The majority of participants that are truly serious about CrossFit either adhere to the Zone Diet, the Paleo Diet, or a combination of the two. The portion balance of a person’s fat/protein/carb intake is a highly valuable tool that is afforded via the Zone Diet.
Basically, the Zone Diet is concerned with proper hormonal balance. This is due to the fact that a proper hormonal balance is essential for a person’s blood chemistry, body composition, use of energy and more.
Who Came Up with the Zone Diet?
Around 30 years ago, Dr. Barry Sears came up with the Zone Diet. His goal was to reduce diet induced inflammation. Proponents claim that the zone diet will:
- Help you to shed unwanted pounds
- Lose excess body fat at the fastest possible rate
- Improve mental and physical performance
- Maintain wellness
- Reduce inflammation
Zone Diet: All about Balance Between Protein, Carbs and Fat
Contrary to popular belief, the diet is NOT about the consumption of a high protein or low carb diet. It is actually about the BALANCE among these things. The diet aims to keep the following things in check:
- Protein (preferably natural or lean meats)
- Carbs (primarily vegetables and fruits that have a low glycemic load)
- Fat (due to the fact that it is the single most imperative macronutrients)
How to Balance Fat, Carbs and Fat in the Zone Diet?
In terms of what to actually eat, it’s pretty simple. Protein is 1/3, Carbs are 2/3, and a little bit of fat.
- Protein should be 1/3 of your plate. Lean protein such as egg whites, fish, or low fat dairy is best
- Carbs should be 2/3 of your plate and should consist mostly of colourful veggies and a bit of fruit. Avoid ones that are either high in sugar (bananas, grapes), or starch (potatoes or corn)
- Fat, just a little bit of it. Some good options include olive oil, avocados or almonds.
Aim to balance your plate with every meal and snack and you should be good to go! It’s one of the simpler meals plans for CrossFit that we’ve seen.
Zone Diet, Simplified
Goal: To Control Three Major Hormones
With the proper balance of fat, carbohydrates and proteins an individual is able to properly control a trio of major hormones that are generated by the human diet. This trio consists of the following:
- Eicosanoids – These are hormones that control silent inflammation. Additionally, they serve as the “master hormones” that[indirectly] orchestrate a variant of hormonal systems within the body.
- Glucagon – This is a mobilization hormone that informs the body as to when to release carbohydrates that have been stored. The release occurs at a steady rate, leading to the stabilization of a person’s blood sugar levels. This hormone is essential for optimal physical and mental performance.
- Insulin – This is a storage hormone. An excess of insulin can cause the body to feel fat and will keep a person fat as well. Insulin also has the ability to accelerate silent inflammation.
How Much Weight Can I Expect to Lose?
The Zone Diet certainly doesn’t promise dramatic weight loss results, but that’s not really what you should be shooting for anyway. However, you can reasonably expect to lose 1 to 1.5 pounds the first week.
What the zone diet does promise is that the weight you lose will be fat, instead of muscle or water. You’ll probably find that your clothes are fitting better, even if the scale doesn’t reflect that very well. After all, fat doesn’t weight very much, but muscle does.
How Many Calories Does CrossFit Burn?
Many people who follow the Zone Diet also do CrossFit. You may want to know exactly how many calories this style of workout burns. Let’s find out!
When done properly, CrossFit is a very high intensity workout that can burn 15-18 calories per minute (men) and 13-15 calories per minute (women). Most workouts will last for about an hour, so you think that the potential calorie burn is 780-1080 per workout.
However, keep in mind that the warm-up and cool-down are included this and won’t have the same intensity. So, let’s say that for women, you’ll probably burn at least 500 calories and for me, at least 700. When you consider the short span of time this happens in, it’s certainly good.
Even that is a good amount, and when combined with proper diet, may produce some excellent results if weight loss is your goal.
Secondly, there is the added benefit of this kind of workout building muscle and reducing body fat. Even at rest, muscle burns more energy than fat so you’ll be able to get, and stay leaner with your increased metabolism.
Zone Diet Blocks
One way to balance your food intake within the diet plan is to use blocks. Choose when to eat each block according to when you’re most hungry.
