California Diet Ultimate Guide: Sustainable & Healthy Weight Loss

California Diet

Dr. Connie Guttersen, a certified dietitian and nutrition instructor, created California Diet (or Sonoma diet) that combines healthy and nutritious ingredients to reduce weight effectively and sustainably.

Inspired by Californian coastal lifestyle and cuisine, Gluttersen introduced an affortable plant based diet that promises weight reduction results in just 10 days without harsh restrictions on food choice.

Is this really possible?

What Is The California Diet?

Similar to the famous Mediterranean diet (which has been named the diet of the year 2019) this new dietary system promises to help you achieve slimmer waist within the first 10 days.

You will just need to manage the portion sizes and stick to eating approved foods that are based on the superfood list:

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

California diet consists of 3 different waves.

Wave 1, a low calorie phase lasts for 10 days and is the most challenging one as it is very restrictive in terms of portion sizes and encourages to reduce sugar intake.

Wave 2 and Wave 3 become more flexible and easy to follow as they focus on maintaining your weight loss and allow to consume foods like chocolate and wine!

California Diet Phases

Wave 1 (Weight loss)

This first phase of the diet lasts for 10 days. It primarily focuses on reducing your dependence on white flour and sugar and hence achieving a quick weight loss.

The approved foods in Wave 1 include:

  • Eggs
  • Meat
  • Nuts
  • Whole grains
  • Green leaves such as kale and spinach
  • Low-carb vegetables
  • Low-fat cottage cheese
  • Herbs and spices
  • One daily serving of beans
  • Olive oil
  • Seafood
  • Soy products
  • Lean cuts of pork
  • Poultry

No alcohol, fruits and anything sweet is allowed in this first phase.

Wave 1 goals

  1. Reduce sugar and carb cravings.
  2. Help you lose weight fast by reducing carbs and calories.
  3. Teach portion control.

How much can you eat?

Because the diet contains nutritious foods, you don’t have to count calories and carbs. Your focus will be on making sure your meals are balanced and portion sizes are followed.

Breakfast should consist of 25% grain and 75% protein or equal portions of cereal and milk. The breakfast plate should be 18 inches in diameter.

Lunch should be 60% vegetables and 40% protein.

Dinner should contain 20% cereal, 30% protein, and 50% vegetables. Lunch and dinner plate size should be 23 inches in diameter.

Wave 2 (Target weight)

The duration of Wave 2 depends on when you will reach your target weight. It may last from 2 weeks to 2 months.

So, it is important to focus on maintaining your weight loss in this phase.

The good news is, that you will start adding new food items to your diet and continue reducing your weight.

Breakfast is the same as in Wave 1.

Lunch and Dinner, on the other hand, you should eat 25% protein/dairy, 25% fruits, 25% vegetables, and 25% grains. Plus, you can add wine and chocolate in small quantities.

Wave 3 (Maintenance)

When you have reached this final phase, your target is to maintain your new weight by continuing eating healthy. Although you are allowed to add some treats like snacks and dessert to your menu, you should keep the portions small and follow the basic ratios as in the previous phase.

California Diet Meal Plan

Here we have an one-day meal plan for each Wave to give you an idea of what the overall diet plan looks like.

Wave 1


3 Hard-boiled eggs
1 slice of ham
1 toasted whole wheat bread

Mid-morning snack

11 almonds


100 grams of cooked turkey breast with beans
1 cup of grilled onions

Mid-afternoon snack

Sliced cucumber and peanuts with low fat cottage cheese – 14 peanuts (peanuts are calorie dense, hence should be counted for controlling the portions).


100 grams of cooked mackerel

1 cup of whole wheat pasta

2 cups of roasted broccoli and cauliflower

Wave 2


Mushroom omelet
1 slice of toasted whole wheat bread

Mid-morning Snack

1 glass of fresh carrot juice


Quinoa, Chicken, cucumber salad
1/2 cup of low-fat cottage cheese
1 cup of sliced pears

Mid-afternoon snack

Tortilla roll-up – 1 whole wheat tortilla with chopped broccoli, avocadoF and 30 grams of shredded mozzarella. Microwave and enjoy the melted filling.


About 120 grams of baked salmon with garlic and black pepper.
1 small roasted potato with chives and olive oil. (or potato salad)
100 g of brown rice
1 cup of tangerines

Wave 3


Whole grain cereal with milk

Mid-morning Snack

1/2 avocado and a hand full of almonds


California Chicken Salad
1 cup of mixed raw vegetables

Mid-afternoon snack

Whole Wheat Pita with Cucumber Yogurt Sauce.


Herbed Pork Tenderloin
1.5 cup of grilled vegetables
1 slice of whole grain bread
1 cup of fresh blueberries and strawberries


Blueberry-Apple Tart

Superfoods List

Now, let’s talk about what you can and cannot eat on this diet.

