The Zone Diet vs. Flexible Dieting

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Some of you may have decided to stick with the Zone Diet for this nutrition challenge because you are familiar with it, have had success with it and/or don’t want to learn a new system. If you are curious, here are the similarities and differences between Zone and Flexible Dieting:

Both Zone and Flexible Diet are based on portion control and macronutrient balance. The Zone converts macronutrient grams into “blocks” whereas Flexible Dieting keeps everything in grams. Using My Fitness Pal, food is entered or scanned in and the app calculates macronutrient breakdown (so there is no need to convert into blocks). Flexible Dieting is more precise as it takes into account all the macronutrients in foods. Example: string cheese is considered one “block” of protein in the Zone Diet. When using the Flex Diet method the carbohydrate and fat grams are also accounted for. Unlike Flex Dieting, he Zone doesn’t have you set a specific calorie limit.


The Zone Diet recommends every meal and snack be “zoned” (balanced) whereas the Flexible Diet encourages you to “hit your macros” by the end of each day which allows for nutrient timing for optimal fueling before and after training sessions.


While Zone uses only lean body mass and activity level to determine intake, Flexible Dieting also takes into account one’s goals (maintain, cut, or bulk).

The Zone diet classifies macronutrients as “favorable” and “unfavorable”. Flexible dieting allows you to “fit” in some occasional treats in moderation. Most soon realize that staying within a calorie limit and reaching daily macronutrient goals (including getting adequate fiber) is impossible on a diet of mostly junk food.

Flexible dieting takes a more scientific approach and looks at food based on its macronutrient content, opposed to looking at food as normatively “good” or “bad” or “clean” or “dirty”. When you see bacon, you see protein and fat. When you see Greek yogurt, you see protein and carbs. When you see a doughnut, you see carbs and fat, and so on.


Both Flexible Dieting and Zone Diet recommend finding a baseline and making adjustments based on your individual needs and goals.

So there is no right or wrong way to eat better. Use what works for you and what you can sustain far beyond this 6 week challenge!

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