With a name derived from the Greek word for “long life”, the macrobiotic diet is considered by many a celebrity fad. Before making up your mind if this type is suitable to your lifestyle or not, find out more about the essential components of this way of eating and living.
Switching to a macrobiotic diet has plenty of weight loss benefits, but it can also lead to serious nutritional deficiencies. Discover the macrobiotic diet basics and decide if it’s the right solution for you.
Macrobiotic Diet Philosophy
The macrobiotic way of life involves many healthy habits, from chewing your food more to exercising regularly, but the basic way of seeing food involves separating it into two categories: Ying or stimulating food, which should be consumed rarely or not at all, and Yang or strengthening food. Many fruits and vegetables and all spices fall into the category of Ying foods, so there are severe restrictions to the diet. One of the microbiotic diet basics involved giving up processed foods and drink, including coffee, and focusing on locally grown organic food with little processing.
Macrobiotic Diet Foods
Around half of what you eat every day is whole grains, from brown rice and oats to millet and corn. Up to a third consists of locally grown vegetables, while the rest is the main source of protein, from beans and tofu to sea vegetables, including agar and nori. You’re also allowed fruit, nuts and fish, but everything has to be cooked with sea salt.
Macrobiotic Diet Food Restrictions
Meat, along with eggs and dairy are the main restrictions in the macrobiotic diet, along with every type of processed food, especially refined sugars and alcohol. Rice syrup is the main sweetener, allowed in very small quantities, while honey and most tropical fruits are to be avoided. All spices should be avoided, especially hot peppers, that fall into the category of Ying foods, along with vegetables like tomatoes, eggplants, and even asparagus or spinach.
Regular (Pescatarian) Macrobiotic Diet Benefits
Nutritionist experts agree that a diet that’s plant-based and contains a lot of fiber and little fat is associated with a reduced risk for many types of heart disease and cancer. Weight loss is another big benefit, but with some restrictions on fish and nuts, dieters can easily develop an iron, calcium and vitamin B12 deficiency. The diet is not recommended for children, teenagers, pregnant women or people who are under treatment for many acute or chronic diseases.
Macrobiotic Diet for Vegetarians or Vegans
Since this type of diet includes little fish and many whole grains with no gluten, it can easily be adapted as a vegetarian, vegan or even gluten-free diet. However, placing more restrictions on it can also lead to more deficiencies of important nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids, zinc and vitamin D.
Macrobiotic Diet Cooking
Frying isn’t encouraged in the macrobiotic diet. Instead, in order to preserve the fresh food, steaming, baking and broiling are the main ways to prepare food, using vegetable oils or water. Some followers of the diet also take it a step further, but only cooking with utensils made from naturally occurring materials, including clay, glass and wood.
Chewing Your Food in the Macrobiotic Diet
Followers of the macrobiotic diet also place a big importance on chewing the food, recommending that every mouthful should be chewed at least 50 times. This helps with feeling full while only have 2-3 meals a day.
Drinking in the Macrobiotic Diet
Unlike most diets, which encourage drinking a lot of water to flush out toxins, the macrobiotic diet advises drinking water only when you’re thirsty. All processed beverages are to be avoided, but drinking green tea is encouraged.
Celebrities Who Follow the Macrobiotic Diet
Many celebrities have been attached to the macrobiotic diet over the years, from Gwyneth Paltrow and Madonna to Sting and Alicia Silverstone.
How Much Does It Cost?
Buying locally grown organic food is the only cost associated with the macrobiotic diet, but the level of effort involved with cooking every meal from scratch is high.
Don't miss: Best Plant-Based Diets for Weight Loss