Ep 11 – Dr. Barry Sears, The Zone Diet

Ep 11 – Dr. Barry Sears, The Zone Diet
Live Fit Podcast

00:00 / 39:02
Live Fit : Dr. Barry Sears

Dr. Barry Sears

In this week’s episode of the Live Fit Podcast, I am thrilled to have as my guest, the New York Times Bestselling author of The Zone, Dr. Barry Sears.

Dr. Sears wrote a series of diet books called “The Zone” that have sold more than 5 million copies in the United States, that have been translated into 22 languages and has changed the life of many, me included.

The Book That Changed My Life

His first book, Enter The Zone changed the way I thought about nutrition and showed me that food is truly powerful and should be thought of as a drug. It has the power to alter your mood, physiology, and hormonal response.

I recommend The Zone to all my clients and created my weight management program, Live Fit Classic, based on its teachings. If it wasn’t for Dr. Sears, I don’t think I would be doing what I do today.

I had a lot of questions for Dr. Sears. I did my best to keep this interview to a half hour, but I really had to know how he came up with the idea for The Zone. I was also curious how he felt about the paleo craze and if they were compatible. Hint: It IS paleo.

What is a “Diet”?

He first explained that the word “diet” has been ruined by the thousands of books that use it incorrectly. That the word means “way of life”. Therefor, The Zone Diet can be translated to mean “living in the zone”. What is the zone diet? You’ll have to listen to the podcast to learn that.


He then went on to explain that the root cause of obesity is inflammation, and if you can relieve the inflammation in the body the obesity will diminish as well.

Other Zone Books

We talked about some of his books such as the The Omega Rx Zone, Toxic FatThe Anti-Inflammation Zoneand his newest book which will be release in September called The Mediterranean Zone.

Dr. Sears’ Secret for Increased Longevity and Optimal Health.

  1. Eat right – The Zone diet
  2. Exercise right – Strength, endurance, intervals & stretching
  3. Proper down time – 20 minutes of quiet, sitting in a dark room, without thinking

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The Perfect Eating Trifecta

He says the perfect trifecta of perfect eating can be gleaned from his three books: The Zone, The Omega Rx Zone, and the Mediterranean Zone.

Listen to the podcast here



Glenn: Today, I have on the line a New York Times Best Selling author. He has written 13 books, sold more than 5 million copies in the United States. His books have been translated in to 22 different languages. He’s published 30 scientific articles and holds 13 patents. He’s dedicated his research efforts for the past 30 years to the study of lipids and is an authority on the impact of diet on hormonal response, genetic expression and inflammation. Some of his books are ‘Mastering the Zone,’ ‘Entering the Zone,’ The Inflammation Zone,’ ‘The Anti-aging Zone’ and ‘The Omega Rx Zone.’  His most recent book is ‘Toxic Fat.’ And there’s another one in the works which we’ll talk about in a little bit. I am thrilled and overjoyed to have my guest today Dr. Barry Sears. How you doing Dr. Sears?

Dr Barry Sears: Very good. Thank you.

Glenn: If you don’t mind, I would like to gush for just a little bit and tell you why I’m so thrilled to have you on the show. It was in ‘97 I heard about your book ‘Entering the Zone.’ And I decided to read it and see what it’s all about. I’ve never been a dieter but I’ve always been interested in diets. Just I found it very fascinating that one month, there’s one diet that is the rage and everybody’s talking about; then a few months later, another one comes on and that other one was totally ditched. And so I was kind of interested in what makes this one different. “Oh this one’s the next best thing. They got it a little bit wrong. Now, the next one’s great.” And so I’ve never been a dieter because I didn’t need to worry about my weight but I found it very fascinating.

And so when your book came around, I read it. And I was really intrigued by the fact that, one of the main things you said was that it stabilizes blood sugar and you explained how blood sugar elevates and decreases, and elevates and decreases and it really sets us up for more problems, physiological problems and eating problems and things like that. And I’ve always been pretty sensitive to blood sugar.

