The Banana Diet: The New Grapefruit?

By Mike Howard

376-db morning banana diet.jpgThe “Morning Banana Diet” has taken Japan by storm – to the point where stores can’t keep up with the demand. The diet is as simple as it gets – beginning with eating a banana first thing in the morning. Here are some other details of the diet:

  • You may eat more than one banana for breakfast and have 2 if you like (only raw, uncooked and unfrozen)
  • Eat anything you want for lunch and dinner as long as you eat diner before 8 pm. (many dieters report cutting back on rice and fried foods)
  • No dessert with meals.
  • At meals, eat only until satisfied but not full (The Japanese expression is “Hara hachibu ni isha irazu” – “A stomach eight-tenths full needs no doctor.”
  • Drink only water
  • Eat mindfully
  • You may have an afternoon snack
  • Early to bed
  • Journal your food intake
  • Exercise only if you want

Clearly, the morning banana is the make-or-break factor here! In seriousness, there are some great suggestions there. Unfortunately, they have been relegated to “by-the-ways” whereas they are actually more prominent factors in eating for leanness.

Like its other predecessors, the morning banana diet proponents have assigned magical properties to a single food which it simply does not possess. Here are some more truthful factoids (I think) about bananas:

  • A medium sized banana contains about 108 calories, 27g of carbs, 5 grams of fat,
  • Known for their potassium, bananas are actually an average source, providing about 13% of the daily intake.
  • Bananas are a good source of vitamin B6 and to a lesser extent vitamin C.
  • Bananas are an exceptionally rich source of fructooligosaccharide, a compound called a prebiotic because it nourishes probiotic (friendly) bacteria in the colon.
  • Bananas contain pectin, which helps proper movement through the digestive tract
  • A Bananas glycemic index varies greatly according to its stage of ripeness: Under ripe yields about a 30, while spotted bananas can be well into the 60’s.

Bananas are part of a healthy diet but they do not contain miraculous fat burning characteristics. The traditional Japanese diet is very healthy and has helped Japan secure its reputation for being home to the some of the longest lived citizens in the world. It would be more encouraging seeing those who have strayed from their traditional diets go back to their roots, rather than jumping on the latest dietary fad bandwagon.

32 Comments

  1. Castle Grok

    Oh Methuselah, you’re just a party pooper. Let people have their magic 😉

    Reply
  2. Mark

    This diet does work, but you have to take it consistently, what means you’d be hungry for some part of a day. With all your sceptical comments, I like this diet. Bananas are good, they give you dietary fiber. Eating such an unvaried breakfast might be not healthy, but you don’t have to do it all your life. Though any fruit is good to start a day with, I suppose.

    Reply
  3. laura

    how long did it take you to lose the 50 lbs?

    Reply
  4. Shelley

    There is nothing unhealthy about this “diet” per se, unless the person doing it chooses unhealthy food for lunch and dinner (hey, that was me). I think the idea of not forcing people to a strict regiment for lunch and dinner is to not make them feel deprived. I have been on the banana diet for 3 weeks and have lost 4 pounds, but I have pushed the “anything you want” to the limit and really eaten junk food I would not normally eat, just to see if all I did was eat bad but also eat bananas as the only variable, would it still work. And it has. This week, it’s back to my normal whole wheat, lean meats and veggies and I have already done better. Look, try it for 2 weeks. Eat what you determine to be a sensible lunch and dinner. The bananas are getting rid of my edema and giving me more energy, so I am going to keep eating them. At least try it before you knock it. It doesn’t say you can’t exercise, just doesn’t force you to. The best “diet” is one you can live with, not one that gives you temporary results.

    Reply
  5. azalea

    so if I get it right..
    for breakfast you eat 1 or 2 bananas and for lunch and dinner you can eat whatever you want?
    cause I read on some other site that you eat 2 bananas for breakfast with room temp water and for lunch 2 bananas and for dinner 1 banana is that right or not?

    Reply
  6. kaui

    the banana diet may work but its not enough nutrients, maybe a small banana or save it for snack or lunch later, morning should be fruits that are easily digestable, bananas and avocados should be eaten in the afternoon.
    Morning eat half a grapefruit and carnation breakfast.
    snack on a banana later.
    lunch same thing, half grapefruit and carnation breakfast. or just eat the whole grapefruit in the morning. And lunch carnation breakfast and banana.
    snack on an apple later.
    its much healthier than just banana because you add fiber and protein at the same time! and it works!

    Reply
  7. kaui

    i hate bananas too but I love them in smoothies! make a smoothie instead! with milk or soymilk, blend a banana, some ice, and maybe some protein powder like slim fast or carnation breakfast! its YUM!

