updated 4/16/2004 10:50:36 AM ET 2004-04-16T14:50:36

Guests: Barry Sears, Arthur Agatston, Anne Quindlen

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER:  DEBORAH NORVILLE TONIGHT.

Reshaping America.  It‘s one of the nation‘s biggest obsessions and a multi-billion dollar enterprise. 

Jennifer Anniston swears by The Zone.  Bill Clinton slimmed down on South Beach.  Millions are following suit.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  One gram.  That will work.

ANNOUNCER:  So what‘s the straight skinny to shedding those unwanted pounds and keeping them off? 

Tonight, the health gurus behind the super diets: the South Beach Diet‘s Arthur Agatston and The Zone‘s Barry Sears.

From Studio 3-K in Rockefeller Center, Deborah Norville.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DEBORAH NORVILLE, HOST:  Good evening.

For a nation as fat as we are, Americans are obsessed with losing weight.  One-fourth of all adults are on some sort of a diet.  And 70 percent of us say we‘ve incorporated more low fat—low carb foods into our diet over the last three months. 

Nonetheless, 2/3 of America is overweight.  But most Americans don‘t want to be. 

Still, is low carb the way to go?  What about low fat or high fat for that matter?  Maybe more meat, more fish? 

Well, all the conflicting information can frankly make your head spin.  So tonight we‘re going to try to bring some order to the chaos.  We have two of the creators of two of America‘s most popular diets: the South Beach Diet and The Zone Diet joining us tonight.  We‘re going to spend quite a bit of time with both of them. 

We‘re going to start off with the No. 1 diet craze out there at the moment: the South Beach Diet.  More than seven million copies of the original South Beach Diet book have been sold.  And it‘s been on the “New York Times” bestseller list for a year. 

Among the diet‘s followers, celebrities including Bette Midler, “Sex in the City‘s” actress Kim Cattrall and Bill and Hillary Clinton.  Now some sources say that the former president has lost 30 pounds.  But the former president won‘t say. 

The author and cardiologist who developed the South Beach Diet has a new book just out.  It‘s “The South Beach Diet Cookbook.”  And already, it is a best seller. 

Joining me now for his first prime time interview since the release of his new cookbook, author and cardiologist Dr. Arthur Agatston. 

Good evening, sir.  Nice to see you. 

DR. ARTHUR AGATSTON, AUTHOR, “SOUTH BEACH DIET”:  Good to be with you. 

NORVILLE:  When you first created this diet, did you have any idea it would become the craze that it has?

AGATSTON:  Absolutely not.  It‘s been a surprise.  It‘s been—it‘s been wonderful. 

NORVILLE:  What was that it got you started?  You are by trade a cardiologist.  You deal with the plumbing inside the body, not what the body itself looks like. 

AGATSTON:  Well, it happened accidentally.  My orientation always has been prevention of heart attack and strokes.  And we developed the heart scan for detecting coronary artery disease years before you have a heart attack or a stroke. 

And we had more and more good medications.  But there was a frustration with the low fat recommendations and getting our patients to lose weight and improve their lipids. 

NORVILLE:  What would happening?  They couldn‘t stay on the diet?  It was too complicated or it just tasted so lousy it was frustrating?

AGATSTON:  It was a combination.  Actually there were no studies showing that low fat diets actually worked to prevent heart disease or to have patients lose weight.  And really, what it was, was wrong science. 

Not—It was the best science at the time when it came out.  The idea was that the low fat, high carb diet would mimic diets of the third world, the underdeveloped countries where there was low fat, high carb, no heart attack, no stroke. 

But those diets were very high in fiber, and it wasn‘t realized at the time because we didn‘t have the concept of fiber or the concept that we call glycemic index, how fast a food increases your blood sugar and really causes swings in blood sugar.  So...

NORVILLE:  And you say that‘s really the key, this whole blood sugar thing, this glycemic index that you talk about in your diet.  You try to control that by controlling the foods that people eat.  And it‘s kind of a stage 1, stage 2, stage 3 process. 

Stage 1 is always the hardest in anything.  And there‘s some no-no foods.  What are the no‘s when you get started on the South Beach diet?

AGATSTON:  Well, you avoid all starches, all breads, rice, potatoes, and all sugars, even the sugars in fruits.  So no fruits and no alcohol for the first two weeks.  We do encourage plenty of vegetables, salads, the good carbs. 

NORVILLE:  And what would happen if you just couldn‘t help yourself?  If you‘d go for maybe three or four days, you‘ve been really good.  You follow the plan, you keep all those kinds of foods off your diet.  And then you sneak one Girl Scout cookie.  Have you blown it?

AGATSTON:  I‘ve done that many times.  But I mean, basically, it depends—it depends on the individual.  The purpose of the first two weeks is to get rid of the cravings.  And you lose substantial weight in the first two weeks, which gives a good feedback. 

But the idea is that you lose your cravings, and it‘s variable.  Some people lose their cravings in two days, four days, six days.  And usually one little cookie won‘t destroy you. 

NORVILLE:  Yes.  Well, it doesn‘t help when we put pictures up as just did of Krispy Kreme doughnuts going down the conveyor belt. 

