Nutrition – Paleo Zone Part 2

Posted: January 11, 2009 in Articles - Nutrition


So, yesterday we look at what to eat.

Today we are looking at how much you should be eating.

It’s worth noting that by eating Paleo-style, you’re likely going to be not too far off, but for some of you, you won’t be happy until you know for sure that you eating the right amounts of things.

Enter the ZONE

Now then, the Zone is simply an accounting system designed to help you keep track of what you eat in a day.

Its a helpful tool, not a religion that requires strict adherence or your life will fall apart and you’ll get fat and weak because you’ve eat the wrong ratio of protein and fat by 3%.

The great contributions of the Zone to nutrition are the Block System and the 40:30:30 ratio of carbs:protein:fat that is the starting point.

The Block System

The Zone is based upon a 40:30:30 ratio i.e. in any given 24hour period you should be eating 40% of your calories from carbs, 30% from Protein and 30% from fat.

Great – how the f**k do I do that?

Well, based upon your lean body mass (LBM) and activity level, the Zone tells you how many grams of each macronutrient (carb, protein, fat) you need.

It then turns these grams into a number of “blocks”. Where:
9 grams of carbs = 1 Carb Block
7 grams of protein = 1 Protein Block
1.5 grams of fat = 1 Fat Block

Then depending on how many grams of each you need, all you need to do is eat an equal number of each Block-type in a day.

You can find a handy calculator here for working ou your block requirement, but here are my figures to help explain things:

The starting point is working out your protein requirement.

I weight 140lbs and have 6% body fat.  Therefore my LBM is 132lbs.

Depending on your activity level you then mulitply this LBM figure by a figure between 0.7 and 1.0

A CrossFitter following the WODs would get a 0.7 multiplier

As a CrossFitter who also does a separate daily weightlifiting workout, my activity level is slightly higher at 0.85 

Therefore my protein requirement is 132 x 0.85 = 112.2

To get my block requirement I then divide this number by 7 (the number of protein grams in 1 Protein Block).

112.2 divided by 7 = 16 Blocks (rounding to nearest whole number).

Now I know that I need to eat 16 Protein Blocks in one day, then I also know that I need to eat 16 Carb Blocks and 16 Fat Blocks in a day.

Here’s the formula for working out your block requirement:

(LBM x Activity Multiplier) divided by 7

Meals and Snacks

Once you know your block requirement, then just split that number into a mixture of meals and snacks.

I like to eat 4x per day as that’s what fits my schedule.  This works out nicely for me as it means that my 16blocks splits into 4x 4-block meals.  So for each meal I would eat 4 Carb Blocks, 4 Protein Blocks and 4 Fat Blocks.

I could just as easily eat 3x 4-block meals and 2x 2-block snacks.  Whatever suits you – even 8x 2-block meals would work.

How Do I Know How Much of Something = 1 Block?

The easiest thing to do is just use a Block List which you can find below:

CrossFit Journal Issue 21

Get Zone Block List 

In Closing

The basic Zone outlined above is your starting point.  Just take your Block Lists and only choose foods that fit the Paleo criteria.

Its actually pretty simple once you get into it, but its really important that you don’t get all Obsessive Compulsive about things a Block out of place here and there won’t matter in the long run and in the future we’ll talk about using the Block Sysem to keep track of things, but skew the ratios completely depending on certain goals.


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