    Reply
  8. mico

    IT WORKSSS!!!!!! its been exactly 13 days that ive been on the banana diet and every one has been telling me that ive lost weight.
    I eat a banana for breakfast and drink a cup of water.
    for lunch i eat anything i effin want.
    and for dinner i eat a small cup of grapenuts(cereal)
    and i dont eat anything after 6PM
    MAN THIS REALLY WORKS and i rarely exercise.

    AFTER BEING ON THIS FOR A COUPLE OF DAYS YOUR METABOLISM WILL TURN MEAGER AND NOW IM NOT HUNGRY AFTER I EAT SOMETHING.

    BUT IT WILL ONLY WORK IF YOU STICK TO IT. I LOVE THIS DIET!!!!

    Reply
  9. Elene

    Hi, I’ve found a blog where many people are trying this banana diet, I’ve added my opinion too in their board.

    I’ve tried the diet for several weeks (this is the 2nd month) and I have to say that it works for me.
    By the way, many others have different opinions (this is where the article is http://www.nanoda.com/en/japanese-cooking/asa-banana–the-morning-banana-the-new-diet-from-japan.html )
    Btw, I think that the most important thing is to avoid sweets, even if the diet does not says it. In the first month I’ve eat a good amount of sweets, and results were not so great. So I’ve tried reducing them and now I’ve lost more than 2Kg in a month 🙂

    I would be glad to share my experience with everyone is trying the diet. You can write me at elene97 at yahoo.com

    With friendship 🙂

    Elene

    Reply
  10. Jambalaya

    tinnie, this blog post clearly explains why a diet like this might work, and that it is the factors relegated to the periphery here that are the most important. You could get the same results in a healthier, safer way following a sensible eating plan (the ‘extras’ here), exercising and avoiding the fad part of the diet. Sure, eat bananas for their beneficial qualities, but not in place of a balanced breakfast and not with some idea they are a miracle food. I will never understand why there is this insistent attraction to, and defense of fads. It seems to be a persistent byproduct of an advertising-driven world. It seems like many people only feel motivated when they hear very exciting claims. It’s a shame, as the need for change and feeling a sense of trust in sensible advice should be enough to motivate.

    By the way, losing 10lbs in one week is not healthy! And just because something seems to work, it’s not proof that it works in the way claimed, as this article does an excellent job of explaining. If this advice goes over people’s heads and they’d rather take in a simplistic, sensationalised explanation, what can you do?

    Also, people have to get off this ‘no negativity’ trip as a way to try to silence criticism. It’s fascist, frankly. Guess what? Criticising harmful stuff is positive. New age types have to learn to stop categorising anything critical or anything they don’t want to hear as ‘negative’. Critical thinking is a cornerstone of free thinking and of progress. What could be more positive?

    Reply
  11. Angie

    I absolutely love this diet 🙂 I have been on the Morning Banana Diet for just over a month and have lost 8lbs without any exercise. On top of that my quality of life is so much better, i feel better, i sleep better, i have more energy.

    I think its all about common sense really, i think that what makes it easy to stick to is that the rules are simple, almost like they aren’t rules at all and they suggest you keep a journal ( I keep a blog so everyone can read it and give me support).

    Anyways, just wanted to say that it was great!
    Regards,
    Angie

    Reply
  12. Dagwood Bumstead

    I love this diet. My hair has grown back, the bags under my eyes have diminshed, the kids are starting to listen to me, and my boss just gave me a nice raise.

    Reply
  13. tinkerbell

    I think the way people are losing weight is not eating after 8:00, and has nothing to do with the banana, but I will give it a try, it’s easy, and banana’s are good for you.

    Reply
  14. Safiya Shakeela Khan

    I think I will give this diet a try. There are many people out there, like myself who’ve tried many things including exercise to lose weight. But nothing ever works. It becomes very hard and ddepressing, therefore we all give up and lose confidence. I think if this diet does work after one month of eating only 1-2 bananas for breakfast and whatever you want for lunch and dinner I will give 110% to whomever else decides to give this diet a wack at it! Good luck to everyone who is willing to give this a try, I mean, do it for one week. If it works and you see a little change on the scale, then push yourself to go for another week and so forth. Everyone is so negative these days and it causes people to put themselves down for any diet or anything they want to do for that matter. They just lose confidence in themselves. I believe people should be more supportive to people around them and support them in their choices, even if you know deep in your heart is silly. A possitive attitude will create great views on life itself. YAY for me! I will try this “very stupid” diet like Kym said!~

    Safiya Khan, Canada

    Reply
  15. Charles

    For many years, I have only eaten fruit for breakfast and I feel that it really helps me to keep my weight in check.

    Apples and Pears are 2 of my favorites because they travel well. They also have much more fiber than bananas because you eat the skin.

    Think about what a lot of people eat for breakfast. One pop tart has 200 calories, so 2 pop tarts and a glass of milk is about 500 calories. Replace that with a 100 calorie banana and I think it’s reasonable that you can lose weight.

