Sonoma Diet Review: Can It Work for Weight Loss?

The Sonoma Diet is a Mediterranean-inspired eating pattern designed to promote weight loss and enhance overall health.

Although it promises rapid weight reduction by emphasizing portion control and a varied intake of whole, nutrient-dense foods, you might wonder whether this diet is right for you.

This report reviews the Sonoma Diet, such as its benefits, drawbacks, and effectiveness for weight reduction.


  • Overall score: 3.5
  • Weight loss: 4.0
  • Healthy eating: 3.5
  • Sustainability: 2.5
  • Whole-body wellness: 3.0
  • Nutrition quality: 5.0
  • Evidence-based: 3.0

BOTTOM LINE: Created by the Mediterranean diet, the Sonoma Diet is a very low-calorie consumption pattern that incorporates a variety of nutrient-dense foods. Although it could be unnecessarily restrictive, it probably promotes weight loss if followed closely.

Sonoma Diet: Pros, Cons, and How It Works

What is your Sonoma diet?

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

The diet’s unique book was published in 2005, but a revised version known as”The New Sonoma Diet” became available in 2011.

Guttersen’s publication promises weight loss and improved health inside the diet’s initial 10 days. Additionally, it includes lessons about how to beat sugar dependence and fulfill your cravings with healthful foods throughout the rest of the program.

The diet is known for the famous wine-growing area in California where Guttersen lives.

Inspired by the Mediterranean diet, the Sonoma Diet promotes a balanced consumption of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and olive oil. It then adds particular percentage control instructions and three identifying dietary periods.

Although Gutterson doesn’t look at the Sonoma Diet for a low carb diet, some areas of the diet remove or restrict certain carb-rich foods.

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

The Sonoma Diet is a weight loss program created by Dr. Connie Guttersen. It patterns itself after the Mediterranean diet but comprises part control instructions.

How it works

The Sonoma Diet is divided into three distinct phases called waves. The first wave would be the shortest and most restrictive, after which the limitations are gradually progressing.

Each wave centers around the next 10 “power foods”:

  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Grapes
  • Broccoli
  • Bell peppers
  • Spinach
  • Whole grains
  • Olive oil
  • Tomatoes
  • Almonds

These foods comprise the foundation of the diet since they’re minimally processed and loaded with important nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, fiber, and healthful fats.

You’re invited to eat three meals every day and only snack in case you are struggling with hunger between meals. Though you do not need to count calories, portion control is essential to the diet plan.

You’re meant to swap your usual dinnerware for a 7-inch (17.8-cm) plate or 2-cup (475 mL) bowl for breakfast and a 9-inch (22.8-cm) plate for lunch and dinner. Each plate or bowl is subsequently broken into segments to be filled with specific foods.

Wave 1

Wave is the first and most restrictive period of the Sonoma diet.

It lasts 10 times and is designed to encourage rapid weight loss, allow you to kick your sugar addiction, and educate portion control.

In this wave, you’ll eliminate All the following foods:

  • Extra sugar: honey, white sugar, maple syrup, agave, desserts, candy snacks, pop, and jam
  • Processed grains: white rice, white bread, and cereals made from refined grains
  • Fats: lard, margarine, mayonnaise, creamy dressings, and many cooking oils (except extra virgin olive oil, canola oil, and nut oils)
  • Dairy: yogurt (all kinds ), saturated fat cheeses, along with butter
  • Certain fruits: banana, mango, pomegranate, and berry
  • Certain veggies: celery, corn, peas, winter squash, artichoke, carrots, and beets
  • Artificially sweetened foods: all kinds
  • Alcohol: all types

Although the first Sonoma Diet banned all fruit during Wave 1, the revised version allows one serving of fruit in an approved listing.

Here are a couple of examples of foods permitted through Wave 1 — and throughout the duration of this program:

  • Non-starchy vegetables: leeks, asparagus, celery, cauliflower, broccoli, berries, lettuce, and bell peppers
  • Fruit (one serving per day): strawberries, blueberries, apples, and apricots
  • Whole grains (up to two servings per day): oats, wild rice, and whole-grain bread, pasta, and breakfast cereal
  • Dairy: low fat cottage cheese, Parmesan, skim milk
  • Protein: eggs (1 whole and 2 whites daily), fish, beans (limited to 1/2 cup or 30 g daily ), along with lean cuts of beef, pork, and chicken
  • Fats (up to 3 portions daily): extra virgin olive oil, almonds, avocado, peanut butter, and walnuts
  • Beverages: black coffee, unsweetened tea, and water

Though calorie counting is not encouraged, the majority of people end up consuming approximately 1,000–1,200 calories every day at Wave 1 because part sizes are incredibly limited.

