The astronauts diet was rumored to be developed by NASA nutritionists to optimize the intake of nutrients from food, and to eliminate stomach issues. However, along the way, the diet became popular for another reason: weight loss. It’s difficult for other diets to match the weight loss on this diet, as it occurs so quickly.
The Origin of the Astronauts Diet
NASA allegedly developed the astronauts diet in the 1960s for their astronauts on missions to outer space. Their nutritionists and food scientists experimented with ways to reduce the amount of gas produced in astronauts’ stomachs, as excess gas in space can upset the delicate balance of atmosphere inside a space station.
Gastrointestinal problems can be minimized by choosing foods that produce very little gas as they’re broken down inside the stomach.
The weight loss effects of the diet cannot be denied. It’s not uncommon for people to lose 20 lbs over two weeks. The good news is you don’t have to be an astronaut to take advantage of this extraordinary weight loss plan.
The astronauts diet is said to have been particularly popular in political circles, with some overweight officials reportedly losing as much as 50 lbs. It is believed that followers have included US Senators in Washington, D.C., Members of Parliament in Ottawa, Canada, and even a former Mayor of Moscow.
It’s easy to follow and results come quickly, making it one of the most motivating diets around. After the first week, when you start seeing how you can fit into your once too tight clothes, it becomes very easy to continue.
The Principle Behind The Astronauts Diet
The astronauts diet last for 13 days. It can be repeated after two weeks has passed upon completion of the diet. The basic rules include avoiding fat and sugar, limiting carbohydrates, drinking two liters of water each day, and consuming approximately 500 calories a day.
Avoiding fat means all food must be fat free. So no cooking oil, butter, or margarine. Sugar doesn’t mean only avoid white sugar. It also includes sugary foods such as cakes, cookies, and sweets.
The astronauts diet is also a low carb diet, so breads and wheat or grain products are restricted. This also include starchy carbohydrates, such as potatoes and rice.
Two liters of water is recommended to accelerate weight loss, but if you can drink more than this, then definitely do so. Water is a key part of the diet, as the more water you drink, the more you can fool your body into thinking you’re not hungry.
While it is a low calorie diet, there is no calorie counting involved in the astronauts diet. Due to its being very low in calories, it’s not recommended that you follow this diet for more than two weeks at a time.
But for short term weight loss, it’s a great way to see results very quickly. And you can repeat the diet several times within a year, for even more weight loss.
The astronaut diet weight loss is difficult to replicate in other diets, so you may find yourself on the diet up to four times a year, depending on the amount of weight you have to lose.
What To Eat:
On the astronauts diet you can eat meat, fish, eggs and vegetables. You can have as many vegetables as you like, and this will be the key to keeping your hunger at bay. Filling up with leafy greens or steamed vegetables will go a long way to keeping you feeling fuller for longer.
Stick to these recommendations for the 13 days, before resuming your normal diet.
What To Avoid:
As with all diets, there are foods you should avoid if you wish to be successful with your weight loss. Below is a list of the main foods to stay clear of.
Sugar and sweets
Milk and dairy products
Sodas and fruit juices
Starchy vegetables, including, potatoes, beets, parsnips and carrots
Rice and pasta
Breads and cereals
Smoked meat products
Butter and margarine
Sample Meal Plans:
Here are some sample meal plans to give you some ideas on what to eat. Feel free to change or swap certain foods if they don’t appeal to you (e.g. – beef for fish, or eggs for ham). Choose one option from each meal for each day.
100g cheese, poached eggs with ham, unsweetened coffee or tea.
Tuna, grilled eggplant, unsweetened coffee or tea.
Cottage cheese, cauliflower, unsweetened coffee or tea.
Omelette with cheese, unsweetened coffee or tea.
Scrambled eggs with mushrooms and tomatoes, unsweetened coffee or tea.
Steak, Greek salad, celery soup.
Pork loin, lettuce, vegetable soup.
Egg salad, tomato soup.
Baked fish, pickled cabbage.
Grilled chicken, garden salad.
Grilled fish and salad.
Roast beef with green beans and broccoli.
Leg ham with snow peas and tomatoes.
Roast chicken with pumpkin and green beans.
Dry fried fish with cauliflower and broccoli.
Benefits of the Astronauts Diet
The main benefit of the astronaut diet is weight loss. Being a low carbohydrate, high protein diet, you will lose weight very quickly. Because of this, it’s recommended as a quick-start diet, to motivate you in the beginning of your weight loss journey.
Once you introduce carbohydrates and good fats back into your diet, the weight loss will slow, but if you continue to eat healthy and add moderate exercise to your daily routine, you will keep losing weight.
Another benefit of this diet is its simplicity. It’s very easy to follow. Just reduce carbohydrates and fats, and aim to eat foods high in protein for each meal. The short list of rules makes it easy to remember what you can and cannot consume for the thirteen days. As always, a food diary will help you keep track of what you’ve eaten each day and will aid you in staying on target.
It’s also a short term diet, so you only have to restrict yourself for the duration of two weeks in order to see results. Once the two weeks are up, you can gradually go back to a normal diet, and thank NASA and the astronauts for your newly slim figure.
Further Reading: How Good Nutrition and Exercise Strengthens Astronauts’ Bones