In Nutrition, Videos

September 09, 2010

Video Article

With all this nutrition talk you’d think Pat Sherwood was lobbying for a spot on the Food Network. Sadly, we don’t think his camera skills or lack of refined carbohydrates would make the cut. He sure has personality, though.

Luckily for us, Pat’s back with another batch of people happy to talk about what they consume just after time is called.

13min 32sec

Additional reading: Race-Day Fueling by Max Wunderle, published July 9, 2010.



23 Comments on “The Zone Chronicles: Post-Workout Nutrition Part 4”


wrote …

Nadia Shatila has the whitest teeth ever caught on film.


wrote …

I zone and I also have gone to close to about 1/2 the number of carb blocks per meal/day. The key for it working for me was upping the fat blocks to 3-5 times normal. Feel great. Lots of energy with half the carbs and my body's ability to recover seems to be much better too.


Julianne Taylor wrote …

Thanks Pat,
I really enjoy these interviews on what people eat. It's really interesting to see what people actually eat that works for them rather than the theory.

I started off following the Zone about 14 years ago, and did about 11 blocks a day. I switched to paleo about 15 months ago and halved my carbs, and don't measure fat - what a difference - like Josh all my joint inflammation went. A ganglion cyst shrank and menstrual issues disappeared, as well, body fat is lower and easier to keep it there. Strict Zone didn't control hunger enough and my weight kept going up all the time, as i would eat too much. With half carbs and 3 blocks protein at each meal and unmeasured fat, I don't get hungry, and my weight is stable.

I used to have to take huge amounts of fish oil to control inflammation on the zone, now I'm paleo I keep forgetting to take it as I don't have any. Taking out the grains has demolished joint pain in a number of my clients.


wrote …

To the Zoners -

If you halve the carbs and double (or more) the fat, etc. - how is that "The Zone?" Doesn't that just mean that you keep track of your macro-nutrient intake? Doesn't Zone require 40-30-30? If you take in some other ratio, that just means you weigh and measure your food, but it isn't Zone. Just because you talk in terms of "blocks" doesn't mean you are following a darn thing. It's just a way to communicate what you are eating. I am arguing that unless you follow Zone proportions, it ain't Zone.

Sure, I know the arguments about "individuality" and "Athlete's Zone" and so on, but it just seems that what most CF "Zoners" follow is completely different from the proscribed diet. Are there any Zoners out there without so many caveats that it's morphed into a whole different diet?


Dr Sears designed the Zone diet to keep blood sugar, insulin and eicosanoid hormones in a balance where your body works best.
Although Sears states the zone diet is 40/30/30, he also said notice how your body responds to a meal - when a meal is right for you - you have good mental focus and good hunger control for the next 4 - 5 hours - that is your Zone, and for each person it can be different. As far as I can see the actual 40/30/30 is a place to start, then you tweak until you find your balance.

When I first started teaching Zone principles and some people didn't respond - this was Sears own advice.

Here's how I see the Zone diet having worked teaching it for the last 14 years:

First get your protein amount - this is based on lean body mass and exercise.
Eat protein at every meal and snack. Balance this with the right amount and type of carbs for your best blood sugar balance and health issues, and fat loss goals. Sears advice to me was if people have blood sugar issues and high insulin levels, cut carbs, eat non starch veggies and limit starch, grains and fruit.

Add monounsaturated fat to maintain weight.

Add omega 3 in quantities to manage inflammation, and maintain an ideal omega 3 to 6 ratio.

The zone diet was coined not for keeping food in perfect ratios, but to keep your blood sugar and hormones in "the Zone", referring to blood levels of drugs being in a Zone. To reach the zone it means eating food in ratios quality and amounts that have your hormones reach the Zone in your body.


wrote …

Did anyone notice Pat calls Josh Everett "John"?


replied to comment from Julianne Taylor

I guess it just seems funny that I have never heard of people (or crossfitters anyway) that stick to 40/30/30. It always ends up a much different ratio. Maybe that starting point is flawed? Why start at 40/30/30 when it seems pretty obvious (anecdotally anyway) that you will end up in a much different place?


wrote …

Good reply to Donovan Julianne.

To Donovan...
It's a starting place because sooo many ppl now a days are prolly eating 70/10/30
or something wacko like that. It's to get ppl on the right track and then we can start adjusting from there if need be.

Just my thoughts :)


wrote …

@12:00 there is a guy in the background in Vibrams and a kilt. That made my day.


wrote …

after pat said "nadia's and mirander's hotel room" i was kinda dizzy for the rest of the vid. great as always pat, thanx.


wrote …

Nadia is fine! Gorgeous actually.

Back on subject of the video. Does anyone take supplements along with their post workout nutrition? Does the ratio thing work well? I usually just do I take a flax seed oil tablet after my gym session along with some "lil smokies" links, peanuts, and chicken/turkey. I try to get a good amount of protein and some carbs, but never thought of it as a ratio.


Julianne Taylor wrote …

With regards to the starting place for the zone ratio, Sears looked to hunter gatherer and paleo ratios - like Cordain.
Cordain's research found that protein was 19 – 35% calories, carbohydrate 22- 40% calories and Fat 28 – 47% calories.
So Sears took an average, and tried it on a bunch of people from people with diabetes to obesity etc - and found it worked well.

When Sears first worked with people - he stressed eating low GI and non grain carb foods, when you follow the Zone ratio with these foods, people typically eat lower than 40% calories from carbs, because they find the shear volume of food difficult to get through. The starting point zone generally only works well when people eat best choice foods, and keep Glycemic load low.

