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NO GRAIN DIET - Dr. Mercola's No-Grain Diet Review

Updated on June 17, 2012

NO GRAIN DIET - Dr. Mercola's No-Grain Diet Review

A number of celebrities have been following Dr. Joseph Mercola's No-Grain Diet. This diet is based on the idea that meals high in grains, sweets, and starches promote elevated insulin levels, causing you to become hungry soon after you have just eaten. This is referred to as a "grain addiction" - when the cravings trigger you to eat more of the "wrong foods" and a harmful cycle ensues. The No-Grain Diet also claims to help reverse diabetes and help prevent other chronic diseases. This diet also include choosing organic products whenever possible, eliminating alcohol, and using the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), an acupressure technique to help deal with cravings.

Mercola states "Any grains and sugars you eat will prompt you to eat even more. Even healthy whole grains are metabolized nearly as rapidly as refined grains, thus contributing to increased insulin levels."

What is the No Grain Diet?

The No-Grain Diet promotes mind-body healing. Mercola introduces the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) which uses acupressure points on the face and upper body to cut cravings due to emotional eating. This craving eraser is a key factor in succeeding at losing weight with The No-Grain Diet.

Recommended Foods

organic meat and poultry
organic meat and poultry
raw nuts and seeds
raw nuts and seeds
goat cheese
goat cheese
organic eggs
organic eggs
Coconut oil
Coconut oil
Protein powder
Protein powder

There are three phases to the plan:

Phase 1: Start-Up.- On the first three days of The No-Grain Diet you will cut out all grains, starchy vegetables, most or all fruits, and sweets to detox your system. You will eat something small every two hours.

Phase 2: Stabilize - During this stage of the diet, you will eat less frequently and continue to manage your emotional eating and carb craving with EFT. You're still off grains, but you stop eating every two hours, and instead eat three meals and three snacks everyday. You can't eat two hours before bedtime, and you add exercise around five times a week. This phase continues until you reach your desired weight. Once you stabilize at your goal weight for four weeks, you remain on this phase for another two to six weeks to transition into the next phase.

Phase 3: Sustain - This is the maintenance phase of The No-Grain Diet. Some carbohydrate foods are added back into the diet - first starchy vegetables, then some approved whole grains, some approved fruits, and finally some healthy sweeteners such as honey. You have to make sure that you are maintaining your weight.

There are also three different options regarding the food plan for each phase, which allows for the diet to be modified to suit the individual’s needs.

What can you eat?

You can eat fruits, vegetables, meat (preferably organic and grass fed), poultry (preferably organic), legumes, raw nuts and seeds, fish, tempeh, dairy (in limited amounts and preferably goat, sheep and other raw dairy products), coconut and olive oil, organic eggs and protein powders.

What can you snack on?

Cheese - a wide variety including goat cheese and cottage cheese

Deli - such as turkey bacon, roasted turkey breast, shrimp and cod

Dips - balsamic vinaigrette, salsa and hummus

Eggs - hard-boiled eggs

Fruit - avocado and raw coconut

Nuts and seeds 

Powder Supplements - protein powder for smoothies and shakes

Soups - soups created from raw veggies including miso, lentil, split pea

Veggies - variety of fresh veggies

Yogurt - goat's yogurt and plain yogurt in limited amounts

walking 30 mins daily
walking 30 mins daily

Exercise Recommendations

Exercise is encouraged both for its benefits for weight loss maintenance and disease prevention. Walking is recommended initially for 30 minutes per day and dieters are encouraged to increase this to 60 minutes.

Costs and Expenses

  • book cost
  • grocery bill may increase due to the need to purchase organic items.
  • A variety of supplements are recommended which may become expensive.


  • Provides a choice of detailed meal plans to suit individual needs.
  • Will assist in managing as well as reducing the risk of diabetes and insulin resistance.
  • the No-Grain Diet includes a tool called the Emotional Freedom Technique to help you mentally and physically overcome the cravings. You can tap certain parts of your face and body and concentrate on a key phrase as part of the tutorial in EFT. This is definitely a unique aspect of this diet, as the plan tries to account for possible lapses in your willpower.
  • Low carbohydrate diets often produce fast results , which encourages dieters to stick with the plan.
  • Includes a variety of healthy recipes.


  • Very restrictive during the weight loss phase and calories may become too low.
  • Many dieters will have difficulty with the very low intake of carbohydrates especially over the long term.
  • Requires a lot of time to be spent on meal planning and preparation.
  • May be increased grocery expenses due to the emphasis on purchasing organic foods.
  • May be difficult for vegetarians to follow.
  • Alcohol is restricted.
  • Recommends many nutritional supplements.

Wheat - source: Wikimedia Commons
Wheat - source: Wikimedia Commons

Should you follow a No Grain Diet?

The No Grain Diet is based on the idea that grains and sugars are "enemy number one to losing weight and living longer." Instead, the No Grain Diet emphasizes organic vegetables and quality protein. Therefore, the No Grain diet will give you lots of energy but is lacking in nutrients.

There's a big difference between whole grains and refined grains.

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that middle-aged women who favor whole grains over white bread and other refined grains put on fewer pounds as they age.

Research suggests that when it comes to weight control, whole grains such as oats, bran and brown rice have an advantage over highly processed, low-fiber grain products. For one, fiber-rich whole grains are more filling, and people who favor them over refined grains may take in fewer calories.

While refined grains may cause a rapid increase in blood sugar, whole grains may create a slower, more sustained release of sugar into the blood, which may have a beneficial effect on metabolism and fat storage.

Whole grains also contain enzyme inhibitors that may get in the way of metabolic efficiency. This means that your body is forced to burn extra calories just to digest and absorb whole-grain foods.

In addition,eating whole grain food is also linked to a reduced risk of developing diabetes.

Wheat - source: Wikimedia Commons
Wheat - source: Wikimedia Commons
Whole grain
Whole grain
Whole wheat bread
Whole wheat bread
Whole oats
Whole oats
Whole rye bread
Whole rye bread

What are grains?

Grains are the seeds of plants. When whole, they include the bran, germ and endosperm, all of which contain beneficial nutrients.

  • Bran - Forming the outer layer of the seed, the bran is a rich source of niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, magnesium, phosphorus, iron and zinc. The bran also contains the majority of the seed's fiber.
  • Germ - The part from which a new plant sprouts, the germ is a concentrated source of niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin E, magnesium, phosphorus, iron and zinc. The germ also contains protein and some fat.
  • Endosperm - Also called the kernel, the endosperm makes up the bulk of the seed. It contains most of the grain's protein and carbohydrates and has small amounts of vitamins and minerals.

Refined grains, such as white rice or white flour, have both the bran and germ removed from the grain. Although vitamins and minerals are added back into refined grains after the milling process, they still don't have as many nutrients as whole grains, and they don't provide the fiber.

Whole grains contain magnesium, vitamin E and some B vitamins, and are an excellent source of fiber.

Please note:

Breads labeled "nine-grain," "rye bread" or "made with whole grain," are NOT whole grain products.

Whole grain products should list a whole grain ingredient, such as "whole wheat," "whole rye," "whole-oats" as the first ingredient on the label.


  • While the No Grain Diet will give you lots of energy, it is lacking in nutrients that your body needs. You will need to supplement your diet with vitamins and minerals.
  • The No Grain Diet is a very stringent plan that is probably only suitable for those with a high degree of commitment and determination.
  • No Grain Diet might be more suitable for dieters with carbohydrate sensitivity and may be especially beneficial for those at risk for or displaying early signs of diabetes or insulin resistance.


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