With the advent of the Atkins Nutritional Approach and continuing with The Zone Diet, it seems that a tiny molecule in our body came under fire repeatedly towards the end of the twentieth century. When any kind of starch or sugar is ingested, our bodies break it down to tiny glucose sugar molecules. Some of that glucose is extremely important right away. It is the primary energy source of the brain.
However, most of us, because of the amount of carbohydrates we eat, end up with far too much glucose in our blood. The presence of excess glucose in triggers the pancreas to make the hormone insulin, which causes the body’s cells to grab the glucose out of the bloodstream and store it as fat in the cells.
Diabetes is a metabolic disorder where the pancreas either does not make enough insulin or the cells simply ignore its commands. Either way, a diabetic is constantly in danger of there being too much glucose in his/her blood. The treatment for diabetes is to carefully control diet, but in many cases, supplemental insulin is needed on a daily basis to keep these people alive. So for many, insulin is a life-saving substance.
You may read: Why Rapid Weight Loss Diets Aren’t Healthy.
Since 1972, we have, however, been hearing quite a different story about insulin. Research done by Dr. Robert Atkins claimed that the insulin response in the body was actually responsible for obesity and any number of other metabolic conditions, even cancer.
The Zone Diet, created by biochemist Barry Sears, digs deeper into excess carbohydrate and insulin as a major factor in obesity. However, the Zone is not as restrictive as Atkins. Hence it is criticized far less for being unhealthy and bland. Its cause was taken up by major celebrities in the 1990s, with stars like Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt swearing by its effectiveness.
Sears does a good job of turning the flaws of the Atkins approach into major triumphs. Even though his ideal food ratio of forty percent carbohydrate to forty percent protein to forty percent fat is a departure from conventional food pyramid wisdom, where complex carbohydrates should make up half of any meal, it is still possible to consume a wide range of foods while on the diet, thus maintaining a healthy nutritional status.
Sears only aim is to reduce the proportion of carbohydrates eaten, encourage people to replace them with fruits and vegetables, and introduce healthy unsaturated fats into the diet.
When fewer carbohydrates are eaten, insulin falls within a certain range, the body is said to be in The Zone. Hormonal response is optimized, and fat is burned, Sears claims. This is a good point to note that skeptic researchers still have trouble with this claim, believing that the weight loss is due more to the inevitable reduction in calories more so than anything else.
Furthermore, even though The Zone may sound uncomplicated on the surface, the reality is that for it to be effective, it calls for a lot of work. Every plate is divided into three sections that are carefully measured to make sure they meet diet proportions. To supposedly simplify the process, Zone Food Blocks were developed, where Food Blocks are portions containing a certain amount of carbohydrate, protein and fat.
Food Blocks are then allocated according to calculations based on weight, height, waist and hip circumferences. Sound complicated? Thats because it is. This may be fine for people like Brad Pitt, who have personal chefs and nutritionists. For ordinary people like you and me, however, the Zone may not be the ideal way to eat.