Back on a previous post, Kathy asked the following question:
Marcus – What thinkest you about zone instead of paleo?
That’s somewhat of a trick question. In it’s purest form, even Barry Sears (creator of the Zone diet) recommends that you eat Paleo foods in Zone proportions. So at the core, are you really looking for permission to eat starchy carbs? I’d advise against it, because you will get much better results by paying attention to food quality (Paleo) instead of focusing on food quantity (Zone blocks). Sure, it seems like Christmas in comparison to Paleo when you see that you can have a “Zone” meal of 3oz of beef jerky, a 12oz bottle of beer and 18 peanuts. Aside from looking like a weirdo counting individual peanuts and weighing how much beef jerky you eat, do you think you’d be full with that “meal”? Better yet, what do you think it would do for your physique or your performance in the gym?
I can understand where the confusion comes from. When I first started CrossFit, I was taught that you could transition easily with the Zone, then try Paleo if you were up for it, and eventually go Paleo/Zone for the best diet possible. In practice though, I found something different.
Those that know me know I’m a little OCD, so it’s not too much a stretch to picture that I was VERY diligent about counting blocks, as well as weighing and measuring (WAM) my food. Even with all this effort, I was still suffering from midday sleepiness, as well as acid reflux during the WOD. Things all changed when Al (from CFIV) did a post about Robb Wolf and some of the free resources on his site. I tried his food template for men, which is pretty much paleo in Zone proportions. It’s very fruit-heavy, which is where almost all the carbs all come from, but this killed any sweet tooth I had and made it extremely easy to stick to the plan. All of a sudden I had no more acid reflux, my performance in the gym skyrocketed and my bodyfat dropped dramatically as I lost roughly 25 pounds. That much fruit now would make me loopy from the sugars, but that doesn’t mean this is a bad meal plan — it’s definitely a healthier place to be than the “Subway diet”. (Edit: Al brought up the excellent point that Robb has new and much improved food guides as part of his free book resources on his site. Check it out!)
So does this mean that Paleo/Zone is the way to go? Well for one, it’s a huge pain in the ass to WAM each meal. Robb Wolf has found with his numerous clients that as long as you pay attention to food quality (Paleo), you can eat to satiety and throw out your food scale. In the case you have very specific bodyfat goals, he does recommend eventually paying attention to specific quantities and food timing… so why cross that bridge before you get to it? Keep your food clean by staying Paleo and you can eat when you’re hungry until you are full. The Zone diet holds no magic that can overcome poor food choices, even when eaten in specific proportions. While you can find sites online that give Zone block measurements for starchy carbs, Sears recommends that one “avoid bread, rice, pasta, potatoes and other colorless food”. It then really boils down to whether or not you want to WAM your food, since you should be eating Paleo food. Personally, I’d take the easier way and put the food scale away until I no longer got results. The choice is yours.
Make Up Day