Wave 2

Wave 2 begins after the first 10 days of the diet. It lasts much more than Wave 1 since you’re meant to stay in it till you reach your target weight.

All of the foods allowed during Wave 1 remain allowed in this period, but certain formerly banned foods are reintroduced.

Based on your food choices, you might consume around 1,500–2,000 calories during Season 2. Note that this figure is just an estimation, as calorie counting isn’t part of the Sonoma Diet.

You can reintroduce the following foods from Wave 2:

  • Wine: red or white, up to 6 ounces (180 mL) daily
  • Vegetables: all vegetables except white potatoes
  • Fruit: all whole fruits but no fruit juice
  • Dairy: fat-free yogurt
  • Sweets: dark chocolate and sugar-free treats

Servings of high carb veggies and fruits like bananas and sweet potatoes are restricted to a single day, whereas lower carb options may be eaten more often.

Wave 2 also presents specific lifestyle changes, including regular exercise and mindfulness practices that motivate you to savor and enjoy your meals.

Wave 3

Wave 3 is essentially the maintenance period of the Sonoma Diet. Most of Wave 2’s rules still apply, but there are more flexibility and a couple more food choices.

You enter this stage after you have reached your weight loss goal.

Wave 3 lets some foods high in carbs and fats, like desserts, fruit juice, refined grains, full-fat dairy products, and white potatoes — very sparingly.

If you notice your weight creeping back up, it’s recommended that you return to Wave 2 till you reach your goal weight.

The Sonoma Diet consists of three different phases that become progressively less restrictive because you approach and reach your goal weight.

Does this boost weight reduction?

Outside anecdotal reports, no proper scientific proof suggests that the Sonoma Diet aids weight loss.

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

Because the Sonoma Diet models itself on the Mediterranean diet, it might offer similar results.

Especially, it reduces your intake of processed foods and extra sugar when promoting a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean proteins, and wholesome fats.

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

Furthermore, due to the strict portion control in Wave 1, your calorie consumption is likely to fall significantly. As with any other diet, you must eat fewer calories than your body expends to lose weight on the Sonoma Diet.

Bear in mind that weight loss is a complex procedure that’s also influenced by physical activity, sleep quality, metabolism, age, and other elements.

The Sonoma Diet likely promotes weight loss because of its resemblance to the Mediterranean diet, however, certain studies are not available.

Other possible health advantages

Since the Sonoma Diet imitates the Mediterranean diet in many ways, it might provide similar health benefits.

Decades of research have found that the Mediterranean diet is one of the best eating patterns for promoting overall health and preventing chronic ailments such as heart disease and diabetes.

May Raise your nutrient consumption

The Sonoma Diet may boost your consumption of important nutrients.

Research associates diets high in whole, minimally processed foods with improved diet quality and increased consumption of vitamins, protein, minerals, and fiber.

Crucially, vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and lean proteins are all cornerstones of the Sonoma Diet.

Could promote heart health

Multiple studies demonstrate that Mediterranean-style diets encourage heart wellness by being low in saturated fat but high in unsaturated fats and complete plant foods.

The Sonoma diet is very low in saturated fat and promotes heart-healthy unsaturated fats in olive oil, avocados, and fish. Additionally, it is very full of vegetables, fruit, and whole grains, all of which might help reduce inflammation, blood pressure, and cholesterol.

In turn, these variables may decrease your chance of heart disease.

May Decrease blood glucose levels

Diets that cut sugar and refined grain intake while promoting fiber, protein, and whole plant foods can encourage healthy blood glucose levels.

The Sonoma Diet limits all significant sources of refined grains and sugars. Moreover, the carbohydrate content of this Sonoma Diet is much lesser than that of a normal Western dietary pattern and mainly comes from high fiber foods such as whole grains, fruit, and beans.

Subsequently, lower blood sugar may reduce your chance of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other disorders.

The Sonoma Diet may boost nutrient intake, heart health, and blood sugar control. Keep in mind that the diet hasn’t been researched.

