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568 of 574 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great diet - don't start with this book though
After a lot of encouragement from my mother, who has been following the Zone for two years, I decided to try this diet. I've been on it for 3 months and I've lost 28 pounds and 2 clothing sizes without really changing my modest exercise habits. I eat half as many calories as I used to, but I'm not hungry. I used to have terrible insomnia, often getting no more than 4...
Published on May 12, 2002 by sugarkanedc

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123 of 139 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Try Heller's Carbohydrate Addict instead
The Zone is really a low-calorie diet in a high-protein disguise. The reason you lose weight is because there's really only 1500 - 2000 calories per day, although Sears doesn't focus on that.
I tried it and found it too complex. I agreed with much of the concept - I'm hypoglycemic and know what the impact of high-glycemic foods has on me. But aspects of it didn't...
Published on October 12, 2000 by John L. Beck


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568 of 574 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great diet - don't start with this book though, May 12, 2002
By 
"sugarkanedc" (Washington, DC USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Enter The Zone: A Dietary Road map (Hardcover)
After a lot of encouragement from my mother, who has been following the Zone for two years, I decided to try this diet. I've been on it for 3 months and I've lost 28 pounds and 2 clothing sizes without really changing my modest exercise habits. I eat half as many calories as I used to, but I'm not hungry. I used to have terrible insomnia, often getting no more than 4 hours of sleep a night - that has vanished along with my nearly-constant heartburn. After two months, my blood cholesterol dropped from 200 to 180. I have energy to burn. I take a Cheat Day on Sundays when I eat all the evil things I've been craving that week - croissants, Nutella, McD's sausage biscuits, creamy desserts - and by the end of the day I feel so draggy, dehydrated, sinus-y, that it's a relief to wake up Monday morning and go back onto the plan.
So, why don't I recommend this book? It was the first book Barry Sears (co-)wrote about the Zone, and it reads like an infomercial. The writing style is... loud. It is also poorly organized, jumping around from biochemical jargon to little tidbits of practical advice to anecdotal evidence to health claims for different conditions. And finally, this book doesn't provide any information beyond the very basics about how to actually follow the plan. If you are already convinced (perhaps by all these glowing reviews) of the benefits of the Zone and want to jump right in, the more comprehensive Mastering the Zone with its tons of practical tips is a much better place to start. If after beginning the diet you want more background information about how it works, then pick up this book. The one good thing about the early book is the more gourmet recipes (like the lamb with herbed cheese on zucchini-and-squash "pasta" - mmmm!). There are more recipes in Mastering the Zone, but for my taste they stick too strictly to the glycemic-index guide and also try too hard for one-pot meals; I've never used them.
An issue to look out for: I found that the body fat tables in the back way overestimated my fat weight, which meant an artificially low food intake level. After a couple of weeks hovering on the edge of hunger, I got my body fat percentage measured on a machine at the employee wellness office at work and got a result of ten percentage points less! I raised my food intake and continued losing weight at a healthy clip, with no more hunger pangs. I suspect that the bodyfat-table problem may be why a few reviewers here felt hungry on the Zone. The tables probably underestimated their lean weight, resulting in recommended food intakes that were too low.
The bottom line: even if all the health claims aren't sound, this is a balanced low-calorie diet that's easy to follow indefinitely without hunger, and what can be wrong with that - unless you are Nabisco Foods or something? Just try to start with Mastering the Zone instead.
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617 of 644 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 5+ years of trying to follow The Zone regarding weight loss., August 10, 2000
By 
I.H. (Sacramento, CA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Enter The Zone: A Dietary Road map (Hardcover)
I am a 23 year old female who exercises 3-5 times a week, cardio and weights.
One thing I've noticed from reading these reviews is that many, if not most, of the reviewers have only recently read the book and begun to apply the concepts. (with a high rate of success, not to doubt.) I am adding my experience because I have been attempting to follow this eating plan for 5+ years for the purpose of losing body fat.
