Lose weight with the Sonoma Diet? (Explanation)

Sonoma Diet

The Sonoma Diet is a Mediterranean-inspired diet designed to promote weight loss and improve general health.

While it promises rapid weight loss by emphasizing portion control and a varied intake of whole, nutrient-rich foods, you may wonder if this diet is right for you?

In this article, we will discuss the Sonoma Diet and discuss its advantages, disadvantages and how effective the diet is for weight loss.


  • What is the Sonoma Diet?
  • How Does the Sonoma Diet Work?
    • Wave 1 of the Sonoma Diet
    • Wave 2
    • Wave 3
  • Does the Sonoma Diet Help You Lose Weight?
  • The Disadvantages of the Sonoma Diet
    • Not based on science
    • Very time-consuming
    • Can be expensive
  • Is the sonoma diet right for me?

What is the Sonoma Diet?

The Sonoma Diet is a weight loss program developed by registered dietitian and author Dr. Connie Guttersen.

The original book was published in 2005, but a revised version called “ The New Sonoma Diet ” was published in 2011.

Guttersen’s book promises weight loss and better health within the first 10 days of the diet.

It also includes lessons on how to beat sugar addiction and satisfy your cravings with healthy foods for the rest of the program.

The book is named after the famous California winegrowing area where Guttersen lives.

Inspired by the Mediterranean diet, the Sonoma Diet promotes a balanced intake of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and olive oil. It then adds specific guidelines on how much you can eat per serving.

While Gutterson doesn’t view the Sonoma Diet as a low-carb diet, some parts of the pathway eliminate or restrict certain high-carbohydrate foods.

Excessive intake of saturated fats, alcohol and artificial sweeteners is strongly discouraged.

How Does the Sonoma Diet Work?

The Sonoma Diet is divided into three separate phases called waves. The first ‘wave’ is the shortest and most restrictive, after which the restrictions are gradually relaxed.

Each wave focuses on the following 10 “superfoods” that should help you lose weight.

A list of the mentioned superfoods are:

  • blueberries
  • strawberries
  • Grapes
  • Broccoli
  • peppers
  • Spinach
  • Whole grains
  • Olive oil
  • tomatoes
  • Almonds

These foods form the basis of this pathway, as they are minimally processed and packed with important nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, fiber, and healthy fats.

You are encouraged to eat three meals a day and only snack if you are hungry between meals. While you don’t have to count calories, portion control is central to this diet.

You are supposed to exchange your regular eating utensils for a 17cm plate or bowl for breakfast and a 22cm plate for lunch and dinner. Each bowl or plate is then divided into compartments that you can fill with certain foods.

Wave 1 of the Sonoma Diet

Wave 1 is the first and most restrictive phase, it lasts for 10 days and is intended to promote rapid weight loss and help kick your sugar habit and master your portion control.

In this wave, you eliminate all of the following foods:

  • Added sugars: honey, white sugar, maple syrup, agave, desserts, sweets, sodas, and jams
  • Refined Grains : White rice, white bread, and grains made from refined grains
  • Fats: margarine, mayonnaise, creamy dressings, and most cooking oils (except extra virgin olive oil, canola oil, and nut oils)
  • Dairy : yogurt (all kinds), full-fat cheeses, and butter
  • Certain fruits : banana, mango, pomegranate, and peaches
  • Certain vegetables : potatoes, corn, peas, winter squash, artichoke, carrots, and beets
  • All kinds of artificially sweetened foods
  • Alcohol

A long list of what not to eat or drink.

Here are a few examples of foods that are allowed during Wave 1 – and throughout the program’s duration:

  • Non-starchy vegetables : leeks, asparagus, celery, cauliflower, broccoli, tomatoes, spinach, and peppers
  • Fruits (one serving per day): strawberries, blueberries, apples, and apricots
  • Whole grains (up to two servings a day): oats, wild rice, and whole grain breads, pasta, and breakfast cereals
  • Dairy : low-fat cottage cheese, Parmesan cheese, skimmed milk
  • Proteins : eggs (1 whole and 2 whites per day), seafood, beans (limited to 1/2 cup or 30 grams per day), and lean cuts of beef, pork, and chicken
  • Fats (up to three servings per day): extra virgin olive oil, almonds, avocado, peanut butter, and walnuts
  • Beverages: black coffee, unsweetened tea, and water

Although calorie counting is not encouraged, most people end up consuming about 1,000-1,200 calories per day in Wave 1, because the portion size is extremely limited.