And so I started following the zone. And I could not believe the effect that it had on my body and even my personality. Without those wild swings of glucose, I had a much more stable level of energy. I just felt regularly energized all day, not over-energized but not super sluggish or tired either, but also my temperament was more stable because I found when I was really hungry, I get kind of crabby. When I was you know high on sugar, I would be kind of manic but this I found to be really great. And I’ve been eating that way ever since. And in fact, I’ve developed a couple of weight management programs that I’ve been running for years now that used the zone as the foundation of the program itself.

Dr Barry Sears: Well, I’m very, very happy to hear that and very gratified but not surprised.

Glenn: (Laughter) So I want to find out how did you write the zone. What was it that led you to coming up with this idea of the zone? I know you’re a researcher so you probably put some pieces together here and there. And then at one point, you had a light bulb moment, aha. Is that… Am I right in guessing that?

Dr Barry Sears: Partially. You’re quite right. My background is research but not in nutrition, that my research was really in drug delivery systems for cancer chemo therapy.

Glenn: Uhum.

Dr Barry Sears: And when you deal with cancer drugs, if you give too little of the cancer drug to the patient, they die. If you give too much of the drug to the cancer patient, they die of the cancer drug. So you’re looking for a zone, a therapeutic zone. What I became interested with the Nobel Prize being awarded 1982 was a roll of certain hormones called eicosanoids that control the inflammatory process. And my goal was not to put together a diet but really a way of life to control inflammation. And the reason being that everyone in the male side of my family had died prematurely of heart disease. My father, who’s the best example had died in his early 50’s in heart disease, as did his brothers, as did my grandfather. So I knew I carry the same gene for a premature death from heart disease but I could possibly change that outcome in fact to control the levels of inflammation. And actually, the zone started out really with using fish oils as a primary tool for controlling inflammation. But as finding there’s too much inconsistency. So I went back to the bowels of MIT library and found the answer. You had to control insulin at the same time if you want to control inflammation. And that led me to develop the zone diet, not as a weight loss program but going back to the root of the word ‘diet’ from the ancient Greek.

Glenn: Uhum.

Dr Barry Sears: It means a way of life. And what’s the zone diet? It’s a way of life of controlling inflammation for a lifetime. And what’s your pay-off? You live longer. You live better.

Glenn: Yeah. You feel a lot better.  I can definitely attest to that. I mean it was really difference of… A very, very obvious noticeable difference from eating a plate of pasta and how I felt immediately and for the next several hours after that versus eating a zone meal. Huge, huge difference. Now in your book, you do mention that food is essentially a drug. Can you explain that a little bit?

Dr Barry Sears: Well in many ways, that’s a very derogatory statement because food is more powerful than any drugs because food affects hormonal responses. And hormones are hundreds of times more powerful than drugs. So it means that every time you eat, you’re causing hormonal changes which are vastly more powerful than any drug can possibly anticipate. And yet, you’re believed to control the outcome is totally dependent on how you balanced your plate. And that’s a very powerful statement because it allows you to basically go in and to re-change, really re-alter, your genetic feature because it’s how our hormones, how it can be orchestrated that can change the levels of inflammation and that can change the expression of our genes, which means ultimately that a diet becomes the same level of gene therapy. Don’t like the genes you’re born with? That’s okay. You can change their expression if you treat your diet like a drug, be taking the right dosage at the right time for the rest of your life.

Glenn: Wow. Wow. That’s pretty awesome. I know a lot of people. I had Dr. Edward Abramson and he talked about emotional eating. And I know a lot of people eat for emotional reasons. In fact, he said about 70% of men do for emotional reasons. And one thing, I probably got it from your book back in ‘97. I’ve been teaching people to treat food as fuel because… Then I give the analogy of the car. If you want to drive a car, you need to put gas on the tank before you can go anywhere. You can’t wait until you get there and then fuel up and it also has to be the right kind of fuel. So that really harkens really well with me but I’m wondering when you say treat food as a drug, would that be all macronutrients or are we just talking about carbohydrates?