I read THE ZONE when it was first published and went on the diet hard-core, because it made so much sense to me. I had previously had NO success trying to lose weight on the traditional low fat/protein - high carbohydrate diet illustrated by the ridiculous, industry driven "food guide pyramid." (Let's face it- do you think Nabisco would be very happy if the U.S. Surgeon General made an announcement that Wheat Thins really aren't good for you?)
I did lose weight when I began to follow The Zone eating plan strictly. I was absolutely thrilled. I must say, I was a bit obsessive. However, over the past five years, I have struggled with my weight fluctuating 15 lbs. I have a hard time with what Dr. Sears protests regarding two things, now that I've been familiar with applying the concepts in this book for so long:
1) Lack of hunger/ food cravings: Even when following The Zone to a *T*, I experience intense carbohydrate cravings and get hungry between meals, usually after 3 hours at most. It is not my so-called improved hormonal balance that Dr. Sears speaks of that keeps me on track, but my sheer willpower.
2) Permanent weight loss: I was 18 when I began The Zone. I am now 23. As stated earlier, my weight has fluctuated +-15 lbs. over the past five years. It must be noted that over this time, there has not been *one single thing* that I've put into my mouth that I've not considered the "Zone" repercussions of. The bottom line is, that if I slip a bit, I readily re-gain weight. This is easy to do, because The Zone is in essence a very calorie restricted diet. Although Dr. Sears says that no foods are "forbidden," the Zone sharply limits several foods that many people really like.
In sum, I am very happy for the many people who have recently gained considerable success following The Zone balanced eating plan. However, my caveat is that I have doubts regarding the ability of most people to follow it for the rest of their lives. I know I have, thus far. I never feel really fulfilled. I am not satisfied by the size of the fat blocks which the diet prescribes for my height/ body weight. If I follow the Zone very closely (and I've had a LOT of pracice) I'm very frequently half hungry and miss many specific foods.
Good luck to all. If you've had a similar experience, I'd be interested in hearing about it.
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233 of 245 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An eating program that finally works!, July 21, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Enter The Zone: A Dietary Road map (Hardcover)
For the last 10 years, I've struggled with my weight, always needing to lose between 10-20 pounds of fat. About two months ago, I started eating more vegetarian meals. I did start to feel better and experienced reductions in sugar cravings. However, my weight wasn't coming off as quickly as I wanted even though I was exercising 4-5 times a week and was not eating that much "junk." Then I discovered the Zone. What a difference! My sugar cravings are gone (I still enjoy chocolate but don't eat much of it), and my energy levels have sky-rocketed! I don't use a scale, but people have asked me if I've lost about 10 pounds, and this is only after two+ weeks on the diet. And I can lift heavier weights in the gym and exercise for longer periods of time! Best of all, I am no longer a slave to constant hunger; I am now in control. THANK YOU, Dr. Sears. I will never eat a protein-free meal again. Just say no to pasta, bread, cereal, rice, and sugar-laden, refined foods! By the way, the naysayers either didn't read or understand the book, haven't tried the Zone, or did not follow it correctly (you need to enjoy eating fruits and vegetables).
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96 of 99 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It worked for me., February 27, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Enter The Zone: A Dietary Road map (Hardcover)
I read 'The Zone' and followed what he said. I lost 20 pounds in less than 3 months and have maintained my weight for 1 month. My biggest surprise was the outstanding decrease in my cholesterol/HDL ratio, tested through work. My ratio dropped from 6.24 to 3.2 in 4 months (doctors want it less than 4.0). I eat like he says and exercise like he says, except I do eat ice cream at night frequently. I try to ride a stationary bike every 3 or 4 days. I do not feel I am dieting. I used to have orange juice and bananas for breakfast and was hungry before 11 am. Now I have 10 ounces of 1% milk, 1 oz peanuts, 1 oz cheese and crackers and eat lunch 45 minutes later than I used to. Peanuts remain in the stomach a long time and the fat content satisfies me. Instead of potatoes, I have broccoli, cauliflower, or green beans. I've talked enough. It worked for me. Good luck to you.
