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Nutrition » Diets » Mono Diet: Ruling Out This Bogus Weight Loss Trend

Mono Diet: Ruling Out This Bogus Weight Loss Trend

mono diet

Mono Diet

Why is the mono diet famous? Is it one of the highly recommended diets or not? In this read we will highlight all you need to know about the mono diet, show you some of the most common examples of the mono diets and give you the verdict on whether mono diets are healthy or not.

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What Is  A Mono Diet?

Just as the name suggests, the mono diet is a diet that advocates eating only one type of food to lose weight (5). This diet has grown in popularity due to what people are saying about it. People are saying it really delivers when it comes to weight loss and that is essentially what many people are hoping for. There are two known approaches to a mono diet. One approach is only eating the same food item for every meal. When people are trying this variation of the mono diet, they always go for healthy foods. Most people choose certain fruits, examples being bananas, grapefruits, or the likes. People can also opt for vegetables like potatoes or proteins like eggs

Another variation of the mono diet is when you choose to stick to a single food group for all meals. You could choose to focus only on macronutrients like protein, fat and carbohydrates. You could for example do a protein only diet. This could mean you eat the same protein or different protein sources during the day. An example would be eggs for breakfast, chicken breast for lunch and salmon for dinner.

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The Main Rule Of Mono Diets

Mono diets are set on one rule, you can only eat one food, but you can eat as much as you want. There is no calorie counting when it comes to mono diets (6). That brings a question of how mono diets promote weight loss. There are no hard and fast rules or regulations when it comes to mono diets that’s why you find different people interpreting them differently. 

Mono diets are not recommended by dietitians. This is mostly for health reasons. Dietitians advocate for healthy ways to lose weight. Most advocates of mono diets believe that these diets cleanse our bodies, help kill cravings and of course help you lose some extra pounds. The simplicity of the diet is another thing people like about this type of diet. No long shopping lists, no buying pricey exotic ingredients, no counting calories, no having to decide what to eat for every meal as you have a simple plan laid out right before you.

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Example Of Famous Mono Diets

Since mono diets don’t have a definite structure, here are different  famous mono diets, so that you can get a rough idea of what a mono diet entails and how you can restructure it with your preferences and goals in mind if you decide to pursue this journey despite the fact that it doesn’t promote healthy eating habits. Included are some dos and don’ts of each diet as well as the benefits each diet is said to bring. 

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The Sweet Potato Mono Diet

Just as the name suggests, this diet advocates for inclusion of sweet potatoes in a person’s diet (1). Sweet potatoes are very versatile and highly nutritious. They are rich in proteins, fiber, vitamins and minerals. They are quite filling which makes them one of the perfect foods for mono diet enthusiasts.

The Ways  Sweet Potatoes Are Able To Promote Weight Loss

Sweet potatoes are able to promote weight loss in the following ways: 

  • Sweet potatoes are a low-calorie food

One small sweet potato contains roughly 112 calories. The fact that there are also filling plays a role in weight loss. This means you don’t have to eat so many yet you won’t feel hungry thus you are able to perform your daily tasks. 

  • Sweet potatoes are rich in fiber

One small sweet potato is said to contain around 4 grams of fiber. They contain soluble fiber. Soluble fiber helps in losing weight by forming gel -like mesh in the stomach. This helps you feel full, prevents you from eating anymore and keeps you from feeling hungry. 

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  • Sweet potatoes are rich in healthy carbohydrates

Although most people are quick to dismiss carbohydrates, they are actually important for our bodies. They provide the body with the much needed energy. One can use this energy to work out and hence lead to weight loss. You can’t work out efficiently without feeling charged up. 

  • Sweet potatoes have a low glycemic index

What is a glycemic index you may ask. This is the number a food is given on a scale from 0 to 100. The number depends on the glucose spike the food causes the body after being consumed. If a food causes low blood glucose spike, it means it has a lower glycemic index and vice versa. Foods with a high glycemic index are said to cause conditions like mismanagement of type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance. Insulin resistance affects how our bodies process carbohydrates. If you have insulin resistance your body is likely to store carbs rather than use them for energy and hence causing weight gain. 

