by Mary Perry

Facts about carbs that'll help you eat healthierThink you’re pretty knowledgeable when it comes to carbohydrates? You may be surprised about the misconceptions surrounding this nutrient. Let us help separate the facts from the fiction.

    1. Carbs grow in the ground, protein moves around
      Most people are surprised to learn that carbohydrates don’t only pertain to bread, rice and pasta. Outside of those sweet treats you find in your local bakery or the inner aisles of the supermarket, fruits, vegetables and legumes, are carbs too. In the words of Dr. Sears, a good way to remember the difference between carbs and protein is that “carbohydrates grow in the ground and protein moves around.”
    2. Carbohydrates are not essential nutrients, but you need them in your diet
      In theory there are no “essential” carbohydrates since the body can convert protein into carbohydrates. That being said you do need a moderate amount of carbohydrates in your diet as your brain relies solely on glucose (a breakdown product of carbohydrates) in order to survive. So you want to make sure you have adequate intake of carbohydrates so that you can maintain stable blood sugar levels and optimal brain functioning too. Did you know the brain requires about 130 grams of glucose per day?
    3. Zone Complex Carbs vs. Refined at a GlanceNot all carbs are created equal
      It’s often thought that our bodies treat all carbohydrates the same. While it is true that once broken down in the body carbohydrates are treated the same way, the rate at which this happens depends on the type of carbohydrate consumed. Fruits, vegetables and other complex carbohydrates contain fiber and absorbed much more slowly than refined carbohydrates. Opt for colorful fruits and vegetables, beans and legumes instead of added sugars, which are quickly absorbed. Added or refined sugars spike our blood sugar, leaving us going back for more. Bottom line: Quality and quantity do matter when it comes to carbohydrates.
    4. Couple your carbs with protein to eliminate blood sugar spikes
      The healthiest sources of carbohydrates come from vegetables and fruits, but to really minimize spiking our blood sugar too much you have to couple your carbohydrates with lean protein found in low-fat dairy, eggs, and lean meats in the appropriate balance. This helps to lower the glycemic load of your meal and moderate the blood glucose and insulin response to that meal. Even when you are feeling a little indulgent opt to couple that sweet treat with a protein chaser to minimize the glycemic response.
    5. A moderate amount is the right amount
      When considering low-carb or high-carb, opt for moderate carb. Here’s why: When carbohydrates are eaten in excess it causes the body to secrete the hormone insulin, which can increase inflammation and promote the storage of excess calories as increased body fat over the long-term. On the flip side, consuming too few carbohydrates has its downsides too.Ketogenic diets (high-fat, low-carbohydrate diets) are gaining popularity in the mainstream. However, when carbohydrate intake is too low, the body secretes the stress hormone cortisol, which signals the breakdown of our muscle mass in an effort to give the brain enough glucose to function. This is not good, as excess cortisol makes you gain weight, become sick (it depresses the immune system), and less sharp (it destroys neurons in the hippocampus where your memory is primarily stored).Between those extremes lies the Zone where your intake of carbohydrates is moderate, coming primarily from colorful fruits and vegetables. Balance that moderate level of low-glycemic carbohydrates with adequate amounts of lean protein and a dash of heart-healthy fat, and the result is that insulin and blood sugar levels are both stabilized, helping you combat hunger and fatigue.If you are having a hard time cutting out refined carbohydrates like pasta consider PastaRx. It looks and tastes like traditional pasta, but is already Zone balanced with 15 grams of protein and far fewer carbohydrates than regular pasta.

There are many misconceptions about carbohydrates, including which foods are even carbs in the first place. Plus, quality and quantity of consumption do matter. While you don’t want to go crazy on consumption, carbs are a key component of the diet that should be consumed in moderation and balanced with low-fat protein and small amounts of good fat.

Just remember when it comes to carbohydrates the more color, the better!


  1. Wayne Earle

    I just started the zone diet and developing questions as I go. The first question I have is regarding zone snacks. I work in a busy ophthalmology office and typically I have to eat my snack quickly, between patients. Or other times, I have take a few bites and come back to it 15 or 20min later. Should the zone snack be eaten at one time or is it ok to spread it out?


  2. Bob

    Nobody has ever answered the questions regarding my family’s eating habits. My grandfather was a coal miner. He ate fat, drank whole milk (2 qts/day), lots of white bread, pasta, meats (pork fat), home grown vegetables, and drank whiskey and smoked. Never had an heart or diabetes issues. Same with my mom who loved baked goods and put sugar on everything. Always had boxes of candy for us to eat. Again, never had any diabetes problems. My Italian mother-in-law was diagnosed as pre-diabetic early in her life. However, she continued to eat white bread, buns, pasta and had sweets on the table all the time. Her condition never progressed into Type 2 or 1 diabetes. My mother was healthy all her life and lived to be 92. Mother-in-law to 89. Grandfather died of pneumonia. My wife consumes lots of sugars daily in the form of sweetened drinks, pastries, candy, etc. No signs of even pre-diabetes. She is 75. Basically back in those days there was always candy and pastries to eat daily. And we put sugar on everything, ate lots of ice cream, and drank soda by the gallons. To me there is more to the this equation than sugars and carbs.