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70 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The zone has changed our lives!, May 27, 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Enter The Zone: A Dietary Road map (Hardcover)
A few months ago, my husband was diagnosed with diabetes, at 31. This was a huge wakeup call for us. I have been overweight and dieting since early childhood, and my husband has been overweight for most of his adulthood. We just finished our 16th week on the zone. In that time, I have lost 43 pounds and my husband has lost 58! Incidentally, after 2 weeks on the zone my husband's blood sugar was back within normal limits and the doctor changed his diagnosis from 'diabetes' to 'diabetes-prone'. My husband asked the doctor if the zone was safe for us, and the doctor said it seemed to be working for us and he had no hesitation. It amazes me that people will balk at the plan and point out that it's not healthy to eat protein at every meal, but aren't lots of people currently eating the triple cheeseburgers anyway? I never eat more than a chicken breast's worth of protein at a meal. I now am healthier because I don't eat egg yolks, and I eat lower fat meats and cheeses. Doing something is better than doing nothing, and we don't have to be perfect. I agree that the book isn't the easiest to read, but it's worth the effort! We probably eat more of the not so good carbs than good carbs, but of course we follow the portions, and we figure this is better than before when we ate supersized portions of bad carbs. We'll take small steps.
We find the plan very convenient. We have no trouble eating out. We make the best choices we can and forget about it. If I'm going to a friend's house I pack my own lunch (a small price to pay), and we have found ways to eat everything we like...pizza, mashed potatoes, sandwiches, ice cream, etc. It's amazing, too, that by reading labels I have found that sometimes just switching brands of a product will make it fit into the plan more easily, like bread, ice cream, and pizza sauce. I've heard people say that the plan is a quack because once you go off it you will gain the weight back. I wholeheartedly agree that this would happen...I became overweight because I overate. We have decided to make this way of eating a lifetime change. I have never been successful on other plans, and I've tried them all! I've never lost more than 20 pounds before and have never been able to stick to any diet. I have never felt hungry on this plan, and I don't get cravings that often. When I do, I have that food as part of my next meal or snack...in proportion. Overall, the zone has changed our lives for the better, and I can't recommend it highly enough! For us, it's not a diet, it's a lifestyle change...for the better.
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78 of 81 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One Diet Does Not Fit All--Although Great Portion Control!, July 2, 2002
This review is from: Enter The Zone: A Dietary Road map (Hardcover)
Sears' premise is a relatively easy one to understand: eating protein with every meal helps to regulate your insulin output and hence helps the body avoid a constant craving for fattening carbohydrate intake.

I purchased this book when it first came out in 1995, used it on and off with adequate results, and was dismayed when various news magazines and dieticians panned the premise. I thought, how could regulating hormones NOT be involved in the dieting puzzle?

Recently I was reaquainted with Sears' ideas after seeing an alternative physician in my quest for better health. The doctor recommended using Sears hormone-regulating formula and portion guidelines with Peter D'Adamo's ER4YT Blood Type Diet. So far, I have had fairly good overall health-benefit results--and this with no intention of losing weight--although this has occurred.

Although Sears comes off as being a little too commercial for my taste--just check out the Zoneperfect website and you will be bombarded with all sorts of prepackaged goodies--- his premise of eating a certain amount and a certain combination of the three basic nutritional elements seems to be quite wise. In a nutshell, one's hand is utilized to decide just how much one needs to put away during one meal. The protein should be the size of one's palm--thickness taken into account. The fat is represented by the size of the fleshy part of the thumb--about a tablespoon. Carbohydrates are monitored in this way: if eating a grain, a closed fist-sized amount should be consumed. If eating a green vegetable, two handfuls are advised.
