The banana and milk diet weight loss plan was developed in Japan by a pharmacist’s wife to help him lose weight. After it came out that the pharmacist, Hitoshi Watanabe, had indeed lost thirty-seven pounds on the diet, books describing the regimen couldn’t be kept on the shelves of bookstores all over the world. However, do the morning banana diet results match expectations? Here’s what you need to know about how the banana diet works and whether its promoters are a reliable guide to achieving a healthy weight.
The Diet Plan
As weight-loss regimens go, this diet isn’t particularly demanding. According to its inventor, Sumiko Watanabe, those on the diet must eat nothing but bananas for breakfast and wash them down with milk. Lunch should consist of another banana, perhaps with a side salad, and snacks should be nothing but more bananas. To drink, the person is allowed water only. Dinner can be anything you like, but desert can only be—of course—more bananas.
Rules for Food Intake
Under the plan, there’s no restriction on eating bananas. Any number can be had for breakfast, and there’s no need to control banana intake throughout the day. While non-banana foods should be eaten in moderation at lunch, there’s no limit on what may be had for dinner. Apart from the morning’s glass of milk, water is the only fluid allowed. In total, the diet’s allowable foods are:
- Milk (preferably skim or low fat)
- Water (room temperature only)
- A moderate, low-calorie dinner
Non-Food Requirements of the Plan
Beyond the requirements for food intake, the diet imposes other conditions to promote weight loss. Dinner should be eaten prior to 8 p.m., for example, and bedtime can be no later than midnight. The schedule of the diet conflicts with some peoples’ work and school schedules, but allowances are made to frame-shift the eating and sleeping times for people who work odd hours. Some websites supporting the diet also urge you to chew the bananas slowly and “be mindful of their taste.”
The Perfect Food?
It really isn’t possible to exaggerate the nutritional value of bananas. If there was a single food to favor to the exclusion of others, you could do a lot worse than the banana. Bananas are rich in vitamins, especially Vitamins C and B6. A typical banana will also meet approximately 3 percent of your daily protein requirements. That isn’t a lot per banana, but you’ll be eating more than a few of them if you’re following the diet faithfully.
Bananas are high in dietary fiber. Dietary fiber is important to those watching their waistlines because of the way it affects digestion of other substances. Dietary fiber resists breakdown in the gut, and has the effect of pulling along other food material before the full caloric value can be extracted from it. In effect, this makes the other food you’ve eaten less nutritious, and therefore less fattening. Nutritionists and dietitians agree that most people who are looking to lose weight and who are currently eating a typical Western diet should modestly increase their intake of dietary fiber.
Bananas are also higher than most foods in a kind of fiber known as resistant starch. The human digestive tract has a hard time breaking down starches. Resistant starch, as its name implies, is more resistant than most. As it rests in the stomach, resistant fiber ferments. As a result, this produces various breakdown products that tend to accelerate the body’s natural fat-burning processes. Dietary fiber and resistant starches also have the effect of bulking up the mass of food in the stomach, which prolongs the feeling of fullness and reduces the temptation to snack between meals.
Hazards of the Diet
The diet isn’t without its critics. While an increase in dietary fiber and vitamin C doesn’t seem to have a downside, detractors point to the lack of experimental evidence or double-blind trials establishing the diet’s effectiveness. While testimonials attesting to the banana diet before and after transformations abound, nobody has ever produced more than anecdotal evidence of the plan’s success. It should also be observed that bananas aren’t capable of delivering your full nutritional needs alone, as they’re generally low in nutrients found in meat products, particularly vitamin B12.
Lack of Controls
Another issue some have taken with the diet is the dictum that bananas are so healthy that you can eat as many as you like. In fact, bananas generally range from sixty to 180 calories each. Eating ten bananas in a day can result in an intake of 1,800 calories without meeting the average person’s regular protein and calcium requirements. In point of fact, any diet that offers you the unrestricted freedom to eat whatever you want of any one food should be suspect, as almost any food you eat can be fattening if it’s consumed in sufficient quantities. It is also not known how the requirement for room-temperature water came about or why.
In the Press: Banana Diet Reviews
The banana diet made a big splash in 2008. Japan even suffered an acute banana shortage as word spread rapidly on the strength of dramatic first-person testimonials. More than 750,000 books have been sold on the subject, and it has gained a certain popularity in the US as a result of its promotion among diet experts on television and the Internet. The US is not alone in this. Bananas, water, and milk have become popular weight-loss aids across Europe, Australia, and South Africa. The diet has gotten favorable notices in papers around the world. Where it concerns the banana diet, Korean celebrities such as Seo In Young can’t find enough good things to say about it. Time will tell, however, whether the diet has the substance it needs to live up to the high hopes it encourages among people the world over.