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You may have noticed a new diet trend capturing headlines recently called the “Mono Raw Food Diet.” From celebrities to chefs, this diet is a hot topic and is stirring up much curiosity on social media. There’s also a recent growth in Mono Raw Food Diet cookbooks that have gained popularity among bloggers and nutritionists. So, what’s all the noise about Mono Raw way of eating? Learn more here:
The Mono Raw Diet refers to eating a single raw food, typically a fruit or vegetable, for every meal over a period of time, explains Jen Bruning, MS, RDN, LDN, Media Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics. (Think “mono meals” of oranges for breakfast, lunch, dinner and a snack, for example, or oranges for breakfast, a banana for lunch, broccoli for dinner, and so on.)
“While some individual stories have circulated regarding people who’ve gone on for months eating just this one food, most people don’t continue for as long,” says Bruning. “There is no one definition of the Mono Raw Food Diet and the timeline for eating the same food varies from person to person.”
Taking into consideration that raw food is the staple of this diet trend, it’s important to note that the food of choice cannot be cooked over 118°F or it isn’t considered “raw.” According to FoodSafety.gov, most meats should be cooked to about 165°F so don’t try this with meats.
With that said, it’s best to be fully informed when entering into a new way of eating, as there isn’t a one-size-fits-all for dieting. And if the mono raw is of interest to you, you’re in the right place!
Here, Bruning shares the potential health risks and benefits to following the Mono Raw diet.
If weight loss is a goal, the Mono diet will probably deliver that! Considering the likely decrease in calories and absence of processed foods, you’ll probably shed pounds.
“Many people who follow this diet will experience weight loss, which also serves to increase its popularity in a culture fixated on thinness,” says Bruning. “But it needs to be noted that, as in the case of many diets, weight loss doesn’t always equal health.” This is especially true if you’re only consuming one food and not a variety of foods.
If weight loss is your goal, keep in mind that as with most restrictive weight loss diets, you lose muscle mass and water—not just body fat. Once you return to a normal, varied diet, there’s a good chance that rebound weight gain will occur.
You may experience nutritional deviancies due to not consuming the proper variety of food the body needs to function properly. “If you have a functioning liver and kidneys, you don’t need to cleanse,” says Bruning. “Your body already knows how to cleanse itself, and the best way to enable that process to happen is to eat a healthy, varied diet of fruits and veggies, lean proteins, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, and healthy fats.”
If digestion problems are something you already struggle with, keep in mind raw foods, in general, might be hard on the digestion process. When the body needs to heal itself of something, especially a gut issue, its needs a variety of nutrients that work together to provide the body a healthy balance of vitamins and minerals, not just one item food.
Although your body will be packed with certain vitamins—like a ton of vitamin C if you’re only eating oranges—you’ll face the problem of not getting enough assortment of vitamins due to lack of eating different foods. “If a person eats just one food for too long, nutritional deficiencies will result—it’s just a matter of time,” Bruning says. “How much time depends on the individual’s health. No one food supplies all essential nutrients, therefore the inevitable conclusion to a mono raw food diet that lasts too long is a deficiency.”
Bruning warns those with certain health conditions to steer clear of the Mono Raw Diet and doesn’t recommend it as a long-term eating pattern for anyone. “This is especially true for pregnant women, the elderly or young children, those with kidney disease or anyone with a compromised immune system. Those with Crohn’s disease or other inflammatory bowel issues could find the foods featured in the raw foods diet to be triggers for their symptoms. Those with diabetes could be harmed by a potentially large amount of sugar if they eat a big quantity of a high-sugar food for their mono-meals,” she says.
The same goes for bodybuilders as the mono way of eating isn’t sufficient in proper nutrients to fuel an athlete. Yes, there will be weight loss, but, it is highly likely that a person would not get adequate protein while following this diet and loss of muscle mass would occur as well. Additionally, electrolyte replenishment is important for athletes. Depending upon the food that is eaten on the mono raw diet, one or more electrolytes may be inadequate. For these reasons, athletes and bodybuilders would not be advised to follow this diet for optimal performance.
It’s your decision to decide if the Mono Raw Food Diet is for you. As you know now, some may use this for a short term cleanse while others may choose to eat this way for a longer period of time. Whatever your health and fitness goal, be diligent in researching your diet of choice, your health depends on it!