AGATSTON:  Yes, Krispy Kremes, that might end it for good. 

NORVILLE:  That would end it for good.  How much weight can you lose in the first two weeks, generally speaking?

AGATSTON:  Well, usually about, there was a range of six to 13 pounds. 

Usually like six to eight for women, more like eight to 10 for men. 

NORVILLE:  And why does it work?  Why do you believe, and you‘ve obviously got patients and now a lot of satisfied readers who‘ve read the first book to say it worked for me.  Why does it work?  What medically is going on?

AGATSTON:  We also have a clinical—a clinical study.  But basically, what it‘s doing is it‘s stabilizing sugar and insulin levels.  So you‘re not hungry soon after you have a meat—have a meal. 

And for instance, when I was eating all the wrong low fat stuff, I would be running out of steam at the end of the day, seeing patients.  I‘d make a run for the doctor‘s lounge as I was almost passing out.  I‘d gobble down low fat muffins and coffee.  And then I could make it through the rest of the day. 

But once your blood sugar drops, you‘re eating the worst types of carbs.  When you‘re eating the good carbs and good fat and you snack strategically at the beginning, it takes very few calories to prevent that drop in blood sugar.  Then you basically can lose weight without being hungry.  You don‘t get that craving, so you don‘t consume the extra calories. 

NORVILLE:  What would a typical meal be?  Once you‘ve gone through the first two weeks of cutting out the no-no foods, and then you start to moderate and increase the number of foods you can have, what would a typical breakfast, lunch, dinner be on your diet plan?

AGATSTON:  Well, for breakfast, you still think eggs are the best.  But in the second or third phase, slow cooked oatmeal, all-bran.  For big morning and mid afternoon snacks, I like macadamia nuts.  Walnuts are particularly healthy, low fat cheeses. 

For lunch, chicken salad or tuna salad without the bread.  Plenty of veggies, tomatoes. 

And for dinner, any lean meat, chicken, fish, plenty of vegetables and, you know, fruit for dessert.  Berries and really any whole fruits, except for the tropical ones like pineapple and watermelon. 

NORVILLE:  I want to look at the glycemic index, because that‘s the key to this working, in your opinion.  And the graphic we‘re looking at says that it shows that it measures the foods by how fast and how high they cause the blood sugar arrest to rise. 

Basically, the longer it takes the body to process the food, the better it‘s going to be from a glycemic point of view?

AGATSTON:  Yes.  And we were designed to eat foods that were released slowly into our bloodstreams, really, a slow release of energy.  And that‘s how early man lived, as hunter-gatherers, gathering vegetables and whole fruits. 

And if—but when we process the foods and increase the glycemic index, the blood sugar shoots up; it shoots down.  And you‘re hungry, basically, all day.

NORVILLE:  One of the things that‘s troubling is, you know about a month ago, Tommy Thompson came on television.  He was all over the place talking about America‘s new fight against obesity. 

We‘re all aware of how fat we are.  Where did we take a wrong turn, nutritionally speaking, to become the love handle laden population we have?

AGATSTON:  Well, basically, the way we evolved over millions of years was to eat whole foods: whole fruits, vegetables, lean meats with plenty of omega three oils, which are found naturally in game meats. 

Then agriculture came.  And with agriculture, there was less nutrients in our foods but still plenty of fiber. 

In the early 1980‘s, because of the promulgation of low fat guidelines, what the food industry produced very sincerely was all the processed carbohydrates.  There have been low fat societies that have done well, high fat societies.  The islands of the Crete, Mediterranean islands, a study they were high fat but Mediterranean oils.  The Greenland Eskimos do very well with a lot of fish oil. 

But never was there a society that consumed high amounts of processed carbohydrates, all the white bread, white flower-based foods and starches.  And since we started doing that, the—you just looked at the graphs of obesity and diabetes.  And it goes straight up.  And the way to reverse that is to go back to the whole foods. 

NORVILLE:  All right.  We‘re going to take—we‘re going to take a break.  When we come back, we want to hear what you believe the best food, if you‘ve got a craving to snack on is. 

And also we‘re going to talk about some of the other diets that are out there. 

More with the South Beach Diet doctor when we come back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NORVILLE:  Back with the author of “The South Beach Diet” book, Dr.

Arthur Agatston.  How come you called at the South Beach Diet?

AGATSTON:  Well, that‘s where we developed it, Mt. Sinai, very close to South Beach. 

NORVILLE:  But you‘re not necessarily going to look like some of the babes on the beach right away. 

AGATSTON:  South Beach starts way after my bedtime.  And unfortunately, my waiting room is not filled with South Beach models.  My patients are a little bit older. 

NORVILLE:  Yes, well, they aspire to have those bodies, maybe.

AGATSTON:  Yes.

NORILLE:  I want to look at some of the recipes.  In the first diet book that came out and has been on the bestseller list ever since then, you had a recipe for Florentine T-bone Steak.  And when you look at it, you kind of go, Whoa, this is in the diet book?  Eighty-hundred eighty-five calories, a lot of protein, carbs.  A hundred and seventh milligrams of sodium and 105 milligrams of cholesterol.

