How To Follow The Banana Diet + Is It Safe? Our Nutritionist Weighs In

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The very concept of eating bananas for weight loss as a diet plan can be counterintuitive.

Many people associate bananas with being a high-carb fruit with a lot of sugar, and in our current compendium of popular weight loss diets, carbohydrates and sugar, in particular, tend to be demonized.

So, what is the banana diet? Are bananas good for a diet? How many bananas a day for weight loss are recommended on the banana diet plan?

In this weight loss guide, we will discuss what the banana diet plan entails, whether bananas are good for weight loss, how to follow the banana diet meal plan for weight loss, banana nutrition facts, and the pros and cons of the banana diet weight loss plan.

We will look at: 

  • What Is the Banana Diet Plan?
  • Are Bananas Good for a Diet If You Want to Lose Weight?
  • How Do You Follow the Banana Diet for Weight Loss?
  • What Can’t You Eat On the Banana Weight Loss Diet Plan?
  • Sample Banana Diet Meal Plan

Let’s get started!

A person eating a banana.

What Is the Banana Diet Plan?

The banana diet plan, also called the morning banana diet for weight loss, is a fad weight loss diet centering around eating bananas for breakfast to support weight loss.

Unlike many diets, the banana diet for weight loss isn’t particularly defined in terms of what you can eat on the banana diet plan for lunch and dinner, although there are strict banana diet rules for breakfast.

The banana diet plan was reportedly created in 2008 by a Japanese pharmacist and preventative heart specialist.

The banana diet for weight loss then became quite popular in Japan before spreading to other countries, including the United States.

A sliced banana in a bowl.

Are Bananas Good for a Diet If You Want to Lose Weight?

So, are bananas good for a diet if you want to lose weight? How many bananas a day for weight loss are recommended?

There are 105 calories in an average medium-sized banana, 90% of which come from carbohydrates. A banana is about 75% water by weight.

The exact banana nutrition will depend on the ripeness and size of the fruit, but here are the USDA nutrition facts for an average, medium-sized (118-gram) banana:

  • Calories: 105
  • Carbohydrates: 27 grams (14 grams of sugar and 3.2 grams of fiber)
  • Potassium: (422 mg) 9% of the DV
  • Vitamin B6: 33% of the DV
  • Vitamin C: 11% of the DV
  • Copper: 10% of the DV
  • Manganese: 14% of the DV
  • Magnesium: 8% of the DV

Bananas also provide a number of beneficial phytonutrients and antioxidants, such as dopamine and catechin.

There are currently no scientific studies that have specifically looked at the benefits of the banana diet meal plan for weight loss, although some studies have looked at eating bananas for weight loss.

For example, researchers found that a dietary intervention that involved adding 9 ounces (250 grams) of bananas to breakfast caused a significant reduction in fasting blood sugar and cholesterol levels in participants with type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol after just four weeks.

Bunches of bananas.

How Do You Follow the Banana Diet for Weight Loss?

Here are the general rules of the banana diet plan for weight loss:

  1. Begin your day with only bananas. You could have between one and four plain raw bananas for breakfast. The bananas must be raw, and you are supposed to chew them thoroughly, giving your stomach and brain time to communicate that you are full. 
  2. The only thing you can drink on the banana diet for weight loss is lukewarm, unsweetened water or tea. You’re not supposed to have hot tea or ice water.
  3. You are to drink plain room-temperature water or unsweetened tea with every meal and then as much as you want during the day.
  4. Stop eating when you are 80% full. 
  5. You can have nothing other than bananas in your breakfast meal.
  6. 15 to 30 minutes after finishing your banana breakfast, drink room temperature or lukewarm water or unsweetened tea.
  7. Drink as much water as you can during the day because the fluid volume will help you feel full and will curb your appetite, reducing your caloric intake via foods.
  8. Eat an early dinner, allowing at least three hours between finishing dinner and bedtime.
  9. Eat no later than 8 p.m., even if you stay up late.
  10. Eat healthy, nutritionally balanced lunch and dinner meals focusing on vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, and legumes.
  11. Go to bed before midnight and make sure that you get at least seven hours of sleep every night.
  12. Do not use an alarm clock to wake up because it can promote anxiety and may trigger food compulsions and stress.
  13. Exercise every day to help you lose weight and have better overall health.
People lifting weights in a gym.

What Can’t You Eat On the Banana Weight Loss Diet Plan?

