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The Ultimate Zone Diet Food List

Zone Diet Food Pyramid

The Zone Diet Food Pyramid

The Zone Diet has been around awhile, but it’s seen renewed interest with the growth of CrossFit.  Greg Glassman, CrossFit’s founder, has brought renewed focus on a diet that’s said to be part Paleo and part empirical science.  The Zone Diet combines the high-quality food sources prescribed by Paleo, and adds an element of controlling your macros and total consumption.  Arguably, its one of the top diets for CrossFit athletes.

We won’t get into the details, but just as a reminder – here are the Zone Diet Basics:

  • Count Calories in “Blocks”
  • Eat 5 Small Meals
  • Eat Real Foods
  • Avoid High Glycemic Carbohydrates and Sugars

When it comes to what foods to eat on the Zone Diet, we’ve got it covered! 

The Zone Diet breaks food into 5 major groups: 

1.      Vegetables
2.      Fruits
3.      Low-Fat Protein
4.      Monounsaturated Fats
5.      Grains & Starches

Check out the list below for a comprehensive overview of the best foods.   

1.      Vegetables

Ultimate Zone Diet Food List Vegetables

Colors of the Rainbow

The Zone Diet’s primary goal is to reduce inflammation.  The best way to accomplish this is foods that do not submit your body to blood sugar spikes.  The below is a list of vegetables that fit this criterion. 

  • Alfafa Sprouts
  • Bamboo Shoots
  • Bean Sprouts
  • Bell Peppers
  • Black Beans
  • Bok Choy
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Chickpeas
  • Collard Greens
  • Cucumber
  • Egg Plant
  • Green Beans
  • Iceburg or Romaine Lettuce
  • Jalapeno Peppers
  • Kale
  • Kidney Beans
  • Leeks
  • Lentils
  • Mushrooms
  • Okra
  • Onions
  • Radishes
  • Spaghetti Squash
  • Spinach
  • Tomatoes
  • Turnips
  • Water Chestnuts
  • Yellow Squash
  • Zucchini

2.      Fruits

Ultimate Zone Diet Food List - Fruits

Fresh Fruits

Similar to vegetables, the Zone Diet seeks to provide individuals with foods that will control inflammation and blood sugar spikes.  All fruits are without a doubt “natural”, but some contain more sugar than others.  Rely on the below list for good sources of fiber, good carbohydrates, and vitamins.

  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Boysenberries
  • Cherries
  • Grapefruit
  • Grapes
  • Kiwis
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Oranges
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Plums
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Tangerine
  • Unsweetened Applesauce


3.      Low-Fat Protein

Ultimate Zone Diet Food List - Low-Fat Proteins

Zone Diet Low-Fat Proteins

While the Zone Diet doesn’t limit fat intake, it seeks to promote high -quality fats and proteins.  Many industrial meats and dairy products contain high amounts of saturated fat and inflammatory omega-6 fats.  Stick with quality protein, seafood, and low-fat dairy to minimize exposure to unhealthy fats. 

  • Grass-fed Beef
  • Chicken Breast
  • Lean Bacon
  • Turkey Bacon
  • Turkey Breast
  • Ground Turkey
  • Most Seafood; i.e. Tuna, Salmon, Scallops, Shrimp, etc.
  • Egg Whites
  • Low-fat Cheese
  • Low-fat Cottage Cheese
  • Low-fat Greek Yogurt
  • Low-Fat Milk
  • Low-Fat Yogurt
  • Soybean Products


4.      Monounsaturated Fats

Ultimate Zone Diet Food List - Monounsaturated Fats

Healthy Fats

Monounsaturated fats are ideal for optimal health.  They reduce bad cholesterol levels and provide antioxidants to help grow and maintain your body’s cells.  Contrary to some saturated fats and Omega-6 fats, they serve as healthy building blocks to the human body. 

  • Almond Butter
  • Almond Oil
  • Almonds
  • Avocados
  • Canola Oil
  • Cashes
  • Macadamia Nuts
  • Olive Oil
  • Olives
  • Peanuts
  • Peanut Butter
  • Walnuts

5.      Grains & Starches

Ultimate Zone Diet Food List - Grains and Starches

Keeping it Simple

The list for grains is quite short.  The primary concern – these foods just don’t have the same mineral and vitamin content of vegetable and fruit alternatives.  The Zone Diet advocates for vegetarian-based carbohydrates first and foremost.  The below grains are still acceptable, and while most other grains are “questionable”. 

  • Barley
  • Oatmeal

Wrap Up

The above mentioned foods represent the highest quality foods that fit the Zone Diet.  With many diets, there are foods that fall in between “good” and “bad”.  For additional information on these questionable foods, check out the official Zone Diet website

If you’re an athlete or just trying to brainstorm some new Zone Diet recipes; the above list is a great starting point. 


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