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The Crossfitters Guide to the Zone Diet

The Zone diet states that a food plan with a balanced ratio of carbohydrates (40 percent), protein (30 percent), and fat (30 percent) is the optimal mix for how the human body is genetically programmed, and will allow the body to enter an efficient metabolic state (what is called “The Zone”). Certain foods (including sugar) are excluded, and the method is used to:

  • Stabilize insulin levels
  • Avoid spikes and dips in hunger levels
  • Reduce the risk of inflammation
  • Minimize the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure


The Zone diet was developed and introduced by Biochemist Barry Sears P.H.D, a biotechnology research scientist from MIT, In 1995. His debut book “Enter the Zone” launched his ideas, and the Zone diet has since gone on to have a huge worldwide impact for elite athletes, everyday Crossfitters and health conscious individuals.

The diet is actually very logical and healthy. A major goal is to eat regularly, 5 times a day. Don’t starve yourself, eat your food and balance your insulin levels in order to establish lifelong wellness.

Many diets require you to you eat the minimum, lose weight and kind of starve yourself. But in zone diet it’s completely different. Starving yourself is forbidden. And yeah you heard it right. Starving yourself is FORBIDDEN! Eating times are regulated and protein, carbohydrate and fats are eaten with all meals.


When it comes to benefits of this great diet, it’s simply introduced in 5 bullet points:

  • Shedding excess body fat at the fastest possible rate
  • Maintaining wellness for a longer period of time
  • Performing more effectively
  • Avoidance of energy dips which result in poor quality thinking and tiredness
  • Slowing down the rate of aging

“Controlling diet-induced inflammation is a life-long effort. It is inflammation that disrupts the hormonal communication in our cells that prevents us from reaching peak performance. Making the dietary changes to reach the Zone and stay there may initially appear difficult, but are well worth the effort.” Barry Sears

camille leblanc bazinet squat cleanSource: CrossFit Inc
eat well and perform to the best of your ability

It’s great to see this idea, it’s life long diet. Not a non-permanent thing. It’s basically eating enough and eating healthy. As a result of treating your stomach and body in right way, in the end you will have a healthy mind and body! That’s great, right? Simple and good. All you need is a little determination for starting this long life habit.

The zone diet is all about BALANCING and COUNTING your meals.


“The first thing we need to do is establish a system to easily measure and create meals that are balanced with this 40:30:30 ratio. We do this through “blocks”:

A block is a unit of measurement that equals 7 grams of protein, 9 grams of carbohydrates and 1.5 grams of fat.” Barry Sears says: “You don’t have to do blocking, if you have a one eye and one hand, you can do it wherever you go. It’s not that hard.”If you don’t have a proper way to calculate or measure your food Sears adds: “Divide your plate into three section. And how much? You can calculate with palm of your hand.”

  • Protein – 7 gm of your plate, add some lean protein, about the size and thickness of your palm. This could include egg whites, fish, poultry, lean beef or low-fat dairy.
  • Carbohydrates – 9 gm of your plate, add a lot colorful vegetables and a little fruit. Fruits and vegetables to avoid are those that are high in sugar (e.g., bananas, carrots, grapes, raisins) or starchy (e.g., potatoes, corn).
  • Fat – 1.5 gm. This could include olive oil, avocado, nuts.

zone diet foods healthy vegetablesSource: Crossfit Rowlett
nutrition is the base of wellness and performance


  • Water is your best friend
  • Sugar is your enemy
  • Pasta, bread, rice, potato, banana, grape, carrot, corn and flour are FORBIDDEN!
  • If you want to burn fat, you need to take fat from food. (Olive oil and fish oil are good)
  • Eat 5 smaller meals a day
  • Within an hour of waking up, you need to eat your breakfast.
  • Each portion of protein that shouldn’t be bigger than the size of your palm.
  • Always measure and calculate what you eat.
  • Balance is everything: No cheating.


paleo crossfit zone diet losing weight
Choose wisely

Barry Sears says: “Food is your medicine and your ticket to that state of ultimate body balance, strength and great health: the Zone.” Dr. Sears has also written extensively on the increasing obesity rates over the last decade. One reasons behind this high number of cases is based on diets that are too high in sugar, which is turn spikes insulin levels and in extreme cases can lead to the onset of type 2 diabetes.

Zone diet promotes the importance of polyunsaturated fats such as the kind found in avacados, nuts, vegetable oil and fish for example. This also encompasses Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.


The Zone diet is similar to the Paleo diet in many ways in terms of what it recommends you to eat and avoid. You must always count your protein, carbs and fat. And of course, blocking is the most important thing in order to determine the correct ratios.

Many CrossFit athletes prefer to follow a mixture of paleo and zone diets, and will often find a balance between the two that works for them.

“Diet is paramount to optimizing human performance. Our clinical experience proves the Zone Diet, by Dr. Barry Sears is the best nutritional model for optimal performance.” Greg Glassman




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