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In the News: Eat Bananas, Lose Weight?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Have you heard of the Banana Diet? This fad diet is so popular in Japan that bananas are scarce, despite a 25% increase in banana imports over last year. (By the way, last year's diet craze in Japan was natto, or fermented soybeans, which have an acquired taste. Supermarket shelves were stripped of the smelly beans, until scientists later debunked the weight loss claims.)

According to Time magazine,
"Sumiko Watanabe, a pharmacist in Osaka designed this stress-free diet to help increase the metabolism of her husband Hitoshi Watanabe, who had been rather overweight. In due course, Mr. Watanabe lost 37 pounds and introduced the diet on mixi, one of Japan's largest social networking services."

"The Morning Banana Diet regime is simple: A banana (or as many as you want) and room temperature water for breakfast; eat anything you like for lunch and dinner (by 8 p.m.). A three o'clock snack is okay, but no desserts after meals, and you have to go to bed before midnight."

While experts doubt that bananas contain some miraculous weight-loss compound, there are some parts of this diet that make sense. You just have to dig a bit deeper. I'm not a dietitian or nutrition expert, but if people are losing weight on this diet, it probably has more to do with common sense, wouldn't you think?

It seems to me that this woman wanted to put her dear hubby on a diet, but she knew if she told him to practice moderation that he would ignore her sage advice. Therefore, she told him that his morning banana for breakfast had super-magic weight-loss powers. Ta-da. Man loses weight, and a fad diet is born.

Let's examine each of those claims:

Eat bananas for breakfast, plus room temperature water.
Eating breakfast is a good thing. Bananas are a healthy food, and, I suppose, a much better breakfast choice than a pastry, greasy doughnut or a bacon-and-fried egg bagel sandwich. It just doesn't seem that filling. Still, one medium banana has 109 calories, 1 g fat, 28 g carbs, 1 g protein, 3 g fiber, 1 g calcium and 1 g sodium. I think I'd need about three to even come close to filling me up in the morning. As for the morning glass of water, you all know how SparkPeople feels about water.

Eat anything you want for lunch and dinner.
I'm guessing that in a country known for good health and longevity, most people on this diet probably aren't scarfing down a burger, large fries and a soda for lunch, or a giant plate of pasta for dinner. "Eat anything you want" most likely means lean meats and plenty of fresh seafood in moderation, an abundance and variety of fresh vegetables, and some rice or noodles. That sounds more like eating in moderation than eating to excess for two meals a day.

A snack around 3 p.m.
Before I started working at SparkPeople, I rarely made time for lunch, let alone a snack. Now I make afternoon, and sometimes morning, snacks a part of my daily routine. If 4 p.m. rolls around, and I haven't had a snack, I start to get lethargic and cranky. The snack helps keep my energy levels high throughout post-work Spinning and yoga classes. Experts agree that snacks are an important part of healthy eating, especially before and after workouts.

No eating after 8 p.m.
How many of us find ourselves "grazing" after dinner and in the evening? I'm guilty of that sometimes, especially if Iím out late with friends. (A burrito at midnight? Sure!) If there were a rule in place that kept you from eating after a certain time, that might be just what some people need to curb after-dinner eating.

No desserts after meals.
Well, that seems like a no-brainer. Delicious as they are, desserts are usually full of empty calories. Cutting them out or seeking out healthier options might help you lose weight.

Go to bed before midnight.
Think staying out late has no effect on your health or weight loss efforts? Think again. If you stay up late, you're depriving yourself of necessary sleep. According to experts, sleep loss affects the level of certain hormones, putting your body in a position to gain weight. A recent study found that babies who got less sleep than recommended amount were twice as likely to be overweight as preschoolers.

Is the banana diet the key to weight loss? Probably not. However, the diet does contain some good, common-sense tactics.

Have you ever tried a fad diet? In college, my friend and I tried the cabbage soup diet. I lasted a day and a half. She lasted three. We ended up splitting a large pizza and a bottle of wine to celebrate quitting. Not exactly a great weight-loss plan!

