The original Part 3 of this series has been moved to our Low Carb Studies Athletics BLOG.
The Zone Diet seeks to create a fixed mix of macros by specifying fat, carbs and protein levels. The starting point is:
The numbers are in percentage of calories. On a “standard” 2000 calorie diet that would be:
- Carbs = 2000 * 0.40 = 800 calories (200 grams)
- Protein = 2000 * 0.30 = 600 calories (150 grams)
- Fat = 2000 * 0.30 = 600 calories (67 grams)
Zone vs Standard American Diet (SAD)
According to the CDC (Trends in Intake of Energy and Macronutrients in Adults From 1999-2000 Through 2007-2008):
In 2007-2008 the average energy intake for men was 2,504 kilocalories (kcals) and for women it was 1,771 kcals.
The average carbohydrate intake was 47.9% of total kilocalories (% kcals) for men and 50.5% kcals for women; average protein intake was 15.9% kcals for men and 15.5% kcals for women; average total fat intake was 33.6% kcals for men and 33.5% kcals for women; and average saturated fat intake was 11.0% kcals for men and 11.1% kcals for women.
That means the Zone Diet is lower in carbohydrates, much higher in protein, and a lower fat than the Standard American Diet (SAD).
|Macro||SAD (Men)||SAD (Women)||ZONE||Difference|
|Protein||15.9||15.5||30||Zone Much Higher|
The main lever of the Zone then appears to be Protein. Doubling someone’s Protein should do some very good things for their health. Added to that is the advantage of the lower number of total calories on the zone.
But would the Zone be a good thing for a Type 2 Diabetic? Certainly it would help some who are diagnosed as pre-diabetic. Anything they do to reduce their carbohydrate consumption will help their pre-diabetes.
Zone vs Ketogenic Diet
The Ketogenic diet has various protein goals depending on you who follow. For a 200 lb male typical numbers would be (using a higher level of protein in this example):
Where the two diets differ are their fat and carbohydrate macros.
Carbohydrate Effects on a Type 2 Diabetic
Carbohydrates raise blood sugar and therefore Insulin levels much more dramatically in a Diabetic than in a non-Diabetic person. That’s what makes a person an Diabetic. Before I went on the Ketogenic diet I was averaging only 200 grams of carbohydrates per day. I know this since my Insulin pump required me to enter any carbohydrates I ate. And, in spite of being on an average of 100 units of Insulin a day, my blood sugars were all over the place.
My highs were over 200 and my lows never got to 100. Around the start of August I went on the Ketogenic diet. For me, that was going from 100 grams (on the average) of carbohydrates a day to less than 20 grams. I was also not tracking the other macros (fat, protein). Here are my blood sugar numbers from the first three months of the Ketogenic diet.
That chart is the very definition of stable blood sugars. It took being at 20 grams or less of carbs a day to get stable. And before the Ketogenic diet I was nowhere near the Zone Diet carbohydrate levels. I can only imagine how messed up my blood sugar numbers would have been if I had been on the “balanced” zone diet.