The Zone Diet or South Beach Diet - What's The Difference?

The Zone Diet and the South Beach Diet are very similar in a few ways. However, the emphasis while on the Zone Diet will be less about making adjustments to the glycemic index by changing the carb types but more about eating the proper ratio of these carbs along with proteins.

The idea behind the Zone Diet is simple; adjust the ratio of carbohydrates: proteins: fats to 40:30:30. This simply means that 40% of the calories that are eaten should be in the form of carbohydrates, 30% should come from proteins, and 30% should be fats. Some recent studies state that 30% protein is too high for some people, especially those that suffer from kidney ailments. The American Heart Association recommends that people eat about 10% protein.

One major goal of this diet is to adjust insulin levels, just like the South Beach Diet. The Zone Diet goes beyond this and attempts to achieve a very well-balanced hormone system.

One view that shows that the production of excess insulin causes the body to convert unused carbohydrates into a store of excess fat, which is contrary to dieters goals. The protein stimulates the release of glucagon which will stimulate the liver to release stored carbs. This leads to a noticeable feeling of satiation, which will naturally cause a person to stop eating.

The South Beach Diet does not require the counting of calories, but the Zone Diet does. A meal should never be over 500 calories and a between meal snack should not exceed 100 calories. A glucagon-insulin balance is achieved by balancing the carbs that are eaten with 3-4 ounces of protein.

While on the Zone Diet, fresh fruits and vegetables will be eaten very frequently. Leafy greens, mono-unsaturated fats and nuts are perfect. Meals should be eaten on a fairly regular schedule and breakfast needs to eaten no more than sixty minutes after rising in the morning. If carbs are going to be eaten it is best to choose vegetable and fruit carbs rather than pasta and potato carbs.

While alcohol is permitted, it is known to be high glycemic or high-sugar carbs. A 4-ounce glass of wine would require a trade of 36-40 grams of food carbs. Coffee is a stimulant that causes an insulin resistance and should be discouraged. While on the Zone Diet, water is the beverage of choice.

No particular drink or food is forbidden while on the Zone Diet. The goal is to achieve a balance so the hormone levels are regulated. This is like any other diet and adjustments will be made to meet each persons needs and circumstances.

The net result of following the diet, according to practitioners, is the desired weight loss while maintaining healthy nutrition. Many report that any sugar cravings disappear in a couple of days. It's often recommended for those with diabetes by some nutritionists, since it works to adjust insulin levels.

As with all fat burning diets, seeking the advice of your physician is wise. He or she can help you tailor the Zone Diet to your specific situation.