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What Is The Sonoma Diet? Does It Help Lose Weight?

The Sonoma diet is based on the Mediterranean diet that emphasises on eating a variety of whole, nutrient-dense foods. The diet focuses on portion control and healthy eating to encourage weight loss and improve overall health in just 10 days.

In this article, we'll explain what the Sonoma diet is, how it works, its benefits and drawbacks and a sample meal plan.

What Is The Sonoma Diet?

The Sonoma diet is a weight loss program devised by Connie Guttersen, a registered dietician and author of two books - 'The Sonoma Diet' published in 2005 and 'The New Sonoma Diet' published in 2011. Guttersen's books explain her philosophy - how to lose weight and improve your health by focusing on whole foods and a diet plan that will help you break your sugar addiction and teach you to satisfy your cravings with healthy foods.

The Sonoma diet is named after the famous wine country region in California. The diet is inspired by the Mediterranean diet, which focuses on "power foods" such as olive oil, whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, poultry, nuts and legumes. Besides healthy eating, the diet also focuses on portion control. [1]


How Does The Sonoma Diet Work?

The aim of the diet is to keep you feeling full while eating small portions of healthy foods to promote weight loss. The Sonoma diet is structured in three phases called waves; the first wave lasts for 10 days and is the most restrictive phase, the second wave allows you to reach the ideal weight and the third wave focuses on maintaining that weight.

During the diet, you will be eating 10 "power foods" which are blueberries, strawberries, grapes, spinach, bell peppers, broccoli, whole grains, tomatoes, olive oil and almonds. These foods are rich in fibre, vitamins, minerals and healthy fats [2] [3] [4].

Also, the diet encourages you to eat three meals a day as well as healthy snacks, but only when you have a food craving between meals.

Wave 1

This phase is the most restrictive one that lasts for 10 days. It is designed to promote weight loss by learning portion control and eliminating processed and sugary foods.

Here is a list of foods that is removed from wave 1:

  • Refined grains
  • Fats present in mayonnaise, margarine and creamy dressings.
  • Added sugar found in maple syrup, white sugar, desserts and soda.
  • Dairy products such as full-fat cheese, all types of yogurt and butter.
  • Certain fruits like mango, peaches, banana and pomegranate.
  • Certain veggies like potatoes, peas, corn, carrots, beetroot and winter squash.
  • Artificially sweetened foods
  • Alcohol
  • Here is a list of foods that you will be consuming duringwave 1 and throughout the diet:

    • Fruits such as blueberries, strawberries, apples and apricots (one serving per day).
    • Non-starchy veggies such as asparagus, cauliflower, tomatoes, broccoli, bell peppers and spinach.
    • Protein such as eggs (1 whole and 2 whites a day), seafood, beans and lean chicken or beef.
    • Healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil, avocado, almonds and walnuts (three servings per day).
    • Whole grains (two servings per day).
    • Low-fat cottage cheese and skim milk.
    • Beverages like water, black coffee and tea.
    • Wave 2

      This phase starts after 10 days which helps you reach your ideal weight. All of the approved foods during wave 1 will be continued during this phase, but certain foods which are not allowed will be reintroduced. In addition, daily exercise and mindful eating are practised during this phase.

      In wave 2 the following foods can be reintroduced:

      • All veggies except white potatoes
      • All whole fruits and no fruit juice
      • Fat-free yogurt
      • Dark chocolate
      • Red or white wine (180 ml) per day
      • Wave 3

        This is the last phase of the Sonoma diet, which will help you maintain that weight. The same rules of wave 2 are applied here, however desserts and sweets can be consumed as a rare treat while still limiting processed foods.

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Does Sonoma Diet Help In Weight Loss?

There are not much research studies on the Sonoma diet for weight loss. However, given that Sonoma diet is inspired by the Mediterranean diet, studies have shown that a Mediterranean diet can help in weight loss for long-term [5] [6] [7]. So, the Sonoma diet may offer similar results as that of a Mediterranean diet.

Additionally, you will be eliminating the processed foods and consuming more of nutrient-dense foods which may aid in managing your weight.

Note: Weight loss also depends on a number of factors such as physical activity, age, metabolism, sleep quality and managing stress [8].

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Benefits And Drawbacks Of The Sonoma Diet

As the Sonoma diet is based on the Mediterranean eating pattern, it may increase your intake of nutrients. Studies have shown that diets which include whole foods and limits processed foods boost your intake of fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals [9].

Also, you will be consuming plenty of nutritious foods such as avocados, lean meat, olive oil, whole grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables which have been shown to help lower cholesterol, blood pressure, inflammation and blood sugar [10] [11] [12] [13].

The Sonoma diet has its share of drawbacks too. The diet is very low in calories and it may limit your daily calorie intake due to extreme portion control. Low calorie intake can increase your hunger and disordered eating [14].

As the diet focuses on portion control, you will have to replace your usual food plate with a seven-inch plate or a two cup bowl (475 ml) for breakfast and a nine-inch plate for lunch and dinner. So, you will have to measure some foods to get the right portion size.
Also, the diet can be expensive and very time consuming when it comes to planning and cooking your meals.

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A Sample Meal Plan Of The Sonoma Diet

Here are some of the food options that you can include in the diet:


  • Whole grain cereal with milk.
  • Egg white scramble with a whole wheat toast and sautéed bell peppers on the side.
  • Lunch

    • Chicken and brown rice salad.
    • Lean meat, hummus and sliced veggies in a whole grain tortilla and blueberries.
    • Spinach salad with grilled chicken, sliced almonds and strawberries.
    • Dinner

      • Grilled salmon with quinoa, sautéed broccoli.
      • Tofu and vegetable stir-fry with brown rice.
      • Grilled lean chicken with sautéed bell peppers and sliced avocado.
      • 180 ml of red wine (optional)
      • Note: Before considering any fad diet including Sonoma diet, consult a dietician to check whether this diet is right for you.

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