  • Sweet potatoes have a high water content

When you are dehydrated, your metabolism is slowed down. Taking sweet potatoes helps hydrate your cells and trigger  metabolism. 

These are the reasons some people go for sweet potatoes only diet. This type of diet like all mono diets should be avoided. Following it for a long time would lead to your body lacking some important nutrients. Before you start this diet you should first consult a dietitian. Most dietitians will not advocate for such a diet and it is for a good reason. 

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Potato Mono Diet

This is another famous mono diet that has been adapted by many individuals. Just like any mono diet, it promises fast weight loss. This explains its reason for being popular. There is, however, no scientific evidence that shows this is actually true. In this diet, you are supposed to consume potatoes only. 

Potatoes are of great nutritional value (9). They also help improve one’s gut health due to their high-fiber content. According to this diet, one is able to lose up to one pound per day eating nothing but potatoes. This is one reason we do not advocate for this diet. Weight loss is not a magic trick that happens instantly. It takes time and requires one to change their whole lifestyle. Hence diets that advocate for quick weight loss are often not sustainable, healthy, or safe. 

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Potato Mono Diet Rules

The potato mono diet comes with a number of rules. These rules are: 

  • You are only supposed to eat potatoes only for 3-5 days. 
  • People are supposed to eat 2-5 pounds of potatoes every single day. 
  • You should not have any other food. This includes condiments and topping such as tomato sauce, cheese, ranch, and so on. 
  • You can add salt to your food, if you find need to. 
  • One should only drink water, black coffee, or plain tea when it comes to beverages. Avoid under all costs softs drinks and other sweetened beverages. 
  • You should not undertake heavy workout plans when you are on this diet. 
  • You should also avoid any dietary supplements when on this diet. 

Potatoes help lose weight by having low calories. Potatoes also contain proteinase inhibitor 2. This helps decrease hunger by slowing down the digestion process. 

It is important to note that this diet might only promote short-term weight loss. Once you go back to your normal diet, you are likely to gain most of the weight you lost. Very-low-calorie diets like this one are also known to slow down metabolism as well as decrease muscle mass. This contributes to you gaining weight once you return to your normal diet. This diet just like most mono diets lacks important nutrients that the body might need. 

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Banana Mono Diet

This diet involves eating bananas for twelve days for weight loss (8). Bananas are quite low in calories. A single small banana contains around 90 calories. Bananas also contain soluble fiber. This means when they absorb water, which will help slow down digestion. These two properties of bananas make them highly recommended for weight loss. 

The does and don’t of this diet are: 

  • You can only eat bananas but as many as you want. 
  • One should try to eat according to your daily energy requirements. You should not restrict your calorie intake when you are on this diet. 
  • You should drink at least 3 litres of water every day. 
  • This diet should not be an excuse for you not to exercise. You should complement this diet with your normal workout sessions. 
  • You should allow your body to rest. 

This diet is not healthy as it limits the body from getting other nutrients that the banana lacks. 

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The Cabbage Soup Mono Diet

This is yet another famous mono diet. Can you see how people would try anything as long as it promises rapid weight loss. This diet is said to lead to a weight loss of up to 10 pounds in a week. When you are on this diet, you are supposed to eat only cabbage soup for an entire week (12). It is referred to by other different names like the sacred heart hospital diet or the Mayo Clinic diet. This is because it was developed to boost weight loss in individuals with heart conditions before they undergo surgery. People have now gotten a whiff of this diet and are using it to lose weight. 

The rules of this diet are: 

  • You are supposed to follow this diet for a week.
  • It is allowed to eat one or two low-calorie foods with the soup. 
  • The only beverage you are allowed to drink while on this diet is water and other calorie-free drinks. 

The fact that it has low calories makes it able to promote weight loss. Although this diet might help you lose weight, most of the weight lost is likely to come back once you go back to your normal diet. This diet cannot be sustained over a long period of time.

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Choco Mono Diet

This is a chocolate diet (2). When a diet is not standardized, people choose to interpret it as they wish. The basics of this diet are: 

  • You need to determine the right amount of chocolate to consume daily. 
  • One needs to avoid stress-induced over-consumption of chocolate. 
  • You need to use chocolate to boost your workouts. 