Dr Barry Sears:  Oh no, all macronutrients because they all do different things hormonally speaking. And that’s why you had to look at the balance of protein, carbohydrates and fat. And if you say “Oh my god, that’s so hard. I can’t do it. Get off my back.” It’s not that hard at all. All you need is three items: one hand, one eye and one watch. So how do you balance your meals to get the right hormonal response for the rest of your life? At each meal, simply divide your plate in to three equal sections. On one third of the plate, you put some low fat protein that’s no bigger or thicker than the palm of your hand.

Glenn: Uhum.

Dr Barry Sears: The other two-thirds of the plate, you fill it until it’s overflowing with colorful carbohydrates. Those are called fruits and vegetables. They’re colorful because they contain chemicals known as polyphenols. And those polyphenols are also very powerful anti-inflammatory agents. And finally, you add a dash of fat. What’s that? A small amount.  But just make sure that fat is rich in of mono-unsaturated fats and low in omega 6 and low in of saturated fats. Which fats meet those criteria? Either olive oil or guacamole. And why do you need the watch? Because if you balance your plate correctly for the next 5 hours, you will not be hungry. You’re not hungry because your blood sugar levels are being controlled. And you’re maintaining peak mental acuity. So you have those 3 items for the zone diet lifetime is incredibly simple.

Glenn: Well, that does sound pretty easy. You know like you said a lot of people say, “This is so hard. It’s confusing.” And I’ve used that rule of hand before too but I think you simplified it even easier than that. So you mentioned carbohydrates and you definitely mentioned fruits and vegetables and I’m sure you’re quite aware that there’s this big anti-wheat trend going on right now. How do you feel about wheat and grains?

Dr Barry Sears: Well, I had a quote in a Time Magazine in 1997. And I think the quote was said, if all bread was taken at the phase off the plant, mankind would be better off. It was because wheat is the evil villain. It’s just that bread has a very, very high glycemic load. It raises blood sugars rapidly that brings out the hormone insulin. And basically, it drops it down at blood sugars quickly. So you’re looking for those to have a more moderating effect on blood sugar. Now we’ve been told that you know glutine is the cause of all of our problems. But if you look closely into the data, it just doesn’t match up. If you are truly a gluten-insensitive or basically gluten-intolerant – and my wife is – that means you have celiac disease; yes, you simply cannot eat gluten. So I know exactly the problems of those who have a really genetic deficiency or genetic propensity for gluten intolerance. What about the people who say “Well, I stopped eating bread and I feel better.” Say, “Well of course you feel better. Why? You’re not putting as much sugar in the body by taking the bread out of the diet.” People don’t realize that bread is basically in many ways a vilely disguise of you know gigantic sugar cube. Bread enters your blood stream as sugar, as glucose, faster than table sugar does.

Glenn: Really?

Dr Barry Sears: And therefore the more you put bread on your plate, especially white bread, the more you’re going to see the rise and fall of sugar levels, we go through this emotional and hormonal yoyo, day in and day out.

Glenn: Well, that’s pretty profound. Since I’ve been hearing about this the anti-wheat thing, and I’ve been testing myself with it over the past – I don’t know – year and trying to eat as little as possible and even going a week or two any wheat of any kind, and I’ve definitely noticed a little bit more stable energy but the main thing I’ve noticed is the lack of cravings for baked goods and sweeter carbohydrates.

Dr Barry Sears: Well, because what you’re doing, you’re hopefully seeing that source of carbohydrates with fruits and vegetables.

Glenn: Yeah.

Dr Barry Sears: And as a consequence, they basically moderate the glycemic load in the diet and therefore you helped moderate the levels of carbohydrates in the bloodstream but that’s why you also need protein. That’s why it has to be balanced by protein. These two work like a check-in-balance system. That’s why you basically put a little protein on your plate and a lot of colorful carbohydrates and you’re watch is gonna tell you how well you’re controlling your hormones for those next 5 hours.

Glenn: Great. And you said just a dash of fat on your plate. And If I remember right, you recommend 30% of your calories should come from fat.

Dr Barry Sears: That turns out to be a dash.

Glenn: Okay.

Dr Barry Sears: And because the thing about the zone diet is that you’re never hungry. And you’re never hungry because you’re stabilizing blood sugar levels, you don’t eat as many calories. So people thought the zone diet was saying, “Well that’s when these high protein diets.”