What do you think about the Banana Diet? Do you think it's the bananas that are helping people lose weight, or is it just good, old-fashioned moderation?

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First they say don't eat them, then do eat them. I think eating them in moderation, such as one a day, is good for all of us. Report
Yes, it can. But you can't eat too much banana. The best way to lose weight is eating less and exercise more.For more information about fitness and nutritional products visit stayfitnutrition website.
I am not bananas about bananas. Other fruits have more potassium than a banana. Report
Remember Boris Becker having bites of banana between his Tennis matches! I have started eating a banana Its a better option than starving and feeling dizzy, I can finish my work and still feel alright. As a diet its better than eating other unnatural sweets. Report
I have to agree with MEGARAPTOR. I live in Japan, too, and there are plenty of unhealthy things here to eat. Not just KFC, McDonald's, Mr. Donut and other 'imports', but vast arrays of deep-fried foods. The supposedly 'healthy' Japanese lunch box always has a large portion of white rice and at least one if not several deep-fried items. So I disagree with the author of this blog about the "how wrong can you go eating whatever you want" in Japan. Eating breakfast is definitely a plus, and no desserts or eating after 8 p.m. are two more pluses. Go to bed by midnight is actually a big deep here. Daily schedules can be really hectic with long commutes and after school cram schools. In addition, Japanese houses can be so cramped that the only alone time a person might have is when everyone else has gone to bed. So in bed by midnight is yet another plus. This may be why it is successful here in Japan. It's not the banana, it's the way it addresses some endemic lifestyle issues. IMHO Report
Am I the only person who really dislikes the flavor and mouth texture of bananas?

That said, I usually eat them about 2-3x a week because my boss brings them in. Report
I love bananas. I add to my green smoothie,eat alone before working out or grab to carry with me to have a healthy choice of food available. Banana fad? No. Report
Bananas make me feel heavy! Report
I love bananas, eat atleast one a day. Not sure it is a magic food, but they do taste good. I'm eating one right now! Report
Any kind of a food fad diet is not very long lasting. I know I have been there, done that and it worked to a while, but you can not live your life that way. SparkPeople is probably the smartest thing to help you achieve your weight loss and change your life style. Report
Love them in moderation of course :) Report
Bananas, especially slightly green ones, are high in "resistant starch" which is being studied for it's ability to stimulate metabolism. Even though it's a starch, not all of it is digested.
Can't hurt, might help, and a banana has only around 100 calories, so it fits nicely into my diet. I try to eat 1 or 2 a day. Report
When I was in undergrad, one of my 95 pound friends went to a doctor at the university and asked how she could gain weight. His main dietary suggestion? Eat bananas!

To me, his response made sense because bananas aren't very filling and have a lot of calories in them. I eat them as a healthy treat occasionally and am mindful that I need to eat something with protein as well in order to truly be satisfied. Report
a banana a day keeps the doctor away!

bananas are one of my all time favourite foods. of course, back in the day the HAD to be covered in peanut butter and chocolate chips! Now, a sandwich with banana and natural pb is a go to lunch.

my favourite thing is stirring a mushy banana into my oatmeal before cooking it. Honestly, it's the most fantastic thing in the world. Throw 1/4 cup of walnuts in, add some maple syrup.... Report
Sounds like the watermelon diet. Banana's are great but for me I can only have 1 or 2 a week, they may have 3 grams of fiber and be high in potassium but they can also be very constipating. Moderation for me. Report
We eat a lot of bananas for health reasons. Bananas are a good source of potassium and other things. My husband's medication pulls potassium from his system. He has to eat foods that put it back and also has been told by the doctor to drink Gatorade G2. Bananas are high in calories, but they are great for breakfast or a morning snack when you want something to get the day started. I think they are a great part of a healthy diet. Report
Bananas are filling & most people like it. Better than cabbage soup diet any day! I still believe that moderation is the key. Can't imagine eating a banana everyday for breakfast. I'd go bonkers!!! Report
Let's see what other miracle food diets I have heard of:
1. Grapefruit diet (canker sore city here I come!)
2. Cabbage Soup diet (Was ready to kill everybody who went near me by day 3!)
3. No carb diet (let's just say things really can get clogged up in the colon with this one!)
4. Banana diet
5. Weird smelly bean diet

