The tuna diet allows you to lose weight over a three-day period by reducing carbohydrates and focusing primarily on… you guessed it: tuna! Although this diet sounds a bit strange, it is not overly extreme, and it does help you to lose weight fast without sacrificing too many nutrients. There are definitely other foods you can eat aside from tuna, and you are allowed a reasonably varied food intake that includes fruits and vegetables.
It doesn’t look like the tuna fish diet has been published in any books, but it has been spotted on the internet a number of times and is endorsed by bodybuilding champion Dave Draper – who incidentally was once a training partner of Arnold Schwarzenegger. So whether you’re looking to build muscle or just lose weight for a special occasion, this diet could be worth a try.
The Tuna Diet Meal Plan
This diet only lasts three days, and the meal plans are very precise and should be followed to the letter according to the diet’s originators. The only things you’re allowed to drink are water, tea, or coffee. There is also a strict rule about no milk or sugar in the coffee, though artificial sweeteners are allowed for some strange reason. Personally, I would advise against artificial sweeteners and recommend Stevia, which is plant-derived and has zero calories. And a little pep talk is probably called for as well:
“You are going to eat tuna and water for three days. You see, only the strong shall survive,” says Dave Draper. “Psyche up. Starting Monday you will be consuming water by the jugs — 2-4 liters a day — and 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight in six equal servings throughout the day. Back this with your vitamins and minerals two times a day, branch chain aminos before and after your workouts and a nightly portion of Metamucil for fiber.”
As you can see, you will need to consume a few other things aside from tuna in order to have enough vitamins, nutrients, and fiber. While tuna is a great source of protein, it contains no carbs. It does have a small amount of calcium, sodium, and Vitamin B-12, but this is not enough to sustain you over three days, so a meal plan that includes cottage cheese and veggies is advised.
If you are going to exercise during this three-day period, Draper also advises “exercise with moderate weights for clean reps to accommodate temporary low calorie strength loss. Press on as the body adapts and you become familiar and confident.”
Here is an example of a day’s meals according to Creative Bioscience:
Breakfast – Black coffee or tea (no milk or sugar), 5 saltine crackers, 1 ounce of cheese, 1 apple
Lunch – 1 hard-boiled egg, 1 wheat toast
Dinner – 1 cup of albacore tuna (in water, not oil), 1 cup of carrots, 1 cup of cauliflower, 1 cup of melon, 1/2 cup of regular vanilla ice cream
Breakfast – black coffee or tea (no milk or sugar), 1/2 a grapefruit, 1 wheat toast with 1 tablespoonof creamy peanut butter
Lunch – 1 cup of cottage cheese or tuna, 8 Saltine crackers
Dinner – 3 ounces of chicken or tuna, 1 cup of green beans, 1 cup of carrots, 1 apple, 1 cup of regular vanilla ice cream
Breakfast – Black coffee or tea (no milk or sugar), 1 egg, 1/2 banana, 1 wheat toast
Lunch – 1/2 cup of tuna, 1 wheat toast
Dinner – 2 beef hot dogs, 1 cup of broccoli, 1/2 cup of carrots, 1/2 banana, 1/2 cup of regular vanilla ice cream
Possible Dangers Of The Tuna Diet
One possible downside to this diet is that it could deplete your potassium levels, which can result in muscle cramps. The effect can be magnified if you choose to exercise during the diet. Your muscles will be slower to recover from the strain of a workout, which could result in soreness or even painful charley horses. The tuna diet can also put your kidneys at risk since your body will be eliminating a lot of water. If you are an overall healthy person, this diet should not pose a significant danger to your health, but if you’re having doubts it’s always best to consult a doctor or a dietitian.
There is also tuna’s high mercury content to consider. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency pregnant women and younger children should not consume more than 12 oz. of canned tuna per week. As for everyone else, we are generally safe to eat large amounts of tuna. Of course, there is a high mercury content so it’s not ideal, but I would say the benefits of eating seafood are still vital to your health, and mercury does leave your system after a couple of months.
If you consider this too extreme, a more moderate plan would be to aim to lose about one to three pounds a week, which is considered a more healthy approach. If you like the taste of tuna (I know I do!), why not make it part of your daily meal plans as a snack or main course?
How Effective Is The Tuna Diet?
After the three days are up, if you are indeed strong and have survived, you should have lost about five to ten pounds. It is definitely one way you can lose weight fast. However, if you return to the same way of eating as before the diet, you will regain the weight.
To avoid this, one solution would be to go on a more moderate low-carb diet after your tuna diet is over. The tuna diet is a good kick-start program, but it needs to be followed through with some other plan that’s easier to sustain over a longer period of time.
The Atkins Diet, for example is very similar in that it’s high protein and low carb, and there is a more moderate version of it that allows you to reintroduce a reasonable amount of carbs and maintain a healthy weight.