Book review: Mediterranean Zone

Monday, November 23, 2015

The book:

The Mediterranean Zone: For a longer, leaner, healthier life is the next chapter from Dr. Barry Sears successful The Zone, which became popular in the late 1990's.  The Mediterranean Zone still emphasizes the 40-30-30 formula (which means 40% calories from carbohydrates, 30% from proteins and 30% from fats) but gives suggestions with provided recipes on healthy sources of these requirements.  The Mediterranean influences come together to provide a food pyramid with vegetables as the bottom, with the next tiers up fruit, low-fat protein, mono-saturated fat with grains and starches in moderation at the top. Dairy is noticeably absent from this diagram which is similar the paleo outlook on nutrition.

A few of the basic rules:

  • Eat 5 times a day, never going more than 5 hours without eating.
  • Follow the 40-30-30 principle.
  • Eat something within 1 hour of getting up
  • East fish at least twice a week
  • Limit yourself to a maximum of 2 eggs per week.  Egg whites are acceptable beyond this.
  • Avoid sugary drinks, juices, sweets, chocolate etc.
  • No white carbs
  • Drastically reduce unfavourable carbohydrates, such as pizza, bread, rice, pasta, crackers, carrots, bananas, etc.

Sears claims using this approach will adjust your body's inflammation response and get your hormonal cycle under control.  Strategically utilizing a food item's glycemic index will make you feel fuller longer.  Easy right?  The book makes it easy by providing simple menus, shopping lists, and recipes of dishes you are familiar with (like prawn salad and chicken with mushroom and peppers), and a few simple tweaks make them Mediterranean Zone compliant.  The book also had a large appendix to help you select the correct 'blocks' to put together your own Mediterranean Zone meal.

With my background in biology, I prefer there to be scientific evidence to support claims of better health.  There is a large reference section to the Mediterranean Zone, which sites peer-reviewed articles on inflammation, obesity, hormone cycles and the other topics covered in each chapter.

Overall, the book is an quick read without being too heavy on science lingo.  It provides you with the tools you need to stick to the Zone: clinical markers of wellness (so you can compare your blood work to The Zone's guidelines), a guide on calculating your protein, carbohydrate and fat requirements, and polyphenol/oxygen radical absorption capacity (ORAC) info of many different types of food and spices.  You can read it once to understand the Mediterranean Zone as a lifestyle to follow and then refer back to the book for info on which foods to eat as you begin to incorporate it into your day-to-day living.
Gluten-free & really yummy

The snacks:

Along with the book, I was lucky enough to try the EnerZone Mini Rocks, Enerzone Shortbread, and EnerZone Meal Snack Bars which are part of The Zone brand.  These all looked small in terms of a portion size, but these snacks are what convinced me the 40-30-30 works.  After eating just one of the snacks, I felt satiated. They tasted good too, with the shortbread being the most savoury of the ones I tried. You can buy these snacks, as well as other food items and supplements in alignment with The Zone here.

Have you tried The Zone (either the original or Mediterranean) before?  What did you like about it?

Thanks to Mediterranean Zone and Dr. Barry Sears for gifting me a copy of the book and the delicious snacks to go with it.  All opinions are honest and my own.

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