Glenn: Yeah.

Dr Barry Sears: No. Every dietician in the world recommends eating no more protein that you can fit on the palm of your hand. I concur. And everyone says you should eat lots of fruits and vegetables. I concur. So with the zone diet, you had the zone paradox. You’re eating a lot of food but you are not eating a lot of calories. On the zone diet, you’re eating about the same amount of proteins that Americans have been eating over the last century. But you’re number of calories coming from carbohydrates are decreased because it’s hard to over consume broccoli.

Glenn: I’ve tried.

Dr Barry Sears: It’s easy to over consume pasta and pieces of bread but try to eat you know 12 cups of steamed broccoli, its hard work.

Glenn: It is. I’ve speak from experience. I love broccoli. And I’ll often eat just a giant pot of steamed broccoli. And I’ve yet to become fat from doing that even late at night.

Dr Barry Sears: And now we go back to the amount of fat, we’re talking about maybe 50 grams of fat per day. That’s well below the recommendations of the American heart association of a low fat diet.

Glenn: Now you have a book called ‘Toxic Fat.’ Would you like to talk about that a little bit since we’re on the subject?

Dr Barry Sears: Well, you know people have so many misconceptions of what causes obesity. That’s why we have you know 15 thousand diet books and press articles. What do we really have obesity is not so much of basically a course of people being morally deficit of but basically it’s a case of inflammation. The inflammation starts in your fat cells and then begins to spread like a cancer to other organs. And as it spreads to a particular fatty acids known as an arachidonic acid. I just shortened it to be called toxic fat. Because the high levels of arachidonic acid will kill. How does it kill? It increases inflammation. And that’s the driving force of virtually every chronic disease: heart disease, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s, you name it. They are all ultimately inflammatory diseases. And as you had that toxic-fat coursing through the blood streams, you’re doing everything possible to speed up and accelerate the development of chronic diseases. The zone diet was developed to keep arachidonic acid under control.

Glenn: Do you think the zone is appropriate for everybody?

Dr Barry Sears: Yes, for me just 2 to a 102.

Glenn: That’s pretty much everybody.

Dr Barry Sears: But by the time you meet the 102, whatever you’re doing, you keep on doing it. It’s working.

Glenn: Yeah, you’ve made it that far. It doesn’t matter if you’re having…

Dr Barry Sears: I say that because hormonal responses are important in humans. These responses have not changed since 40 million years and they won’t change tomorrow.

Glenn: You know the interesting thing is I’ve been recommending this way of eating for well pretty much since I discovered it myself. And I find clients now and then — I’m a personal trainer as well — and I find clients come up to me and they say they’re having problems, they’re losing weight, this and that. And I asked them about their eating. And when they described their eating, I find that they’re not eating in the zone. And I asked them about it. And they just sort of like “Yeah, I don’t know” And it seems that people get bored of it. And they want to try something new or they slipped back into their old high carbohydrate habits. I have one client who just loves pasta. And she has pretty much an impossible time eliminating pasta from her diet. Do you have any recommendations I can say for people like that?

Dr Barry Sears: A couple. One, is that you know when we first started working with the zone diet, though I developed it for treating cardiovascular and diabetic patients, I did most of my initial work with world class athletes. They, too, are totally dependent on their hormones being in the zone. And the athletes I’ve worked with have won 25 gold medals in the last 5 Olympics.

Glenn: Wow.

Dr Barry Sears: They have a hormonal advantage over their competitors. And so if you’re looking… That’s what you want to have. If you want a hormonal advantage, if you control your hormones, you compete better, you basically lose fat. It’s not losing weight. It’s losing fat.

Glenn: Right.

Dr Barry Sears: That’s a slow process. And basically, you live longer. So you pick and choose what’s important to you today. And then say “How do I basically look better or live longer or perform better?” Say, they are all one and the same. “Are you telling me that the diet you recommend to a type overweight, type 2 diabetic is exactly the diet you recommend to a world-class athlete?” Well, the answer is yes except for one small difference. The world class athlete needs more protein so they need more carbohydrate and more fat.