My observation is that when the Zone goes wrong is when people add more and more non paleo foods like grains - then the carbs end up having too much of a glycemic load. As well as that - almost everyone I've worked with gets better results when they eliminate grains - they really are an issue for most people, and only by eliminating them do people get to experience the difference.

There is also a kind of 'nutrition culture' amongst crossfitters where they play with ratios, food choices etc. This culture does not exist for average people I work with. Most find cutting carbs lower than Zone balance too difficult - and Zone for the average overweight person works just fine. It's a huge improvement on the standard diet and they notice the difference. Would a further reduced carb, with only paleo choices work better? - yes absolutely. And that is a direction I push and one I'm passionate about because results are phenomenal, not just great.


replied to comment from Julianne Taylor

I second Danny re: Julianne's comments. Really well put.

Thanks for posting!


replied to comment from Julianne Taylor

Julianne, re this statement, "Add monounsaturated fat to maintain weight." I noticed that Dr Sears made a similar statement on one of his videos, something along the lines of "When do you add fat? When you can see your abs." (just going from memory, so not a direct quote) Do you know if that means a person should not do any fat blocks, or just single fat blocks, until they are leaned out?


The way I see the Zone, and this is after years of experimenting with myself and clients, for fat loss in particular, what works is:
Getting your protein about right. Eat clean grass fed, free range protein. Avoid protein with additives and preservatives.
Eat best choice carbs, i.e. paleo. People start dropping weight so much more easily with paleo carb choices.

Many people need to drop carb blocks to control blood sugar and insulin (as in reduce to levels so that fat is easily released from fat cells) How many carbs should you drop to get fat loss? - some need to go as low as 50g per day, most will get good results cutting carb blocks by half, others get good results just by choosing paleo carb choices, and limiting fruit.

When you drop carb blocks, add in extra fat blocks to make up the calories.
Dropping carbs and adding fat helps with hunger control as well. Add fats with the lowest omega 6 levels, like macadamia, cashews and avocado.

When you are at your ideal body fat - maintain it by adding back fat calories only, unless you need the extra carbs e.g. post workout.

Ideal body fat - up to you really. Seeing your abs means your body fat is getting low enough. If you add fat and put on weight, then eat less fat.



Thanks for these. Always fun to watch and super informative. Also, shout out to ATL's Mike G - sup!

Now, I think I've seen all episodes aired so far, but I've not seen, or don't remember anyone doing an IF-ing. Most of the athletes, with exception of Spealler who does whatever the F he wants (beast), has indicated Paleo or Zone, or some combo. Do any of the elite athletes/performers do IF? Many of my athletes are trying it, in fact, we have an upcoming IF challenge. We are taking baseline metrics now.... I am not a big fan of the way IF makes me feel, but I've read amazing things about keto-IF.

Thoughts? Video?

Thanks again Brother!

PS: Agreed re that Nadia is not to hard on the eyes! ;-)


wrote …

Julianne Taylor, that was great! There is more to Dr. Sears than just Journal #21. His many books go into so much detail. He focuses on food quality quite heavily, something that seems to be overlooked. (His comment in the Journal video about weighing and measuring twinkies and meat just did not help.)

Pat, I love this series. I love that even top Crossfitters are so individual in their food choices. Your food lecture at the Crossfit Level 1 was great - you avoided the landmines in people's heads about food and kept it light and funny. People are so emotional about food - it's like talking about religion sometimes. I had some Zone-gone-bad issues and since have turned to strict gluten-free Paleo + milk, so I was really nervous that you would push the Zone on us. I've been using your approach with people in our gym and it seems to go over well.

We have Journal #21 for the Zone - it's short and sweet. Have you seen something similarly short to hand out about Paleo?


wrote …

If you are no longer balancing your protein and carb intake, then how is it still Zone? Aren't you doing something different and just measuring it using Zone methods (Blocks)?


wrote …

I too loved this look into what other Crossfitter's eat. I like Vanessa would love a Paleo handout like #21 Zone.


replied to comment from Brandon Roth


I think you'll find the answer if you read some the posts above. You are balancing your macro-nutrient intake, just not in the 40-30-30 ratio.

The short of it is this: the Zone describes a physiological state not a "prescription." The "prescription" of 40-30-30 helps you get into that state and then can be optimized for individual variance by adjusting the ratio in a controlled, measurable, repeatable manner.


replied to comment from Kit Manuel

Agreed. Nadia is quite gorgeous.


wrote …

This one was the best yet-- thanks Pat.

I started to try to zone about two weeks ago (thanks to this video series) and I'm shocked at what I found: protein during snacks? Never! Fat during lunch? Rarely! Too much carbs? WAY too much. I'm now playing with gluten (or lack of it) and am really happy to be eating more fruit and veggies and feeling better than ever.

The beginning of this for me is learning what my body actually needs to feel good and perform. Already I find myself gravitating to a higher fat content and lower carb intake than the prescribed zone-- my theory right now is that the 40-30-30 is not actually for heavy load, high intensity athletes. All I know is that my energy is much better and with more protein at every meal I can control my hunger better. Let the experiment continue and keep the info comin Pat!


wrote …

Hi Pat i love all the nutritional videos you make and watch them all avidly.

I was wondering how many blocks you would recommend for me as my current coach recommended 25 blocks on single blocks of fat. To me that feels like way to much considering that im only 6'2 and 152 pounds and approximately 12 - 14% body fat. I have talked to him about this and he says that he has made the blocks so high because i am younger than what the zone recommends (im 17) and i need it for growth. However, when i plug in similar height and body fat measurments with increased weight (as i am looking to gain muscle and hopefully one day compete at the games)the block prescribement is still only about 18 to 20 blocks. Any help would be appreciated.

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