The No White Foods Diet, also known as the No White Diet, is an eating pattern founded upon the notion that eliminating processed white-colored foods from your diet can help you lose weight and improve your blood sugar control.
Proponents assert that most white foods are unhealthy, as many have been heavily processed, are high in carbs, and contain fewer nutrients than their more colorful counterparts.
Thus, by removing the white foods from your plate, you are said to set yourself up for a more nutritious diet that promotes weight loss and restores blood sugar balance.
Most health experts would agree that basing your dietary choices strictly on a food’s color is an oversimplified way to approach good nutrition.
However, this dietary strategy may have some merit, especially if it helps you reduce your consumption of ultra-processed foods in favor of more nutrient-dense ones.
Here are 7 white foods — and what to eat instead.
One of the primary foods eliminated on the No White Foods Diet is white bread, as well as closely related foods made from white flour, including crackers, pastries, and breakfast cereals.
When bread flour is refined, the germ and bran of the grain are removed — along with most of the fiber, vitamins, and minerals housed within them — during the milling process (
This results in a product that’s rich in carbs but lacking in other important nutrients like fiber and protein.
Research suggests that a higher intake of white breads is associated with weight gain, which may be partially due to its reduced nutritional value (
Thus, reducing your intake of white bread and similar refined-grain products may help you be more successful if weight loss is your goal.
Healthier swap: whole grain bread
Whole grain breads, crackers, and breakfast cereals are made from flour that contains the entire grain, including the germ and bran (
This means the final product retains more of its natural nutritional value, compared with its more refined, white counterpart.
Moreover, eating whole grain bread doesn’t seem to have the same tendency to encourage weight gain that white bread does (
The improved nutritional profile and increased fiber content may also help curb your blood sugar response and improve feelings of fullness, making it easier to stay within your calorie needs.
To reap these benefits, swap your white bread for whole grain breads and bread products that list a whole grain, such as whole wheat or oats, as the first ingredient.
White bread and similar foods made from refined grains tend to be high in carbs and low in nutrients. Try swapping them for whole grain versions instead.
White pasta is similar to white bread in that it’s made from refined flour that contains fewer total nutrients than the unrefined version.
Interestingly, white pasta has not been shown to increase weight in the same way white bread does — provided you’re eating it alongside a diet comprising other nutritious foods (
However, the serving sizes of pasta in Western diets tend to be very large.
If you’re not mindful of your portion size, it can be easy to eat too much at once, which may contribute to excess calorie intake and subsequent weight gain.
Healthier swap: whole grain pasta
For a nutritional boost, choose a pasta made from whole grains.
Whole grain pastas typically contain more fiber, which can leave you feeling fuller and more satisfied. The extra fiber can also help slow your body’s digestion of the carbs, supporting improved blood sugar control (
You may also want to consider alternative pasta options, such as those made from legumes.
Though the texture is slightly different, legume-based pastas tend to have even more protein and fiber than most grain-based varieties.
Pastas made from refined grains may be less nutritious than those made from whole grains. Choose a whole grain pasta or try those made from legumes for even more fiber and protein.
Like white bread and pasta, white rice falls within the category of refined grains.
White rice starts out as a whole grain, but the bran and germ are removed during the milling process, which transforms it into the starchy, fluffy white rice you’re probably quite familiar with.
White rice is not an inherently bad or unhealthy food, but it doesn’t contain much in the way of nutrition apart from calories and carbs.
The absence of fiber and protein also makes it very easy to overconsume white rice, which may contribute to weight gain or blood sugar imbalances (
Healthier swap: brown rice
Brown rice is the simplest, most obvious substitute for white rice. After all, brown rice is just white rice that hasn’t been processed to the same extent.
It’s higher in fiber, vitamins, and minerals than white rice, so you’re getting more out of what is essentially the same plant.
What’s more, research has shown that brown rice affects blood sugar to a much lesser extent than white rice (
If you don’t like brown rice or just want to mix up your routine, you can consider other whole grain options, such as black rice, quinoa, or bulgur.
White rice tends to negatively affect blood sugar balance to a greater extent than whole grain rice. Whole grains like brown rice also boast more fiber, vitamins, and minerals than white rice.
It’s unsurprising that the No White Foods Diet eliminates white sugar. Still, most versions of the diet also prohibit more colorful forms of sugar, including brown sugar, honey, turbinado sugar, maple syrup, and agave nectar.
These types are often collectively referred to as added sugars. Aside from calories, they offer very little in terms of nutrition.
Because they’re primarily made up of simple carbs, added sugars require very little digestion. They’re quickly absorbed into the bloodstream and can contribute to rapid blood sugar fluctuations.
Added sugars pack a lot of calories, even when portion sizes are kept relatively small, so it’s easy to accidentally overconsume them.
They have also been linked to negative health outcomes, such as unwanted weight gain and an increased risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes (
Healthier swap: fruit
If you have a sweet tooth and are finding it difficult to eliminate added sugars from your diet, opt for naturally occurring sources of sugar from whole foods like fruit.
Fruits contain simple sugars that are chemically identical to those in added sugars. However, they also pack vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants — all of which help minimize the harmful effects that may otherwise arise when consuming sugar by itself (
The overconsumption of added sugar is linked to weight gain and an increased risk of chronic disease. For a more nutritious option, choose whole food sources containing naturally occurring sugar like fruit instead.
