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CFJ Issue 21: Zone Meal Plans by Greg Glassman - CrossFit Journal

In Classic, Nutrition, Reference

May 01, 2004

PDF Article

Diet is paramount to optimizing human performance. Our clinical experience proves the Zone Diet, by Dr. Barry Sears is the best nutritional model for optimal performance. Issue 21 of the Crossfit Journal offers a comprehensive overview and start-up guide for implementing the Zone Diet. Included within you will find definitions, charts and recipes.

Understanding how the Zone works begins with understanding “blocks.” A block is a simplified unit for measuring the 3 macronutrients in your food (protein, carbohydrate and fat). One block is comprised of: 7 grams for protein, 9 grams for carbohydrates, and 1.5 grams for fats. Equal representation of all the macronutrients constitutes a meal. Mastery of this concept makes meal building a snap. The “Block Chart,” outlines daily block requirements, which differ from person to person, as well as the macronutrient content of common foods.

The article also contains recipes for snacks and meals ranging from one to five blocks. The recipes include a breakfast quesadilla, chili, and grilled chicken salad.

CrossFit has been experimenting with portioning strategies for over a decade. We encourage everyone to weigh and measure for one week. It may not be fun, but the benefit will be invaluable. Within a week you will have developed the ability to estimate correct food portions and formed a heightened sense of your nutritional needs.

The Zone Diet amplifies and accelerates the benefits of the CrossFit regimen. CrossFit’s best performers are Zoning. When our second tier athletes commit to “strict” adherence to Zone parameters they quickly surpass their peers.

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27 Comments on “CFJ Issue 21: Zone Meal Plans”


wrote …

How do you determine what body type you are? I am interested in giving this a try; however I do not want to eat too little and not get the benefits or eat more than needed and gain unneeded weight.
I am a 35yo male 6'1" 220ish and looking to loose the ish from my gut.

Any input would be appreciated,


wrote …

I too would like some more specific parameters. Currently I am 5'10 and 205lbs, and I would consider myself in the medium or large category. Where I want to end up at is 5'10 and 185lbs. Should you eat for the goal you are shooting for, or what you are currently?


wrote …

If you're interested in more information to fine tune your Zone requirements try

That should answer both questions for #1 and #2


Anonymous wrote …

i have the same question, and 20 minutes searching didn't help me find the there a lean bodyweight range for each of these size categories?


wrote …

Buy "The Zone" and read chapter 8


wrote …

You should be eating for the body you want, not the body you have. Otherwise you will maintain your current physique.

And 6'1/220ish would be a large male category.
5'10/205 wanting 185 would be medium.


wrote …

Would Quinoa be considered a "combo" item?


Rob Barrese wrote …

I'm in the same ballpark I got some good input from Tony Budding but I need some advice getting my blocks straight.
I'm 178, 11%bf = 158LBM

Using .7 that would give me 16 blocks. Would that make me a small male??? I do not put on weight easy, I'm pretty active and if there are small gains in LBM to be made, I'd like to make them.

Now I also tried an online Zone calculator with the same numbers gave me a 20.
I noticed someone wrote you should eat for the body you want... Clearly I'm not going to eat 20 blocks for an XL man but should I be medium then? Input from the community would be greatly apprecaited as I'm starting Monday and I want to be clear and go straight through right the first time.



wrote …

I am trying to adhere to a zone nutrition plan, and take sugar out of my diet. For my post workout recovery drink, I mix 8 oz water/8 oz gatorade, 40g protein and 25g maltodextrin. The rest of the day i dont eat any sugar. Is this sugar okay after my workout, or is there there a better post workout nutrition drink that you suggest?


wrote …

Erm, I dont know if this is gonna sould stupid but how much is a "cup", from the list in the PDF, in say mL.


wrote …

There are new carb block values listed at

Bottomline is that the less starchy carbs (green beans, spinach, etc) has drastically increased in volume per block.