That‘s a pretty hefty meal, isn‘t it?

AGATSTON:  Yes.  Now remember, cholesterol has really not been shown to increase cholesterol significantly, whether in meat or eggs.  What we do want to limit is saturated fat.  And that steak is—it‘s a relatively lean cut of meat. 

Again, that‘s the way man evolved as hunters, as well as gathers.  But the meat was lean.  What we are missing in today‘s meat is the omega three, which is grass—grass bed and game meat.  And there you have to get that from fish or from supplements. 

NORVILLE:  And contrast that to a recipe that‘s in the new diet book for a chicken, oven fried chicken with almonds.  It‘s 383 calories, four grams of saturated fat, 730 milligrams of sodium.  Big difference. 

Was the calorie count something that was off putting to some people?

AGATSTON:  No, no.  Really the—we don‘t want to count calories or weigh food, because you can‘t do that.  The idea is if a diet becomes a lifestyle, and you can only weigh and count calories for so long. 

The main reason that we‘re overweight is not portion control or counting calories.  It‘s the types of foods that make us hungry and come back for more.  It ends up, it‘s still calories in, calories out.  And you, for some people, you can oversize. 

But if you gain control of your hunger by not having the swings in the blood sugar, in general, the calories and the portion sizes take care of themselves. 

NORVILLE:  You know, you talk about back in the hunter-gatherer days.  We were actually out hunting and gathering the game that we ate.  Nowadays, you hop in the car, you sit on your rear end, you get there, you go through the drive through and get your lunch in a sack or you go to the grocery store.  Nobody is slaying a woolly mammoth in, you know, a few million years. 

Where‘s the exercise part of all of this?

AGATSTON:  That‘s a very good point, and the exercise is extremely important.  Your philosophy in general is less is more.  If you‘ve been doing nothing, just walking 20, 30 minutes three days a week, over—it doesn‘t burn up many calories per outing.  But over a years it burn up a lot of calories and decreases chance of heart attack significantly. 

We‘ve been using pedometers a lot to give out where you can actually quantify the amount of steps and use that as an important feedback mechanism. 

NORVILLE:  And do people find they walk more than they ever gave themselves credit for as a result?

AGATSTON:  Yes.  But also when you have a goal of, say, 7,000 steps and you haven‘t quite met it, you go out after dinner and you take that extra walk. 

NORVILLE:  One of the things that‘s really neat about the new book is there‘s a survival tip sheet that you have for people who have to go out.  And most of us do have occasion to go out with our friends.  And you‘ve got what you think are the four best tips that people can be mindful of. 

The first being, eat a piece of low fat cheese about 15 minutes or so before you go to the restaurant.  Why is that such a good idea?

AGATSTON:  Well, it again stabilizes the blood sugar and so that you don‘t eat good food too fast. 

You know, there‘s really a proviso when I mention the amounts of food and portion sizes.  If we eat too fast—I was taught to clean my plate.  And you don‘t have to finish everything.  And if you eat fast, it takes a while before your brain does get the message that you‘re full. 

And having something a little before, you know, slows the rate that you‘ll eat. 

NORVILLE:  Which ones are the low fat ones?  Those are not the gooey really sinfully delicious cheeses.  Which would be good cheeses to eat?

AGATSTON:  Well, our favorite is—when we‘re hungry is ricotta cheese.  A low-fat cheese.  Add a little vanilla, some Splenda and it tastes like a tiramisu. 

NORVILLE:  OK.

AGATSTON:  That‘s saved me many an evening.

NORVILLE:  And let‘s just go through the rest of them.  If you‘ve eaten cheese then hopefully you‘ll be able to avoid the breadbasket. 

The next thing you say is when you get there, first thing, order a consomme or a clear soup. 

And pick a Mediterranean restaurant if you get to be the one that makes the choice.  Why is that important?

AGATSTON:  Well, you know, our diet is very much Mediterranean, where you get the good oils, the good fats.  Mediterranean oil, olive oil, canola oil, the oils found in nuts are not neutral.  They‘re good for our blood vessels, and they‘re good long term for the waistline. 

In the Harvard School of Public Health studies, those who had nuts, who had good fats, had less future obesity and diabetes. 

NORVILLE:  Parts of your diet remind me of the Atkins Diet, particularly the concentration early on in steering away from breads and fruits and things like that and heavily concentrating on proteins.  Is that a fair comparison?

AGATSTON:  Well, the main difference, and Dr. Atkins was a pioneer.  He taught us that fat doesn‘t necessarily make us fat.  But when he developed his diet, saturated fat was a major fat. 

We‘ve learned a lot more about the good fats that I have mentioned.  They make food taste good.  They‘re also good for our blood vessels and waistline. 

The other thing that he thought was you had to really avoid almost all carbohydrates to the point that you depleted your sugar stores and you broke down fats to develop what we call ketosis.  He thought that was necessary to lose your appetite.

In our studies, we gave enough of the good carbs so that our patients did not develop ketosis.  They got all the nutrient benefits, but they still lost their cravings. 