Dark chocolate is the best for this diet as it offers the most benefits. It contains less sugar and contains more health-promoting antioxidants. Chocolate could help in weight loss by reducing stress in a person. It activates the pleasure centers in one’s brain and is associated with the release of feel-good chemicals. This helps reduce stress hormones which helps improve your metabolism as well as lose weight. The chocolate diet is said to reduce sweet cravings, reduce in-between meal snacking, help increase one’s energy levels, promote better moods and feelings, help improve blood pressure as well as helping one lose weight. 

There are other examples of mono diets that we won’t be able to include: the egg-only diet, the apple mono diet, the grapefruit mono diet, and many more. 

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Dangers Of Mono Diets

There are reasons as to why mono diets are not encouraged. Although they are said to promote fast weight loss, the question you should be asking yourself before you try a mono diet is ‘at what cost do they promote fast weight loss and is the weight loss permanent?’. With that said, here are the reasons you should not try mono diets: 

Mono diets could lead to loss of muscles mass (15).

The body breaks down muscle mass to amino acids when it is not getting the needed nutrients. If you choose a diet that offers less protein for your mono diet, this is likely to happen. Losing muscle mass hinders your weight loss goal. This is because muscle mass has a higher resting metabolism compared to fat mass (3). This makes them burn more calories hence promote weight loss. This cannot happen if you don’t have muscles.

You will most likely struggle with nutrient deficiencies (15).

There is no single food that is known to provide all the nutrients a person needs (10). As long as you are on a mono diet, this will always be the case. Missing important nutrients that your body needs could affect your overall health. For example, if you are only eating  non-starchy vegetables, the food is not going to provide you with enough protein to sustain your muscle mass, hence you are going to lose your muscles. You are not going to also get enough carbs to provide your body with the needed energy. This makes it hard for you to sustain your weight as well as to maintain proper brain function. 

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Mono diets can affect your digestion (15).

If your mono diet involves a lot of meat, you will not be getting enough fiber. This could cause gastrointestinal conditions like constipation and bloating. This goes on to show eliminating any macronutrient from your diet will come with its own set of problems.

A decrease in energy levels (7).

This is because the diet might not provide the body with enough carbs to provide the body with the needed energy. This hinders a person from performing their daily activities effectively. 

Does not promote healthy eating habits.

Healthy eating involves eating a balanced diet. You can lose weight while eating healthy food. All you need to do is manage your portions, sleep enough, work out regularly, drink enough water and you should be able to reach your goals. Mono diets dismiss all this. 

Mono diets are quite restrictive.

Them being restrictive meals there are some nutrients you won’t be able to get as we have discussed above. Its restrictive nature also makes it highly unsustainable (13). What is the point of taking up a diet if you cannot sustain it?

Too much of a certain nutrient (16).

Eating a single food for all your meals can make you get too much of certain nutrients. Getting too much of certain nutrients can have an effect on your health. A good example is if you are on a banana only diet, you might get too much potassium. This could lead to cardiovascular complications like cardiac arrest. 

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Reasons Why People Like Mono Diets

There are reasons as to why this diet is gaining an audience at a very fast rate. These reasons are: 

It is simple and cheap (4). This diet is not demanding like the rest of the diets. It does not have a long shopping list since you only need a few ingredients to sustain this diet. It makes decision making on food issues quite easy. If you are on an egg-only diet, you won’t have to worry about what you’ll have for supper or lunch, as you already know.

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Mono Diets And Weight Loss 

The reason most people take up mono diets is to lose weight. Mono diets promise quick weight loss. Is this really the case? Is the weight loss in mono diets sustainable? 

If you eat only one type of food for all meals you are likely to lose weight. This is because you are likely to consume less calories (13). Even if your mono diet involves a high-calorie food, you will still be able to lose weight due to the fact that you can only eat a certain type of food for a certain number of times. Hence most people don’t lose weight because the food they consume magically makes them lose weight, but mostly because they consume less calories and less of the food as time goes. You are likely to experience a quick water weight loss and decreased bloating if you are on such a diet (14). You may also feel thinner due to the muscle mass you are losing.

