The Macrobiotic Diet

macrobiotic diet

The macrobiotic diet is one of those diets that you probably have only heard about if you have researched widely about how to lose weight. Once you’ve learned about all the other big popular diets, like the 5:2 diet, the master cleanse diet, and the Dukan Diet, you’re sure to come across the macrobiotic diet. The macrobiotic diet is pretty out there but it could just be the right diet for you. Let’s find out what the macrobiotic diet is, what the benefits are, if it actually helps us to lose weight, and more frequently answered questions.

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macrobiotic diet yin yang

What Is The Macrobiotic Diet?

The macrobiotic diet is all about achieving balance between the yin and the yang. That’s right, the macrobiotic diet is a bit of a hippy diet. There are yin foods and yang foods. Yin foods are passive, cold, and sweet. Yang foods are aggressive, warm, and salty.

The macrobiotic diet is focused on achieving a balance between these two forms of food, ensuring that you don’t have too many sweet or too many salty foods. The macrobiotic diet stems from the Eastern spiritual and medicinal belief that food, like all forms of life, contains energy.

The macrobiotic diet is more of a lifestyle or philosophy than a rigid diet plan. You won’t find hardcore rules to follow because the diet is all about achieving a balance for you and ensuring you make the right choices for you. The emphasis is on consuming natural and local food. When I say local, I mean food should originate from within 500 miles of your home. So that means lots of farmers’ markets!

All food needs to be whole and organic. Processed food is not part of the macrobiotic diet. Let’s take a look at the actual recommended foods for the macrobiotic diet in and find out how you can do the diet yourself.

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How Do You Do The Macrobiotic Diet?

Do you like grains, vegetables, and soup? If you want to follow the macrobiotic diet, I hope so. Those are the foods that largely comprise the macrobiotic diet. 40-60% of your diet is comprised of organic whole grains, like rice, oats, corn, rye, millet, buckwheat, and barley.

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20-30% of your diet is made up of locally grown vegetables. You can eat green cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, scallion, onions, turnips, carrots, and watercress every day. You can eat cucumber, celery, lettuce, and herbs two or three times a week. You should try to avoid or limit zucchini, artichoke, asparagus, beets, avocado, eggplant, spinach, potatoes, and tomatoes.

5-10% of your diet is for beans and bean products like tofu, miso, tempeh, nato, and sea vegetables like nori (seaweed), wakame, kombu, and dulse. In addition to this, you can eat fresh fish and seafood, locally grown fruit, nuts, and pickles several times a weak. Occasionally, if you need a sweetener, you can have rice syrup.

You’re not supposed to eat dairy products, eggs, poultry, or refined or processed foods on the macrobiotic diet. You should only drink when you’re thirsty and alcoholic beverages, coffee, and soda are pretty much eliminated. Spicy food should also be removed from your diet, along with chocolate, fruit juice, and honey.

You can eat nuts and seeds as long as they are lightly roasted. Chestnuts, almonds, walnuts, pecans, and peanuts are good choices. You can also have pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and sunflower seeds. But you should not eat Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, cashews, and pistachio nuts.

macrobiotic diet

Good fruits for the macrobiotic diet include blackberries, raspberries, pears, apples, plums, peaches, blueberries, apricots, strawberries, watermelon, cherries, grapes, and honeydew. But you should limit or avoid tropical fruits like dates, figs, papaya, bananas, coconuts, pineapple, mango, lemons, and limes.

You might think that sounds hardcore but people who are really dedicated to the macrobiotic lifestyle even refuse to have a refrigerator. They cook using only natural utensils and use methods like light steaming and boiling.

Following the macrobiotic also means eating only two or three times a day, no snacking, and stopping eating before you get full. There is a Confucian teaching that guides followers to eat only until 80% full. This same principle is in full effect when following the macrobiotic diet.

In addition to all of this, you are advised to chew your food slowly. You must savor the food and feel grateful for it. That means chewing a minimum of 50 times.

