Evolution of the Zone: Making Diet Work for a Lifetime

Dr. Sears on Evolution of the Zone: Making Diet Work for a Lifetime

The word diet often has negative connotations. It is often thought of as a period of constant hunger and fatigue to get into a swimsuit. People often also regain all the lost weight and more after stopping the diet.

A recent article reinforces this idea in Obesity that demonstrates the contestants in the Biggest Loser television series had virtually regained all their lost weight in a six-year period. This was followed by an article in the New York Times entitled, “Why You Can’t Lose Weight on a Diet.”

What Does the Word Diet Really Mean?

The word diet comes from the Greek root, which means “way of life.” This means that a diet should be followed for your lifetime, depending on your goal.

The American Heart Association diet, the American Cancer Association diet, and the American Diabetes Association diet were all designed to prevent or treat a particular condition and should be followed for life. The Mediterranean diet is to be followed for a healthy life. And of course, the Zone Diet is to be followed for a lifetime to maintain inflammation in a manageable range consistent with optimal wellness.

The Secret to Making Your Diet Work

The secret to maintaining any diet, whatever the goal, is that you can’t be hungry or fatigued. But hunger and fatigue don’t just mysteriously appear; they are symptoms that indicate that your diet is not working. Hunger and fatigue are the consequence of increased inflammation in your gut, your organs, and your brain.

There are many causes of inflammation that you will never see on social media or in academic journals because it is overwhelming. Here are just a few:

  • Excess dietary omega-6 fatty acids increases the production of pro-inflammatory eicosanoids.
  • Excess dietary palmitic acid increases inflammation in the hypothalamus, causing hunger.
  • Increased gut permeability caused by lack of dietary fermentable fiber that leads to increased bacterial fragments entering the blood, causing metabolic endotoxemia (the release of toxins into the blood from gut bacteria).
  • Excess dietary fat that increases the transport of bacterial fragments into the blood cause even more metabolic endotoxemia.
  • Excess consumption of dietary calories causing inflammation in the hypothalamus, increasing hunger.
  • Lack of adequate levels of dietary polyphenols to control the microbial composition of the gut and reduce oxidative stress in the body.
  • Lack of adequate levels of dietary omega-3 fatty acids to reduce inflammation and increase resolution in the gut, blood, and the brain.

You can see the word dietary appearing over and over in these various causes of inflammation.

This indicates that most of our woes in our health care system are a consequence of the diet. Unless you address each of these diet-induced causes of inflammation, you are going to have hard time maintaining optimal wellness. This is the challenge I took on when developing the Zone Diet.

The Zone Diet is Even Easier Now

First and foremost, the Zone Diet is based on calorie restriction, but without hunger and fatigue. The first generation of the Zone Diet required a person to constantly pay attention to balancing protein, carbohydrate, and fat at every meal. In addition, I took out the three things (pasta, pizza, and pastries) in the diet people really like to eat.

I guess my tough love was a little too much for busy people who needed easy short fixes resulting in long-term solutions. I could just say, “too bad,” or I could try to solve the problem with the evolution of the Zone Diet. I choose the latter approach.

This choice led to the development a new series of protein-based foods that could take the place of non-sustainable animal protein. Furthermore, these new foods were in a format that would be more convenient and more desirable than the foods people were already eating. After all, that is the only way to encourage people to make dietary changes. The resulting diet would have to create far greater appetite suppression with even greater energy compared to the first generation of the Zone  ̶  a formidable challenge to undertake, but not an impossible one to achieve.

What made it possible was the patented technology to create Zone PastaRx®. Zone PastaRx looks and tastes like the foods that in the past always made you put on body fat, but now they make you leaner.

Why? Because PastaRx is able to suppress appetite and stabilize blood sugar levels with improved hormonal control. This evolution of the Zone Diet changes the hormones in three areas of the body (gut, blood, and the brain), whereas the original Zone Diet could only change the hormones in the blood. In effect, this evolution of the Zone has three times the hormonal benefits using the foods you like to eat as a novel protein source.

What if you ate a diet consisting of Zone PastaRx with some non-starchy vegetables (for the fermentable fiber) for lifetime with the result of never being hungry or fatigued?

Furthermore, what if dozens of recipes were already tested and posted online so you don’t have to even think about variety?

