Zone Diet Update

I’ve not done a Zone Diet update post for a while, but that’s not because I’ve stopped following a Zone Diet plan. As I mentioned on my last zone diet post, I had sort of reached a plateaux and got “stuck” if you will around the 13st0 (182lb / 83kg) mark and about 17-18% body fat. You may recall that I started the Zone in March 2007 at just under 15 stone and 30% body fat (my waist was 43 inches at the widest point). I set myself a 12 month goal to get to 12st7 (175lbs / 80kg) at 15% body fat. Clearly I didn’t make it.

Of course getting stuck was entirely of my own making, as I’d become complacent, no longer weighing food but measuring my zone blocks by eye only. My alcoholic intake was also far too high (being measured in bottles of wine per week) as were my occasional chocolate treats. The sad reality was that “occasional” was getting ever more frequent, like 2-3 times per week, and “treat” was probably more accurately described as typically 3 different chocolate bars each time!

So 3-4 bottles of wine a week + 8-10 chocky bars a week + of course Friday curry night, it’s no wonder really I wasn’t losing any weight. It is however a testament to the zone that I wasn’t gaining any either. All that changed 4 weeks ago though…

4 weeks ago I started working full time for my new client in London and so have been working away from home and preparing every meal for just myself. The main consequence of this is that I’m rather lazy about what I eat. That doesn’t mean sandwiches and take aways, that means lots of cold meats, fruit and nuts.

Yes there are the exceptions to spice things up, like shallow fried fillet steak (cooked blue of course) with cream cheese… for breakfast! Hmmm yummy. It’s not that extravagant either. For a typical 4 block breakfast, take just 3oz of steak, quickly fry it with a minimum of olive oil (with a bit of salt and pepper and herbs to taste), smear some cream cheese (lowish fat) on the top when done, have with a cup of milk, an apple and a peach (or similar). A very quick and very zone meal.

You could legitimately argue that the cream cheese is not the best choice for a fat source and you’d be right. Everyone has to find the right balance in their diet and personally I like a sauce of some kind with my steak, 3 tea spoons of Philadelphia Light fit the bill for me. You go ahead and have nuts instead if you want to.  😉

Anyway, back to the point: I’ve also pretty much knocked the chocolate on the head completely and only have a drink a couple of times a week now. So 4 weeks of much more strict zoning and guess what: I am now at my target weight of 12st7 with a waist measurement of 35 inches (and 8” loss) which according to the charts in the back of the Zone books, puts me at 15% body fat exactly… I’ve made it! I’m finally at the target I set myself. 🙂

So great, I’ve done it, time to come off the diet, right? That’s what “diets” are for aren’t they, for losing weight, then abandoning when you’re done? Sounds silly doesn’t it? And indeed it is.

It’s a shame that the Zone is called a “diet” at all, but it is for obvious reasons. The word diet simply describes the food you eat. Everyone reading this blog is “on a diet” whether that’s a conscious weight loss one, or an unconscious one of pie and chips, being dictated by cooking programs on TV and what the super markets currently have on offer.

I’m not “on a diet” in the common vernacular in that it’s a temporary thing to be discarded when an arbitrary weight is reached. Rather I have permanently altered the way I eat: I eat a balance of protein, carbs and a little fat with each meal and I’ve almost completely removed what I call Junk Carbs from my diet (starchy carbohydrate sources designed to simply bulk up a meal, e.g. bread, pasta, rice, wheat, cereals). Let’ call this a Zone Eating Plan and dispense with the word Diet altogether. This has resulted in a weight loss of 2.5 stone, a loss of 8 inches off my waist, and a drop from 30% body fat to 15% percent.

BUT this leads me to a small dilemma: clearly I have yet to reach a steady state whilst following a Zone Eating Plan, unless of course its effectiveness is offset by eating chocolate and drinking too much wine! As a result, if I continue to eat the way I have in the last month, I fully expect to continue to lose body fat. Here’s the rub though, several people have said to me that I shouldn’t lose any more weight, but it occurs to me that everyone who has said this is (if I can be crude) fatter than I am and so I wonder if there are (conscious or unconscious) ulterior motives behind their statements. What is an ideal target to aim for now?

I consider body fat percentage to be the better measure, rather than absolute weight, as it takes into account muscle vs fat. But now that I’ve lost half the fat I started with, what next? I still don’t have a six pack… maybe some vanity can be afforded now that I believe I have the tool to expose it? I say expose because Crossfit has given me the muscle definition already, it’s just currently hidden behind a (now not too thick) layer of stomach fat.

Or perhaps I should consider weight? More on this another day but I am going to be entering the Northern British Masters Weight Lifting competition next year and the closest weight category boundaries areat 77k and 85kg, so I’m within range of the lower 77kg category. Maybe that would be a good target?

The issue here is that I know I work well with a target in mind, as my Dad is fond of saying, “Aim at nothing, and you’ll hit it every time!”. So which target should I set?

{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Davie 2 September 2008, 9:52 am

    Fantastic work Colin!

    i think you should aim to keep your diet the same for te next few weeks and see what happens…weight down/same/up? And see how you feel…full of energy/tired?

    Then tweek it a little bit by adding in some extra fat blocks for a week or two and see how that affects you.

  • Steve J 2 September 2008, 1:00 pm

    Karl mentioned the zone to me last week. Is it a very American diet? I bought a book called ‘eating for life’ last year and its full of processed American crap.

    I need to ditch startchy carbs, I eat a lot of pasta and spuds, bread and cereal. Its amazing when you reflect on it.

    I need to knock booze on the head as well. I’ve done it before with no problem, but its easy to get back into old habits I guess.

  • Sue 2 September 2008, 9:56 pm

    Congrats Colin!

    What next? I say go for the ideal of 12% body fat.

    Keep us updated!

    To Steve J:

    The Zone is a diet followed by people all over the world. Take a look at it at

  • Colin McNulty 5 September 2008, 7:43 am

    Thanks for the comments.

    Davie: Yep, when I reach steady state, I’ll experiment with doubling the fat. To be honest, I feel pretty good on the Zone all day.

    Steve: The Zone is soooo not full of processed food! Meat, dairy, veg, fruit, nuts – that’s about 99% of it. You’ve not lived until you’ve had steak for breakfast! 😀

    Sue: Thanks for popping by, I had wondered about a 12% target. If I remember rightly Dr Sears now suggests 12% as the ideal body fat target, not the 15% recommended by the main stream. Is that right?

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