With the Zone Diet, individuals compose meals according to food blocks. The food blocks are divided into fats, carbohydrates and proteins. There are one block meals, two block meals and three block meals within the diet that can be mixed and matched as desired.
- One Block Meal – consists of one protein, one fat and one carbohydrate
- Two Block Meal – consists of two choices each of fat, carbohydrates and protein
- Three Block Meal – this is a meal that consists of three options from each of the lists.
Zone Diet Blocks Can Be Mixed and Matched
Blocks are able to be mixed and matched as desired. If you find yourself extremely hungry when you first wake up, then a two block meal may be ideal for breakfast. Regardless of the order, only one meal from each block is to be consumed each day.
It really is a pretty flexible, easy to follow diet plan that matches very nicely with CrossFit. Try it out today and see how you feel. Many people who engage looking for serious athletic performance find that it works very well for them.
Zone Diet: Can I Eat Out?
If you’re serious about CrossFit, and also serious about the Zone Diet, you’ll have to get familiar with the inside or your kitchen! It can be pretty difficult (nearly impossible) to balance out the ratios when eating out.
Our solution? Try to cook at home for 20/21 of your meals in a week. But, allow yourself one meal out. However, it’s not an excuse to go crazy. Try to stick with the zone diet ratios.,
For example, get a green salad with some grilled chicken and use a little bit of oil based dressing on it. That would roughly follow the guidelines of the zone diet.
Meal Prep for the Zone Diet
Prepare Multiple Portions of Each Meal
Here’s a quick tip for if you’re struggling with meal prep for the zone diet. Prepare meals fewer times. For example, on Sunday night, perhaps you could make three different meals, with four portions each. Then eat the same thing for breakfast, lunch, and dinner on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.
Then, schedule some time on Thursday night to prepare three meals for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Just eat the same thing all three of those days for each meal.
Are there Any Banned Foods?
The good news is that no food is completely banned on the Zone Diet. Carbs is the one area where things can often go wrong though.
Although things like bread and pasta are indeed carbohydrates, the diet encourages you to eat most veggies, and a bit of fruit for this portion of the diet. Bread and pasta should be eaten in small doses, and only occasionally for best results on the Zone Diet.
It’s for this reason that many people find the zone diet easier to follow than the Paleo diet if you’re a vegan. Learn more here: Vegan CrossFit.
Do I Need to Take Supplements?
Many people who CrossFit do indeed take supplements to improve their athletic performance. However, it’s not really necessary according to this diet. What you eat is far more important.
Zone Meals in Seconds
- Barry Sears
- HarperCollins e-books
- Kindle Edition
- Edition no. 0 (03/17/2009)
If you need some ideas of what exactly you can eat, start with a Zone Diet Cookbook, such as Zone Meals in Seconds: 150 Fast and Delicious Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner (The Zone).
It’ll save you a ton of time, and make your life easier, guaranteed. There are 150 meal ideas that will keep you interested, happy and saving a ton of time when preparing and planning your meals.
The best part about Zone Meals in Seconds? The cookbook is by Barry Sears, the founder of the Zone Diet. Straight from the source.
“This is the one cookbook at my house that I never loan out because I use it every single day. The meals do take longer than seconds, but it’s not really a big deal. Most of the meals can be made in less than a few minutes.”
You can check out the book for yourself over on Amazon:
What to Eat Before CrossFit?
If you’re heading to your CrossFit workout in a couple of hours, you may want to know what you should eat before a workout. Basically, you’ll want something that’ll give you a lot of energy, but will digest easily.
Some of the best things to eat for a meal before CrossFit include the following options:
- Oatmeal, muesli, greek yogurt with fruit, or whole-grain bread for a morning workout
- Rice, vegetables and lean protein for lunch or dinner before a workout
If you just need a quick snack to grab before your WOD, then consider the following options:
- Homemade protein bars (easy on the sugar)
- High-quality snack bars/balls
- Boiled egg
- Apple with peanut butter
- Baked sweet potato
- Yogurt with berries
Find out more here: Foods to Eat Before CrossFit Workouts.
The Zone Diet: Have your Say!
Do you have any tips or tricks for following the zone diet when you’re a Crossfitter? Leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts.
Also be sure to give this article a share on Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter. It’ll help other people wanting to improve their health, like you find this useful resource.
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Last update on 2019-08-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API