NORVILLE:  And what about the comparisons with The Zone Diet, that whole notion of the glycemic blood sugar level is also something that Barry Sears talks about in his diet plan, as well. 

AGATSTON:  I have great respect for Barry Sears, and I think his books have shown excellent science.  Our main difference is the need to have exact portions of proteins, carbs, fats at each meal.  We think it doesn‘t have to be that difficult. 

But I think he has a lot of good science and a lot of good suggestions in his book. 

NORVILLE:  I‘m sure people watching right now are watching because they‘re thinking, “Maybe this is the month that I‘ll really get down to brass tacks and be successful with my diet.” 

What‘s the one piece of advice you would give, sir, to that person who is struggling to stay on the plan, whatever plan it is they‘ve chosen?

AGATSTON:  Well, it‘s planning ahead to have the right foods around.  When you finish the first couple weeks, you do lose your appetite.  If that‘s not the discipline you need.  It‘s when you‘re traveling, when you‘re under stress, is to have the good foods around. 

And the other suggestion, is a non-diet suggestion.  Exercise regularly. 

NORVILLE:  Good words of advice.  Dr. Agatston, so nice to see you on the program.  We wish you well with your new book. 

AGATSTON:  Thank you very much.  Good to be with you. 

ANNOUNCER:  Coming up, how to lose weight and live longer, strictly by the book. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I don‘t care if you‘re eating Pop Tarts.  Keep eating the Pop Tarts.

ANNOUNCER:  It‘s the New Age diet, and it‘s been around for centuries. 

Barry Sears takes us inside The Zone when DEBORAH NORVILLE TONIGHT returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

NORVILLE:  When it comes to dieting, more and more Americans are going low carb.  But my next guest thinks going low carb, or anything low for that matter, could be unhealthy. 

The Zone Diet advocates everything in moderation, so that nothing is completely eliminated, and a lot of celebrities swear by it, including Hollywood power couple Jennifer Anniston and Brad Pitt, model Cyndi Crawford, actress Renee Zellweger, and Madonna. 

Joining me now to talk about his diet is the man who invented The Zone Diet, Barry Sears.  He‘s the author of 10 Zone books which have sold more than four million copies, including the quick seven day course about the diet called “A Week in the Zone.” 

Good evening.  It‘s nice to see you. 

BARRY SEARS, “THE ZONE DIET” AUTHOR:  Well, thank you very much. 

NORVILLE:  Let‘s start about how the road took you into diet land. 

You started out as a biotech researcher at MIT, right?

SEARS:  That‘s correct. 

NORVILLE:  And how did you get to where you are now?

SEARS:  Well, basically, my own family history of premature heart disease, that everyone on the male side of my family would die prematurely of heart disease in their early 50‘s. 

And I realized I carried the same genes.  I couldn‘t change my genes, but I could somehow change the expression of those genes. 

And so that set me out some 20 years ago to understand how to treat food almost like a drug, to basically keep the hormone insulin in a zone, a zone that‘s not too high but not too low. 

NORVILLE:  And the first real results were when you were working with the swim team out at Stanford.  And based on the diet plan that you helped them come up with, they did phenomenally well at the meet. 

SEARS:  Well, again, that‘s why even though program was developed for diabetes patients and heart patients, we did much of our testing on world class athletes.  Because by maintaining insulin in that zone, that would give them an unfair competitive advantage. 

NORVILLE:  And let‘s talk specifically now about what the zone is.  It‘s a combination of food groups that you believe work to keep that insulin level in the proper parameters.  What‘s part of it?

SEARS:  Well, again, looking at both protein, carbohydrates and fat.  And actually, it‘s very, very simple, because all you have to do is follow The Zone Diet on a lifetime basis is have one hand and one eye. 

And here‘s all the rules you need.  At every meal, divide your plate into three equal sections.  On one-third of the plate, put some low fat protein that is no bigger nor thicker than the palm of your hand.  And the other 2/3 of the plate, you fill it until it‘s overflowing with fruits and vegetables and then you add a dash, that‘s a small amount, a dash of heart healthy monounsaturated fat.  That can be olive oil, slivered almonds or even guacamole. 

And there you have it.  Really a drug, a tasty drug, that will keep insulin levels under control for the next four to six hours. 

NORVILLE:  When you say a dash?  You mean like an ice cream scoop size lump of guacamole?  Or do you mean like a little bitty bit? 

SEARS:  Well, I‘d say basically for guacamole, you can get yourself up to a tablespoon. 

NORVILLE:  That‘s not much. 

SEARS:  That‘s not much, but that‘s why we say a dash. 

NORVILLE:  OK.  A lot of people, you know, monounsaturated this.  You know, I think when you start getting words that have more than about four or five letters, you start losing the audience. 

How do you define the thirds?  We all know what the protein is.  That‘s your meat, your fish, your chicken, the size of a deck of cards, the size of your palm. 

What about the rest of it?  Anything goes?

SEARS:  Not anything.  Because again, you mentioned earlier about the glycemic index.  It‘s really what‘s called the glycemic load.  That‘s when we look at things like grains and starches.  They‘re very, very dense carbohydrates.  It is very easy to over consume them.  And the more carbohydrates you consume, the more insulin you make. 

