As the name suggests, a monodiet, or monotrophic diet, consists of eating just one food for several days at a time.
In practice, those following a monodiet eat enough of a single food throughout the day to sate their hunger, usually for a maximum of 3 days .
The monodiet is accompanied by increased consumption of teas, infusions, flavoured waters, etc, the only proviso being that these extra fluids do not contain added sugar. So in theory, this means no kefir or kombucha.
The most common food choices for a monodiet are apples, bananas, grapes and wholegrain rice but you could theoretically choose any basic non-processed food (potato, sweet potato, peach, apricot, quinoa, etc.)
Monodiets became popular in 2016 after an American magician published a book describing how he lost 10 kilos in 5 weeks by only eating potatoes (1).
Since then, this type of diet has grown in popularity among those wishing to achieve rapid weight loss – despite warnings from nutritionists.
In actual fact, the monodiet is similar to fasting, in that after the first 24 hours, the body draws primarily on its reserves of glycogen, a form of carbohydrate found mainly in the muscles and liver, to meet its needs. It also draws on muscle – its major protein reserve, and to a lesser degree, adipose tissue (2-3).
In addition, a monodiet usually triggers a significant loss of water. On balance then, the weight loss achieved as a result of following a monodiet for 2 to 3 days is essentially related to loss of glycogen, water, muscle and, to lesser degree, fat. It is therefore not a good diet for achieving weight loss.
To lose weight, you need to eat a balanced diet which both provides all the macronutrients and micronutrients you need and at the same time, induces a slight calorie deficit. Taking exercise as well will obviously help too.
This is all the more important as a monodiet poses a number of risks to health. The first of these is excess fructose when the chosen food is apples, bananas or other fruit.
In fact, to stay fit and have enough energy, you need to eat 1600 kcal a day which would mean consuming, for example:
Yet the adverse effects of too much fructose start to appear at 100g a day in a healthy adult, and at just 60g a day in a type 2 diabetic.
What’s more, digesting fructose can often cause diarrhoea, flatulence and bloating, particularly in people who have trouble absorbing it and in older individuals, as digestibility of fructose decreases with age (5).
Most importantly, fructose consumption leads to the production of fatty acids by the gut which results in raised triglyceride levels in the blood. In addition, excessive fructose consumption promotes fatty liver (6).
It’s clear then that relying exclusively on fruit to meet your calorie needs produces the same effects as alcohol consumption. Not exactly what you want from a detox …
What’s more, a monodiet does not provide the macronutrients or micronutrients necessary to maintain good health: protein, fats, minerals, trace-elements, omega-3, etc.
There’s no problem with occasionally following a monodiet for the odd meal or two, or for a whole day, in order to give your digestive system a rest. But to eat one type of food for several days, even if that food is intrinsically healthy, amounts to dietary madness.
It’s claimed that a monodiet offers the additional benefit of detoxifying the body. The reasons given are that a monodiet allows the gut and liver to rest and to get rid of toxins produced as a result of digestion.
But when your body’s functioning well and you’re eating a balanced diet, there’s absolutely no need to follow a ‘detox’ diet.
And as we’ve seen, fruit-based monodiets actually have an adverse effect on the liver and blood triglyceride levels.
Yet again, the best way of thoroughly ‘cleansing’ your system and detoxing your body is to eat a healthy, balanced diet free from processed foods and low in refined sugars. An acid-base diet is perfect in this respect.
And if you’re looking for a helping hand when it comes to the health of your liver, you’re best off taking Liver Support Formula, which contains artichoke (Cynara scolymus), Chlorella algae and milk thistle (Silybum marianum), all of which are good for liver health (7-9) as well as Picrorhiza kurroa royle, recognised for its liver-protective effects (10). You could also choose a supplement containing desmodium, part of the Fabaceae family, also recognised for its hepatoprotective properties (11).
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