The Zone Diet: Foods, Menus, FAQs, and Recipes

The Zone Diet

Everything you need to know about The Zone Diet plan including foods to eat, menus, FAQs, shopping lists, and more. 

The Zone diet is a world-wide popular diet that was created to be a lifelong diet for anyone who wants to lose weight and lower inflammation throughout their body. It’s typically suggested to those patients with heart health-related issues or chronic diseases. Claimers of this diet have said that it can also help with aging, improves your body’s performance, and can help with preventing diseases, although It must be noted that these claims have not been scientifically proven.

What is the Zone Diet Plan?

When looking to start The Zone diet it’s all about portion size and a combination of protein, carbs, and a little healthy fats, and the easiest way to start is to measure your things in your hand. The size of your hand is the size of your portion for each one of the three. Your five fingers are to remind you to eat five times a day and to never go longer than five hours without eating. This method is a great tool so no matter what you will always be able to measure out your food for The Zone diet.

The Zone Diet Breakdown

The specific ratio is 40% carbs, 30% protein, and 30% healthy fats. Each one of your meals should be around 400 calories. Your carbs should have a low glycemic index, meaning they slowly release sugar into your blood. Here are a few examples of low glycemic index carbs or (GI) carbs;

  • Most fruit and vegetables
  • Beans
  • Whole-grains and pastas, steel cut-oats, and brown rice
  • Nuts
  • Low-fat dairy

Proteins should be lean proteins and your fats should be healthy fats, and when measuring out your meals you might want to create a Zone-friendly plate. Your Zone-friendly plate is divided into thirds and include carbs, protein, and fats.

  • One-third Protein: One-third of your plate should be protein. Your protein should be lean and be about the size of your palm.
  • Two-third Carb: Two-thirds of your plate should be carbs. The carbs should have a low glycemic index or low GI.
  • You also want to add a little bit of healthy fats to your plate. A few examples would be avocados, seeds or nuts, and peanuts.

Rules to Follow While on the Zone Diet

  • Eat a meal or snack within a least one hour of waking up
  • The first meal or snack of the day should be a low-fat protein
  • You want to eat every four to six hours. These meals should be small and frequent.
  • Make sure to eat even if you are not hungry
  • Take vitamins or eat foods that contain omega-3 and polyphenols, since they have anti-inflammatory properties. These foods include salmon, sardines, anchovies, and oysters.
  • Drink at least eight, 8oz of water per day. Use a labeled water bottle to help you keep track

Foods to Eat on the Zone Diet

These are typically the foods you would want to eat whole on The Zone diet. This diet might remind you of The Mediterranean Diet which is known to be one of the healthiest diets in the World. Foods to eat are broken into three categories.

Proteins (Lean Proteins)

  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Lamb
  • Veal
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Tofu
  • Soy
  • Egg-whites
  • Cheeses (low-fat)
  • Low-fat milk
  • Low-fat yogurt

Carbs (Carbs that are Low GI)

Approved Vegetables

  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Brocolli
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Lettuce
  • Greens
  • Green peas
  • Onions
  • Mushrooms
  • Peppers
  • Snow peas
  • Sweat potato
  • Tomatoes
  • Zucchini

Approved Fruits

  • Apples
  • Avocado
  • Bananas (unripe)
  • Blueberries
  • Cherries
  • Coconut
  • Cranberries
  • Grapefruit
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Plums
  • Olives
  • Oranges
  • Strawberries

Approved Grains/Nuts and Seeds

  • Barley
  • Cereal high in fiber or bran
  • Oatmeal
  • Peanuts
  • Peanut butter
  • Nuts
  • Seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, chia, flax)
  • Sourbread
  • Whole grains
  • Bread (whole grain)
  • Whole tortillas

Foods Not to Eat

  • Egg yolks
  • Fruits high in sugar (bananas, grapes, mangos)
  • Foods high in sugar (cakes, cookies, other baked goods)
  • Processed foods (pastas, cereals)
  • Vegatables that are high in starches (potatoes, peas, corn)

Download our free checklists with all the approved Zone Diet foods (and what you should avoid.)

What to Drink on the Zone Diet

  • Water
  • Limited tea
  • Limited coffee

What Not to Drink

  • Alcohol
  • Juices
  • Sodas
  • Sugary drinks
  • Wine

The Zone Diet: Pros and Cons


  • Reduces inflammation throughout the body
  • Promotes healthy heart health
  • Slow down the rate of aging
  • Reduced the bad cholesterol in your body
  • Consume healthier fats and antioxidants such as; omega-3 fats and polyphenol
  • Balances out a diet of both carbs and proteins
  • Not as restrictive as other diets and can be relativity easy to follow
  • You consume more frequent meals which is good for your digestive system and metabolism
  • Controls your sugar intake


  • A lack or decrease in calcium in the body
  • You are missing certain nutrients that the body needs like fiber, vitamin C, and folic acid
  • A high protein diet can affect kidneys
  • You might not lose enough weight on this diet because it’s created more for people who need to reduce inflammation

The Zone Diet Menu Sample Menu (One Week)

Here’s an example of a simple first-week Zone diet plan menu. So if this doesn’t seem to motivate you, there are many great recipes available. Check Pinterest for a huge variety of hundreds of different recipes and ideas. This menu is a really simple one just to get you started. 


  • Breakfast: vegetable hash with a mix of veggies
  • Snack: one apple
  • Lunch: chicken breast and green beans 
  • Snack: a small handful of almonds
  • Dinner: burger patty with a side of fresh vegetables


  • Breakfast: egg whites and vegetables
  • Snack: one plum
  • Lunch: tuna and salmon
  • Snack: half an avocado
  • Dinner: salmon and a side of asparagus


  • Breakfast: hard-boiled egg and turkey bacon
  • Snack: small handful of blueberries
  • Lunch: shrimp and chicken
  • Snack: half a red bell pepper
  • Dinner: stir-fry, your choice of meat, with a mix of vegetables


  • Breakfast: scrambled eggs whites and turkey bacon 
  • Snack: a handful of almonds
  • Lunch: burger patty and broccoli
  • Snack: a pear
  • Dinner: salmon and shrimp with a side of vegetables


  • Breakfast: eggs white and turkey sausage
  • Snack: an apple
  • Lunch: chicken salad and half an avocado 
  • Snack: a cup of raw cucumber
  • Dinner: meatballs and a side salad


  • Breakfast: vegetable hash with a mix of veggies and turkey bacon
  • Snack: hard-boiled egg 
  • Lunch: shrimp salad and a cup of green beans 
  • Snack: a handful of blueberries
  • Dinner: steak and shrimp with a side of vegetables


  • Breakfast: egg whites and turkey sausage 
  • Snack: a small cup of strawberries
  • Lunch: tuna and shrimp salad 
  • Snack: a handful of almonds
  • Dinner: salmon and steak 

The History of the Zone Diet

Dr. Barry Sears, a biochemist, is the creator of the Zone Diet over 30 years ago. He decided to create this diet out of his goal of trying to avoid an early death from a premature heart attack like unfortunately, other men in his family had been victims. He released his first book in 1995 titled, The Zone: A Dietary Road Map which ended up being on the best-sellers list. The book is still available for purchase. He has released other books since then that further release his studies on inflammation the links between gain weight, becoming sick, and age faster.. Along with his diet, Dr. Sears also believes in taking high-dose of  Omega-3 fatty acids and polyphenols to further reduce inflammation throughout your body.


Thank you for reading our guide on the Zone diet. Please feel free to download and use our free embedded checklists. This will be helpful when creating your menus and making your grocery shopping list.