Glenn: But it’s all in proportion.

Dr Barry Sears: It’s all in proportion. And the Olympic athletes I’ve worked with, who won the 25 gold medals, none of those athletes ever consumed more than 2500 calories per day.

Glenn: Really?

Dr Barry Sears: Why? Because they are able to basically, when you’re in that zone, you’re able to convert dietary calories into chemical energies called ATP more effectively. And that’s why we eat. We eat not to get calories but to convert them to chemical energy so we can survive and move around. The zone diet just speeds up the efficiency of the process.

Glenn: Now would you recommend an endurance athlete who is out for a long time like for example, I like to ride my bike long distance, would you recommend that I eat in the zone while I’m on my ride?

Dr Barry Sears: Of course. Let’s say you’re an endurance athlete.

Glenn: Uhum.

Dr Barry Sears: That’s a pretty long distance.

Glenn: It is.

Dr Barry Sears: Now it’s very hard to eat when you’re swimming, right?

Glenn: Yeah.

Dr Barry Sears: And it’s pretty hard to eat when you’re running.

Glenn: Yeah.

Dr Barry Sears: But you’ve got 6 hours in a bike, you can eat all day long.

Glenn: True.

Dr Barry Sears: So basically we just stock their water bottles of our ironman athletes with basically mixtures that are balanced in protein, the carbohydrate and fat to fill them through the race so now when they enter the marathon, the last part of the race, they’re ready to go.

Glenn: Does it matter the protein source, like would you select whey for somebody to do that?

Dr Barry Sears: No, actually you really want a mixture of proteins. So whey is a fast acting protein. Casein is a slower acting protein. So by balancing whey and casein, I eat milk. You’re able to get a better hormonal flux of protein and that stimulation helps you out dramatically as an athlete. One of my best athletes is one of the world’s greatest ultra-marathon runners. His name is Dean Karnazes.

Glenn: Right.

Dr Barry Sears: And Dean basically runs you know usually a 100 mile marathon or 200 mile marathons.

Glenn: Yeah.

Dr Barry Sears: And he wins all the time because his body is adaptive for what is called metabolic flexibility. He can switch from burning carbohydrates and fat very effectively, where athletes who eat a high carbohydrate diet can’t.

So he has dramatic hormonal advantage against them.

Glenn: Yeah, I read his book. And it starts off with him eating a pizza while running down the street in the middle of the night.

Dr Barry Sears: And again, those are basically getting energies. but again during his on training, he adheres to the zone very carefully, just to maintain that metabolic flexibility so he can switch back and forth during the course of a long race, getting high calories but again, the metabolic machinery is basically able to convert them more effectively into ATP.

Glenn: Now I know your system is 40% carbohydrates and there’s a lot of people getting into the paleo-ish type of eating. Now they’re from what I can ascertain from what I know about it is they’re probably eating more like 20 or less percent carbohydrates. How do you feel about that?

Dr Barry Sears: Well, first of all, they’re not Paleo. The actual event near the start of the zone diet came from an article written in 1985 in the New England Journal Medicine by the founder of Paleothic nutrition Boyd Eaton. And the most recent article of academics in studying this effect have tried to ascertain what was the balance of protein, carbohydrate and fat to our best knowledge eaten by paleotic man. And their extensive analysis came out to be about 40% carbohydrates, 30% protein, 30% fat.

Glenn: Uhuh.

Dr Barry Sears: Or maybe I just made a lucky guess. But remember, when something goes up in your diet, something else has to go down.

Glenn: Right.

Dr Barry Sears: So as you push down carbohydrates, usually you push up fat.

Glenn: Right.

Dr Barry Sears: Saying “Okay, fine, if the fat is olive oil but usually it’s saturated fat,” you know the porter house steaks and stuff like this or the coconut oil. But these are contained saturated fats that can turn on the inflammatory responses. So what you’re looking for is that sweet spot that you can stick with that gives you the best hormonal results. And so far, the date has been pretty clear scientifically that that balance ratio of proteins, carbohydrates and fats basically seems to do the best.

