The Sonoma Diet is an eating pattern inspired by the Mediterranean, intended to facilitate weight loss and improve overall health.
It promises quick weight loss by stressing portion control and a diverse intake of whole, nutrient-dense foods.
However, you may doubt if this diet is appropriate for you. The Sonoma Diet, including its advantages, disadvantages, and weight loss efficacy, is reviewed in this article.
What is the Sonoma diet?
The Sonoma Diet is a program for weight loss created by Dr Connie Guttersen, a registered dietitian and author. The initial book of the diet was published in 2005, but in 2011 an updated version called “The New Sonoma Diet” was released.
In the diet’s first ten days, Guttersen ‘s book guarantees weight reduction and better health. It also provides lectures in the remainder of the program about how to tackle sugar addiction and ease your cravings with balanced foods. The diet is known for the popular wine-growing area where Guttersen resides in California.
The Sonoma Diet, which is inspired by the Mediterranean diet, encourages a healthy consumption of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and olive oil. It then introduces detailed instructions for portion control and three main dietary stages.
While Gutterson does not regard the Sonoma Diet as a low carb diet, some carb-rich foods are omitted or restricted by certain aspects of the diet. Similarly, excessive use of saturated fats, alcohol, and artificial sweeteners is discouraged.
The Sonoma Diet is divided into three different stages, called waves. The first wave, after which the restrictions are progressively relaxed, is the shortest and most restrictive.
The following 10 ‘power foods’ are the focus of each wave:
- Bell peppers
- Whole grains
- Olive oil
These foods form the basis of the diet because essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, fibre, and healthy fats are minimally processed and filled with them.
If you are dealing with hunger between meals, you are advised to consume three meals a day and only have a snack. Although you don’t have to count calories, control of portions is crucial to the diet.
Your regular dinnerware should be exchanged for a 17.8 cm plate or a 2cups of breakfast bowl and a 22.8cm lunch and dinner plate. Each bowl or plate is then split into pieces to be filled with such foods.
Wave 1 is the Sonoma diet’s first and most restrictive stage. It lasts ten days and is intended to facilitate rapid weight loss, help you kick the habit of sugar, and teach control of portions.
You’ll exclude all of the following foods in this wave:
- Added sugar: white sugar, honey, maple syrup, agave, soda, desserts, sweet treats, and jam
- Fats: lard, mayonnaise, margarine, creamy dressings, and most cooking oils (with the exception of extra virgin olive oil, canola oil, and nut oils)
- Refined grains: cereals, white rice, and white bread prepared from refined grains
- Certain fruits: pomegranate, mango, banana, and peaches
- Dairy: full-fat cheeses, yoghurt (all types), and butter
- Certain vegetables: carrots, potatoes, peas, artichoke, corn, winter squash, and beets
- Alcohol: all kinds
- Artificially sweetened foods: all kinds
While the original Sonoma Diet banned all fruits during Wave 1, the revised version requires one portion of fruit from an approved list.
Here are some examples of foods allowed during Wave 1 — and during the period of the plan:
- Non-starchy vegetables: asparagus, leeks, celery, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, and bell peppers
- Whole grains (about two servings each day): oats, wild rice, pasta, whole-grain bread, and breakfast cereal
- Fruit (one portion a day): apples, blueberries, strawberries, and apricots
- Beverages: unsweetened tea, black coffee, and water
- Dairy: low fat cottage cheese, skim milk, Parmesan
- Protein: eggs (one whole and two whites per day), beans (restricted to 1/2 cup per day), seafood, and lean cuts of pork, beef, and chicken
- Fats (about three portions per day): peanut butter, extra virgin olive oil, avocado, almonds, and walnuts
Although calorie counting is not required, most individuals in Wave 1 end up eating around 1,000 – 1,200 calories a day because portion sizes are too restricted.
Wave 2 starts immediately after the first ten days of the diet. It lasts considerably longer than Wave 1 since you’re expected to remain in it until you hit your target weight.