Potential downsides

Even though the Sonoma Diet has several benefits, it isn’t right for everyone. There are several downsides worth considering before you dip in.

May severely restrict calorie consumption

A wave of the Sonoma Diet is meant to provoke rapid weight loss.

Yet, this 10-day crash stage may increase your calorie intake by extreme quantities, which is unnecessary to encourage healthy, sustainable weight loss. While specific figures aren’t supplied, you likely eat just 1,000–1,200 calories per day through Wave 1 due to extreme portion control.

Eating so few calories puts you in danger of intense hunger and disordered eating.

Furthermore, no scientific evidence suggests that rapid weight reduction is necessary. Even though some folks may find rapid results encouraging, many weight loss from such an approach is connected to a fall in water weight, not fat.

Therefore, it may be best for most people to skip Wave 1 and start with the more balanced approach of Wave 2.

Specific food restrictions are not based on mathematics

The Sonoma Diet’s book asserts that it is vital to completely prevent all refined carbs during Waves 1 and 2 to fight sugar addiction.

While research indicates sugary foods have addictive qualities and eating high amounts of candy may induce cravings, extreme measures, such as eliminating sugar or too limiting sweet-tasting foods, may not be necessary for many people.

What’re more certain wholesome foods like white potatoes are demonized on the app.

Even though some studies have linked specific kinds of potato products with weight reduction, eating white potatoes in moderation prepared in healthy ways, such as baked or roasted, is not likely to cause weight reduction.

Plus, white berries are much more satiating than other carbohydrate sources like pasta and rice and may be included in a wholesome diet.

Some of those difficulties can be mitigated if you adopt a flexible approach to your diet plan.

Very time-intensive

Among the major critiques of this diet is that its meal planning and food preparation takes a lot of time.

Because the Sonoma Diet relies nearly exclusively on entire, unprocessed foods, you’re intended to cook almost all meals on your own.

While cooking is more enjoyable for a lot of individuals, others may prefer a weight reduction program that is less intensive and fits better with their lifestyle. If long hours in the kitchen are not sustainable for you long term, this diet is not a fantastic fit.

Can be pricey

In the diet’s beginning, you are supposed to throw out or donate some non-compliant foods in your cabinet, then replace them with compliant variants. Depending upon your pantry’s contents, this demand may spell a massive grocery bill and a lot of food waste.

Additionally, many of those Sonoma Diet’s approved foods are costly, which limits access and might strain your food budget.

Notably, the diet restricts widely affordable foods like legumes and potatoes in favor of more costly items such as seafood and higher-excellent wine.

The Sonoma Diet has many drawbacks, including high costs and excessive limitations on calories and certain foods.

Sample 3-day menu

The Sonoma Diet book and cookbook provide a variety of recipes for every phase of the program. Here’s a sample menu for 3 days through Wave 2:

Day 1

  • Breakfast: 100% whole-grain cereal with skim milk
  • Lunch: roasted turkey, hummus, and sliced vegetables in a whole grain tortilla with a side of blueberries
  • Dinner: grilled salmon with quinoa, roasted broccoli, and 6 oz (180 mL) of white wine

Day 2

  • Breakfast: ham, bell pepper, along with egg white scramble with a piece of whole-wheat toast
  • Steak: spinach salad with grilled chicken, chopped peppers, and strawberries
  • Dinner: tofu and vegetable stir fry with brown rice and 6 ounces (180 mL) of red wine

Day 3

Breakfast: wild Shrimp omelet
Steak: Greek salad with mixed greens, fresh herbs, berries, olives, and grilled chicken
Dinner: grilled lean steak with black beans, sautéed bell peppers, sliced avocado, and 6 oz (180 mL) of red wine

The sample menu above provides a snapshot of healthy meals for Wave 2 of the Sonoma Diet.

The bottom line

The Sonoma Diet is a weight reduction program outlined in a book of the exact same name by Dr. Connie Guttersen. It is based on the Mediterranean diet and highlights a variety of whole, healthy foods like veggies, fruit, lean meats, and olive oil.

By eliminating processed foods and strictly controlling portion sizes, the diet likely promotes weight loss.

But it is time-intensive and costly. Furthermore, its first phase may overly restrict calories, and a number of its particular food limitations aren’t based on sound science.

If you’re considering the Sonoma Diet, then you may want to think about small alterations to make sure it suits your needs.