Most people are familiar with table salt as a white food, but it also comes in other colors, such as pink, blue, and black.
While some salt is essential for health, many people following Western diets eat entirely too much of it, with the majority coming from ultra-processed foods (
Excess salt intake is associated with a variety of negative health effects, including an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity, and kidney disease (
The No White Foods Diet emphasizes reducing salt intake from more processed sources, such as canned foods, condiments, and prepackaged meals, many of which also likely contain other white foods prohibited on the diet.
Healthier swap: colorful herbs and spices
Reducing your salt intake doesn’t mean you have to live off flavorless foods.
Conversely, you can try to view it as an opportunity to experiment with using a more diverse array of herbs and spices in your cooking.
Herbs and spices tend to be concentrated sources of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, which may play a role in reducing inflammation and regulating blood sugar (
Try using herbs like oregano, basil, thyme, and rosemary, as well as spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, turmeric, paprika, and cayenne pepper, to add flavor to your food without using salt.
Salt is essential for health, but many modern diets contain far too much. Using more nutrient-rich herbs and spices to flavor your foods is a great way to cut down on salt without compromising flavor.
White potatoes are not inherently unhealthy. In fact, they’re a great source of several important nutrients, such as potassium, vitamin C, and fiber (
Still, they have earned a reputation for being unhealthy, largely because of the ways in which they’re often prepared.
When white potatoes are prepared in less nutritious ways, such as frying or serving them with salty, high calorie toppings like gravy, they’re more likely to contribute to weight gain and other negative health outcomes (
Furthermore, many modern dietary patterns rely on these types of white potato preparations as a vegetable staple while excluding other types of vegetables.
Thus, if you routinely consume white potatoes as your main vegetable, trading them out for different types of colorful vegetables can help you add a more diverse array of nutrients to your diet.
Healthier swap: colorful vegetables
When it comes to vegetables, variety is something to strive for.
Eating vegetables from a variety of color groups — including green, orange, yellow, red, purple, and white — has been associated with a reduced risk of chronic conditions like heart disease and colon cancer (
Starchy vegetables, such as orange sweet potatoes, purple potatoes, green peas, and winter squash, all make excellent, colorful substitutes for white potatoes.
If you’re trying to cut down on carbs, try swapping your potatoes for some non-starchy vegetables, such as asparagus, zucchini, leafy greens, tomatoes, carrots, bell peppers, or cabbage.
White potatoes are very nutritious, but they’re often prepared using unhealthy methods. If you usually eat white potatoes, try swapping them for other colorful vegetables to increase dietary diversity.
Most versions of the No White Foods Diet consider animal-based fats to be white foods and recommend that they’re limited.
White animal-based fats primarily refer to fats that come from meat and dairy products, most of which are saturated fats.
The No White Foods Diet recommends sticking with very lean meats and only fat-free dairy products — if they’re included at all.
As with many of the other white foods, saturated fats aren’t inherently unhealthy.
However, a high intake of them may contribute to increased cholesterol and a higher risk of heart disease in some people (
Healthier swap: plant-based fats
Research suggests that when you replace saturated fats in your diet with plant-based unsaturated fats, you may reduce your risk of heart disease (
If a large proportion of your daily fat intake regularly comes from animal-based saturated fats, consider swapping some of them for plant-based fats, such as olive and avocado oils.
You can also get a lot of heart-healthy unsaturated fats from whole foods like nuts, seeds, avocados, and olives.
Substituting animal-based saturated fats with plant-based unsaturated fats may promote heart health.
One of the main criticisms of the No White Foods Diet is that it unfairly vilifies foods based on their color.
A food’s color tells you very little about its nutritional value. Thus, this approach to weight loss could be confusing for people who are simply trying to learn how to make healthier food choices.
Though some white foods are less nutritious than others — like refined grains and sugar — many are very healthy and certainly belong in any diet aimed at promoting general health and weight loss.
Here are a few examples of some highly nutritious white foods:
- Vegetables: cauliflower, onions, garlic, turnips, parsnips, mushrooms
- Nuts and seeds: cashews, sesame seeds, pine nuts
- Legumes: white beans
- Meat: white fish, poultry
- Dairy: milk, yogurt, cheese
- Other: egg whites, coconut
Notably, some versions of the No White Foods Diet make exceptions for certain white foods, such as fish, eggs, and poultry, but others do not.
Therefore, it’s important to take a critical look at which foods you’re eliminating and why, as some of them may actually help you reach your goals.
Many white foods are very nutritious, and judging a food based on its color isn’t the best way to approach a healthy diet. Instead, aim to consume whole, minimally processed foods most of the time.
The No White Foods Diet is a popular diet trend that focuses on eliminating white-colored foods to support weight loss and blood sugar balance.
Several of the white foods excluded come from ultra-processed sources, such as refined grains and sugars, and can be easily replaced with more nutritious alternatives, including whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
However, evaluating the quality of a food solely by its color may not be the best way to determine whether it’s healthy. Many white foods are highly nutritious and can be used to support weight loss.
Instead, it’s best to focus on consuming whole, minimally processed foods and practicing moderation when consuming those that are less nutrient-dense.