    Reply
  16. tinnie

    I just started doing the banana diet couple of days ago and i think it works. I’ve heard about it from my son’s schoolmate who lost 10lbs in 1 week. Let’s just wish all those who want to try it out, good luck and just be supportive wish them well!
    That is how you make this world a better place..no negativity please!

    Reply
  17. Andrew R

    If I ever sell out and create a diet around one single food, someone please just stop me on the street and smack me around! Is this really what people need to take action? If so, is it worth pandering to their lack of commitment?

    Let’s make it fun by treating the dissemination of knowledge like trading baseball cards. Yikes, I just want to say, “Hey look! I’ve got a meal plan and fitness routine that will make you healthier, happier, and give you a better physique! I’ll trade you that for some of your will power and discipline and we’ve got a deal!”

    Thanks for the post!

    All the Best,

    Andrew R

    Reply
  18. Jerry

    Bananas are a good diet food. They help people lose weight because they contain resistant starch, which ferments in the 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 the stomach, so you feel full for longer. A healthy way to do the banana diet makes sense and includes exercise. The science is from http://www.dolenutrition.com/bananadiet/bananadiet.htm

    Reply
  19. Susan

    It’s just for fun. And if it kick starts someone off to learning a healthier way to eat, then who cares.

    Reply
  20. Ally

    Ugh, I hate bananas. Every now and then I force myself to buy a couple of them because of the supposed health benefits, and I’d also have to force them down for breakfast. I picked breakfast because I figured, at least I’d get it out of the way since I dislike them. All it results in is me feeling slightly nauseated (they don’t sit well in my stomach for some reason) and a bad mood for the rest of the day.

    Reply
  21. Sahil

    Wow… marketing at it’s best.

    No wonder we have such a health problem. I think were going to have “fruit” diets until we exhaust every possible option:

    apple diet
    mango diet
    grape diet
    pear diet

    and the list goes on. Who knew? I can predict the future =)

    SahilM
    flawlessfitnessbook

    Reply
  22. Healthy Weight Loss Girl

    I don’t really believe in diets which do not encourage physical activity. Plus, a well balanced breakfast is essential and I don’t think that a banana , or even two bananas, will give you the necessary nutrients for the morning. I think the only way to attain weight loss is to eat a well balanced nutritionally satisfying diet and to take part in routine physical activity.

    Reply
  23. The Doctors Chocolate

    Exercise, exercise, exercise! While I can get on board with some of these suggestions, it really boils down to how many calories you are burning throughout the day.

    Reply
  24. junjitai

    I think 2 banannas is not enough for breakfast..the banannas could be dinner, dinner fo breakfast and lunch..is..lunch

    Reply
  25. susan

    If I ate a banana for breakfast, I’d need a snack an hour later!

    Reply
  26. Bethama

    My roommate – who moved out yesterday – was doing this. He would eat a banana for breakfast and yogurt for dinner. Of course, everything ELSE he ate was, in essence, more of the same – juice, beer, popular fried bar foods. Yet, the way he acted, this was the only way to lose weight. He had a lot of good points, but this was one of the things that got pretty annoying. Last time I’m living with a Japanese businessman. (…SUCH a long story.)

    Reply
  27. blah

    I follow that exact same diet, except I substitute apples for the bananas, frequently eat dinner after 8 pm, do not go to bed particularly early, try to exercise regularly, and do not eat “anything I want” for lunch and dinner. So far I have lost 50 pounds and kept it off!

    Reply
  28. Spectra

    I have a feeling that the reason the diet works has more to do with the “hara hachibu ni isha irazu” principle than eating bananas. And what’s with the “eat one or more bananas for breakfast; you can have two if you like”. What if you want THREE bananas? Is that allowed because it’s more than one? Seriously, it’s just the same ol’ advice with a banana thrown in.

    Reply
  29. Yuji Tai

    It is interesting to read the article about japan from the westernized perspective. For myself, I am not interested in this phenomenon, because this type of movement has been getting popular at a regular interval. Some Japanese TV personalities said on their media that they followed the banana diet and it worked. Banana, Apple, Cabbage, Natto, etc… Yuji from Japan.

    Reply
  30. Mike H.

    “When people decide to follow any program there is a big effect simply from their determination to get their life in order”

    Well said, Methuselah!

    Reply
  31. Methuselah - Pay Now Live Later

    Sounds like a back-of-a-fag-packet description of one person’s approach to living which has gained media exposure because it has a catchy name. When people decide to follow any program there is a big effect simply from their determination to get their life in order so I suspect there’s very little of any special significance about any aspect of these rules, including, as you say, the banana itself.

    Reply
  32. Kym

    I think it’s very good, except it lacks variety for breakfast and not exercising…is well, very stupid.

    Reply