I started a thread about it on the msg board, looking for input, but wanted to list the link here.


wrote …

Regarding tortillas, if I'm reading this correctly, 6 inches refers to the diameter of the tortilla, right?
Now, if the tortilla is made of corn, then that whole tortilla constitutes 1 block of carbohydrate. But if the tortilla is made of flour, then 1 block of carbs is that 6-inch tortilla cut in half (making the whole thing worth 2 blocks).
Have I got that right?


wrote …

Glassman mentions that as an athlete's %body fat drops, the Fat blocks should be ratcheted up 2X-5X depending on performance factors; this is interesting to me because, the fat blocks prescribed in the CrossFit Meal Plan Journal are at least half the size of fat blocks in Barry Sears’s books. Why is there this discrepancy? .


wrote …

I am having a really hard time buying into The Zone. What is the purpose of the blocks? Seems like it's just another step that I find confusing. Just give people the total calories based on acivity level, weight, bf %, etc. And let them calculate the math based on the 40-30-30 percentages. There are some significant inconsistencies.

I got on their website and based on their calculations, I need 25 blocks/day of fat, carb, and protein. If you do the math based on the below, then I should only be consuming around 1,950 calories per day. I am a 6'5"/220 male with around 10% body fat, seems a bit low.
1 block fat = 1.5 grams
1 block carb = 9 grams
1 block prot = 7 grams

Also, the calculator on their website gives you a daily protein requirement (in grams). Mine came out at 176 grams/day. Now based on the "40carb-30prot-30fat" ideal that The Zone preaches, my daily caloric intake should be 2,346 calories.

To put it nicely, I'm not a fan of The Zone.


wrote …

Hey Greg,

You've got to try it in order to know what it feels like for you.

Its a fair point to say "I'm not a fan of the Zone" especially if you haven't tried it.

I was sceptical until I tried it, yes it takes time to 'tweek' but, and its a big but, the gains are worth it.

Mental clarity, emotional balance, increased energy, increased performance and if it so happens to make me live longer, even better :-)

CFJ 21 Idiot proof guide to eating Zone (I say almost idiot proof... I'm sure I had a few "what the heck does that mean?!!!" moments...

PS its free too!


replied to comment from Greg Dontchos

I agree. I'm 30yo, 6'1" 218lb at about 111-12% currently and mine would end up being 4 block meals putting me at 1,940 calories. That's way too low...I've been hitting that caloric intake the last 3 years nearing the end of a competition body building diet and below 2000 calories IS STARVATION. My calories start at 3800 and over a 3.5-4 month period creep down every couple weeks till 2100-2200 and that is very difficult.


wrote …

I have a couple questions if anyone out there is still checking this string out for comments. Why is it that the book Enter the Zone lists certain food measurements and block serving sizes that differ from the list on this article? One example was protein powder. Enter the Zone says Protein Power is 1/3 oz per protein block whereas the list says 1oz is one block???


replied to comment from Nicholas Barbosa

Can't be sure, but i would go with the more modern of the two. Enter The Zone was printed in 1997 and this article in 2004. Assuming 7g of protein per zone block of protein may mean you have to judge by the brand. In other words, not all brands that sell "protein" sell a protein powder that is 7g of protein for 1/3 oz, nor do all brands now have 7g for 1 oz.

Read the label and adjust fire accordingly.


wrote …

Can someone please explain to me why tortillas, pita bread, and bread are listed as "unfavorable carbs" within the block chart; and yet they are included in a number of meals within the meal plans?


wrote …

What if you hate Fruit?


wrote …

I went out and purchased 2 of sears books on zone.... I have now been strictly on the zone for 2 weeks now and seeing results... Love the zone!


wrote …

Chris Snyder, if you dont like fruit substitute with vegies, i use alot of salsa and hommus instead.


wrote …

It is too bad that this diet frowns on good saturated fat, I guess it might make you look good in the short run, but not as healthly as a person can be by eating primal


wrote …

Does anyone know how you should incorporate your pwo meal with this? usually i have some chicken, and a handful of almonds. should i still eat this on top of my blocks?


wrote …

How do I download the PDF of this, I did it once a year or so ago and now don't see any link???


wrote …

can someone please help me on this,
I have a cup of cottage cheese for breakfast (4 block) which is meant to give me 28g of proetin. However I weighed out this cup measurement the other day and according to the nutritional label I am about 5g of protein short of my 28g allowance. The cup weight only gave me 23g of actual protein.
The same with the fruit, as I have plums and pears with this I also weighed out the fruit and according to 'my fitness pal', I am only hitting about 25g of carbs. Now this maybe be down to the size of the fruit, but should I not be making sure I am having my total 28g of pro and 36g carbs (4 blocks) ??
I am worried I am under eating but the list says one plum is one block. Can someone please clarify.



wrote …

What about supplements while on this? Will they affect the blocks? Will they affect results?

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