What is The Mug Diet? And Why You Probably Shouldn’t Try It

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I was reading the papers yesterday and in Style mag, I came across a tiny mention of something called The Mug Diet. Their synopsis; ‘if it doesn’t fit in a mug, don’t eat it.’ Sorry, is this actually a thing? Is anyone really doing this? A quick google determined that yes, yes it is – and yes they are.

The Mug Diet

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What is the Mug Diet?

Depending in where you look it’s called things like The Coffee Cup Diet, The One-Cup Diet or The Styrofoam Cup Diet and the basic premise is that your meals should include only as much food that fits in a mug/cup.

There is also a Korean version which is being recommended by a K-Pop girl band called The Paper Cup diet; this sees you eating a small cup of rice, one of fruit and one of ‘side dishes’ for each meal.

My first thought was ‘this is insane’ (cue a bad ‘you’d have to be a mug to try it’ joke) but analysing it a bit more closely it has a few merits…

Pros of the Mug Diet

1) It’s Not Actually Done Every Day

On the Styrofoam Cup Diet, you actually only diet every other day – which is shaping up to be THE newest way to slim.

It’s easy to stick to, confuses your metabolism and may be healthier than dieting every day.

If you want to read more about the science of why dieting every other day, is good for health, check out this book by one of the leading scientists researching its health effects.

2)  It Reduces Portion Size

I was once told by a trainer that you should only eat as much food at a meal that can fit in two cupped hands. That’s a bit more than fits in a coffee mug just a different way of measuring it.

Trying to just eat what fits in a Styrofoam or paper cup is a little too small in my opinion (although admittedly I’m not a dietitian).

3) You Would Have to Eat Mostly Fresh Foods.

Trying to cram a Whopper into a coffee mug is not going to work, so you’ll be restricted to liquids, foods you can chop, or that come in small sizes like cereal, rice, oats and pasta.

4) It’s a Good Way to Trick Your Brain.

I already serve my evening snack in a teacup as it looks like loads when in fact it’s just 3tbsp of yoghurt and some berries. I’d serve far more if I put it in a bowl.

The Cons of the Mug Diet

There’s also some pretty big negatives though…

1) What’s Not Going in the Cup?

I can see fruit and vegetables being squeezed out of a lot of people’s diets as they focus on cramming carbs or protein into their cup.

Also, even if you do fill say, half the mug with fruit or vegetables at each meal or snack, you’re still probably not going to meet your five portions of fruit/veg a day – and you definitely won’t exceed them.

2) Most People Won’t Eat Often Enough.

To feel anywhere near satisfied, or get anywhere near enough nutrients, you’ll have to eat 5-6 times a day with this approach (this is explained in the Styrofoam plan) which can be tricky to do in a balanced way if you’re not super-organised or at home all day.

Eat less than that and you’re not dieting you’re starving yourself.

3) What Is Going in the Cup

You can still cram a lot of calories of bad food into a mug if you try – I cite ice cream, sugary cereals, anything with whipped cream and liquidised Mars Bars as exhibits A, B, C and D.

4) People Aren’t Going to Read the Rules.

In the same way that Atkins got massively misinterpreted to ‘eat endlesss bacon and eggs in lard’, I can see the Mug Diet rules being misinterpreted too.

People will just see ‘eat what fits in a mug’.

Ergo, they’ll diet every day, they’ll only eat three times a day and they’ll just cram any old rubbish into a cup rather than focusing on fresh food and nutrients.

Oh, and whoever manages the Korean pop band needs a slapping for letting them publicise their plan – it looks seriously dodgy, especially as most of the people following that one are likely to be teenage girls.

There’s barely any protein (unless you have it as a side), no calcium, no iron and it’s a recipe for problems. Avoid. Avoid. Avoid.

So, would I do a Cup Diet – erm, no. As I said, I like using a cup to serve desserts as I serve smaller portions, but for meals? No – I like food far too much for that.

Who is The Wellness Nerd?

My name is Helen Foster, and I’m a health journalist and wellness author. Publications I’ve written for include Women’s Health, Reader’s Digest, Body and Soul, Good Health at the Daily Mail, and more. I have also written 16 books on health and nutrition.

2 thoughts on “What is The Mug Diet? And Why You Probably Shouldn’t Try It”

  1. Might be a good idea for people who tend to eat too much to do it every other day but then you might as well just do normal portion control. Also, I wouldn’t wanna eat every meal out of a mug, I like a nice presentation of the food.

    • Yes, it’s a good way to control the portions, but personally I think the Styrofoam cup is just way too small to be healthy. As for presentation, most of my food looks like something exploded on the plate, might be better if I ate it from something that hides it.


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