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J Strength Cond Res. 2002 Feb;16(1):50-7.

The acute 1-week effects of the Zone diet on body composition, blood lipid levels, and performance in recreational endurance athletes.

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  • 1Department of Life Sciences, Kingston University, Kingston KT1 2EE, England.


The aim of this study was to examine the effects of a 7-day Zone diet compared with a normal diet on maximal oxygen uptake (V(O)2 max), running time to exhaustion during endurance performance, and body composition. Eight men, with the following physical characteristics (mean +/- SE), participated in this study: age, 26.1 +/- 1.9 years; height, 178 +/- 1.7 cm; mass, 70.7 +/- 2.1 kg; and V(O)2 max, 54.6 +/- 3.1 ml x kg(-1) x min(-1). All subjects undertook pretesting for V(O)2 max, time to exhaustion (80% V(O)2 max), and body composition (Biostat 1500) before following either the normal diet or the Zone diet for 7 days. These performance trials were performed before and after the dietary period. There was a significant (p < 0.05) decrease in total energy consumption from a mean of 2,314 +/- 334 kcal on a pretest diet to 1,994 +/- 438 kcal on the Zone diet. Subjects showed a significant reduction (p < 0.02) in body mass from 70.7 +/- 2.1 kg to 69.8 +/- 2.1 kg. In the 80% V(O)2 max time to exhaustion trial, there was a significant reduction (p < 0.05) in time to exhaustion from 37.68 +/- 8.6 minutes for the pretest diet to 34.11 +/- 7.01 minutes for the Zone diet. In conclusion, the claim of the authors of the Zone diet that performance time and V(O)2 max can be improved was not shown in this 1-week research trial. We would suggest that this is not a nutritional strategy that athletes should use until further work has been conducted.

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