Hollywood is full of dieters reading Barry Sears's ''The Zone: A Dietary Road Map''

By Vicki Jo Radovsky
Updated October 25, 1996 at 04:00 AM EDT

In Hollywood, where the ability to achieve awe-inspiring abs is second only to the power to greenlight a movie, fitness fanatics have zeroed in on the Zone, the latest diet craze offering better health and fat loss in just two weeks!

Indeed, Barry Sears, Ph.D., author of The Zone: A Dietary Road Map, claims his brainchild has reached ”almost cultlike status in L.A.” A former research scientist at Boston University’s medical school and MIT, Sears, 49, is president of his own Massachusetts biotech firm. These days, however, you’re just as likely to find the nutrition guru (and International Creative Management client) in Hollywood, where Zone dinner parties have become industry staples and, say sources connected with Sears, acolytes include Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dolly Parton, Alicia Silverstone, Steven Seagal, Tia Carrere, Elizabeth Berkley, and Rene Russo.

”In many ways, Zone cooking is gourmet French cooking,” claims the doctor, who describes his diet as 30 percent protein, 40 percent carb, and 30 percent fat. ”You can eat food you like; just pay it the same respect you would a prescription drug to elicit the most appropriate hormonal response.”

According to Sears, it’s hormones, not calories, that determine how much fat the body stores: Too many carbs create too much insulin, which creates too many eicosanoids, so you get fatter. Confused? So is almost everyone who reads his dense tome, originally written for doctors to treat cardiovascular disease. ”It takes a lot to figure out the portions and stuff,” gripes Melrose Place‘s Lisa Rinna of the required math. Thus, Mastering the Zone (a sort of ”Zone for Dummies”), due in January.

Those with more immediate needs can attend one-on-one sessions at the Zone Center in West Hollywood, at $500 for three months of counseling. ”We fit the book to your life rather than having you fit the book,” says nutrition counselor Teresa Olsen, whose clients have included Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols and Rebecca De Mornay. ”The entire music industry is in the flippin’ Zone!”

There are hurdles beyond math that may prove more damning, however. ”I took Zone bars on location,” says Melissa Gilbert. ”And to be perfectly honest, they give you terrible gas!”