Why is that important?  Because it‘s excess insulin that makes you fat and keeps you fat.  It also one that accelerates heart disease. 

NORVILLE:  Now, you also have said in your diet books that the cravings can come when the blood sugar level gets too low. 

SEARS:  Exactly. 

NORVILLE:  And what do you recommend?  When you start feeling that, oh, if I don‘t have a Twinkie, I‘m going to die.  What do you recommend people do?

SEARS:  Well, that time might take a little rescue factor of something that‘s balanced in protein, carbohydrates and fat.  How about a stick of—you know, a one ounce of mozzarella cheese and a small piece of fruit. 

NORVILLE:  And that will get you through it?

SEARS:  That will get you through it.  But the cravings came from your last meal that you had too many carbohydrates.

NORVILLE:  So what you have to do is really stick with the plan every step of the way and keep that balance going?

SEARS:  The best you can.  We live in the real world.  And obviously, only Mother Teresa made no mistakes, and she‘s no longer here.  So I guess we do the best.  If we make a mistake, the beauty of The Zone, you just get right back into the zone with your next meal.

NORVILLE:  I have a friend whose wife is on the Zone.  And she‘s very,, very pleased with it.  But he said it drove him crazy in the beginning because everywhere she went, she had the book in her hand.  And she was constantly looking, can do I this?  Can I do that? 

It seemed to be very, very challenging to make sure that you stay within the parameters of what the right foods were, which has led to this whole cottage industry, not necessarily controlled by you, of people and programs and companies that are creating these Zone diets that people can book in advance.  They come and deliver them to their house.  But they‘re pretty pricey. 

SEARS:  Well, they are. 

And that‘s why I think that people have maybe perhaps become too obsessive about the Zone.  I wrote about the Zone mathematically initially because it was really written for cardiologists, to say, there is a mathematical precision here.  But, in the real world, as long as we have that one eye to one hand, you can go any place, including McDonald‘s, and make a pretty good Zone meal. 

NORVILLE:  And if you were to go to McDonald‘s, it‘s very interesting.  Just today, it‘s been announced that McDonald‘s is now doing a new grownup Happy Meal, where instead of having the burger and fries in the box, you get a salad, a bottle of water.  And they will even have, instead of a toy, a little pedometer that you can put on to, as Dr. Agatston was saying just a minute ago, measure how far you‘ve walked in a day.

Do you think something like that will fly?

SEARS:  No, because, again, food has to taste good.  Food has to look good.  But food also has to be hormonally correct.  The key of any diet—and, again, the word diet comes from the ancient Greek word way of life.—is you cannot be hungry between meals.  If you‘re not hungry, cutting back on calories is the simplest thing possible. 

NORVILLE:  If you‘re not hungry, cutting back is the simplest thing? 

SEARS:  Exactly, because that‘s the reason why we eat, because the brain says, my blood sugar levels are too low.  And, basically, feed me again. 

NORVILLE:  There are some not allowed foods on your diet.  What would those be? 

SEARS:  Well, I think there‘s no such thing as not allowed, but just what you use in moderation.  That would include grains and starches, because, again, the density of their carbohydrate. 

So, again, use them as condiments, like a piece of seven-layer cake. 

You won‘t eat the entire cake, but you might eat a piece. 

NORVILLE:  And you could even have a bite.  We also had a graphic up that said egg yolks are something that you should put on the restricted list.  Fatty meat is another one.  And you also had corn on the list. 

SEARS:  Well, let‘s look at the egg yolks and the fatty meat.

Both of them contain a fatty acid, a fatty acid called arachidonic acid.  Why is that important?  That‘s probably the major underlying cause of heart disease.  So it makes no sense to put in almost a very toxic material into your body that can accelerate heart disease.  And as far as corn, corn again is very, very dense in carbohydrates and it‘s very, very easy to overconsume corn. 

NORVILLE:  One of the things that proponents of your diet plan get very excited about is the fact that, because nothing is completely eliminated, it means the need for supplements is less great or maybe even not needed at all. 

Are there supplements that you think people should just generally take because it makes sense?  I know women should certainly be mindful of getting enough calcium in their diets. 

SEARS:  Well, I think if people take only one supplement in their entire life, it should be fish oil.  Why?  Because fish oil contains certain fatty acids that are long chain of mega-3 fatty acids that are critical to keeping inflammation under control. 

And we now know that the underlying cause of all chronic disease, whether it be heart disease, cancer, or even Alzheimer‘s, is increased level of inflammation. 

NORVILLE:  Grandma was right when she tried to come after with me that cod liver oil. 

We‘re going to take a quick break.  We‘re going to be back more with Barry Sears and the Zone diet right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NORVILLE:  High-protein diets, low-fat diets, the caveman diet, they all ask you to give up stuff you love.  But the creator of the Zone says you don‘t have to. 

More with Barry Sears next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NORVILLE:  I‘m back with the creator of the Zone diet, Barry Sears.

