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Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Zone

As you get older, you are usually more conscious of your ‘good’ days and ‘bad’ days. The problem is that you don’t quite know ‘why’ you can feel so ‘with it’ one day and be dragging around the next. But Barry Sears figured out one of the main reasons and he wrote a book on the subject called ‘The Zone’, back in 1995.

Dr. Sears was a biochemist who started out as a research scientist mostly in the field of fatty acids that make up many natural oils. This work led him to the study of other food groups and finally to the writing of the book spelling out a diet that, if followed, led to a state of optimal health. Athletes who first followed the diet, proved that it worked by excelling because their bodies and minds worked at peak efficiency, not just on occasion but all the time!

I read Sears book, ‘The Zone’ some years ago now, found it explained why the diet worked so well and I was very interested in following his diet but frankly, I found it daunting. No only did it call for a strict adherence to eating 3 meals a day and two snacks, all at given time intervals, but those meals and snacks had to contain 40% calories from carbohydrates, 30% from protein, and 30% from fat. There were recipes on line that helped and those who followed it give glowing testimonials but to do it properly, I could see it consuming any free time I had. At that time as well, I was traveling a number of months of every year, so I did not ever give it a full chance.

In the late 1950’s I had read several of Adelle Davis’s books. By then she was a well-known nutritionist explaining aspects of daily nutrition that were new to me. For instance, in her advice:

‘At breakfast, eat like a king; at lunch, like a prince and at supper, like a pauper,’ she made it clear that it all had to do blood sugar levels and how to keep them in a range where the body felt energetic throughout the day. For instance, if some protein like meat, eggs, or beans, are eaten at breakfast, since the protein takes longer to digest, it is still supplying some blood sugar until the lunch you ate at noon begins to add to it. The chart on the right shows an ordinary day when the advice given is not followed. Note the dip in blood sugar [red line] before lunch and the high levels in the evening when the energy available is generally not used and is stored as fat.

The Zone diet is clearly designed to keep blood sugar at a stable constant level so you feel good and your body is always ready to work or play at top efficiency. However, if you are like me and have a general sense of how important sugar levels in your blood are to your energies and well-being, you can do a pretty good job of eating sensibly to maintain a steadily available supply yourself without adhering to the strict 'Zone' diet. Rie

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