Getting Started with the Zone Diet

Six Simple Steps to Success

One of the most common complaints about the Zone Diet is that it is complicated, and hard to get started. We have assembled a “getting started” checklist of things to do in order to get started easily, and to make the diet as easy as possible! So start now. That’s the key. Commit to doing it, and start right away. You’ll be glad you did!

  • First, understand the diet in it’s basic concepts. Do you know what the key elements of the Zone Diet are?
    If you do, then you will find the process so much easier. If you don’t, let us help you by explaining a bit here. The Zone Diet is based on eating your foods in a balance ratio. Ideally, you will get 40% of your calories from carbohydrates, 30% from protein, and 30% from fat. Don’t know a carbohydrate from a protein or fat? that’s ok- you can check out our explanation here: About 40-30-30. Since this is just a “getting started” guide, we want to keep this simple. If you feel you are ready for more, then feel free to read our comprehensive Zone Diet diagram that explains all of the components.
  • Second, make a menu. Once you have a basic feel for the concept of the 40-30-30 balance, (remember, this is a getting started guide, so the point is that you should keep it simple), you will want to make a menu. This may seem out of order, but later you are going to clean out your fridge and pantry, and you want to have the good foods in place before you do that- otherwise you may be tempted to throw in the towel before you even start. In order to have the good foods that you need, you will need to create a menu so that you can take the shopping list to the store.
  • Third, make a shopping list. Include all of the foods you need to make the meals on your menu, as well as stocking up on Zone friendly snacks and drinks. Make sure you’ve got plenty of Balance Bars or ZonePerfect bars on hand so that when you are craving a sweet snack, you’ve got a good Zone friendly sweet snack to eat. While you should shoot for drinking as much water as possible, just for getting started stock up on some good alternative drink choices- iced tea, coffee, diet soda- whatever your choices are, just make sure they are calorie-free.
  • Fourth, go shopping. Yes, now. And follow the list you made in step 3. Steer clear of the chips aisle and other snacks- remember, you are here to begin your new lifestyle with the Zone nutrition program. Buy the things that are on your list- and only things that are on your list.
  • Fifth, clean out your home! In your pantry, get rid of the convenience foods like chips, crackers, cookies, and popcorn. Store away your rice, potatoes, and other high glycemic foods. In your fridge, clean out any juice, non-diet soda, and other sweets. Finally, get rid of any ice cream, frozen yogurt, and convenience foods in the freezer. Give it away if you must, but don’t keep it! It will be a temptation to you every moment of every day. Which is worse? To put a little food in the trash, or to put that same food on your hips and waist?
  • Finally, start now. The very next meal you eat should be a Zone meal. If you start today, you will notice a difference immediately. You will lose a pound (and inches) within a day or two, and by the end of a week you will have results that you can be proud of. Once you’re started, sticking with it is easy!

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45 Responses to Getting Started with the Zone Diet

  1. Zonemebaby says:

    Looking forward to not being hungry while trying to shed pounds!

  2. Maureen says:

    I was on the Zone before and I know it works. I can’t wait to start losing weight.

  3. Theresa says:

    Looking forward to getting started today! Did my grocery shopping last night so I’m ready to go.

  4. kathy says:

    Wow…I’m excited to have a variety of healthy meal choices and be on my way to a healthy lifestyle change. Awesome!

  5. debroberts921 says:

    I am really looking forward to starting on this program. I know several people who are doing it and they feel great and say they can hardly eat all that is required. I am dreading the withdrawals my body is going to feel from the sugar detox but I know I can make it through. I am about to make my list and go shopping…. then clean out the fridge!!!

  6. Barry says:

    I’ve been on the Zone diet before and it worked, so here goes again!

  7. Barry says:


  8. ReneeP says:

    This has got to work…I’m desperate!!!

