If you’re anything like me, you’ll be thinking..
‘Hmmmm, Mediterranean style food sounds wonderful, I’ll have to drink red wine, enjoy a healthy dash of olive oil and embrace more pasta’?
Not so fast…
Let me explain, ‘The Mediterranean Zone‘ is about focusing on how you fill your plate at each meal (with lean protein and an abundance of colourful fruit/vegetables) to optimize your energy levels, inflammation and weight balance. Some of us have been lead to believe that somehow people are able to live long healthy lives on a diet of pasta, pizza and gelato when the reality is very different.
Before you start thinking this is another fad diet let me tell you this:
The word diet comes from the ancient Greek root meaning ‘way of life’. Over the year’s has become the term for following a certain style of eating to lose weight,often restrictive and often with a start and end.
Who is this plan suitable for?
Actually the best part about this plan is that it’s user friendly for all: vegans, paleo, even people who carb cycle can tweak this plan. I feel it is worth mentioning that this is not aimed at those who are only looking to lose weight but also athletes and people who want optimal health.
Is there a calorie restriction?
When I first flicked through the book and read the daily meal guide I felt that the calories indicated were too low and this was initially off putting for me. I then read into the plan and noted that Dr Barry Sears does not suggest any formal calorie guideline and the daily energy requirements will vary from person to person.
What can’t I eat?
Like most plan’s, there are food groups that Dr Barry Sears suggests you avoid and these are mainly foods that have a high glycemic index. What does this mean? In plain English this means you aim to avoid food that give your blood sugar big highs and allows you to keep a more steady energy balance over 5 hours.
The main food groups that are considered unfavourable on the plan are starchy carbohydrates such as potatoes, peas and pumpkin plus fatty red meat, egg yolks and fructose. The book provides a comprehensive list of foods alongside meal suggestions to get you started with your weekly meal plan.
The plan allows for a little chocolate, perfectly balanced sweet snacks (we’ll talk about those in a moment) protein from various sources, a large range of carbohydrate and of course, it allows red wine.
Does it actually work?
This is the deal breaking question – Firstly, please keep in mind I only tested the plan for a week and I am already in a healthy weight range with a low body fat so I saw no changes on the scales. Secondly, I do already eat in a way which is very similar to this and therefore it was not a big enough change for me to see rapid results; which leads me to say you should be aiming for health and steady weight loss and not a ‘miracle’.
What I did notice was I felt more satisfied after my meals and I had a few really focused day’s at work because I was not distracted by counting down to ‘snack time‘ which does happen from time to time (Hey, I’m only human!).
If you read the book, follow the plan (*Maybe with slightly larger potions as I do feel the calories are very lean at 1,200-1,400 for women) I honestly can’t see why this would not be successful. I won’t lie, if you are currently a huge potato and processed sugar fan, then it’s going to be a hard transition but certainly worth it as a lifestyle change.
As you can imagine I was really excited about trying these snacks from Enerzona, especially as two were chocolate based (always a winner).
Enerzona are a food company from Italy who create snacks, soups, supplements, protein powders, breakfast cereals and crisps to work with the Zone lifestyle. Each product is carefully tailored to allow you to enjoy a snack or meal without experiencing any changes to your energy levels and keeping you within the zone.
I’ll start with the snack bar, I’ve tried a LOT of snack bar’s in my time, I’d even go as far as saying I’m pretty sure I’ve tried 90% of the popular snack/protein bar’s on the market right now. Therefore I’m going to say that this was one of the most satisfying 105 calorie snack bar I’ve tried, I liked the soy aspect and found the bar genuinely filling.
The Mini Rock chocolate crunchies were a hit also, although I preferred these crushed up slightly and used as a topping for greek yoghurt. The bag of biscuits were the least popular item, not because I didn’t like the taste because they really were great, but I’m not really a biscuit person and they weren’t as satisfying for my palate.
Have you ever tried the ‘Zone’ diet before? Do you like following a plan formally or do you tend to use plans as a basic guide?
I am not a health professional and this is based on my own (none biased) opinion, I was not paid for the review but I was kindly sent the book and snacks. I do feel that with any lifestyle change you should assess your own diet before starting, read all the facts and take a steady and sustainable path to obtain/remain a healthy weight long term.
The meal plate picture was sourced from Google.