What's next, hmmm....., how about the funnel cake and milk chocolate diets, I would like them! Report
It is just a simple mind game. If you believe it will work, it will work and you will see the desired change because it is wanted. I have been trying to get rid of a muffin top for sometime and after a long conversation with my regular physician I decided against trying the fad ab fat pills and try her suggestion: Instead of focusing on the part of you you dont like focus on the parts you do and you will see the other parts change to something more likeable.

I have been working on this, focusing on my firm rear end, firms breast, shapely legs and firming arms and am seeing also the change in my mid section while not paying it attention other than an occasionall, it is coming along nicely.

I feel great and am willing to wear clothes that are a bit closer fitting then every before. I rock!! Report
I notice alot of weird "fads" begin in Asia, doesn't that strike you as a warning folks?? Too many people all living closely together, yakking with each other day and night, no wonder it's easy to start any kind of myth and spread it around to us. Report
I love bananas, but I try not to eat them too much b/c they're loaded in calories. Usually add to my smothies :) - delicious !! Report
Love Bananas Report
I love eating bananas.

I have a banana and a yogurt every mid morning. I feel good afterwards.

I am also hyperglosemic. I get those sugar highs and lows. Report
I read this article because a lady at the gym told me she just started this diet. I wanted to get some more info on this diet to see what the hype was about. I believe the weight loss comes from eating sensibly and not because you are eating bananas. I will not attempt this diet because bananas are not my favorite fruit. I would rather eat citrus fruits or berries. Report
In my life my men don't eat breakfast at all or make really BAD choices, so kudos on convincing him to eat a banana every morning. More than likely his lunch choices were not all that unhealthy and as a culture they don't tend to eat dessert heavy either. Report
I love to eat banana and I used to eat a lot. But when I read it is not good for those who have low BP, so I reduced the count. Report
HEYYY...Whatever works. I personally I like a low carb balanced diet and over the long haul is the answer for me. Most of white stuff (or very little). The lady is "working it out with him" which is great! Report
I have to say that I am not sure it is only the bannans. I have to say that the brake down of the diet sounds like it would help. I know if I cut out all deserts than I would lose more weight. It sounds to me like it is a wife who figured out a way to help her husband to lose weight with out pestering. Mabey I should tell my husband the same thing.

I love bananas. I read in a recent article that it was a good food to eat prior to a workout, due to the pottasium.

I love it in a whole meal sandwich with peanut butter.

I love Bananas! Its that quick pick me up ~ the origingal fast food! Report
I tried the banana diet earlier this year -- there is also a proviso to stay away from alcohol, which I didn't follow. Nor did I eat before 8, or sleep before midnight. Felt satisfied often, and when I didn't, I'd have a box of raisins or an onigiri. Lost 15 pounds on it, but I found it difficult to maintain because I needed more variety in my diet. Report
Bananas are a constant in my house. Sometimes it is all I can get my 2 year old to eat and sometimes he shares them with mommy! I eat them as often as I can - yummy and sweet like something forbidden with fiber and loads of good vitamins. With a banana AND an apple a day you are on the right track! Report
I normaly have my High Fiber Quaker Oatmeal and a banana for breakfast during the week. The one banana doesn't quite fill me up. Report
This blog makes a lot of sense. I think I'll just include a banana into part of my daily eating habits and call it the banana diet. Report
I would never try this for one reason alone...I do not like bananas. eating them every morning would be pure torture. They are good for you I do know that Report
I blend a banana with a cup of low-fat yogurt and a cup of skim milk for breakfast every morning. As of last Tuesday, I started adding two scoops of Bariatric Advantage as I'm prepping for lap band surgery. I've lost 8 pounds. Was it the banana? I don't think so.

