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A monotonous diet is a diet that requires its followers to continuously ingest a particular type of food for a certain period of time. While these diets are no stranger for those who adhere to them for health reasons, their popularity among the general population is only now rising for their potential as rapid weight loss schemes. Similarly to what happens with other popular nutritional strategies, monotonous diets have both proponents and critics, with the former strongly advocating their benefits and the former alerting for the risks associated with maintaining an unvaried diet. Let us now look at the evidence that supports both groups’ statements.
Monotonous diets can be beneficial in weight loss
Investigators from the University of Buffalo and the University of Vermont conducted a study where they assessed what happened to people who ate the same lunch every day for a week. These people not only were consuming fewer calories by the end of the week, but they were also consuming fewer calories than the people who were given different meals during the week. The researchers responsible for this study note, however, that although monotonous, a meal should never be unbalanced or unhealthy.
Another, a bit more specific investigation, reached very similar conclusions. The aim of this study, published in 2012, was mainly to assess whether monotonous consumption of ﬁbre-enriched bread could inﬂuence subsequent satiety and food intake. In accordance with the hypotheses, replacing the participants’ breakfast with a monotonous consumption of ﬁbre-enriched bread led to a decrease in the sensation of hunger during the morning. Moreover, repeated consumption of these types of bread at breakfast did not lead to decreased liking for the breads over the course of the study.
Monotonous diet may reduce severity of some chronic conditions
The benefits of monotonous diets may also very well extend past weight loss and actually impact certain health conditions, as one animal study suggests. Researchers at the USDA/ARS Children's Nutrition Research Center in Texas, USA, examined if there was any association between alternating and persistent regular diets and the incidence of acute colitis in mice. They have found that the severity of colitis increased upon dietary alternation compared with the consistent control feeding. Obviously, this is a very basic study and cannot yet be extrapolated to the reality of the human body. Nevertheless, it is an interesting finding that surely deserves further attention.