As much as I find this advice feasible, I have some criticism with regard to Sears' premise and format. Firstly most of the recipes in the book seemed to be geared for bachelors who have little time for food preparation. Anyone wanting to make a Zone meal for a family would be pretty much out of luck if using the book as a guideline. The good news here is that the website provides many many recipes to help balance out those fats, proteins and carbs and there is an Excel based tool offered online at no-cost which actually calculates a meal's components down to the gram---if you want to get that specific. Secondly, Sears reports that one could lose weight with any combination, although he suggests for example that red meat and butter are poor choices when compared to other protein and fat choices. I believe that since this book has been written,Sears has come out with other "breakthrough" diets--one revolving around soy and one around Omega-3 fats. I can only charitably think that as his theories evolve more books will ensue. But, what he doesn't seem to cover is the fact that some people simply do not do well when eating certain foods. His one-size fits all diet, does not work for everyone. There is a dieting stall reached after awhile and the optimum results that he proports one will achieve are not achieved. Case in point, when I started the Zone vigorously, 3 years ago, I found that I had to incorporate more protein with every meal. I turned to dairy as I did not feel inclined to cook a chicken breast each and every time I wanted a snack. Unfortunately, no matter what Sears says, I do not metabolize dairy well and I found that no matter how many glasses of water I drank, no matter how many fish oil capsules I consummed, or how simple and abundant my carbohydrates were, I was still constipated. After adding a fiber supplement, I found I no longer lost weight--but stayed at a plateau for so long a period of time, I eventually tried another dieting plan. After all, no one feels well if their digestive system is no working correctly. Sears speaks of the digetive hormones, but he neglects to mention the changing hormonal interplay of estrogen and progesterone in women, especially as they get older. Nevertheless, I believe that Sears book can be the cornerstone for many who do not understand that food must be balanced to achieve a hormonally balanced body. In the same sense, in order to be a certain size, you must eat a certain amount. My advise is to use this as your springboard, then decide which combinations work best for you, perhaps, as my physician advised,try the D'Adamo blood type diet as a guideline for foods one should and shouldn't eat. I have found that since doing this, I no longer need my fiber supplement, I have lost weight, I do feel better. (Oddly enough, for my type A blood, I am to gorge myself on soy products and Omega-3 rich fish! Sounds like Dr. Sears may be a blood type A himself as his latest books plug both as highly beneficial.) Bottom line: if I feel better, I must be on the right track.
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99 of 105 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A sensible look at The Zone, January 7, 2002
By 
Richard Wakefield (Burnaby, BC Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Enter The Zone: A Dietary Road map (Hardcover)
The Zone isn't a "diet" in the "weight loss" sense that other books use where you must eat this and eat that and follow the instruction sheet to a "T". Diet, in The Zone, refers to the original meaning of simply how and what you eat. It's a methodology of knowing what the requirements of your body are so that you can meet them in a way that works best for your body. It starts out by explaining HOW your body works and WHY it works that way, then it introduces the principles so that you can determine for yourself which foods to eat so that you feel your best.
In a nutshell, the whole premise of the book is that you need to keep your body nourished but not over-nourished. As you use your muscles throughout the day, your body requires protein to maintain your muscle mass. How much protein YOU require is determined by your lean body weight (ie: without fat) as well as your activity level. An athlete will naturally need more protein than your average couch potato. If you want to decrease your muscle mass, decrease your protein intake. If you'd like to maintain the muscles you have, only eat as much protein as is required to do so. And if you're into body building and want to increase your muscles, eat a little more protein so that you can maintain your current mass and that you have enough additional protein so that your body is able to create new muscle. The book rightly recommends that you never eat more protein than your body can handle.
On top of protein, everybody needs carbohydrates. Most people erroneously think of carbohydrates as being pasta, rice, bread, and sugars and that's one place they can make mistakes. Carbohydrates encompass the entire range of fruits and vegetables (in other words, stuff that you plant in the ground). Apples, oranges, lettuce, broccoli, spinach, mango, tomatoes, potatoes, rice, wheat, blueberries, etc. Pasta is a carbohydrate in that it is a processed form of wheat (durum semolina usually). Bread is exactly the same. Sugar is derived from the sugar cane plant.