Although the banana diet meal plan is relatively loosely defined aside from the bananas at breakfast, there are certain foods to avoid on the banana diet menu plan, including the following:

  • Processed foods, particularly sweets such as ice cream, candy, soda, desserts, etc. 
  • Fatty foods such as fried food, fast food, pizza, chips, etc. 
  • Sugar-sweetened drinks of all types, including sugary coffee drinks, energy drinks, sweetened tea, chocolate milk, soda, fruit juice, and sports drinks.
  • Alcohol
  • Dairy products of all types
  • Desserts of all types

Of course, if you are trying to follow the banana diet for weight loss, you should choose nutritious, low-calorie, satiating foods for your banana diet meal plan for lunch, dinner, and snack options.

Grilled fish with lemon.

You do not need to eat bananas at any of these meals aside from breakfast.

Good options for banana weight loss diet meals include lean proteins like skinless chicken breast or turkey breast, skinless fish such as cod, trout, salmon, or halibut, canned tuna, sardines, tofu, tempeh, or egg whites.

Red meat is discouraged, although not prohibited on the banana diet menu.

You should not have any processed meats such as deli meats, hotdogs, salami, sausages, or fatty meats like hamburgers and lamb chops.

Eat as many non-starchy vegetables as possible.

You can also have starchy vegetables and tubers like potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, carrots, etc.

However, keep in mind that these veggies fall more along the lines of a “starch“ and contain more calories than non-starchy vegetables like spinach, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, onions, mushrooms, asparagus, zucchini, cucumbers, and Brussels sprouts.

Spoonfuls of berries.

Fruits other than bananas are allowed on the banana diet meal plan, though if you are trying to lose weight, you should opt for low-sugar fruits like berries, citrus, melon, apples, pears, and peaches rather than tropical fruits like papayas, pineapple, and mango. 

Also, avoid dried fruits and all processed fruits like applesauce or canned fruit in syrup.

You should only consume whole grains rather than refined or processed grains. This means that you should opt for brown rice over white rice, rolled oats or steel-cut oats rather than quick oats, whole wheat over white bread or white pasta, etc.

Sample Banana Diet Meal Plan

Here is a sample banana diet meal plan for weight loss:

  • Breakfast: 2 raw bananas and unsweetened matcha tea
  • 20 minutes later: unsweetened green tea
  • Snack: Veggies and hummus with water
  • Lunch: Spinach salad with broccoli, tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms, chickpeas, and sunflower seeds dressed with balsamic vinegar and topped with 1/4 of an avocado, with a side of grilled cod filet marinated in lemon juice with water
  • Snack: Edamame and snap peas with unsweetened hibiscus tea
  • Dinner: Cauliflower rice with grilled tofu or salmon, roasted asparagus, and small baked sweet potato with unsweetened ginger tea
A quinoa salad.

Overall, the morning banana diet plan is a relatively loose, flexible weight loss diet when considered in context relative to other fad weight loss diets.

This flexibility may improve adherence, but the lack of structure and specific menu aside from breakfast can make it difficult for people to follow and opens the door to not losing as much weight if you are making poor food choices or eating large portion sizes.

What is good about this diet is that it emphasizes whole foods and eliminates processed foods, sugar, alcohol, fried foods, fatty foods, and mindless snacking at the end of the day.

Bananas also provide fiber along with many key vitamins and minerals.

The inclusion of daily exercise is also a unique and strong checkmark in the “pros” of the banana diet for weight loss, as exercise is not only helpful for burning calories to lose weight, but also is essential for optimizing physical and mental health.

To this end, the banana diet includes other important lifestyle factors that support weight loss such as drinking enough water and getting enough sleep.

An exercise class.

Studies have found that not getting enough sleep may contribute to weight gain and is associated with having a higher body mass index (BMI).

In terms of the benefits of eating bananas for weight loss, according to research, eating more fruits and vegetables, in general, is associated with weight loss.

That said, your own personal banana diet weight loss results will be contingent upon creating a caloric deficit.

With each banana having a little more than 100 calories the morning banana diet meal plan can provide upwards of 450 calories for breakfast if you have the maximum of four raw bananas.

This is generally not too many calories for most people to have at breakfast, but you will still need to be mindful of what you are eating the rest of the day, looking at your portion sizes and food choices to support weight loss.

For another more sustainable approach to weight loss, check out our guide to the Mediterranean Diet here.

Mediterranean Diet foods.
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Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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