What is the Mono Diet? Should You Try It?

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What is the mono diet? Does it offer any benefits and should you give it a try? One of the latest food trends explained.

You may have heard about the mono diet, either through circulating headlines or from a friend who swears by its effects on their health. But what is the mono diet, how do you eat mono meals, and is there any evidence in support?

The Mono Diet

The mono diet, short for the monotrophic diet, is a diet in which you only eat one type of food. This single food or food group is all that you eat for a period of days to weeks at a time.

For instance, some people follow a banana, apple, or potato mono diet, where they only consume that single food. Others may choose to eat a single food group diet, which consists of only foods that fall into a single category.

Furthermore, one might decide to eat mono meals that consist of different foods throughout the day. Perhaps you have a banana breakfast, a broccoli lunch, and a dinner of beans.

Variations of the mono diet include the fruitarian diet and the carnivore diet.

Overall, there are no standard rules for following a mono diet. You can pretty much design it to look however you want.

Perceived Benefits

The primary reason people are jumping on food trends like the mono diet bandwagon is – shocker – to lose weight.

For whatever reason, someone had the idea that eating one type of food at a time must be the magic solution to sustainable weight loss. And then, of course, thanks to social media influencers and persuasive headlines, more and more people have given it a shot.

The thinking is that by eating a mono diet, it takes all the planning and guesswork out of how to feed yourself for weight loss. No counting calories or macros, measuring portions, or reading nutrition labels.

This potential simplicity of a mono diet is attractive to many people. Understandably so, given how much we’ve muddied the waters of basic nutrition and how to enjoy feeding ourselves without tracking every tiny detail.

Should You Try the Mono Diet?

Is there any actual science behind the mono diet? Nope. Is the mono diet pattern good for you? Nope.

Here are a few reasons why I would never recommend the mono diet.

It’s not going to offer sustainable weight loss.

Can it promote weight loss? Probably. This is why trends like celery juice and keto have caught on so much – they can often help reduce the number on the scale more quickly than other approaches someone may have already tried.

It depends on what mono food you’re eating, of course. If your diet consists of low-calorie fruits or vegetables, then weight loss is likely. If you’re eating a chocolate or butter mono diet, then the odds are that your calorie intake is going to exceed the amount that would promote weight loss.

But does the weight loss stick? Well, seeing as one can’t survive solely on bananas, I’m going to say no. As with other diet trends, once you start eating normally again, the weight generally comes back.

Furthermore, a severely calorie-restricted diet can eventually slow your metabolism, making it even harder to lose weight – and keep it off – in the long run.

The best way to achieve healthy sustainable weight loss is by eating a balanced, nutritious diet and incorporating regular physical activity – which the mono diet doesn’t even address.

It’s not nutritionally sound.

The bigger issue with mono dieting is the likelihood that it sets you up for malnourishment in the long run. No, you’re not going to develop a nutrient deficiency in one day, but limiting your diet like this also significantly limits your nutrition.

There’s plenty of evidence showing that a diet incorporating a wide variety of minimally processed and whole plant foods is the optimal way to support your health, including your weight management and chronic disease risk.

Nutrient deficiencies can lead to things like impaired immune function, bone loss, anemia, digestive problems, fatigue, impaired mental health, and other issues.

A varied diet provides you with varied nutrients, which your body needs to perform and thrive.

It comes with a risk of disordered eating.

As someone who has come out on the other side of a disordered eating pattern, I would never, ever encourage someone to eat in a way that severely restricts their menu.

And it’s more than just personal opinion. Studies have found that following fad and yo-yo diet trends that promote weight cycling may be associated with a higher risk of developing eating disorders.

It’s boring.

Seriously, what a boring way to live.

I mean, who wants to eat one single food all day long? Not only does it severely limit your menu at home, but it would make it nearly impossible to enjoy any social outing where food is involved.

Final Thoughts

As much as I’d like to live on pizza or donuts alone some days, we were never meant to eat one single food or food group day in and day out. Real, healthy food (not diet products or ultra-processed packaged foods) – and a variety of it – was intended to provide our basic nutritional needs.

Food was meant to nourish our bodies and bring us joy: two things the mono diet is never going to provide.