Glenn: Now I know they’re also talking about the types of fat and they – at least the ones I’ve read and listened to – say that the saturated fat and cholesterol and eggs and beef and coconut are not harmful to you. How do you feel?

Dr Barry Sears: Well again they ignore the medical literature. And so this what happens you know the first casualty of diet books is the truth usually. So its saying that yes, I can rank fatty acids accordingly in terms of their inflammatory potential. The fatty acids that had the greatest inflammatory potential are omega 6 fatty acids. These are now the most inexpensive sources calories on the face of the earth. Lessens inflammatory but still inflammatory are saturated fats. Non-inflammatory are mono-unsaturated fats, things like olive oil, and then you get into the real power houses, the anti-inflammatory omega 3 fats. So if you’re an athlete and you’re basically causing inflammation by your exercise, you want to decrease an inflammation by eating omega 3 fats or to increase that inflammation by eating saturated fats and omega 6 fats.

Glenn: Well, I definitely want to increase or decrease the inflammation. So omega 3 is a pretty hard to come by.

Dr Barry Sears: And so that’s why that you know but the data is quite clear when you basically compare diets rich in mono-unsaturated fats to diets rich in saturated fats, the  diets are in mono-unsaturated fats are far less inflammatory.

Glenn: So what’s new with you? What’s either on the horizon? Or what have you done recently?

Dr Barry Sears: Well, what I’m doing recently is doing just two things my spare time? Raising the dead and curing the blind.

Glenn: Really? Tell me more.

Dr Barry Sears: Well, it’s not quite raising the dead, but it’s pretty close to it. I spent a lot of time now these days working with severe trauma patients.

Dr Barry Sears: This was when 13 minors where cramped in a coal mine explosion.

Glenn: Oh yes. Yes. Yes.

Dr Barry Sears: And only one was brought out alive and just barely. When they brought him out, he had a heart failure, kidney failure, liver failure and brain failure.

Glenn: Wow.

Dr Barry Sears: Basically, the 41 hours of exposure to carbon monoxide had destroyed virtually all the white matter in the brain. So that night I got a phone call from his neural surgeon who read my book the ‘Omega Rx Zone’ and said you know – because he’d just gotten a call from the governor of West Virginia saying this man cannot die. So he’s next phone call was to me saying “What are we gonna do about this?” So we airship down a lot of omega 3 fatty acids and start really force feeding him with the omega 3 fatty acids through a tube. And two months after that, he came out of his coma, kept feeding the high levels of omega 3 fatty acids. These are about 15 grams a day of omega 3 fatty acids.

Glenn: Right.

Dr Barry Sears: And two months after that, he went home. His heart was normal. His kidney was normal. His liver was normal. And he gave a speech worthy of any Italian politician.

Glenn: Really?

Dr Barry Sears: Now that could have been a lucky break but we’ve done it now 7 times.

Glenn: Holy cow.

Dr Barry Sears: So in the area of severe brain trauma, this maybe the only really hope to basically for a patient because when you have severe brain trauma, what you have is inflammation in the brain.

Glenn: Uhum.

Dr Barry Sears: And unless you put out the fire, you can’t rebuild the brain. And so again in terms of severe brain trauma, we’ve been doing a lot of work. And now we get to the more mild brain trauma like concussions in NFL players. Those were easy to treat.

Now in terms of basically curing the blind, again a little poetic license, but there is a condition we worked with. It’s called macular degeneration and this is the primary cause of blindness after age 50. It’s really inflammation of the retina. And there’s no known medical treatment. Once you get macular degeneration, you’ll be blind in 10 years. That’s about it. So we’ve been basically doing… We just published this work recently of giving high dose fish oil to these patients who have macular degeneration. And what you find, within a matter of months, usually about 4-6 months max, their sight returns.

Glenn: No kidding.

Dr Barry Sears: Because what you’ve done, you put out the fire. And by putting out the fire in the retina, you’re able to basically now to allow the cells to regenerate.

Glenn: Well for the lay person, what’s the best source of omega 3’s? Should we just get it all from food or is there supplements that you recommend?

