The Montignac Diet. a Method That Doesn’t Count the Calories

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Montignac Diet. A Method That Doesn't Counts the Calories

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The Montignac diet may seem complicated, but once you get familiar with the glycemic index (GI) notion and you learn how to combine foods, it’s quite an agreeable diet to follow. As long as you choose foods with a GI lower than 35, you can eat as much as you like!

The Montignac diet is the result of the tests carried out by Michel Montignac in collaboration with a varied group of medical doctors and researchers. Michel Montignac was a French diet developer who originally created the Montignac diet to help himself lose weight. He focused his research on the glycemic index of foods, which affects the amount of glucose delivered to the blood after eating.

According to the website, what we call the Montignac diet is not really a diet in the traditional sense of the word, but a method. They claim dieting means limiting the amount of food consumed, something which can only be done on a short-term basis, and the Montignac method does not limit the amount of food we eat. Still, even if it’s a balanced way of eating by choosing knowledgeably from each food category: carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, we’ll call it the Montignac diet going forwards.

The Montignac diet principles

Carbohydrate-rich foods are classified according to their glycemic index (GI). The glycemic index measures carbs’ from the perspective of their pure sugar/starch content in order to determine how they affect glycemia (blood sugar levels)  after meals. High-GI carbohydrates are considered “bad”.

The first Montignac principle is to overcome conditioning arising from misguided messages which tell us that calories are what make us gain weight.

The second principle is to eat food chosen by its nutritional value and metabolic potential. Also, the Montignac diet says the best carbohydrates are those with the lowest glycemic indexes and that the quality of fat foods depends on the nature of their fatty acids, as follows:

  • Polyunsaturated omega-3 acids (fatty fish like salmon and mackerel), as well as monounsaturated fatty acids (olive oil, avocado), are the best choices.
  • Saturated fatty acids (butter, meat fats) are to be avoided.

Also, proteins should be chosen on the basis of their (vegetable or animal) origin, depending on how they complement each other and on if they make our bodies react by gaining weight.

More about the glycemic index

The glycemic index measures how much glucose your body absorbs after eating carbohydrates. We’re talking especially about carbs, because the fats and proteins contain little sugar, and some of them don’t contain sugar at all.

There are bad carbs, with a very high GI (over 65): white bread, white rice, white potatoes, popcorn, or corn flakes.

There is high GI (between 51 and 65): sweet corn, raisins, sweetened jam, semolina.

There are low GI foods: (between 36-50): sweet potatoes, brown and basmati rice, whole wheat pasta, whole wheat bread, kiwi, grapes.

There are very low GI foods (35 or lower than 35): cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini, eggplant, spinach, apples, pears, peaches, wild rice, quinoa, lentils.

Eating carbohydrates from the last category helps you lose weight while consuming foods from the penultimate category helps you prevent gaining weight or stabilizing your weight.

Foods with a high and very high GI may lead to gaining weight.

You can search here the glycemic index for any food item you want to eat.

Fat fish, olive oil, and avocado are the best choices when it comes to fat.

Montignac diet phases

Phase I: the weight-loss phase

This phase is dependant on how much weight you want to lose.  Apart from choosing fat and protein wisely (lean meat, fat fish, olive oil), this phase consists chiefly of eating the appropriate carbs, meaning those with glycemic index ranked at 35 or lower.

Some of the best carbs to eat are avocados (GI: 10), almonds, asparagus, broccoli, cucumber, mushrooms, peanuts, pecans, walnuts, spinach (GI: 15), eggplants, lemons, limes (GI: 20), cherries, raspberries, peas (GI: 25).

The goal is to have meals that do not provoke hikes in blood sugar levels. Choosing food wisely not only keeps our bodies from stocking fats, but it also activates processes which eliminate stored fats by burning them as extra energy.

This phase, which can be called the ‘quick losing weight’ phase, can last from a few weeks to months, depending on how much pounds you want to lose.

Phase I rules:

1. Don’t skip any meal of the day

It’s best to eat three times a day. No matter what, don’t skip lunch.

2. You have 2 options for breakfast

1. Breakfast made of carbs and protein (it can contain fiber-rich bread, but it shouldn’t have saturated fat) and

2. Breakfast made of protein and fat, but with no carbs at all. This type of breakfast is allowed only twice a week.

3. There are 2 types of lunch and dinner

1. Meals consisting of protein and fats, having protein and carbs with GI of 35 or lower.

2. Meals made of carbs high in fiber, with GI of 50 or lower, that doesn’t have saturated fats.

Your lunch and dinner are similar, just that the dinner should have less fat and more vegetables with a very low GI.

