No Grain Diet

no-grain-dietThe No Grain Diet is written by Dr. Joseph Mercola and is based on the concept that meals high in grains and refined carbohydrates can trigger an excessive production of insulin that leads to hunger soon after eating.

Dr. Mercola refers to this situation as ‘grain addiction’ where the individual craves these foods and a viscous cycle occurs.

He says that modern humans are consuming far too much bread, cereal, pasta, corn, rice, potatoes, and sweets which is not only a major cause of obesity, but is also contributing to a wide range of health problems including suppression of the immune system, allergies, digestive disorders, depression, cancer, and diabetes.

Mercola outlines possible signs of an excessive intake of carbohydrates including obesity, fatigue, depression, brain fog, bloating, low blood sugar, high blood pressure, and high triglyceride levels.

No Grain Diet Basics

The No Grain diet is very low in carbohydrates, as it requires dieters to eliminate all grains, sugar, potatoes, and sweets. Dieters also eliminate fruit while in the early stages of the diet.

There are three phases to the plan:

  • The first phase is the ‘start up phase’ in which for three days dieters eliminate all grains, starchy vegetables, fruits, and sweets. Dieters must eat something every two hours during this phase.
  • The second phase is called the ‘stabilize phase’, which continues with the dietary restrictions of the first phase but changes the meal structure. Dieters no longer eat every two hours but consume three meals and three snacks daily.

In this phase dieters should exercise five days a week. This is continued until dieters reach their goal weight. When dieters stabilize at this weight for four weeks they then continue this phase for an additional two weeks to prior to continuing to the next phase.

The first two phases are very similar to the Atkins diet with the major difference being the inclusion of a wider variety of vegetables and an emphasis on high quality and preferably organic foods.

  • The third stage, called the ‘sustain phase’, is where some carbohydrate foods are added back into the diet. Dieters can experiment with including starchy vegetables, fruits, certain approved grains, and honey. It is important for dieters to be aware of weight gain during this stage and to adjust the diet accordingly.

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. A questionnaire is provided in order to assist dieters to select the most appropriate plan for them.

Recommended Foods

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.

Sample Diet Plan



Egg white omelet with goat cheese and broccoli

Morning Snack

Miso soup
Spinach and arugula salad


Organic steamed chicken
Large vegetable salad

Afternoon Snack

Raw red and yellow pepper


Grilled salmon
Steamed asparagus
Green salad with balsamic dressing

Evening Snack

Raw almonds

Find other meal ideas here.

Walk for 30 Minutes

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.

Try these exercises with the No Grain Diet.

Costs and Expenses

The No Grain Diet retails at $24.95.

The 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.
  • Addresses psychological factors involved in weight loss and dieting by introducing techniques for dealing with the emotional disruptions that may be associated with cravings.
  • 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.
  • contradicts current research on whole grains.

Will Take Commitment

The No Grain Diet is a very stringent plan that is probably only suitable for those with a high degree of commitment and determination.

It is most 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.

 By Mizpah Matus B.Hlth.Sc(Hons)
  • McKeown, N. M., Jacques, P. F., Seal, C. J., de Vries, J., Jonnalagadda, S. S., Clemens, R., … & Marquart, L. F. (2013). Whole grains and health: from theory to practice—highlights of the Grains for Health Foundation’s Whole Grains Summit 2012. The Journal of nutrition, 143(5), 744S-758S. link
  • Williams, P. G. (2012). Evaluation of the evidence between consumption of refined grains and health outcomes. Nutrition reviews, 70(2), 80-99. link
  • Yu, D., Shu, X. O., Li, H., Xiang, Y. B., Yang, G., Gao, Y. T., … & Zhang, X. (2013). Dietary carbohydrates, refined grains, glycemic load, and risk of coronary heart disease in Chinese adults. American journal of epidemiology, 178(10), 1542-1549. link

4 Comments or Reviews

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  1. Ruth

    Apparently 100% rye (ryvita) and 100% spelt (the original wheat flour before it became so modified) can be digested by the body a lot more easily than other grains.

    In her book, The Body Talks, Judy Cole provides a very clear and easy to understand explanation of how the digestive system works and what protein, fat, carbs and starch actually are. For weight loss and to regulate blood sugar, she advises a no starch diet (similar to this No Grain Diet) but she does allow a person to eat up to 6 ryvita (or 4 ryvita and 1 slice of 100% spelt bread) per day.

    Stage 1 is a 2 month period with strictly no starch (no potatoes, rice, wheat, corn and no more than 1 portion of starchy veg such as turnip or carrot per day). This is then followed by phase 2 where 1 portion of starch per day (i.e. 2 tablespoons of cooked brown rice) is introduced into the diet until the person reaches their ideal weight.

    She advises it will take up to 3 months for the blood sugar to regulate and reaching your ideal weight will depend on how heavy you are to start with. Even once the individual reaches their ideal weight, they must maintain a low starch diet for life because the amount of starch (grain) most people eat nowadays is far too high for the body to process.

  2. Don

    Through trial and error I finally began eating like this some time ago, it is the perfect diet for diabetics- I no longer need insulin coverage for each meal, just a daily dose of basal insulin. No more headaches trying to figure sliding scale every time I turn around, then getting it wrong anyway. Control is nice and tight. Only time I need rapid insulin is to drive in the dose of quality carbs I take with whey protein powder for exercise. I did notice an increase in mental and physical stamina; a side-effect I hadn’t looked for. It’s true about the munchies- they no longer torture me, and I have lost all visible body fat. And no- you can’t cheat even once a week. Commonsense says otherwise, anyway.

  3. Christine

    I have been told to go on a no grain no sweet diet for a skin disorder. Please send me any recipes to help with this endeavor, thanks to any who can help.

  4. amanda silva

    i love this diet, it works great and you dont crave food anymore!! it is really hard in the first 3 days but it helps that you can eat more to suppress the addiction. the only thing i dont like is not beingable to eat fruit and SPLENDA because i love fruit and i love my tea!! but it is worth it and if you are determined and willing to exercise and eat right with the higher expense of food you will be very healthy happy and skinny!! i love thi diet!!

Last Reviewed: March 28, 2021