Dr. Sears, your diet has a very precise combination of fats and carbohydrates and proteins in every meal and every snack.  And as you explained a second ago, it is about getting the chemistry right so that your body insulin level stays right.  But everybody‘s body is different.  How will my body necessarily react the same as every other person who goes on the plan?  Isn‘t there going to be some natural variation? 

SEARS:  Oh, of course there is. 

And that‘s why, in my books, I‘ve always talked about being in the Zone.  And that‘s really a broad bell-shaped curve of a balance of protein to carbohydrate.  Now, the center of that might be a number.  But the fact is, you find what is the right balance for you.  And how can you tell?  You aren‘t hungry four to six hours after your last meal.  And all you want to do is build up really a hormonal winning cook book of 10 meals.  That‘s all we ever eat in our entire life, two breakfast, three lunches, and five dinners of meals you like, and basically you‘re never hungry for four to six hours. 

NORVILLE:  And so if you‘ve had breakfast at 7:00 in the morning before you pop off to work and you have the recommended snack mid-morning, 10:00, 11:00, you should be able to make it until about 12:30, 1:00 and not be starved? 

SEARS:  Oh, actually, if you eat the right breakfast, you won‘t be hungry until 12:00 anyway.  So there‘s no need for a mid-morning snack. 

NORVILLE:  Well, one of the things that the CDC has said is that, when you look at American people, a full 40 percent of this country is totally sedentary.  You can‘t have a diet plan unless you also have an exercise plan and really hope to be successful, can you? 

SEARS:  Well, in essence, yes, you can.  And that‘s why you look for simple exercise plans.  And the simplest one for most Americans is you walk 15 minutes in one direction and you turn around and come back.  And just do that every day. 

NORVILLE:  And is that how you got started? 

SEARS:  Well, actually, I used to play college basketball.  So I got basically—I was a little more active than that level.  But for most Americans, that is a major leap forward in terms of activity levels. 

NORVILLE:  And while I know you say not to count calories, really look at the foods themselves and let them interact in the way that the diet program suggests, an American Dietetic Association expert looked at your diet, also looked at the South Beach diet and some others said, basically, it‘s about 1,500 calories a day.  It would be hard not to lose weight on that number of calories.  So are we sneaking a low-calorie diet in without really acknowledging that? 

SEARS:  Oh, no, on the contrary.  And I think I‘ve always acknowledged the low-calorie aspect of the Zone.  But I call that the Zone paradox. 

It‘s virtually impossible to eat all the food you‘re supposed to.  Now, the same dietitians would say, if you recommend a diet that ate 10 to 15 services of fruits and vegetables per day, they would applaud that.  If you had a diet that never consumed any more low-fat protein than you can put on the palm of your hand at a meal, they would applaud that. 

If you had a diet that basically would add only small amounts of mono unsaturated fats like olive oil, they would applaud that.  I‘ve just described the Zone diet. 

NORVILLE:  The Zone, as we said a minute ago, has really expanded.  There‘s not only the independent companies, but your own firm markets a whole line of Zone products.  It‘s almost like the book makes the mark but then the product makes the market. 

Is there some conflict in having a whole line of products that go along with a diet plan?  Or do you see the two as fitting in very neatly together? 

SEARS:  Oh, I see the two fitting in very well, because we have long-term studies of functional food replacements.  These are studies done at Harvard Medical School showing that people who basically replace one meal a day with a functional food over a 10-year period, basically there‘s a 33-pound difference between those...

NORVILLE:  Wait a minute, say that again, who replace one meal a day with what? 

SEARS:  With a functional meal, a functional food replacing a meal. 

And compared to a control group, over a 10-year period, those who replaced one meal per day with a functional food, a meal replacement, basically they had 33 less pounds gained during that 10-year period. 

NORVILLE:  And a functional food would be go and buy the Zone diet package for the lunch that day or the dinner that day? 

SEARS:  Something like that, yes. 

NORVILLE:  There‘s all kind of tricks like that.  That‘s replacing one meal a day. 

I‘ve also seen studies where simply changing the kind of receptacle that you use to drink in.  A short fat glass is likely to be used by a person and more drunk out of it than a tall skinny glass.  The tall glass, you‘re not going to drink as much, even though it holds the same amount.  Have you looked into some of those kind of studies? 

SEARS:  Well, I have looked in those, because people try to do a lot of psychological tricks.  But, in the final analysis, it is how well you‘re controlling insulin.  If you‘re basically controlling blood sugar, you don‘t to have resort to clever little tricks, though they‘re helpful as basically an adjunct, as really basically a helping—like training wheels. 

NORVILLE:  And you mention that you can do it with 10 days worth of meals.  If you had two weeks worth of meals, you‘re in good shape, because that‘s all anybody really needs.  You can make split around and make it interesting enough. 

What is the typical meals that you have, breakfast, lunch and dinner? 

What is a typical day like for you? 

SEARS:  Well, actually, they‘re almost identical to what Dr. Agatston would say. 

For my breakfast, it would be basically, for an average female, a six egg white omelet with a little olive oil, like two teaspoons, maybe a cup of strawberries and two-thirds of a cup of oatmeal.  And for lunch, it might be a chicken Caesar salad with maybe two cups of vegetables and a small serving of fruit. 

