The Zone and Paleo diets are two popular diets that specifically focus on the quantity and quality of food, respectively. The following NutriNeat article provides a brief account of the parameters useful in determining which one to choose.
Zone Diet: Jennifer Aniston, Brad Pitt, Madonna
Paleo Diet: Megan Fox, Jack Osbourne, Jessica Biel
If the Paleolithic diet, or simply Paleo diet, implies following the diet that our cave-dwelling ancestors followed―a diet rich in proteins and devoid of grains, the Zone diet is a modern-day diet that involves the disciplined intake of all foodstuff in precise proportions.
Given below is a brief guide to decide which diet is better, Zone or Paleo diet, and under which conditions.
Zone Diet or Paleo Diet?
The Zone diet focuses on a balanced intake of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats in a ratio of 30:40:30, in terms of their calorie contribution to the total number of calories. Therefore, it ensures the intake of all the nutrients.
The Paleo diet focuses on lean meat (ideally grass-fed meat) as well as fresh fruits and vegetables. This may prove to be difficult to digest in individuals who indulge in less physical activity and/or have a low basal metabolic rate (BMR). However, it may prove to be a better choice for gluten- and lactose-intolerant individuals.
The Zone diet does not suggest complete restriction on the intake of any particular set of foods, but recommends limited intake of dairy and processed foods, white bread, pasta, and rice.
The Paleo diet strictly disallows the intake of grains, dairy products, processed foods, cereals, and legumes. This may not be suitable for strictly vegetarian individuals, since it deprives them of the major non-meat sources of protein and calcium. Although vegan versions of the diet are available, it may seem a bit contradictory to the rationale or fundamental concept of the diet.
The Zone diet are less energy dense. The calories contributed by each portion are less. Moreover, the portion size is predefined and fixed. This further restricts the calorie intake. This may be fruitful for individuals with low physical activity, but unhealthy for those indulging in high level of physical activity.
On the other hand, the Paleo diet focuses on lean meat which is more energy dense. To top that, there is no limit on the portion size and the amount of consumption. Therefore, the chances of overeating and exceeding the calorie count (as compared to the amount of calories expended) are high. This diet can prove to be a good choice if you can understand and avoid overeating.
The Zone diet relies on precisely measured amounts of foods, using different methods like the block method, plate method, etc. Although these methods are simple, and ready tools are available to calculate the serving sizes of each food item, planning each meal and each snack using one of them may prove to be tedious and time-consuming for some.
Since the Paleo diet suggests unlimited intake, and does not require any measurements, calculations, and keeping track of portion sizes, it is easy to follow.
The Zone diet encourages the use of specialized Zone Food Products in order to maintain the precise ratio.
On the contrary, the Paleo diet has no such recommendations and is less expensive. However, if one strictly consumes only grass-fed meat, the Paleo diet can turn out to be the expensive one.
Recommended Dietary Guidelines
Apart from these parameters for some individuals, it is essential to know how well a diet conforms to the recommended dietary guidelines provided by authentic agencies, like the USDA.
The Zone diet is in sync with the USDA recommendations for protein, fat, and dietary fiber. However, the carbohydrate content under the Zone diet is less than the recommended value of 45 to 65% of total calories.
As far as the Paleo diet is concerned, there is no restriction on the quantity or the ratio, and hence, one can ensure to meet the daily dietary recommendations by keeping track of the amount of macronutrient intake.
Which Diet is Ideal?
The Zone diet stresses more on the quantity of food consumed, whereas the Paleo diet focuses on the quality. If you wish to set and achieve very specific goals to reduce body fat and can easily manage to follow a structured and timely pattern of eating, the Zone diet is an ideal choice for you. However, if you are simply interested in eating healthy and want to focus more on the quality of food you eat, but can avoid overeating, the Paleo diet would be the right choice for you.
Remember, the most important thing about following a diet is to enjoy following it, rather than treating it like a punishment. Consult the appropriate expert, choose a diet that suits your physiology and taste (to some extent), and always couple it with an appropriate level of physical activity.
Disclaimer: This NutriNeat article is for informative purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for professional advice.