  9. Joltins says:

    I lost 50 pounds in 5 months on the Zone diet 10 years ago after reading “Mastering the Zone” by Dr. Barry Sears. I stayed on the plan for several years and felt clear headed, energetic and healthy. Unfortunately I went back to my old habits and gained it back. I’ve done this before and can do it again. I looking forward to for the support to stick with it this time.

    The concept that food is a “drug” and should be treated as a “drug” in your medicine cabinet by taking only the “prescribed amount” set out in your Zone diet plan helped me the most. You wouldn’t “overdose” on medicine in your bathroom cabinet, so why would you want to “overdose” on the “drugs” in your refrigerator and pantry? Hope this will help others stick with their diet plan.

  10. debrina says:

    I don’t know why but I actually feel nervous about starting this plan. Maybe because I now have to be ACTIVE in my weight loss instead of passively hoping I don’t have to do anything. I guess that means I’ve been ACTIVELY gaining. I sense I’ll be doing some mental work with this diet as well! Good luck everyone!

  11. nicaduran says:

    I’m ready to lose weight! : )

  12. Pam says:

    I have tried about everything and nothing has worked! I work our with strength and cardio four times a week and try to eat right but so far nothing. I am looking forward to losing on this plan.

  13. monica says:

    Being menopausal has changed my dietery life. I have struggled in the past several years to loose weight and have failed. I would like something that I can do for the rest of my life that finally helps me get the weight off and keep it off.

  14. heather says:

    I can’t wait to get started again! I have fluctuated off and on for the past 4 years and have eaten horribly since my divorce started 2.5 years ago so it’s time to start eating healthy again!

  15. debbie says:

    Read up on the Zone book but found it complicated. The shopping is mostly done. (I am sure I’ll have to go back after being on this site. I’m ready to get started.

  16. Margaret says:

    Glad to be making the right step toward weight loss.

  17. Teresa says:

    I have been loosely following the Zone for 10 years, fell off the bandwagon with 2 small kids and finicky eaters…edging on 40 now and my midsection is showing it. Hoping that I can figure out how to do this with kids on board.

  18. Kris says:

    I find this very confusing. Seems soooo complicated!

  19. Cale says:

    Hi Kris:

    The premise of the Zone Diet CAN be confusing. However, we PROMISE to help you through this. Once it becomes clear, we promise you’ll love eating this way and will never imagine going back! Please ALWAYS feel free to Contact Us with ANY questions, comments, or for any help at all.

  20. Deb says:

    I am a diabetic and have tried everything. I’m currently exercising over 13 hours a week with no weight loss.

    I’m looking forward to working this program that is healthy and hopefully works for me.

  21. casey marek says:

    I did zone for a long time and got in great shape!!! It works!!!! I came here because I don’t have time to plan meals anymore and need some help.

  22. Carol says:

    Hi. I am hoping that this works for me. I have Type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome and I am ready to get healthy. I know I need support.

  23. Sharon says:

    I have not worked very hard the last few years to keep in shape. The pounds have crept up! After trying several other diets which were all very balanced and good (but hard to lose weight and keep track of), came to the conclusion that the Zone is the best way to go for me. I was on the Zone diet seven years ago with great success! Look foward to eating this way again – this time with help from Formula Zone!

  24. Rosey says:

    This eating plan works beautifully for me. I lost 60 lbs in 6 months about 12 years ago. I kept it off till about 2 years ago, when I became a caregiver for a family member and had to prepare a calorie-rich, weight gain, pureed dysphagia diet. My activity changed dramatically, also. I have rapidly regained all that I lost!! Now, I have to get back to my healthy eating, while preparing all the things I need to avoid. Yikes!

  25. RebaA says:

    I tried the Zone many years ago after reading Dr. Sears’ books. The problem I had is that my husband needs to gain weight and I need to lose some. Doing all of the measuring, etc., for both of us was very time consuming and I found it difficult. There weren’t many recipes out there, and zoning my own was daunting, as we both like quite varied cuisines and food choices. I was so excited to find this site, and discover that I can zone the same meal / menu for both our needs. Thank you Formula Zone, for this and all of the other features on this site.