And for basically a late afternoon snack, a small piece of fruit and a half—an ounce of cheese.  And for dinner, maybe four to six ounces of chicken or fish, about three cups of vegetables and some fresh berries for dessert.  And before she goes to bed, a glass of wine and a piece of cheese. 

NORVILLE:  You know what?  Barry Sears, if you would just have the person who would cook all that food for me instead of me having to do it myself, I know I would be successful on your diet plan. 

(LAUGHTER)

SEARS:  Well, and that‘s part of the problem.  Basically, we‘ve lost the capacity to cook because we‘re really starved for time. 

NORVILLE:  Yes. 

SEARS:  And time compression has been our great enemy. 

NORVILLE:  When you find the book to create that, sir, you will be a bazillionaire. 

Barry Sears, it‘s the Zone diet.  It‘s been a huge success.  And it‘s been a great pleasure to have you on the program tonight.  Thanks for being with us. 

SEARS:  Thank you. 

NORVILLE:  We‘ve compiled all kinds of information about the diets that you‘ve heard about tonight.  And you can find it on our Web page.  So just go to NORVILLE.MSNBC.com.  That‘s also a place you can sign up for our daily newsletter, so we can tell you what‘s coming up on the program.  We hope you‘ll do that. 

ANNOUNCER:  Up next, from politics to pedophile priests, Pulitzer Prize-winning Anna Quindlen has got an opinion on everything.

And she‘s voicing them loud and clear when DEBORAH NORVILLE TONIGHT returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NORVILLE:  We‘ve been talking about food for your body.  Now some food for your mind. 

Over the past 25 years, author and columnist Anna Quindlen‘s work has appeared in some of America‘s most influential newspapers and magazines.  She started out as an 18-year-old copy girl at the “New Brunswick, New Jersey, Home News.”  By 24, she was general assignment reporter at “The New York Times” and later the third woman in the paper‘s history to write a regular column for its op-ed page.  In 1992, she won a Pulitzer Prize. 

But 2 ½ years later, she quit.  This is what she said about that two years ago at a commencement address at Sarah Lawrence College. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNA QUINDLEN, AUTHOR:  When I quit “The New York Times” to be a full-time mother, the voices of the world said that I was nuts.  When I quit it again to be a full-time novelist, they said I was nuts again.  But I am not nuts. 

(LAUGHTER)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NORVILLE:  Definitely not nuts.  In 1999, she went back to column writing, this time for “Newsweek,” writing “The Last Word” every other week. 

Anna Quindlen‘s latest book is a collection of columns and speeches called “Loud and Clear.”

The Pulitzer Prize winner joins me now to give her insights on issues both public and private loud and clear. 

It‘s so nice to see you it‘s so nice to see some of your columns collected together, because you can really see not a changing of attitude, but you can really see just kind of a progression of thought, which is refreshing. 

QUINDLEN:  Well, thanks.  That‘s sort of how I feel about it, Deb, that there is a reason to pull them together.  Part of that reason is because readers ask you for them. 

NORVILLE:  The 9/11 Commission has certainly been making headlines for weeks now.  As you‘ve been watching members of the Clinton administration, members of the Bush administration and the family members who have sat there on the edges of their seats watching, what kinds of thoughts have gone through your minds about this process? 

QUINDLEN:  Well, there‘s a great frustration at listening to how little cooperation there is among some agencies. 

I mean, when you hear that the CIA director was worried about al Qaeda and the FBI knew that there were al Qaeda operatives in the country, but the two shall not meet, if I were a family member, I wouldn‘t be on the edge of my chair.  I would be coming out of it with my fist waving. 

I also somehow mourn the kind of spirit of national unity and solidarity that we had those early days, which I think has given way to a really painful polarization.  And I hope, but I‘m not as optimistic as I wish I was, that, out of these hearings, there are going to be substantial systemic changes. 

NORVILLE:  I think one of the frustrations a lot of Americans feel—and it doesn‘t really matter which side of the political fence you‘re on—is that there‘s a political mushiness that goes on out there, trying to be all things to all people. 

QUINDLEN:  Right. 

NORVILLE:  In your own writing, clarity is one of those things that you seem to consistently hit on.  How hard is it to go out there and be bold with your opinion and stand up for your opinion, as do you in so many of the columns included in this book? 

QUINDLEN:  The truth is, it‘s not that hard.  To begin with, I don‘t have to get reelected by anybody. 

NORVILLE:  Yes, but you got to have readers that don‘t write your editor and say, get rid of that Quindlen woman.  She‘s insane. 

QUINDLEN:  Oh, actually, they do that all the time.  And they did that all the time at “The New York Times.” 

(LAUGHTER)

QUINDLEN:  Luckily, there appear to be just as many who say...

NORVILLE:  Keep the crazy woman.  We love her.

QUINDLEN:  “I read ‘Newsweek‘ back to front, instead of the other way around.”  And those are my peeps. 