During this process, all foods permitted during Wave 1 are still permitted, but some previously banned foods are being reintroduced.
You can eat up to 1,500 – 2,000 calories during Wave 2, depending on your dietary choices. Note that, because calorie counting is not part of the Sonoma Diet, this number is just an approximation.
In Wave 2, you can reintroduce the following foods:
- Wine: red or white, about 180 mL (6 ounces) per day
- Vegetables: all vegetables with the exception of white potatoes
- Dairy: fat-free yoghurt
- Fruit: all fruits but no fruit juice
- Sweets: dark chocolate as well as sugar-free treats
High carb fruit and veggie servings such as bananas and sweet potatoes are restricted to one per day, while lower-carb choices might be more regularly consumed.
Wave 2 also incorporates specific lifestyle improvements that allow you to savour and enjoy your meals, including daily exercise and mindfulness activities.
Wave 3 is basically the Sonoma Diet’s maintenance step. Much of the rules of Wave 2 still apply, but there are more variety and a few more choices for food. You begin this process once you’ve met your weight loss goal.
Wave 3 allows certain foods, like desserts, fruit juice, refined grains, full-fat dairy products, and white potatoes, that are high in carbohydrates and fats, but very cautiously.
It’s advised that you revert to Wave 2 until you attain your goal weight again if you start noticing your weight creeping back up.
Does it facilitate weight loss?
No systematic scientific research indicates that the Sonoma Diet helps weight loss outside of anecdotal accounts.
That being said, many studies show that a Mediterranean-style low-calorie diet is beneficial for long-term weight control. It may offer similar outcomes because the Sonoma Diet styles itself on the Mediterranean diet..
In general, it decreases the consumption of refined foods and added sugar while supporting a wide range of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats.
These foods are naturally lower than their more refined counterparts in calories. Also, they contain essential nutrients such as fibre and protein, which can help control your metabolism and appetite.
The calorie consumption is likely to drop dramatically because of the tight portion control in Wave 1. You have to eat fewer calories than your body spends on the Sonoma Diet to lose weight, as on any other diet.
Bear in mind that weight loss is a dynamic mechanism that is often affected by physical activity, quality of sleep, metabolism, age, and other variables.
Other possible health advantages
It may have similar health benefits because the Sonoma Diet imitates the Mediterranean diet in several aspects.
Years of research have discovered that one of the best eating habits for promoting general health as well as preventing chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes is the Mediterranean diet.
The following advantages include:
It may boost your nutrient intake
The Sonoma Diet can improve your intake of essential nutrients. Research correlates high-whole diets with enhanced diet consistency and increased consumption of vitamins, minerals, protein, and fibre with minimally processed foods.
Essentially, the cornerstones of the Sonoma Diet are vegetables, berries, whole grains, and lean proteins.
Can promote heart health
Several research studies show that diets in the Mediterranean style encourage heart health by being low in saturated fat but high in unsaturated fats and whole plant foods.
The Sonoma diet is deficient in saturated fat and promotes unsaturated fats from olive oil, avocados and fish that are heart-healthy.
It is also very high in vegetables, berries, and whole grains, all of which can help to minimize inflammation, cholesterol, and blood pressure. These variables, in turn, can lower your risk of heart disease.
May decrease blood sugar levels
Good blood sugar levels can be promoted by diets that reduce sugar and refined grain consumption while encouraging fibre, protein, and whole plant foods. The Sonoma Diet restricts all primary sources of refined grains and sugars.
Additionally, the carb content of the Sonoma Diet is much lesser than that of a typical Western diet plan and primarily comes from high fibre foods like whole grains, fruit, and legumes.
In turn, lower blood sugar may help decrease your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and other ailments.