Dr Barry Sears: Well the trouble of getting it from all food, you know for omega 3’s we’re really talking about the long-chain omega 3’s which means fish. Unfortunately, all fish in the world today are contaminated, contaminated toxins we have thrown into the environment in the last 2 generations. You can run but you can’t hide. So the alternative to get adequate levels of purified fish oil is to ingest purified omega 3 supplements. Unfortunately, you’re not gonna find these in health good stores or the supermarket. This is what separates the men from the boys in omega 3 fatty acids, your ability to get rid of toxins especially things called PCBs, these are polychlorinated biphenyls.

Glenn: Right.

Dr Barry Sears: And once you remove them and able to concentrate the fatty acids, now you have weapons grade fish oil. And high grade fish oil allows you to go to a much higher level to get but now a therapeutic dose to give therapeutic responses. And so that’s why once you have had access to these kind of weapons graded fish oil, it becomes a really a medical miracle. Why? It puts out the inflammatory fires. That is really basically the underlying cause of virtually all chronic disease whether it be obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, neurological diseases. They’re all just different manifestations of inflammations. And if you control the inflammation, you control the future of medicine. And that’s where I started 30 years ago. When the Nobel Prize in medicine was awarded for understanding how certain hormones, they’re called eicosanoids, control the inflammatory process. And I realize at that point I could apply all my background in cancer drug delivery to treat food like a drug to control the inflammation. And if I was successful, you would cut the Gordian knot of chronic disease.

Glenn: That’s compelling. But where can I get weapons grade omega 3?

Dr Barry Sears: Well, there’s only really probably two spots. One, you can go to your doctor and basically get a prescription of drug called Lovasa. It’s good quality oil but you will only get it if you basically have high triglycerides. The other source, I don’t want to sound too egotistical, would be our website at zonediet.com. Actually in terms of PCBs, our levels of PCBs are actually lower than Lovasa.

Glenn: Really? That’s fantastic. Did you also tell me that you have a new book coming out?

Dr Barry Sears: New book. And this book is called the ‘Mediteranean Zone.’ The book really basically deals with the last leg of the Zone dietary intervention. We have the zone diet.

Glenn: Right.

Dr Barry Sears: We have the omega 3 fatty acids. And now we have dramatically new information on these strange chemicals that gives fruits and vegetables their color. Their called polyphenols. At low levels, they’re very, very good anti-oxidants. At higher levels, they’re very, very powerful anti-inflammatories. At still higher levels, they basically are powerful anti-aging entities. What they do, they turn on what’s called the enzyme of life. This is the enzyme that basically recycles your ATP to allow you to basically have peak of performance with the least number of calories. And so these polyphenols, become an integral part of our health. And why? Because as humans, were only partially human. We have 10 trillion human cells in our body. We have a hundred and trillion bacteria in our body.

Glenn: Wow.

Dr Barry Sears: So we’re really walking hybrid of bacteria and human cells. And what the polyphenols do in high concentrations is to control those hundred trillion bacteria in our body to reduce the inflammatory load on our poor 10 trillion human cells.

Glenn: Wow. I can’t wait to read it. When’s it coming out?

Dr Barry Sears: This should be coming out in September of this year.

Glenn: Okay. I’m gonna pick up a copy of that and your ‘The Omega 3 Arctic Zone’ too.  I haven’t read that one either. I read ‘Entering the Zone’ and ‘Mastering the Zone’ and some of the cook books. So I have some reading to do after this. I’m gonna put links to all of your books on the Show Note page, your website. Do you have any other, anything else you would like to add before we wrap up? I have one last question for you.

Dr Barry Sears: Well I think that you know that people are more confused today than ever about diet. You know we make medicine more complex and really is. We try to make diet simpler than really is. What I try to do over 30 years is saying it is complex but there’s some basic rules that aren’t too hard to follow that can allow you to see the changes in really a matter of days for your own experience. Once you begin the change, the balance of protein to carbohydrates, you say, “Oh my god, I feel better.” And explaining why you feel better is a role of science. And that’s what you know nutritionist complex science and when we try to dumb it down too much, we end up basically of you know wiping out all the credibility of really what we should be doing to live a longer and better life.

