Extreme diets: The mono diet won't help you shift 100lbs!

Extreme diets: The mono diet won’t help you shift 100lbs!

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how Penn Jillette, the famous Las Vegas magician, managed to shift over 100lbs over a year by following a version of the nutritarian diet. This is something a lot of people have been discussing, particularly online, and for some reason there seems to be a certain degree of disagreement. What has been suggested by some is that the reality of Jillette’s weight loss is all down to the monotrophic diet, more commonly referred to as the mono diet. 

So let’s clear a few things up first. What is a mono diet? Well, definitions may vary slightly but as the name suggests it is all about choosing one food. Some sources will tell you that food has to be raw, some will tell you it has to be the same variety of the same food and some will say otherwise. The point is it is one. For Penn Jillette it was potatoes. It really doesn’t matter what you choose. Potatoes, corn, apples, tomatoes etc., whatever you fancy. And then, depending on which mono diet you consult, you just eat that one food in any form that you like, providing it is not added to in any way, shape or form.

Next, why this is almost nothing to do with Penn Jillette. To imply Jillette’s transformation is down to the mono diet is just not true. Why is that a problem? Naturally when people see his success, or anybody’s for that matter, they want to emulate exactly what they did in order to achieve similar results. If you go away from seeing a picture of Jillette thinking that he got there using the mono diet, you’re misinformed.

So let’s look at where this confusion comes from. Was the mono diet incorporated? Yes. But Jillette didn’t arrive at his healthy size and shape today by just eating potatoes. In fact, that only accounts for the first two weeks of what he did. What’s more is that it wasn’t even a diet in the traditional sense of the word. The idea came from a materials scientist, Ray Cronise, who wanted to interrupt the relationship Jillette had with food at the start.

This is an important distinction to make. We associate food with certain things. It might be remembering a food that we ate when we were particularly happy or sad, or it might be a food that we associate with certain individuals. However, the point is that humans rarely see food as fuel and it all provokes emotions in our minds. The idea of eating the same food for two weeks is to break that relationship, almost like hitting a reset button on our relationship with food. The mind is then free to develop brand new associations with the foods that you eat, or at least that is the idea. So if you associate a cup of tea with the sweet taste of the three sugars you have in it, then the mono diet aspect of this plan is designed to teach your brain that it can enjoy other flavours too.

The idea that any one diet is the answer to weight loss is ridiculous. If there was such a diet then the other ones would all simply fall by the waste side. But it is important to acknowledge that certain aspects of a number of different regimes can come together to help design the perfect plan to help you achieve your goals.