Wave 2

Wave 2 starts after the first 10 days of the trajectory. It lasts significantly longer than Wave 1 because it’s supposed to keep you going until you’ve lost enough weight and reached your goal weight.

All foods allowed during wave 1 are still allowed in this phase, but certain previously banned foods are reintroduced.

Depending on your food choices, you can burn up to 1,500-2,000 calories during wave 2. Note that this number is only an estimate, as calorie counting is not part of the Sonoma Diet.

You can eat the following foods again in wave 2

Wine: red or white 180ml per day

Vegetables: all vegetables except potatoes

Fruit : all whole fruits, but no fruit juice

Dairy: yogurt without fats

Sweets: dark chocolate and sugar-free treats

Portions of high-carb fruits and vegetables such as bananas and sweet potatoes are limited to one per day, while lower-carb options should be eaten more often.

Wave 2 also introduces specific lifestyle changes, including regular exercise and mindfulness that encourage you to enjoy your meals.

Wave 3

Wave 3 is essentially the maintenance phase of the Sonoma Diet. Most of the rules of Golf 2 still apply, but there is more flexibility and some more power options.

You enter this phase after you have achieved your weight loss goal.

Wave 3 allows for some foods that are higher in carbohydrates and fats, such as desserts, fruit juice, refined grains, full-fat dairy products, and white potatoes – albeit very sparingly.

If you notice your weight shooting up again, it is recommended that you return to wave 2 until you reach your goal weight again.

Does the Sonoma Diet Help You Lose Weight?

There is no scientific evidence to suggest that the sonoma diet helps with weight loss.

That said, multiple studies indicate that a Mediterranean-style low-calorie diet is effective for long-term weight management.

Since the Sonoma diet is modeled after the Mediterranean diet, it can provide similar results.

Notably, it minimizes your intake of processed foods and added sugar, while encouraging a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats.

These foods are naturally lower in calories than their more processed counterparts. Plus, they provide important nutrients like fiber and protein, which can help regulate your appetite and metabolism.

Due to the strict portion control in golf, your calorie intake is also likely to drop sharply. As with any other diet, you need to burn fewer calories than your body uses to lose weight on the Sonoma diet.

Keep in mind that weight loss is a complex process that is also influenced by physical activity, sleep quality, metabolism, age, and other factors.

The Disadvantages of the Sonoma Diet

While the Sonoma Diet has several benefits, it is not for everyone. There are several drawbacks worth considering before diving into them.

Not based on science

The Sonoma Diet book claims that it is essential to completely avoid all refined carbohydrates during waves 1 and 2 to combat sugar addiction.

While research suggests that sugary foods have addictive properties and that eating large amounts of sweets can trigger sugar cravings, extreme measures, such as eliminating sugar or overly restricting sweet-tasting foods, may not be necessary for most people.

In addition, certain healthy foods such as potatoes are wrongly discouraged in the program.

While some studies have linked certain types of potato products to weight gain, eating potatoes in moderation prepared in healthy ways, such as baked or roasted, are unlikely to cause weight gain.

In addition, potatoes are much more satiating than other carbohydrate sources such as pasta and rice and can be included in a healthy diet.

Some of these problems can be mitigated if you approach the diet flexibly.

Very time-consuming

One of the main criticisms of the diet is that meal planning and food preparation took a lot of time.

Because the Sonoma Diet relies almost exclusively on whole, unprocessed foods, you are supposed to cook almost all meals yourself.

While cooking is enjoyable for many people, others may prefer a weight loss program that is less intensive and more suited to their lifestyle. If long hours in the kitchen aren’t sustainable for you in the long run, this diet isn’t for you.

Can be expensive

At the beginning of the diet, the idea is to throw out or donate all non-compliant foods in your pantry, and then replace them with foods that fit the diet. Depending on the contents of your pantry, this requirement can cost a lot and mean a lot of food waste.

Plus, many of the Sonoma Diet’s approved foods are expensive , limiting access and putting a strain on your budget.

Is the sonoma diet right for me?

The sonoma diet is very time-consuming and a bit on the pricey side. In addition, you can limit too many calories in the first phase.

If you want to use the sonoma diet to lose weight, you know what you’re getting into, because it’s not the easiest diet. Nor have any scientific studies been conducted into the effectiveness of this waste process.

If you’re interested in the Sonoma Diet, consider making small adjustments to make sure it meets your needs.

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