Glenn: Well, you know I think the way you describe the zone as being pretty simplistic. I think it’s pretty simple, pretty easy to follow and it can be done at home, it can be done at restaurants and parties as long the 3 different core macronutrients are available. I think it is pretty easy.

Dr Barry Sears: Call me crazy. I believe you. I concur so I scratch my head all the time “Oh, the zone is really good but it’s so hard.” I say, “Come on. Give me a break.”

Glenn: Yeah. Watch this. I can tell you in one minute how it easy it is or less.

Well, I certainly thank you for being on the show. I have one last question for you. And that’s what motivates you to stay fit and healthy.

Dr Barry Sears: Well, obviously one thing, living longer. No one wants to live to 120 but what you want to do is squeeze all you can out of your life. And so you really have a different aspect of how to do that. One, you have to eat correctly. That’s your foundation. Two, you have to exercise and it has to be, basically, a comprehensive exercise program. You need strength training. You need endurance training. And the best one is usually inner core training. And you need stretching. And finally – and here’s the hardest part – you need some downtime. You have to find a comfortable chair every night and sit on it. And for 20 minutes, try to think of nothing.

Glenn: Wow.

Dr Barry Sears: And why? That builds the brain up like a muscle. It builds up basically to increase your awareness of the things you have to do if you want to live longer and live better.

Glenn: So you don’t mean sit in this chair and watch TV or read a book.

Dr Barry Sears: No, you turn off the lights. Basically close your eyes and try to think of nothing. And it’s very hard work.

Glenn: Sounds like meditation to me.

Dr Barry Sears: It sure is. It works for about 4,000 years but you just got to do it.

Glenn: So eat in the zone, exercise a variety of activities, high and love intensity and meditate on a daily basis.

Dr Barry Sears: It works for me.

Glenn: That’s your secret for longevity and good health.

Dr Barry Sears: Still here.

Glenn: What kind of exercising do you do?

Dr Barry Sears: Basically, I do both interval and endurance training down in my garage. That’s my gym. Then on the days that I don’t do my interval training with the rowing machine, then I do weight training but a lot of eccentric exercising. That is basically pull all the way up and then lower very slowly against gravity. Gravity is your greatest ally, work with it.

Glenn: Interesting. Yeah, I haven’t heard too many people doing eccentric exercises on purpose in quite awhile. So that’s interesting. I’m gonna have to do a little more experimenting on that. I used to back in the 90’s when it was kind of a mini-raged but what about try it again.

Dr Barry Sears: Well, the nice thing about it is basically you have to use lower weights; it’s a lot more difficult to hurt yourself.

Glenn: Yeah, that’s true. That’s true.

Dr Barry Sears: And at my age, that’s a very important thing.

Glenn: It is important. And that’s one of the main factors that a lot of my client come to me with is they want to get more fit and healthy and stronger but they don’t want to injure themselves or become injured and so that’s on the forefront of my mind and there’s always this fine little balance of working them enough to give them enough stress to improve without giving them so much stress that they become injured.

Dr Barry Sears: Sounds like a zone to me.

Glenn: It does sound like a zone. Well, thank you very much, Dr. Sears. I can’t tell you how much this means to me. I really enjoyed talking to you. I think my listeners will really get a lot of good information out of this. Just the last tip that you said right there about the three, your recipe for longevity and good health while you’re getting to that, that end point, I think it’s gonna be worth the expense of listening to this free podcast anyways. They just have to put in – what? – 35 minutes or so to listen to the end.

Dr Barry Sears: Well, thank you very much for the opportunity of being on your podcast.

Glenn: Well, you’re welcome. You have a great day. And hope to hear from you again soon. I’ll be reading your book when it comes out.

Dr Barry Sears: Thank you very much.


The End

Below are links to The Zone website and books written by Dr. Sears mentioned in the show. (note, he has many more).


  • Dr Sears Zone website information, a blog and products, such as the Omega-3 and polyphenols mentioned in the show.
  • The Dr Sears website is packed with scientific information. There is a lot there. Pour yourself a cup of tea and start reading.
  • The Omega-3 supplements mentioned on the show can be found here: OmegaRx

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