Buuut, bananas are good for lowering blood pressure because of their potassium, good for muscle cramps for the same reason. They also provide fiber and a sweet taste. Hurray for bananas. Report
I try to have a banana every morning, as I cannot take any vitamins on an empty stomach, and if I don't take the vitamins first thing, I forget them. Banana's are also fast and easy and can be eaten on the way to the car or bus and are far less likely to stain than some hand held "fast" breakfast foods. Report
I have a banana and fiber one bar for breakfast every morning. After a recent trip to the "Colon" Dr. he suggested that I shoot for 25-30 grams of fiber every day. He said the key to being healthy was Fiber, Fluid, and exercise (fluid being mostly water). He scared me enought that I started right in on the 25-30 grams of fiber everyday. Apparently I wasn't paying attention when he mentioned easing into that amount of fiber per day, and boy did I pay for it. I started the F.F.E. lifestyle along with everything in moderation thought process and since the end of February, 2009 I have lost 70 lbs. I started with the philosophy of one meal at a time, rather than one day at a time. After 43 years of yo-yo dieting and living on unhealthy greasy fried everything the one day at a time plan made for a very long day. I have just recently found Sparkpeople and I wish that I had found it early on so I could have all the journaling right here in the same place. Report
I do like to eat banana's when I need a fruit, but want that sweetness fix. I usually eat one for breakfast, but I don't lose weight very fast so it obviously isn't a fast fix for me. Report
I eat a banana almost everyday, either for breakfast or a mid morning snack. I think by doing so this guy jump started his metabolism for the day without excess calories. I find if I only eat a banana for breakfast instead of a bagel or toast, I consume less calories for the day in general - only because my breakfast had less calories that other days. Common sense. I say "Way to go!" to his wife for getting him to eat better without telling him to. She is a very smart lady! Report
I tried the Atkins low/no carb diet ONE DAY but only made it to 9:00 a.m. I had to have a carb! I was dying for bread or cereal.

The funny thing is that now that I am on Spark People I make healthier carb choices and cereal is not one of them. Except oatmeal (not instant). I eat 100% whole wheat bread and other wiser choices and now I don't crave carbs as much! I've found that an egg or eggwhite omelet or raw almonds keep me from getting hungry later.

I do love bananas!!! I cut one into pieces, put it in the freezer, and in the morning I make a smoothie. I learned that little trick on Spark People. Report
A lot of these fad diets secretly have healthy components to it. Just they have a quark that gives them its name and its notability. I hate bananas though. Always make me ill, so I won't be trying it. Report
Hey, if a 100-calorie banana loaded with good stuff curbs the craving for a 400-calorie empty sweet, go for it!

I've stopped throwing out over-ripe bananas since I discovered smoothies. Soft bananas get broken into chunks and frozen to pop into the blender with other very ripe fruits. Especially nice snack to sip on while fixing dinner, a dangerous munchy time for me. Report
Good old fashioned moderation. I have tried several fad diets in the past... none worked. Moderation/exercise is working. I love SP! Report
Allergic to bananas :( Report
The Japanese tend to cycle through fad diets like this every year... just a few months ago I was watching a program on TV (I live in Japan) in which they squeezed two normal-sized girls into spandex pants two sizes too small for them - to prove how fat! they were of course - and then put them on all grapefruit or all mikan (Japanese orange) diets respectively. They were allowed nothing else for two weeks. Needless to say, grapefruit girl became severely constipated and mikan girl constantly cheated on her diet. In the end, I'm not even sure if they lost weight or if the show's directors just put them into normal sized pants for the big "reveal"...

The next week they managed to find a legitimately overweight Japanese girl to help, but then they put her on an all bean-sprouts-and-vinegar diet promoted by some quack of a Japanese doctor. I couldn't bring myself to watch the results of that one. Report
I have a banana EVERY morning with my oatmeal check
eat anything for lunch or dinner......don't unleash the evil uncheck
snack at 3...then I won't be hungry at uncheck
no eating after 8.........naturally! .so check
No desserts after meals..........LET"S NOT GO CRAZY HERE!!!!!!! uncheck
Go to bed before midnight.........get up early so no problem there.....check! Report
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