You probably thought that the Zone diet was all meat and little vegetables. You may be right in a way as the main food recommended in the diet is chicken and fish. But this does not mean that vegetarian Zone diet does not exist. Zone diet is not meant only for non-vegetarians. You may have been misled by the 40:30:30 (40% carbohydrates, 30% fat, and 30% protein) diet plan as being ideally suited for non-vegetarians. Zone diet for vegetarians is very much possible.
According to Dr. Barry Sears who created the diet, vegetarians can still apply the 40:30:30 plan, but as 40% carbohydrates, 30% monounsaturated fat, and 30% vegetable protein. Vegetarians can opt for Soy as the main source of protein, in place of chicken and fish. Vegetarians need to read "The Soy Zone," another excellent book by Dr. Sears for vegetarians interested in this diet.
What to Include in Your Diet
It is a well known fact that the main vegetarian diet consists of carbohydrates. This makes for a very unbalanced diet. Despite not eating meat, vegetarians still gain and store fat in their bodies caused by high level of insulin. To reduce fat storage caused by carbohydrate-high diets, vegetarians need to replace some of the carbohydrates with vegetable proteins.
Certain vegetables, such as green beans, are a source of both proteins and carbohydrates. Here one needs to be careful how one selects the food. Select protein-rich vegetarian foods along with carbohydrates to ensure that the ratio of the diet plan is maintained. You can always opt for meat substitutes that are Soybean based, such as Soybean hot dogs, hamburgers, sausages, among many other items. This would convert your carbohydrate-rich vegetarian diet into a Zone diet fit for vegetarians!
Practising vegetarians can select from the following protein-rich vegetables for their vegetarian Zone diet. These are: Tofu, Soybean protein, Soy-based products, Eggs (if they are not a no-no), Cheese, Nuts, Nut butters, and Meat substitutes (seitan, tempah, and vegetable protein), to name a few.
Make It a Lifestyle Change
Following the Zone diet is not very difficult, whether it is for vegetarians or non-vegetarians. Two things to take care are: the right proportion, and the right portion. Most of us have never bothered about portion control as well as proportion and have always let our palates lead us by the nose. This is going to be difficult in the beginning, but you will eventually learn to master it. You have no choice if you want to meet your goal of a healthy life.
Most of us consider diet as a means to achieve a particular goal vis-à-vis weight and/or shape. This is good, but we need to consider following the Zone diet as a means of lifestyle change and not just a fad. Lifestyle change requires us to continue with this diet even after we have achieved our goals. The alternate would be that we reverse back to where we started from! And we know that it was pretty bad!