But, in my job and at this point in my life, if I‘m not going to write with specificity and clarity and a sense of passion and integrity, what is the point?  I mean, I just ought to get another job.  I mean, you either do this full-out without looking over your shoulder to say, well, who is going to like this, who is going to dislike this, who is going to write me hate mail, or I think you might as well go home.

NORVILLE:  Do you think that‘s why so many people dislike politicians, because there‘s this sense they‘re always looking over their shoulder to see who is about to come up either with a knife in them or a baseball bat? 

QUINDLEN:  Yes.  And, also, there‘s this sense that everything is getting homogenized to suit the lowest common denominator. 

NORVILLE:  I want to go over some of the passages that you‘ve included in “Loud and Clear.” 

And there‘s one that really struck me because it hearkened back to September 11 and the victim list that appeared in the newspaper that all of us read.  And you write: “Hope lies in the bright line that divides us from the men who did this thing.  We can imagine the Hansons.  The terrorists thought they were destroying buildings, monuments to capitalism and American military strength.  But what they were doing was blowing families to bits.”

And in the article, you showed the name of Mr. Hanson, Mrs. Hanson. 

And you imagined their 2-year-old daughter in the baby seat between them. 

QUINDLEN:  Right.

NORVILLE:  That was just a killer. 

QUINDLEN:  Well, but that is what happened to all of us, isn‘t it?  I mean, you just kept thinking, I know people like this.  I know people who could have been on this plane.  I know people who were on this plane.  I mean, we looked at each other suddenly as we were all fellow passengers on our way to who knows what. 

And that was both terrifying and wonderful, because we looked at each other as fellow passengers.  Suddenly, we weren‘t strangers passing in the street.  We were people who were all in this together. 

NORVILLE:  And total strangers.  I remember walking down the streets of New York.  You would be standing in front of the firehouse and looking at the memorials and someone would come up and just put their arm around you that you‘ve never laid eyes on in your life. 

QUINDLEN:  I know.  I know. 

It was such a horrible moment in so many ways.  And yet it brought—part of what that column is about is, at the end, I say, it takes so much planning to do something this evil.  And the important thing to remember is, it took no planning at all for people to call upon the best within them.  And that‘s...

NORVILLE:  It was spontaneous.

QUINDLEN:  And that is what is going to keep us here and home. 

NORVILLE:  I want to lighten it up, because you‘ve got another one about—you‘ve had a lot of great columns on parenting and the joys of motherhood and the hope that you will survive this whole process. 

But there‘s one that you call “Goodbye, Dr. Spock.”  And I particularly loved this one.  You said: “Raising children is presented at first as a true-false test, then becomes multiple choice, until finally, far along, you realize that it is an endless essay.  No one knows anything.”

QUINDLEN:  Anything, right.

NORVILLE:  At what age were your children when you made this realization? 

QUINDLEN:  They were pretty young when I realized that no one knew anything.  And part of it was because having three children and reading these books that said, children will be like this, children will be like that, and having three different varieties...

NORVILLE:  They sent me the wrong kids.  They don‘t fit the manual. 

QUINDLEN:  You thought, well, the manual can‘t possibly fit everyone, because I‘ve got one from column A, one from column B and one from column C, and still do. 

NORVILLE:  How have you engaged your own kids to have that same confident voice in their own lives in their own individual ways that you‘ve had in your columns over the years?  It‘s hard to be the kid that sticks out their neck for what they believe. 

QUINDLEN:  I think I‘ve tried to respect them.  I think I‘ve tried to respect their opinions and their voices and their individuality. 

NORVILLE:  You started as a reporter.  You became a columnist.  There‘s sort of a mixing of the general reporting and the opinion that comes from being a columnist. 

How do you want people to look at the news on their own as they watch the headlines on television and pick up their local papers and read? 

QUINDLEN:  I want them to be educated consumers. 

You know what?  If people have time to watch “American Idol,” they have the time to watch, you know, something on MSNBC, something on CNN, read something online directly from the AP, look at “The New York Times” online, read their local paper, and, at the end of the day, synthesize all that and say, aha, now I think I know what‘s going on. 

NORVILLE:  It might be time well spent.

It‘s certainly time well spent with Anna Quindlen and “Loud and Clear,” too.

Good luck.

QUINDLEN:  Thanks, Deb.

NORVILLE:  Thanks so much for being with us.

QUINDLEN:  Thanks.

NORVILLE:  And coming up next, I can‘t tell you how to get to Sesame Street, but I can tell you where you will meet the people who started that phenomenal program 35 years ago. 

That‘s next. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NORVILLE:  That‘s our program for tonight.  Thanks for watching.  I‘m Deborah Norville. 

Coming up tomorrow night, Sesame Street is coming to MSNBC. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR (singing):  This is the street Elmo lives on.

(END VIDEO CLIP).

NORVILLE:  Tomorrow night, it is easy to get to Sesame Street.  Just tune in right here.  The Children‘s Television Workshop is celebrating the 35th anniversary of their program.  And we will introduce you to an original cast member who is still a part of the program, one of the show‘s main producers, and Elmo, Rosita, and Grover.  That‘s tomorrow night.

We‘ll see you then.

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