The difference between each of them is in how much carbohydrates are packed into each food. A pound of lettuce, which is over 90% water content, doesn't have as much carbohydrates as a pound of pasta. You can verify this for yourself next time you go to the grocery store. Pick up those packaged salads and look at the nutrition information panel. Note how many grams of carbs there are in the package. Find an equal weight package of pasta and note how many grams of carbs there are. You'd likely have to eat several heads of lettuce to equal a handful of pasta. Regardless of which source of carbohydrates you choose, you'll still need the same number of grams. The important thing to remember is that the number of grams of the particular food is NOT equal to the number of grams of carbohydrates in the food.
So protein maintains your muscles and carbohydrates gives you the energy as it gets converted into glucose to fuel your brain and muscle system. Where does fat come into play? The Zone recommends you eat only natural monounsaturated fats and that you steer clear away from all saturated fats (especially those derived from animal products). Extra virgin olive oil is promoted, as are avocados and flax seed oil. These are both excellent sources of high-quality, non-artery-clogging fat. How much you need depends on how much protein and carbohydrates you eat. To give you an idea, the typical amount of fat an average person should eat with a meal would be the equivalent of three whole cashews or a couple tablespoons of avocado. Again, the book stresses moderation. Eat too much fat and don't be surprised if you gain weight.
What you end up with is a balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fat. How much you eat depends on your body. If you feel yourself sapped of energy after a meal, then chances are you've eaten too many carbs, so you should cut back the amount in the next meal. If you're hungry after a meal, then you might need to eat more carbs next time. That's where this book shines. It gives you a great starting point of eating healthy foods and then recommends that you adjust how much you eat to suit your individual body. The Zone differs from other books in that it's not a rigid structure. Rather, it's a framework that you use and modify to derive the best results.
It's amazing how many reviews posted here are ignorant of the basic concepts presented in the book. Those who have read the book know that 1 "block" of protein refers simply to 7 grams of protein. Similarly, 1 "block" of carbohydrates refers to 9 grams of carbohydrates. If a recipe calls for 3 ounces of chicken breast, some people misinterpret that and think "Okay, 3 ounces is about 85 grams� wow, that's a lot of protein!" In reality, chicken breast usually has about a 20% protein content. This means that 3 ounces of chicken breast will have only about 17 grams of actual protein. For carbohydrates, if you get out a weigh scale and measure 27 grams of alfalfa sprouts, you'll be seriously hungry and very irate. That's because you'd need to eat 33 CUPS of alfalfa sprouts to get 27 grams of carbohydrates! (Remember, alfalfa sprouts are 99% water!) A better way of getting 27 grams of carbs would be to eat about a dozen spears of steamed asparagus with 2 tomatoes and a cup of strawberries.
The Zone can be best summed up by quoting the opening paragraph in the first chapter: "� it's very similar to the advice your grandmother gave you about eating. Eat everything in moderation, eat lots of fruits and vegetables, and have some protein at every meal."
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50 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Critics are misunderstanding (or haven't read) this book, September 11, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Enter The Zone: A Dietary Road map (Hardcover)
The way of eating advocated in this book is NOT high-protein, it will NOT promote ketosis, it will NOT make you hungry, it will NOT produce eating disorders, etc. etc. It's obvious that some people have either misunderstood the book (it IS based on simple concepts but they're explained so thoroughly that they can seem overwhelming and confusing) or, as appears to be the case with some folks, they have not even read the book and are making false assumptions about it.
The premise of the book is simple:
1. Virtually all functions in your body are controlled by a group of hormones called eicosanoids. (See the 1982 Nobel Prize - winning research on these hormones.)
2. Hormones work in pairs that counterbalance each other so you don't get too much of any kind of activity in the body. (For example, insulin and glycogen--if you have too much of one/not enough of the other, your blood sugar will be out of control.)
3. These hormone pairs get out of balance if we don't eat balanced meals, and eat them frequently enough.
4. Dr. Sears figures the best balance is this: figure out your individual protein needs, then eat approximately this ratio at every meal: for every 7 grams of protein, 9 grams of carbohydrate (preferably fruits & vegetables rather than starches), and 1 1/2 grams of monounsaturated fat. He believes this to be the ideal ratio for maintaining balance of your eicosanoids, and thus, all functions in your body.
