What is the zone diet and how does it work?

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The zone diet is one of the diets with high protein and low carbohydrates. This diet does not have much evidence based on science and is one of those diets that are used only for branding. However, according to the inventor of the Zone diet, this diet also has advantages that are fully discussed in this article.


How does the zone diet work?

This diet teaches people to include a certain percentage of macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fat) in their diet. In this way, they eat 40% carbohydrates, 30% protein and 30% fat.

this diet claims to reduce inflammation in the body. Since inflammation is the main cause of many diseases, overweight and premature aging, this diet is an anti-inflammatory diet.


Why should less carbohydrates be consumed in the zone diet?

Proponents of this diet believe that excessive consumption of carbohydrates is one of the main causes of inflammation and increased insulin in the body.

Inflammation not only causes various diseases, but also causes many complications such as obesity(1). On the other hand, increasing insulin causes sugar to be stored as fat.

In addition to these things, this diet emphasizes reducing carbohydrate consumption due to reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes, reducing the risk of heart diseases and reducing the risk to the general health of the body.


What are the steps and method of doing zone diet?

Zone diet is like this, in which 3 main meals and two snacks are consumed. Each meal should be high in protein and low in carbohydrates. Meals in this diet should be less than 5 hours apart. In the zone diet, there are four main pillars or stages:

1- Reducing the level of calories regardless of the feeling of hunger

This diet believes that you are not allowed to consume any extra calories, because consuming them will turn into extra body fat.


2- Reducing the level of inflammation

Short-term inflammation is a natural reaction and part of the body’s immune response. But inflammation causes many problems for the body in the long run. The Zone Diet believes it can reduce inflammation in the body.


3- Using polyphenol for health

Polyphenols are a type of antioxidant that destroy free radicals in the body.


4- Reducing inflammation caused by intestinal microbes

Consumption of polyphenols, unfermented fiber and omega-3 reduce inflammation caused by intestinal microbes.


What are the allowed foods in the zone diet?

You can consume the following foods in this diet:

  1. Types of lean proteins such as beef, lamb, veal, chicken and turkey breast, fish, vegetable proteins, egg whites, low-fat cheese, milk and yogurt.
  2. types of healthy fats such as: avocado, peanut butter, chickpeas, canola oil, sesame, olive and nuts
  3. All kinds of fruits and vegetables such as: berries, apples, plums, cucumbers, peppers, spinach, mushrooms, yellow squash, peas, cereals and oats.


What are the forbidden foods in the zone diet?

Almost no food is prohibited in this diet, but still there are restrictions because it causes inflammation in the body:

  • Sugary fruits such as bananas, raisins, grapes, dried fruits and mangoes
  • Vegetables with sugar or starch such as: corn, peas, potatoes and carrots
  • Refined and processed carbohydrates: bread, pasta, sweets, noodles and other products containing white flour.
  • Other processed foods such as breakfast cereals and muffins.
  • Foods containing added sugar such as cakes, candies, soft drinks and cookies
  • Coffee and tea: You should try to minimize the consumption of these items


Sample food list in Zone diet

If you are interested in the zone diet and want to know what foods are in it, you can use the food list below. In this diet, there are separate lists for women and men:

Food list for men



  • 2 scrambled eggs
  • 3 slices of turkey breast
  • 28 grams of low-fat cheese
  • 1 apple
  • 3 and a half cups (630 grams) of spinach, cooked
  • 1 cup (156 grams) of boiled mushrooms
  • 53 grams of boiled onion
  • 1 and 1/3 teaspoons of olive oil



  • 84 grams of grilled chicken without skin
  • 1 boiled egg
  • 2 lettuce leaves
  • 1 cup of raw mushrooms
  • 1 cup sliced raw cucumber
  • 1 sliced red bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of avocado
  • Half a teaspoon of walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon of vinegar
  • 2 plums



  • 1 boiled egg
  • 3 almonds
  • half an apple



  • 170 grams of grilled salmon
  • 1 cup cooked sweet potato
  • 1 leaf of lettuce
  • 37 grams of raw tomatoes
  • 104 grams of sliced cucumber
  • 2 tablespoons of avocado
  • 2/3 teaspoons of olive oil
  • Snack before bed
  • 1/4 cup of cottage cheese
  • 6 pieces of peanuts
  • half an orange


Zone diet food list sample for women

Here is a sample meal plan for women:



  • 2 scrambled eggs
  • 3 slices of turkey breast
  • half an apple
  • 1 cup boiled mushrooms
  • 3 and a half cups of cooked spinach
  • 1 teaspoon of olive oil



  • 57 grams of grilled chicken without skin
  • 1 boiled egg
  • Two lettuce leaves
  • 70 grams of raw mushrooms
  • 104 grams of sliced cucumber
  • 1 chopped red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of avocado
  • 1 teaspoon of vinegar sauce
  • 1 plum


Afternoon snack

  • 1 boiled egg
  • 3 almonds
  • half an apple



  • 113 grams of grilled salmon
  • 2/3 cup of cooked sweet potato
  • 1 leaf of lettuce
  • 37 grams of raw tomatoes
  • 104 grams of sliced cucumber
  • 2 tablespoons of avocado
  • 1/3 teaspoon of olive oil


Snack before bed

  • 1/4 cup of cottage cheese
  • 6 pieces of peanuts
  • 1/2 orange


What are the benefits of the Zone diet?

Advocates of this diet believe that following the Zone diet has the following benefits(2):

1- Weight loss

One of the main goals of any diet is weight loss, and the Zone diet is no exception. Following the zone diet leads to weight loss due to the restriction and reduction of calorie intake.

2- Decrease insulin level

Another benefit of following this diet is limiting the level of carbohydrates and increasing the consumption of proteins. When you replace protein, your body produces less insulin.

3- Reducing body inflammation

One of the main benefits of this diet is reducing inflammation in the body. The reduction of inflammation in the body occurs following the reduction of insulin levels.


What are the side effects of the Zone diet?

Despite the benefits that this diet has for the body, it will also have side effects. Among the complications of this diet, the following can be mentioned:

1- Lack of food variety in the diet

The heavy emphasis on protein consumption and the lack of proper place for fruits and vegetables in this diet causes a lack of nutrients in the body and causes the body to face many injuries.

2- Constipation

Reducing the consumption of fibers due to the lack of fruits and vegetables in this diet causes serious problems in the body, including constipation. Fiber is one of the nutrients needed to improve the functioning of the digestive system.

3- Damage to health

One of the problems that the Zone diet can cause for the body is health related problems, including heart health. If you want to avoid these problems, it is better to leave the Zune diet and the like.


Who is the Zone diet suitable for?

It is said that following this diet is beneficial for people who have problems such as inflammation, diabetes and heart disease. On the other hand, one of the side effects of this diet is causing heart problems. The existence of this contradiction in this regime makes more studies needed to prove it.


Zone diet and exercise

One of the main shortcomings of the zone diet is the lack of emphasis on exercise and physical activity. Proponents of this diet believe that following this diet alone is enough to lose weight and there is no need to exercise. If such an idea of the diet is wrong and the lack of movement along with following a food plan causes the body to be disturbed and weak.


last word

The mere existence of weight loss in a diet is not a sign of its strength. That you can lose weight with any diet is a natural thing and it can happen in any weight loss program. The important thing here is to choose your diet in such a way that it causes the least amount of damage to your body.

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