Zone Diet for Weight Loss

This diet is beneficial to prevent the development of late-onset diabetes, heart disease & obesity. Balance is the key to any diet. This diet does not deprive the body of essential nutrients. The idea of the zone diet is to balance the ratio of carbohydrate, protein & fat.

Diet to Promote Long-Term Health.

The idea behind the zone diet is to regulate the production of two hormones, insulin and glucagon. Insulin is secreted in response to sugar. Insulin inhibits gluconeogenesis. This is when fats are broken down to make glucose. Quite simply, insulin is the storing hormone. Insulin causes energy from your food to be stored as fat and stops fats from being broken down into energy. Glucagon is also a hormone secreted by the pancreas during periods of low blood glucose. In regard to fat regulation, glucagon promotes gluconeogenesis i.e. conversion of fats and proteins to glucose. The important thing here is that glucagon breaks down fats for energy.

H yperinsulinaemia

This is a condition of too much insulin and is associated with a number of diseases;

  • Heart disease
  • Late onset diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Abnormal cell growth
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Fatigue

Excess insulin leads to insulin resistance that is cells resist the uptake of or do not respond to insulin. Excess insulin in the blood stream results in excess fat also. Insulin resistance is associated with obesity. Certain nutrients and herbal medicine are crucial to balance blood sugar also.

The Zone Diet

The zone diet aims to reduce insulin levels and promote glucagon levels thereby increasing the utilisation of fats for energy. Balancing the ratio of carbohydrates: proteins:f ats slows down the absorption of blood glucose therefore decreases the amount of insulin produced. This can stimulate weight loss by stimulating fat usage for energy. The correct ratio of carbohydrate to protein to fat should be 40:30:30.

The diet simply involves;

  • Working out your daily protein requirement.
  • Balancing this with low glycaemic index GI carbohydrates.
  • Adding healthy fats.
  • Drinking water.

How much protein?

The Palm Rule

At any meal only consume an amount of protein equal to the length and thickness of the palm of your hand. Think about it for a moment; that is a small steak, a handful of nuts or a slab of tofu. During pregnancy, lactation, for children and sport increase this amount by approximately 1/3.

Glycaemic Index GI

GI is determined by the amount of carbohydrate in the food and the amount of fibre.

Low GI foods are best.

Always eat vegetables and fruit with the skins as they are higher in fibre therefore have a lower GI.

Low GI Foods


Artichoke, Asparagus, Alfalfa sprouts, Black beans, Green beans, Bok Choy, Broccoli, Brussel sprouts, Cabbage, Celery, Cauliflower, Chickpeas, Collard greens, Eggplant, Kale, Kidney beans, Leeks, Lentils, Mushrooms, Okra, Onions, Sauerkraut, Turnip, Yellow Squash, Spinach, Zucchini.

Salad Vegetables

Alfalfa Sprouts, Bean sprouts, Cucumber, Endive, Chicory, Capsicum, Iceberg lettuce, Romaine lettuce, Radishes, Snow peas, Tomatoes.


Whole oats. Fruit Apples, Apricots, All berries, Cherries, Grapefruit, Grapes, Kiwi fruit, Lemon, Lime, Nectarine, Orange, Mandarin, Peach, Pear, Pineapple, Plum, All Melons.

High GI Foods


Baked beans, Beetroot, Butternut squash, Carrots, Corn, Lima beans, Parsnip, Peas, Pinto beans, Potato, Sweet potato.


Banana, Cranberries, Dates, Fig, Guava, Cumquat, Mango, Pawpaw, Prunes, Raisins, All Fruit juice.


Bread, Buckwheat, Couscous, Croissant, Muffins, Millet, Noodles, Pancake, Pita bread, Popcorn, Rice white/ brown, Rice crackers, Corn crackers, Rolls, Taco shell, Tortilla

It’s a Visual Thing

Animal protein should take up 1/3 and low GI carbohydrates 2/3 i.e. roast beef and vegetables. This is the preferred option.
Less preferred option

Animal protein should take up 1/3 and high GI carbohydrates1/3 i.e. chicken breast and rice


Vegetable protein takes up ½ of the plate and low GI carbohydrates ½. I.e. tofu and vegetables, tofu and lentils.

Less preferred option

Vegetable protein should take ½ of the plate and high GI foods 1/3 i.e. tofu and rice.

Good Fats

As previously mentioned, essential fatty acids are necessary to boost metabolism and stimulate thermogenesis which is the burning of brown fat cells for heat. In the zone diet, fats are necessary as they, like fibre, slow the rate of glucose absorption into the bloodstream. They also make food taste better and they cause a release of a hormone called cholecystokinin, which tells your brain you are satisfied and to stop eating. Use cold pressed virgin oils, organic if available. Try flax seed oil, canola and olive oils, walnut, sunflower and almond are also beneficial.

Bad Fats

Hydrogenated fats found in processed foods are bad. Since the introduction of margarine, the rate of heart disease came down but cancer increased. Saturated fats in animal products promote inflammation. Please note that whilst organ meats (offal) are high in saturated fats, they are also high in omega 3, which is why they are traditionally so good for you. Lean meats, chemical free poultry and low fat dairy foods are preferable.

Examples of Breakfasts

  • Scrambled eggs on toast. More eggs less bread.
  • Porridge with nuts and natural yoghurt
  • Omelette

Examples of Snacks

  • Wholemeal Pancakes with tahina and banana
  • Ryvitas, corn or rice crackers topped with salmon or tuna, cottage cheese and tomato
  • Wholemeal Pita bread with chicken salad
  • Almonds, sunflowers, pepitas

Examples of lunches/Dinners

  • Traditional Irish stew
  • Minestrone
  • Pea and ham soup
  • Chilli con carne
  • Grilled fish and vegetables
  • Roast with low GI vegetables
  • Nori rolls with salmon

For further details on this topic, to lecture for your group or institution on this subject. or to arrange an online appointment contact Carina This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Carina Harkin BHSc.Nat.BHSc.Hom.BHSc.Acu.Cert IV TAE. 

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