    • Mary Perry

      Hi Bob,
      The progression of prediabetes into type 2 diabetes requires the auto-immune destruction of the beta cells in pancreas. Without that destruction, she will continue to have hyperinsulinemia that manages the blood glucose levels effectively, but makes it more likely to make AA if she is consuming a lot of omega-6 fatty acids.

    • Michelle S. Fielding, CCH-cand.

      In your grandfather’s day, they likely ate whole grains, thus the bread and pasta were healthier than we find in most stores today, and feed of the animals was likely good for them as well–non-GMO, no sprays! The whole milk likely came fresh from a healthy cow, without antibiotics and added hormones. The home grown vegetables likely didn’t have any Monsanto on them and weren’t GMO’ed, and full of nutrition since it came right from their own ground. Likely your grandmother’s flour was a good whole grain as well. Soda pop such as ginger ale, was likely made with real ginger. Living on the farm likely gave the farmer’s good exercise, and exercise can trump most diseases. Plus the size of meals made the difference as well. Genetics can play a strong role, but I don’t like to test them, for we know much more about nutrition today. Also, likely at that time people had strong faith, so adding it up, you have a very blessed family! Just be grateful!

  3. Vanessa

    Where can buy zone products in Melbourne Australia ?
    purchasing online is too expensive with the postage rates.

    I have lived by zone principles( probably at a bronze level overall , with years here and there of gold level ) since 1996 . I am not overweight and never have been during that time , however 3 years ago, I presented with tonsil cancer related to the HP virus , which the medical profession suspected I had been carrying since my early 20s . I am just wondering if you could shed any light, as to why in my late 40s this cancer suddenly presented even though I had kept fit and healthy through the zone, for all of those years .

    I have never quite gotten over the fact that I educated myself on how to live a healthy life in my early 20s , and lived by it , still only to find that i got sick with cancer just like anyone else may have who didn’t look after themselves .
    I understand genetics can contribute and there are different kinds of cancer , in my family history , but I do wonder why was not better protected, by not living with extended inflammation , etc etc

    • Natalya

      Hi Vanessa,

      Have you checked your toxin exposure (everything: personal products, household etc), and your stress management? Since you are into health I assume you like movement.


    • Mary Perry

      Hi Vanessa,
      We have a wonderful international specialist who can help you find the most reasonable pricing. Just call our customer service at 1-800.404.8171.

      With regards to your question pertaining to cancer. Once you have a viral infection, the DNA of the virus becomes embedded in your DNA. It is suppressed by an active immune system. As you age, the immune system begins to weaken allowing the virus to become expressed. Shingles is another example of this as well as post-polio fatigue. This is why constantly measuring your AA/EPA ratio is key to knowing your immune system is in peak condition

    • Mary Perry

      Hi Yvonne,
      There is data that shows that starting a meal with protein followed by carbohydrates will result in better outcomes from a post-meal blood glucose and insulin response. It’s really important to first focus on making sure each meal has the right balance of protein, carbohydrate and fat to help stabilize blood glucose and insulin levels and then eating the protein first is like icing on the cake.

  4. Mili Boreham

    If you are Gluten intolerant, you are unable to eat PastaRX. Is the Zone Diet able to provide Gluten Free pasta products?

    Many thanks,
    Mili Boreham

    • Mary Perry

      Hi Mili and Jeannie,
      Thanks for your comments! While individuals with Celiac disease must avoid gluten, there is research to suggest that those with gluten sensitivities might still be able to tolerate gluten. Those that have “gluten-sensitivity” may really have “fodmap” sensitivity. Fodmaps (fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-carbohydrates and polyols) are the poorly absorbed carbohydrates found in wheat products that can generate gastric distress upon their fermentation in the colon. Careful studies have indicated “gluten-sensitive” individuals put on a low fodmap diet demonstrate no gastric distress when challenged with high levels of gluten. With Zone PastaRx being a low-fodmap food those who are sensitive might be able to tolerate this product. This blog from Dr. Sears provides greater insight. I hope this helps!

  5. Owen Rachal

    The pasta rx is fantastic. EAt and then don’t feel like eating.
    Stay with the protein and the low or slow glycemic carbohydrates.. and you will slim up.
    No fancy foods needed..
    It has changed my life.. 25 pounds lighter.. blood pressure dropped.. pulse is now 55 at rest.. and I am more alert than I have been in 20 years.
    Dr Barry Sears is our real “family doctor.”
    Oh and I am 72 years old. Owen Rachal
    ( you have my permission to run all or part of my comments. ) Owen

    • Mary Perry

      Owen thanks so much for sharing this! We love to hear about people’s success and accomplishments on the Zone Diet!


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