Coffee with Sam: An interview with Zone Diet creator, Dr. Barry Sears

This week, I had the chance to have a virtual cup of coffee with the creator of the Zone Diet, Dr. Barry Sears. Dr. Sears has for over 30 years studied lipids, and holds 13 U.S. Patents in the areas of intravenous drug delivery systems and hormonal regulation for the treatment of cardiovascular disease, and using diet to control diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and neurological issues. That sounds almost too good to be true- can a change in your diet really change all that? Let’s check in to see what the good Doctor has been up to since he first published his book in 1995, and talk some turkey (or grilled fish, as it were).

Samantha Feuss: When a man first starts a diet, what are some of the typical pitfalls and expectations?

Dr. Barry Sears: Lack of structure in terms of meal timing and meal composition. Initial weight loss is rapid due to water loss in the first two weeks, and then slows to about 1 pound per week. This is fat loss and it is a slow process.

SF: Can you tell us about some of the biggest wight loss scams when it comes to diet and keeping the weight off?

DBS: It’s not weight loss, but fat loss that is the goal. They are lots of scams to induce rapid water loss; detox, carb elimination, magic pills or shots coupled with very low calorie diets. However, rapid weight loss means rapid weight regain because the diet is unsustainable. In fact, losing weight is easy. Many people have done it many times. It’s keeping the lost weight off that is the hard part. Whatever diet program you used to lose the weight you have to keep doing if you want to keep the lost weight from returning. It’s a lifetime program.

SF: As the creator of the Zone Diet, can you explain how it is different from some of the others out there, such as Atkins, Weight Watchers, or South Beach?

DBS: The primary difference is that the Zone Diet was based on reducing inflammation, not weight loss. However, it is inflammation at the cellular level that causes weight gain. Unlike the other diets, the Zone Diet is based on moderation of protein, carbs, and fat to keep the hormones (especially inflammatory ones) within a zone. The other diets are based on removing virtually complete food ingredients (fats or carbs) that they consider as the cause of weight gain. In essence, “it is the hormones, stupid” that control fat gain or fat loss.

SF: Well, that is stating your views pretty clearly! How did you create this diet, and why did you feel it was necessary?

DBS: As mentioned above, the Zone Diet was created to reduce cellular inflammation to manage diabetes and heart disease. The fact that you also lose excess body fat at the fastest possible rate is a nice added bonus.

SF: How would a vegetarian get a good, balanced diet?

DBS: In fact, I wrote a complete book (The Soy Zone) to demonstrate how easy it is. The challenge is finding adequate protein sources. For a lacto-ovo vegetarian that is easy by using low-fat dairy products and egg whites. For the vegan that has to find vegetarian sources that are rich in protein such as soy products and soy imitation meat products, the choices are far greater today than every before.

SF: According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease is the number one threat for American men. What steps do you suggest that they take to improve heart health?

DBS: The number one fact to reduce heart disease is to reduce cellular inflammation in the arterial walls. To do so you have to follow an anti-inflammatory diet.

SF: What is the appropriate portion sizes for beef, fish, and chicken, for an average sized man?

DBS: The amount of low-fat protein the average man requires at any one meal is simply the width and the thickness of his palm. That is about four oz. of low fat protein. That amount of protein would occupy about one-third the size of a dinner plate. Now just fill the rest of the plate with colorful carbohydrates (i.e. non-starchy vegetables and fruits) add a dash of monounsaturated fat (olive oil, slivered almonds, or guacamole) and you have a perfect meal. The indication that you have done it correctly is that you will not be hungry for the next four to six hours.

SF: How can a busy professional stick with a diet, even while on travel?

DBS: It’s easy. Tell the waiter at the restaurant how to rearrange your plate, or you are at a buffet just use your hand and eye. Your best tips? Egg white omelets and oatmeal for breakfast, Caesar chicken salad with extra vegetables and fruit for lunch, fish and vegetables with fruit for dessert at dinner.

SF: What is your favorite meal? And of course, your favorite “cheat”?

DBS: My Favorite meal is grilled fish with grilled vegetables and olive oil for the meal, and fresh berries for dessert. As for the “cheat”, I like Mexican meals because I grew up in LA. They taste great going down, but I know that in two hours I will be falling asleep, my joints will swell and the next morning I have gained about five pounds in retained water. As bad as the results are, I eat this type of meal once a month to reinforce how powerful food can be as drug.


Comments are closed.

Scroll to top