Although there are many advantages to the Sonoma Diet, it isn’t right for everybody. Before you dive in, there are many disadvantages worth considering, and they include the following:
Can severely limit the intake of calories
The Sonoma Diet’s Wave 1 is intended to promote rapid weight loss. Yet, in order to encourage safe, sustainable weight loss, this 10-day crash period will reduce your calorie intake by drastic amounts, which is not appropriate.
Although exact statistics are not given, because of extreme portion control, you are likely to consume only 1,000 – 1,200 calories a day during Wave 1. You are at risk of extreme hunger and eating disorders by consuming too little calories.
Besides, no empirical evidence indicates that rapid weight loss is required. While some individuals may find promising rapid results, most weight loss from such a method is related to a decrease in water weight, not fat.
Thus, it may be better for most individuals to skip Wave 1 and continue with Wave 2’s more moderate approach.
Relevant dietary restrictions are not scientifically based
The Sonoma Diet’s book claims that in order to fight sugar addiction, it is important to avoid all refined carbs during Waves 1 and 2 altogether. Although evidence indicates that sugar foods have addictive qualities and that consuming high quantities of sweets may contribute to cravings
Still, drastic measures may not be appropriate for most individuals, such as removing sugar or excessively restricting sweet-tasting foods. Furthermore, the curriculum falsely demonizes such nutritious foods, like white potatoes.
While some studies have linked weight gain with several types of potato products, eating white potatoes cooked in healthier ways, such as baked or roasted, in moderation, is unlikely to cause weight gain.
In addition, white potatoes are much more satisfying than other types of carbohydrates, such as pasta and rice, and can be used in a healthy diet. If you take a versatile approach to the diet, some of these concerns can be alleviated.
One of the diet’s main criticisms is that it takes a lot of time to schedule meals and prepare food. Since the Sonoma Diet focuses almost entirely on the whole, unprocessed ingredients, almost every meal is intended to be prepared on your own.
Although cooking for a lot of people is fun, others may prefer a less intensive weight loss program that suits better with their lifestyle. If long hours in the kitchen aren’t manageable for you long term, this diet isn’t a good match.
It can be costly
You would throw out or donate any non-compliant items in your pantry at the beginning of the diet, and substitute them with good products.
This demand will result in a large grocery budget and a lot of food waste, depending on the contents of your pantry.
In addition, many of the approved foods from the Sonoma Diet are expensive, which restricts access and may stress your budget for food.
Significantly, in favour of more expensive items such as seafood and high-quality wine, the diet restricts broadly affordable foods such as legumes and potatoes.
3-day sample menu
For each level of the program, the Sonoma Diet book and cookbook have a selection of recipes. During Wave 2, here’s a sample menu for three days:
- Breakfast: 100% whole-grain cereal along with skim milk
- Lunch: hummus, roasted turkey, and chopped vegetables in a whole grain tortilla along with a side of blueberries
- Dinner: barbecued salmon together with quinoa, roasted broccoli, and 6 ounces (180 mL) of white wine
- Breakfast: bell pepper, ham, and white egg scramble with a slice of whole-wheat toast
- Lunch: spinach salad along with grilled chicken, strawberries, and sliced almonds
- Dinner: tofu and vegetable stir fry together with brown rice and 6 ounces (180 mL) of red wine
- Breakfast: wild mushroom omelette
- Lunch: Greek salad with mixed greens, olives, fresh herbs, tomatoes, and grilled chicken
- Dinner: lean grilled steak with black beans, sliced avocado, sautéed bell peppers, and 6 ounces (180 mL) of red wine
The Sonoma Diet is a regimen for weight loss described by Dr Connie Guttersen in a book of the same name. It is based on the Mediterranean diet and highlights a selection of organic, whole foods such as veggies, fruit, lean meats, and olive oil.
The diet likely encourages weight loss by removing processed foods and strictly restricting portion sizes. However, it is time-consuming and expensive.
Besides, its first stage may reduce calories excessively, and some of its particular food restrictions are not based on scientific facts. You may need to have some minor changes if you are interested in the Sonoma Diet to ensure that it fits your needs.