By Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD
WebMD Expert Review
Ever since former opera singer Kumiko Mori announced she had lost 15 pounds on the “Morning Banana” diet, there has been a shortage of bananas in Japan, according to The Japan Times online. Billed as the fastest and easiest weight loss diet, the Morning Banana diet has taken Japan by storm.
The Morning Banana diet was developed by Hitoshi Watanabe, who studied preventive medicine in Tokyo, and his pharmacist wife, Sumiko. The diet has since gained popularity by word of
The Morning Banana Diet: What You Can Eat
The Morning Banana Diet is a super simple plan. For breakfast, you have only bananas and room-temperature water. Then, you can eat whatever you like for lunch, dinner, and snacks, as long as you don’t eat after 8 p.m. The only restrictions: No ice cream, dairy products, alcohol, or dessert after dinner, and the only beverage you may have with meals is room-temperature water. One sweet snack is allowed midafternoon.
One of the most popular aspects of the plan is the lack of emphasis on exercise. Dieters are advised to do it only if they want to, and even then, it should be done in a manner that is the least stressful.
The Morning Banana Diet: How It Works
Different versions of the Morning Banana Diet tout varying explanations of exactly how bananas work to promote weight loss. One theory suggests that certain enzymes in bananas speed up digestion and elimination, causing rapid weight loss. However, the human body already contains all the enzymes needed for digestion. It’s true that foods with fiber (and bananas have some) can go through the digestive system more quickly and may not be completely absorbed, thus saving a few calories. But the calorie savings are certainly not enough to revolutionize the weight loss industry.
Another theory centers on resistant starch, a type of fiber that is supposed to promote fullness and increase fat burning. Resistant starch is found naturally in carbohydrate foods such as green bananas, potatoes, grains, and beans — but only when you eat them cold. It resists digestion in the small intestine, where most digestion occurs, and gets passed along to the large bowel.
Studies show that the indigestible fiber may block the conversion of some carbs, but even so, bananas contain only a small amount of fiber and resistant starch. Bananas have 2-4 grams of fiber; to be considered a “good” source, a food must have 3.5-4.9 grams of fiber per serving.
Bananas, along with most fruits have long been a part of healthy diets and weight loss plans. But while they are nutritious, they do not have special weight loss properties.
Eating whatever you like at lunch, dinner, and snacks is no recipe for weight loss. To lose weight, you need to be physically active and control calories. And to stay healthy, you should choose healthy foods.
Not eating after 8 p.m. is good advice for those who tend to mindlessly snack after dinner. But make no mistake about it: There is nothing miraculous about not eating after 8 p.m. What matters are how many calories you consume (regardless of the time of day), and how many calories you burn.
And while eating breakfast does help to get your metabolism percolating, there’s nothing magical about having a banana for your morning meal. Eating a banana and water for breakfast is easy enough and certainly a low-calorie option. Bananas range from 72-135 calories and 10-20 grams of sugar, depending on size. But even though bananas have some fiber, a pure carb breakfast usually leads to hunger within a few hours, and hunger is the downfall of dieters.
Instead, you could blend a banana with a few cubes of ice and a cup of plain, low-fat yogurt (150 calories and 12 grams protein) for a delicious, nutritious smoothie with staying power.
The Morning Banana Diet: Food for Thought
To feel full on the fewest calories, focus on eating healthy foods high in water and fiber, like beans, soups, vegetables, and fruits. Be sure to include lean protein, such as low-fat yogurt, lean meat, eggs, or nuts, to help keep hunger at bay.
The truth is that fad diets that restrict calories can result in weight loss, but it’s almost always followed by quick weight regain. And experts agree that there is no food capable of burning off fat. If there were, we would not be coping with an obesity epidemic.
It may not be sexy or exciting, but to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you eat. Period.
Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, is director of nutrition for WebMD and the WebMD Weight Loss Clinic. Her opinions and conclusions are her own.