How Much Effort Is Involved? 9/10

It’s confusing to know what foods you can and can’t eat. There seem to be lots of rules and many of them (e.g. eating one type of fruit but not another) seem pretty arbitrary. Then there is the added effort in making sure that everything is sourced locally. That means going to farmers’ markets and buying organic produce. It also means no more packaged junk food vices. All in all, the macrobiotic diets is probably one of the tougher diets to follow. Not to mention the fact that grains make up the bulk of the diet, which could lead to boredom or actually developing nutrient imbalances.

exercise on zone diet

Can You Exercise On The Macrobiotic Diet?

Exercise is an important part of the macrobiotic diet and, like the diet itself, follows some Zen principles. Exercise is not meant to be extreme. You should exercise every day for 30 minutes and choose an exercise activity that you can enjoy and appreciate and one that will keep you healthy. Instead of heavy weightlifting, macrobiotic exercise might involve walking through the forest or running on the beach.

Can You Do The Macrobiotic Diet If You Have Food Restrictions?

If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, you can just remove the fish parts of the diet (which aren’t that many anyway) and follow the diet pretty easily. However, if you have a grain-intolerance, the macrobiotic diet might not be for you given the fact that grains comprise the bulk of this diet.

Pros Of The Macrobiotic Diet

  • The foods in the macrobiotic are good for health and longevity.
  • You will become more grateful of the food you eat.
  • Natural food that you know the origin of.
  • Lots of vegetables, which means lots of minerals and nutrients.
  • You will cleanse your body and rid it of toxins.
  • You can lose weight on this diet.

Cons Of The Macrobiotic Diet

  • Many believe the macrobiotic diet is very restrictive.
  • It can be difficult and confusing to follow.
  • It is naturally low on protein, which isn’t good for people who want to build muscle.
  • It doesn’t have much grounding in science.

The Macrobiotic Diet For Weight Loss – Does It Work?

weight loss paleo myth

The macrobiotic diet certainly does work for weight-loss. However, it is designed more as a lifestyle and a practice rather than a specific weight-loss diet.

How Does It Work?

The foods allowed on the macrobiotic diet are naturally low in calories and are healthy. You’ll get lots of vegetables and healthy whole grains. This is why the macrobiotic diet can work as a weight-loss diet.

Macrobiotic Diet Results And Success Stories

A large amount of the success stories from the macrobiotic diet revolve around health improvements rather than massive weight loss. Weight loss with the macrobiotic diet seems more like a happy side effect of living in harmony and eating a balanced diet. Here are some of my favorite success stories from the macrobiotic diet:

FAQ

It Seems Like The Macrobiotic Diet Helps People Beat Cancer. Is It A Cure?

It would be wrong to say that the macrobiotic could cure cancer but it would also be wrong to ignore the many people who beat cancer or sent their cancer into remission since adopting the macrobiotic diet. Certain aspects of the macrobiotic diet should work well as a prevention and hopefully the diet can help a lot of people cope with the disease too.

Is The Macrobiotic Diet Worth It?

It does take a lot of effort to follow the macrobiotic diet. I would say it’s more of a lifestyle than a diet. I certainly wouldn’t say it’s a weight-loss diet, although it has that happy added benefit. If you are really interested in Eastern philosophy and wisdom, following the macronutrient diet might serve your interests well. If you just want a weight-loss diet, there are easier diets to follow.

Where Can I Find Out More?

The macrobiotic diet is certainly an interesting subject. If you want to find out more about it

Websites

kushi institute
  • The MacroChef  is one of the best blogs on the subject of the macrobiotic diet and includes many simple and delicious recipes: https://macrochef.wordpress.com

Books/Ebooks

zen macrobiotics
​Zen Macrobiotics

Zen Macrobiotics by George Ohsawa is a must-read on the topic if you find the macriobiotic diet interesting.

michio kushi macrobiotice path to health
​The Macrobiotic Path To Total Health

The Macrobiotic Path to Total Health by Michio Kushi and Alex Jack is another great book and has some very profound insight into the philosophy behind it.

Wrapping Up

The macrobiotic diet is certainly quite different from other weight-loss diets. The main difference is that it’s not actually predominantly a weight-loss diet. It’s a way of life, a way of grateful and healthy living, and a philosophy. If this sounds like something that appeals to you, then give the diet a try and, if you don’t find it too restricting and feel healthy, keep going!

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Ben M
 

I am passionate about health and fitness and like to take care of myself. I have tried a variety of different supplements to help with performance and recovery and enjoy working out.

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