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A study of mono diets

A study was done by the researchers at the University of Buffalo and the University of Vermont (11). The study showed that when people are given the same meal everyday for a week, they are likely to consume less of the meal as the days go on. The people in the study consumed 125 fewer calories on the fifth day compared to the first day. When this was compared to people who switched up their meals, it was discovered that people who ate different meals consumed about 45 more calories at the end of the week. This goes to prove the real reason why people on mono diets lose weight. 

Most people after finishing a mono diet usually regain the weight they lost (13).  The lack of muscle mass means they now burn less calories and have a slow metabolism which results in them gaining weight. The number of calories they also consume in a given day increases drastically, which is also another factor why they regain the lost weight. 

With that being the case, there are certain mono approaches that would promote effective and healthy weight loss. These approaches are: 

The mono-elimination diet (13).

This involves looking for one unhealthy food that you often eat and removing it or eliminating it from your diet. An example is, if you always eat a bowl of ice cream everyday, you can choose to remove that from your diet. That would make you reduce around 300 to 500 calories that the ice cream contains. 

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The mono-meal diet (13).

This advocates making your meals simple. Here you try and eliminate things like topping and high-calorie and high -fat accompaniments from your diet. 

The mono-hydration diet (13).

The plan here is to remove all high-calorie drinks from your diet. This includes soft drinks and flavoured coffees. Choose to stick to water and other calorie-free drinks. 

The mono-swap diet (13).

The idea here is to choose a particular unhealthy food in your diet and replace it with a healthy substitute. Instead of eating french fries for lunch, you can choose to eat a bowl of salad.

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The Bottom Line

Just because mono diets are trendy at the moment, it does not mean you have to follow the trend. Mono diets are unhealthy and should not be encouraged. There are much healthier and sustainable ways to lose weight. Make sure to seek help from a dietitian if you need help.

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DISCLAIMER:

This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any medical conditions. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

SOURCES:

  1. Benefits Of Sweet Potato Diet For Weight Loss – Healthy Recipes You Can Try (2019, stylecraze.com)
  2. Chocolate Diet: Eat Chocolate, Lose Weight (n.d., freedieting.com)
  3. Eating Only One Food to Lose Weight Is a Terrible Idea (2016, thecut.com)
  4. EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE MONO MEAL (n.d., beautyexpert.com)
  5. Feel free to ignore anyone who swears by a mono diet (2016, sheknows.com)
  6. Mono Diets: Do They Work and the Science Behind Them (2017, daintyclub.wixsite.com)
  7. Mono Diets: Fast, Unhealthy Weight Loss (2015, practo.com)
  8. Please do not try this banana-only diet (2016, hellogiggles.com)
  9. Potato Diet Review: Does It Work for Weight Loss? (2019, healthline.com)
  10. Should you steer clear of the mono diet? (2019, femina.in)
  11. Slim Down by Eating the Same Meal Every Day (2013, youbeauty.com)
  12. The Cabbage Soup Diet: Does It Work for Weight Loss? (2018, healthline.com)
  13. What Is the Mono Diet? (2020, verywellfit.com)
  14. What Is the Mono Diet and Why Should You Avoid It? (2018, sparkpeople.com)
  15. What You Need to Know About the Mono Diet (2018, openfit.com)
  16. WTH Is The Mono Diet And Can It Help You Drop Pounds? (2017, womenshealthmag.com)
Ben William

Ben William

Ben is an experienced writer who is no stranger to fitness. His career goal is not only to educate people on proper exercising but also help them recognize the profound importance of healthy nutrition. As a writer, his top priority is to foster awareness about healthy lifestyle and encourage more people to transform their bodies and kick their deep-rooted habits. Ben strongly believes that anyone can achieve their fitness goals, as long as they work hard, stay on track and keep a positive mindset.

Soraya Ziou

Soraya Ziou

Hi everyone! I am a Canadian Registered Dietitian (RD) who graduated from the University of Ottawa, Canada. I worked at the Montreal Pediatric University Hospital and the Ottawa Heart Institute before joining the International Clinic of Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. With a strong interest in community nutrition, I worked in Haiti and in Syrian refugee camps affected by the scourge of malnutrition. I am passionate about food and its science!

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