  26. nadine leyton says:

    I go to many social events and sometimes
    difficult to be tempted to foods that are
    not the ones for this program.

  27. Stacy says:

    My sister lost her weight on the zoneover 10 years ago and still looks great. So I Know it works. I am finally ready to make a change

  28. Bill says:

    Thanks for the explanation, the simplification, and all the tools! I was getting overwhelmed by other sources and I’m hoping this site will help me make sense of zone nutrition and be successful in eating healthier.

  29. Carolee says:

    The Zone Works! I was on this wonderful ‘Way of life eating Formula’ (as I like to call it) a few years ago, lost weight and taken off diabetic meds and Cholesterol meds! After some medical problems I gained weight, as I was not the one cooking! But, I’m back and very excited to restart with so many new recipes! This is a healthy way to eat and I find I am sleeping better, too! Bravo Mr. Barry Sears! And ‘Thank you’ from the bottom of my heart!

  30. Marie says:

    I lost about 10 lbs on the formula diet about ten yrs ago. Kept it off for quite a while. Then went back to eating the same way before the diet. This is the first time I ever wrote a post. Need to lose 10 lbs again. Hope this helps.

  31. kelli h says:

    I’m so excited and ready for my “new life” in losing weight and controlling my overeating urges that have taken over my existence lately. yahoo for 2014. Just getting started this minute!

  32. Cathy says:

    Ready to get started. Trying this to kick my weight loss back into gear. Lost 35 lbs just using “my fitness pal”, but seem to be stuck…trying to balance it out with this formula diet. I think….I KNOW, I will make it to my goal weight this year!!!

  33. Cale says:

    We are here to help, Cathy! If you have any questions, or need any help at all, please just e-mail. We know you will make your goal weight this year, too!

  34. Sylvia says:

    Need to loose weight. Hope this works.

  35. Coni says:

    I also tried (and succeeded) with the Zone several years ago. At that time the internet was still kind of young and I was using printed food lists and hand-calculating the 40-30-30 meal plans. LOL….what a chore…and yet it STILL worked!!!

    I’m thinking I might throw in group time with Overeaters Anonymous during my 2nd Zone journey. I’m sure it won’t hurt.

  36. carole says:

    Anxious to get started. /Quit smoking 7 months ago and gained nearly 30lbs and was already heavy, but now out of control. Need lots of support.

  37. Kim says:

    Did the 40-30-30 years ago, the entire family did, and we were NEVER hungry. In fact, we thought “we can’t possibly lose weight eating all this food”, but we DID! And, what’s better is that we felt better too. I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to “come back” to a healthy lifestyle, but here I am, and I have faith it will work again!!

  38. Adriane says:

    Just signed up this morning. Have done a lot of research on different diets, as well as trying them. This diet seems logical, especially those of us who have been eating too many carbs for too many years.

  39. LizP says:

    I’m hoping this will still work for me despite my food allergies (gluten, dairy, sugar, yeast). That, plus ADHD, has made menu planning for a family of seven a HUGE obstacle. We’ll see what happens, but I’m optimistic.

  40. BettyBe says:

    Ive been on the zone diet for a month and have lost 18#. I need more clarity and recipes,as well prepared food names & how to figure the percentages. This looks like the right place and I’m anxious to start.

  41. BettyBe says:

    Ive been on the zone diet for a month and have lost 18#. I need more clarity and recipes,as well as prepared food names & how to figure the percentages. This looks like the right place and I’m anxious to start.

  42. Dan says:

    ready to go

  43. Pete says:

    I am ready to start.

  44. Elizabeth Wilkens-Plumley says:

    here goes nothing ; )

  45. Joyce Raedel says:

    I’m hopeful and looking forward to finally getting started on a safe weightloss way of eating. However, since I’m on a daily blood thinner (warfarin) I can’t eat alot of green veggies. I hope this won’t present too much of a problem. Have you helped others with this problem?

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