar. The lack of carbs will also cause ketosis, which will inhibit the release of the fat-burning hormone, glucagon. Ketosis also causes the loss of lean body mass and slows the metabolism.
What happens 'in the Zone'. A meal with medium amounts of carbs, protein and low in fats (a bagel with nonfat cream cheese and 2 oz sliced turkey) will stabilize blood sugar. The appropriate ratio of carbo / protein / fat will stimulate the release of glucagon, which will maintain your lean body mass, increase overall metabolism, and allow the release and utilization of stored body fat for energy allowing you to access your fat burning zone!
Admittedly, eating this way the first week can be difficult. First, you have to be sure to take in your necessary protein requirement. Second, you are not eating a lot of food, meals appear small. Give it time as your body readjusts, especially if you are very active. By the first or second week, you will begin to feel a sense of lightness and mental clarity that is most welcome. I went from 190 pounds, 13% body fat to 183 pounds, 9% in a week and a half! Keep in mind this is not typical, I have a high metabolism. That was after a long time of being unable to 'lean down' on the conventional high carbo diet with lots of aerobic activity. By the way, a Zone favorable diet greatly improves oxygen transport at a cellular level; at which your endurance start to improve. Please don't break any treadmills.
This book review is meant only as an introduction. THE ZONE is presently only available in hard back. If you are happy with your energy level, appearance and percent body fat right now: congratulations!! Really, that's great. If you are eager to make improvements in strength (one rep limit lifts), power (like vertical jumps), endurance (like aerobics) and lean down your percent body fat then this book is must reading.
I welcome feedback from you the readers. I am eager to hear your experiences and results with this program. The Zone can be used with the seriously ill, overweight, healthy (who want more energy) and the serious amateur and professional athletes! Good luck.