I am taking a wild guess that most people could follow such a diet for a lifetime. By following this next generation of the Zone Diet, you will reduce diet-induced inflammation that is the underlying cause of the development of chronic disease, as well as the acceleration of the aging process. If you add high-doses of purified omega-3 fatty acids (OmegaRx®) and purified polyphenol extracts, you simply take those inflammation control benefits from the next generation of the Zone Diet to new higher level.

Studies Have Shown that PastaRx Reduces Insulin Resistance

The motto of Zone Labs is Evidence-based Wellness®. This simply means, “show me the data.”

In two clinical experiments using Zone PastaRx, we observed dramatic reductions in the level of insulin resistance in obese subjects using meals consisting of Zone PastaRx when compared to control groups using gluten-free pasta. Inflammation is what causes insulin resistance.  In fact, the reduction in insulin resistance in the subjects consuming Zone PastaRx was equal to that of giving insulin injections for newly diagnosed type 2 diabetic patients according to a study.

I think you can see why I believe the future for the evolution of the Zone Diet is extremely bright; because Zone Pasta makes diets work.

Sources and Further Reading:

  1. Fothergill E et al. “Persistent metabolic adaption 6 years after ‘The Biggest Loser’ competition.” Obesity 24: doi: 10.1002/oby.21538 (2016).
  2. Aamodt S. “Why you can’t lose weight on a diet”. New York Times. May 6, 2016.
  3. Sears B and Perry M. “The role of fatty acids in insulin resistance.” Lipids Health Dis 14:121 (2015).
  4. Wang D et al. “Effects of intensive insulin therapy upon pancreatic β cell function in patients newly diagnosed with type II diabetes”. Int J Clin Exp Med 8:1391–1395 (2015).

Tags: , , , ,

About Dr. Barry Sears

Dr. Barry Sears is a leading authority on the impact of the diet on hormonal response, genetic expression, and inflammation. A former research scientist at the Boston University School of Medicine and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dr. Sears has dedicated his research efforts over the past 45 years to the study of lipids. He has published 40 scientific articles and holds 14 U.S. patents in the areas of intravenous drug delivery systems and hormonal regulation for the treatment of cardiovascular disease. He has also written 14 books, including the New York Times #1 best-seller "The Zone". His books have sold more than 6 million copies in the U.S. and have been translated into 22 different languages.


  1. Lynda Parker

    I use the Zone diet with good results for many years. I gained 80 pounds after major surgery and then decided to find a way to return to my desired weight. I went on a Zone cruise with a friend that needed help with the price of the ship, we split the cost of our room. I had dropped lots of weight prior to using the Zone, but found that it was much healthier and easier than the other method I used. I lost the 80 pounds plus got away from Insulin, Metformin and two types of inhalers. I am healthier than I expected and in my 70’s still do the lawn and garden in the summer plus plow and shovel snow in the winter. My husband is unable to do either, but I still enjoy doing both, Thank you Dr. Sears for the pasta , as he will eat that not realizing it is not what he was used to eating and still enjoys it.

    • bsears@drsears.com

      Your personal experience with the Zone Diet is a great example of the power of diet to improve metabolic conditions. The Zone Pasta is simpler another step to make dietary compliance easier.

  2. Marg

    Where is the comment that Helka posted? She posted that her husband was following the Zone but cooking with butter and cream. Is that why her post is missing? Cooking with butter and cream is now acceptable. Research has now found that we need to eat more fats and plenty of them to lose weight. Of course the good fats such as avocados, coconut oil, olive oil, full fat dairy (milk, cheese, yoghurt, butter, cream). We should avoid eating bad fats like vegetable and seed oils, canola oil, margarine, light and no fat dairy. Sugar and grains need to be avoided. No calorie counting. Fats keep you satiated and stops the urge to eat unfavourable carbohydrates.

    • Dr. Sears

      The primary saturated fat in butter and cream is palmitic acid, which a very pro-inflammatory fatty acid. There are more than 600 references on Pub Med that relate to palmitic acid induced inflammation. The first organ to be effected by palmitic acid induced inflammation is the brain and in particular the hypothalamus that controls hunger and satiety. I agree with your comment on avoiding bad fats, but I would include saturated fats (especially those rich in palmitic acid) in that category. This means the good fats category becomes reduced to primarily monounsaturated fats such as olive oil, avocados, and nuts. Even after you readjust the types of fat in the “good” and “bad” categories you still have to balance your diet with the appropriate amounts of low-fat protein, polyphenol-rich carbs (primarily vegetables and limited amounts of fruits) that also contain fermentable fiber, and all with the least amount of calories to prevent hunger and fatigue.