5. If you follow this eating style, according to Dr. Sears, you will lose body fat and gain muscle mass until you reach your body's ideal balance. Then you will hold steady.
6. Since eicosanoids control every body system, an imbalance may contribute to virtually every problem in the human body, including diabetes, hypoglycemia, insomnia, cancer, heart disease, etc. Therefore, keeping (or returning to) proper balance of eicosanoids is extremely important to all aspects of health. This may sound like an inappropriately sweeping statement, and it hasn't been tested, but it is the logical, inescapable conclusion based on how eicosanoids affect us.
I was diagnosed with breast cancer 9 months ago, and have been researching every book and medical journal I can get my hands on since then, and when I read Dr. Sears's book a couple days ago, all my knowledge gained from that research began clicking into place. I immediately decided that his theory explains everything I've been reading and suddenly all these seemingly disparate pieces of the puzzle all fit together. And I am willing to stake my future health, possibly my life, on this book.
Also, I normally have terrible cravings for carbohydrates; I'm a chocoholic and eat virtually nothing but breads, cereals, and pasta at meals. But, perhaps because I'm so utterly convinced that I can't afford NOT to follow these dietary principles, or perhaps because Dr. Sears's explanation of how cravings arise is exactly true, I have not felt the urge to touch starch or sugar since my first meal on the plan.
I am not hungry, I do not feel deprived, and I'm starting to regain energy after radiation exhausted me, exacerbating my previously existing chronic fatigue. I feel real hope for many areas that have been a problem in recent years for me, including cancer, weight gain, fatigue, mental fogginess, etc. Also I am usually way too tired to exercise, although I know it's critical to good health, but the Zone program is already--after less than two days--helping combat that.
Some people may not have the patience or (this may sound harsh, but it's true) the intelligence to wade through the complexities of this book, and therefore may misunderstand and therefore dismiss it out of ignorance. And it's obvious many of the critics (e.g., those who claim it is high-protein) have not even read the book. But don't let those people mislead you into missing out on what may very well not only help you feel better and lose weight, but may literally save your life. It takes some real work to figure out how to apply to your own diet, but you won't regret it.
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59 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life Changing, December 10, 1999
By 
Ken (Bend, Oregon) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Enter The Zone: A Dietary Road map (Hardcover)
My wife and I both began eating in The Zone after being introduced to the concept by my wife's doctor and reading Dr. Barry Sear's books. Over the course of the past eight months I have dropped from over 220 pounds to 166! My wife has also just passed the fifty pound weight loss milestone! We are no longer hooked on the carbohydrate fix as we used to be because of the work Dr. Sears has done in explaining how food really works in our bodies. We eat exactly what our bodies need and want. We are also more fit than we've been in twenty years. Excellent stuff.
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62 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Solid advice, absolutely solid results!, December 2, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Enter The Zone: A Dietary Road map (Hardcover)
Ignore the 'ketosis' criticism of this book - it's crazy. The book goes out of it's way to explain why ketosis is bad and how to avoid it by eating enough carbohydrates. Also, this isn't a low-carb diet, it's a balanced-carb way of eating for life. Mainly it's about avoiding insulin resistance by eating lots of vegetables and balancing it with protein and small amounts of healthy fats. You still get more cal's from carbos than anything else, you still get no more than 30% of your diet from fats, and this is NOT like the atkins or other low-carbo ketosis diets. The difference is that it controls your insulin (fat storing hormone) much more closely than other diets. It's sad to see some members of our medical profession so entrenched in their sadly misinformed view that lowfat high-carb diets are the best way to eat. I know that plan hasn't worked for me - it gave me triglycerides >500 and HDL <30, and frequent hypoglycemia - a very dangerous situation. I have already seen great improvements to these numbers based on the ZONE. Give this book a try - I think the advice is solid as a rock. Any doctor who criticises this as a fad ketosis diet is making a fool of himself and obviously hasn't read the book well.
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Enter The Zone: A Dietary Road map
Enter The Zone: A Dietary Road map by Barry Sears (Hardcover - May 12, 1995)
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