4. Avoid sugar and caffeine

This means you shouldn’t eat sweets, but also foods with a high GI, like beverages, soups, or jams. Also, no coffee or black tea. You can drink only decaf.

5. Limit alcohol

You can have 0.5-cup (100 ml) of wine or beer for lunch or dinner, but never drink alcohol on an empty stomach.

6. Eat carbs rich in fiber four times a week

You can eat up to four meals a week of carbohydrates rich in fiber. Your meals should contain carbs with a GI up to 50 or less, but with just a few saturated fats.

Also, avoid eating saturated fats by combining them with foods with a GI higher than 35.

Phase II: stabilization and prevention phase

Carbohydrates should always be chosen by their glycemic indexes. In this phase, however, the scope to choose from is wider than in phase I. You can go up to 50 GI. This phase usually lasts one or two months.

Include gradually new food items with a GI that goes up to 50. Keep in mind that, according to this method, you don’t gain weight because you are eating too much, but because you are eating the wrong foods. Eating the wrong foods raises the amount of insulin in your blood and glucose deposition as fat.

If you eat foods with a GI lower than 35, you can eat as much as you can and you’ll lose weight.

Phase II rules:

1. You still have 2 options for breakfast

1. Breakfast made of carbs and protein (it can contain fiber-rich bread, but it shouldn’t have saturated fat) and

2. Breakfast made of protein and fat, but with no carbs at all. This type of breakfast is allowed only twice a week.

2. There are no different options for lunch and dinner

The only rule for lunch and dinner is to choose carbs with a GI of 50 or less.

3. A new concept: the glycemic outcome 

You can apply a new concept, the glycemic outcome (synthesis between glycemic index and pure carbohydrate content) and the blood sugar levels which result from the meals. Under these conditions, we can eat whatever carbohydrate we want, even those with high glycemic indexes.

This means you can eat a food item with a higher GI if you combine it at the same meal with a food with a lower GI (preferably eat the low GI food before the high GI food). That way, you can calculate the medium GI, to make sure you won’t gain weight.

For example, if you want to eat boiled potatoes and salmon, combine them with braised broccoli. Cooked skin-on potatoes have a GI higher than 65, that’s why you should eat braised broccoli (GI 15) first. That way, you get a GI of 80, and the medium GI is 40.

Too many carbs lead to fat deposits! If you use this concept of medium GI, keep in mind you should eat normal servings, not huge ones!

4. You can have 2 snacks with high GI

You can eat two snacks with high GI a month, without the risk of gaining weight. This is an exception, but it’s not considered as a failure in your diet, because you plan for it. If you plan for an exception, always finish your meal with it! In the beginning, you should eat healthy lower GI foods. You can even have dessert, by enjoying every bite of it! Sure, it’s better to choose healthier foods as exceptions, like watermelon, which has a GI of 75.

5. Drink 2 small glasses of wine

If you want, you can drink 2 small glasses of wine or a small bottle of beer. Don’t drink alcohol on an empty stomach! Occasionally you can drink an espresso.

Other things it’s good to know about this diet


If you’ve eaten enough for breakfast and lunch, you shouldn’t feel the need for snacks during the day. Still, if you feel like snacking, don’t eat cookies, crackers, or chips – they have a high GI. Choose foods with a GI lower than 35. In fact, it’s better to choose proteins like cheese and lean meats (cured meats and ham), besides carbs with a low GI.

An ideal snack while following the Montignac diet is raw vegetables with a low GI: carrots, celery root, tomatoes, bell peppers, plus lean meat and Cheddar or Gruyere cheese.

As long as you choose foods with a GI lower than 35, you can eat as much as you can!

When you cook

You can get inspired by our recipes. Also, as a general rule, use low GI carbohydrates because they prevent gaining weight. Eliminate the high GI carbs. Don’t use sugar, white bread, white, flour, white potatoes, white rice, white pasta or corn. Use good fats, like olive oil, sunflower seed oil, pumpkin seed oil. Don’t use bad fats like palm oil, coconut oil, and avoid butter as much as you can.

Extra tip:

When you look up the GI of a food item, be precise, because cooked foods have a different GI than raw foods. For example, the potato GI rises from 65 to 70 when it’s peeled and boiled. Also, cooking rice for a long time raises its GI. Precooked rice has a GI of 90. Also, overcooked pasta has a higher GI than pasta cooked ‘al dente’. Cooking carrots raises their GI hugely, from 30 to 85!

You can also read How Many Carbs Do You Need? Take this Test to Find Out.

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