  3. Victoria Boppert

    I have been on the Zone Diet for two years now, have lost fat, and feel great! So when I see my mental health professional, and he asks how I feel, I say I feel great, and explained the Zone Diet briefly to him. He says that my feeling great is text book manic behavior, and that it’s not possible to feel “great’ all the time. Sure, I have problems like everyone else, and I work full time and I have debt just like everyone else, but I still feel full of energy and deep down inside healthy. I even brought your book The Zone to the doctor with me, and read passages from it, but still he poo-poo’d it, and chided me for confusing the effects of the Zone diet with my “classic manic symptoms” Well, if being in the Zone and feeling great is manic, then so be it!! I feel great and I think that most mental health (so-called) professionals have no clue about how the diet can impact their patient’s ability to get well.

    • Dr. Sears

      Thank you for your insightful observation. The scientific concepts of the Zone were never taught in medical school. Maybe there may be hope for the next generation.

    • Randall Basden

      I am a mental health therapist with a different reaction to the Zone; I have given out several copies of The Mediterranean Zone to others, including clients. I am a couple of months into the diet and it is delivering as advertised. There has always been some sense of frustration amongst therapists about trying to work with ‘sugared up’ kids. The Zone concepts helped me to see the role that chronic dietary inflammation can play in the mental health of individuals of all ages. I am limited to staying within professional bounds, but I can certainly suggest sources of information for clients to check out.

      Mania is something that goes beyond a steady state of ‘happiness.’ There is a cyclical aspect to mania that should be noticeable. On the high end the energy spins clearly out of control. If your therapist believes you are manic then he/she should be able to provide evidence beyond the fact that you follow the Zone Diet. If that evidence is provided then there would be mental health interventions to pursue. Diet isn’t the only factor where mental health is concerned, however it is a powerful factor that is generally overlooked.

  4. Nancy S.

    I love the old Zone and will stay with it. I have become used to reading labels and since it has worked beautifully, I won’t change, not for pasta which I never much craved anyway.

    • Dr. Sears

      Once you master the Zone concept, you have a way for life. What’s excites me about the new generation of Zone foods is their enhanced hormonal control. Consider a new form of protein that just happens to look like pasta, but is more inexpensive than animal protein, more sustainable than animal protein, and provides greater hormonal actions than animal protein. The same technology that makes Zone Pasta possible has also been used to produce prototypes for Zone Pizza, Zone Bagel, Zone Tortillas, and Zone Pastries — all products we hope to make broadly available before long.

  5. Patricia leRoux

    Sadly these products are not available and postage from the US is way too high!

    The Zone is my lifestyle. In two years,I have lost nearly 50 lbs. but the best part of eating this way is my vitality and lack of hunger plus, my knees don’t hurt anymore. Bravo

    • Dr. Sears

      Your success is a great testimony to the benefits of treating diet as a drug. Hopefully we can address the European availability in the near future. While we do ship internationally, your international shipping expense concern is well noted.

  6. Chris

    Thanks Dr. Sears,
    For the past three to four years my Glucose has been in the pre Type 2 diabetic range. I tried zone pasta three weeks ago and have already lost ten pounds. My old energy levels have returned and the brain fog has lifted. I believe my workout-carbohydrate binge days are finally over.

    • Dr. Sears

      Your experience is exactly the reason I developed Zone Pasta. I consider it to be the practical application as “food as a drug” especially with those with metabolic disorders such as obesity, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes.

    • Dr. Sears

      A good starting point is reading about the Zone Diet on our site Then I would read my most recent book, The Mediterranean Zone, for a good overview of all aspects of anti-inflammatory nutrition. Thanks for asking!

    • Dr. Sears

      Try to think of the pasta as you would a piece of chicken or fish, but with far greater appetite suppression and hormone stabilization properties. The same technology also can be used to make Zone Pizza, Tortillas, and Pastries. I have tasted the prototypes of all of them.

    • Dr. Sears

      Try to address all the underlying causes of diet-induced inflammation is tough problem. The key is making it simple for the individual to have to dietary system to follow for lifetime that easily overcomes those problems. I believe the next generation of Zone Diet comes closer to that goal.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *