Wednesday, October 22, 2008

That silly Banana Diet

Have you heard about the Morning Banana Diet? It's a fad diet that's taken Japan by storm, to the extent that stores are having banana shortages. The rules of the diet are simple. You just eat one or more bananas with room temperature water, then a normal lunch and dinner,* before 8 p.m. You can have a 3:00 snack, but no desserts, and you need to go to bed before midnight.

Just by looking at this, it seems clear why people might lose weight, if they are normally eating a big breakfast or lots of sweets, or both. Cutting out desserts and substituting a 100-calorie banana for a higher calorie breakfast would obviously promote weight loss simply due to calorie reduction. Of course, that doesn't explain why it works (if it does) for people who choose to eat more than one banana, or who didn't previously eat breakfast and then add the bananas to their diets.

I'm sure there's some quasi-scientific explanation for why this works (if it really does). It's not really that bad of a diet, as fads go. It allows you to eat normal, sensible meals, cuts out sweets, and certainly bananas have good things in them, nutrients and fiber and such. It's a lot like the Special K diet, which you've probably seen on TV (you substitute Special K with skim milk and fruit for two meals a day), or even Slimfast, which substitutes shakes for a couple meals and then eat a "sensible dinner."

I would love to find a magical quick-fix diet which could help me lose ten pounds quickly with little effort. I would do almost anything** to drop those ten pounds right now. I really resent that despite all my running and very healthy eating I have manage to gain ten pounds since early spring.

But I am very reluctant to adopt a diet that requires me to give up breakfast and just eat a banana in the morning. After four years I have become attached to having a regular breakfast every morning. And since I run or work out early almost every day, I really believe I need my solid breakfast of oatmeal, berries or fruit, and an egg (plus egg whites) every day. It fuels me through the morning and keeps me from diving into a scone at Starbucks.

When I had a lot of weight to lose, and did lose it, I was able to commit to a long term weight loss plan without expecting to be finished in short time. Of course it helped that I was able to lose two or more pounds a week for a long time. Nowadays I can barely manage to net one pound of loss per week. But the idea that it could take ten weeks—till the end of the year!—to lose those pesky ten pounds, is practically unbearable. I want it to be done now.***

I don't know how to finish this post. I am not going to do the Banana Diet, for the reasons mentioned above. I am sticking to my usual plan of cutting out most sweets and high-glycemic carbs**** and seeing how it goes. If that doesn't work, I will be forced to look seriously at eating less (say it ain't so), and perhaps increasing my cardio, although that would be difficult since I devote so much time already to running and the Y.

So. This post started out being a criticism of fad diets and ended up being all about me. But what else can you expect? It is my blog, after all!

*Since this diet comes from Japan, I assume they mean a "normal" Japanese lunch and dinner.

**Except, apparently, eat less and stop being tempted by the odd cookie or Hershey's miniature.

***I cling to the idea that a few pounds of it is water weight due to the carbs I have consumed in training, and/or treating myself on sweets, and if I cut back on them I will, indeed, drop some of the ten pounds quickly, even if the remainder take longer.

****How many times have I written that, for heavens sake?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Bananas are a good breakfast. They contain resistant starch, which ferments in your large intestine, creating by-products that block conversion of some carbohydrates into fuel, so replacing ordinary carbs with the resistant starch in bananas can boost fat burning. And banana fiber bulks up in your stomach, so you feel full for longer. There’s a healthy way to do the banana diet which makes sense and includes exercise (Yep, you still have to run)at