Would you try a diet that required you to eat eight bananas in one day? (We love bananas, but…really?) That’s the concept behind Day 4 of the GM Diet, the most-searched-for weight loss plan on Google in 2015. And the rest of the days aren’t much better, either.
Rumored to have been developed by General Motors to help employees and their dependents stay healthy, this plan was allegedly put together in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Johns Hopkins University. (Think that sounds fishy? So did we.)
But the interesting origin of the diet isn’t the only reason the GM Diet has become a source of weight loss lore. The plan promises you’ll lose 10 to 15 pounds in one week. You heard that right — 10 or 15 pounds, one week. Too good to be true? Read on to find out.
What’s the GM Diet?
We’ll save you the trouble of Googling and outline out the logistics of this diet for you right now. Here’s what a week on the GM diet looks like:
Day 1: Fruit only (except bananas)
Day 2: Vegetables only
Day 3: Any fruits and vegetables — except potatoes and bananas
Day 4: Eight bananas, at least three glasses of milk and GM Wonder Soup
Day 5: Two 10-ounce portions of beef and six tomatoes
Day 6: Two 10-ounce portions of beef and as many vegetables as you want
Day 7: Brown rice, fruit juice and vegetables
The GM Wonder Soup — made of cabbage, celery, onion, bell peppers and tomatoes — can be eaten as much as you like throughout the week, as its designed to help you stave off hunger, too. And drinking a lot of water is super-important — it’s the only beverage that’s encouraged on the plan. According to the GM Diet’s website, the timing and combination of these food groups is supposed to turn your body into a fat-burning machine — while also detoxing your system.
Is There Any Science Behind the GM Diet?
“Our physiological response to restriction is to binge. Your body is asking you to please feed me.”
If you think the GM Diet sounds a little questionable, your instincts are on point. While you’ll be consuming fewer carbs and added sugars, as well as more fiber than normal, the diet also severely restricts the number of calories you take in on a day — which isn’t necessarily a good thing. “We’ve seen many diets like this over the years,” says Lauren Antonucci, RDN and Owner of Nutrition Energy. “But there are no substantiated studies to back it up.”
Oh, and the claim that this diet originated at General Motors? That appears to be a myth, too. When New York Times columnist Roger Cohen contacted GM, they found no record of the company developing the diet. So you can safely bet that the FDA, UDSA and Johns Hopkins didn’t have much involvement, either.
The appeal of the GM Diet appears to rely mainly on its length and novelty factor. “You can do anything for seven days. It’s not overwhelming and easy to follow,” says Michaela Ballman, RD and Founder of Wholify.
However, there’s little evidence that eating, say, eight bananas a day, will do you any good. “There’s nothing magical about the combination of foods,” says Ballman. The GM Diet is based on the premise that the calories you burn will exceed the calories you consume — leading your body to burn fat for energy. However, according to Antonucci, it’s a stretch to think these changes could lead to a 10-pound weight loss in one week. (FYI: Most experts recommend losing one to two pounds a week.)
Plus, if you have diabetes or any blood sugar issues, steer clear of this plan. “The day of bananas and milk would be a really bad idea for someone with diabetes,” says Ballman. “…That’s 276 grams of carbohydrates! This is certainly not balanced.” And even if you don’t have diabetes, you’ll likely experience sugar highs and lows throughout the day from the diet, too.
During your GM week, you might also experience headaches, nausea, diarrhea (thanks to the extra fiber) and brain fog. Plus, you may have to scale back your workouts, too. Since you’re taking in limited protein, Antonucci advises against activity that breaks down muscle. “I would be most concerned doing anything that requires muscle repair,” says Antonucci. “No heavy lifting. No intense workouts.”
The GM Diet Aftermath
So let’s say you follow a plan like the GM Diet for seven days — and you do see weight loss. Success, right? Not necessarily. It’s what happens after the week is over that may be problematic. Ballman notes that 95 percent of people on restrictive diets like this will regain the weight and a percentage will put on even more. “Our physiological response to restriction is to binge. Your body is asking you to please feed me,” she says. “[For some,] this could lead to chronic dieting, restriction and fasting, which, over the long-term, can affect the metabolism and make future weight loss very difficult.”
Not only that, but when you lose weight super fast, you also end up losing lean muscle which can impact your metabolism. “When you lose weight the wrong way, a greater percentage of a one-pound weight loss is muscle,” says Ballman, as opposed to fat.
The Bottom Line
Sure, it’s human nature to want to see results fast. But if you want to achieve long-term weight loss, think long-term changes over quick fixes like the GM Diet.
“It’s exciting…but no one thinks about day eight, nine and ten,” says Ballman. “Millions of people lose weight every year. The problem isn’t how do we lose weight, but how do we maintain weight loss?”
Now step away from that bowl of bananas — or at least don’t eat eight in one day.