There are twelve power foods that you should add in your everyday diet, such as whole grains, almonds, green leaves, beans, broccoli, tomatoes, bell peppers (particularly red), grapes, spinach, strawberries, blueberries, citrus, and olive oil.


During Wave 1 only low carb vegetables are advised to consume, such as lettuce, spinach, kale, asparagus, cucumber, avocados, and green beans.

For Wave 2 you can also include sweet potatoes, peas, corn, and squashes. These vegetables contain starch, so you should consume one of these every day.


Wave 1 does not allow any kind of fruit. But in Wave 2 you can have 2 servings (1 serving=1/2 of fruit) each day.

For one of the servings, it is required to choose from this list: peach, banana, mango, passion fruit, green apple, pear, pomegranate, fig, nectarine, guava, jujube, persimmon, plantain.

Whole grains

For Wave 1, one or two servings are allowed per day.

You should consider that having no serving of whole grain is not desirable.

During Wave 2, three or four servings are allowed and at least two of them are compulsory.

You should choose whole grain servings that are 100% whole grain:

  • Whole grain cereals – each serving must have 8 grams of fiber, as whole grains alone do not have enough fiber.
  • Whole grain bread – here again, each slice of bread must contain fiber (at least two grams), for example, bread with cracked wheat.
  • Popcorn – also can be added to your diet if it is without butter.

Other power foods that you can have:

  • Quinoa
  • Wild rice
  • Oats
  • Bulgar
  • Brown, red, or black rice
  • Barley
  • Cracked wheat or wheat berries

Fats, nuts, and oils

You can have max 3 servings each day. Peanut butter is allowed in Wave 2 (1 tbs. as a part of snack).


For Wave 1 you can have 40 grams of parmesan or mozzarella cheese per day, fat-free milk (max 1 cup per day), and low fat cottage cheese.

California Diet Recipes

Living in California has had a large impact on Guttersen’s cooking style.

Her recipes reflect the flavorful and vibrant lifestyle and are fit for making meals for the entire family.

Her diet emphasizes on consuming lean meats, nuts, healthy fats, and vegetables.

The only thing that you need to control is the portion sizes of the meals, which must not be very hard given that the author suggests various delicious meal recipes.

Here’s an example recipe of one of the authors tasty and satisfying meals. You can find the full list of recipes on her official website.

Sonoma Pesto


  • Chile serrano pepper – 1
  • Cilantro – 1 bunch
  • Peanuts – about 10 grams
  • Olive oil – 60 ml
  • Garlic – 1 clove
  • Lime juice with zest – 1
  • Seasoning – salt, black pepper


Put all the pesto ingredients in the blender and blend. Add salt and pepper. Sprinkle the pesto on top of Chile Verde.

Nutrition per serving:

  • 380 calories
  • Protein – 24 grams
  • Fiber – 13 grams
  • Carbohydrate – 41 grams
  • Fat – 15 grams

California Diet Benefits

Deciding whether to try a new diet or not is a difficult decision. Although there might be many positive claims about diet effectiveness, the final results may vary from person to person. In order to help you with that decision, we have compiled the main benefits of the California diet.


This balanced program guides and educates you throughout the diet by keeping things simple and affortable. You don’t need to count endless calories and grams. Neither spend a huge amount of money on products that are not local. The only thing that you need to be aware of is the size of your plate.

It teaches about nutrition

The diet emphasizes consuming whole, less processed foods. You will start learning about a new diet that provides all the information about healthy choices that eventually become a part of your lifestyle.

It focuses on enjoying what you eat

You will learn to eat slowly and enjoy your food. This will help you feel full after having your meal and prevent you from craving for more food. Plus, you are allowed to drink wine, which is a big plus too.

Online community

Besides the Sonoma Diet book, you can also benefit from online meal planner and community, where you can share your experience and tips.

The diet is well-structured

Not all low-carb diets have structure, so if you are looking for a diet that guides and directs you throughout the program, this one is a good choice.


This easy to follow diet is not strict which makes it sustainable. You are not going to be hungry, the products are easy to buy and nutiricious which means you will feel better and healthier inside and out.

California Diet Recommendations


In the short term, if you follow all the instructions, you will notice a rapid weight loss. This is a great advantage for those who are over-weight and need to lose weight fast.

Another good thing about this diet is that you don’t have to count every calorie you consume or weigh your food, which is often frustrating.

Instead, you will learn portion control by keeping the right plate sizes, which is more convenient, isn’t it?

California diet cannot be fully considered as a low-carb diet. Although it discourages sugar and white-flour food consumption, it does allow eating whole grain bread and cereals during all three stages of the program.

Wave 1 is the most restrictive phase as it teaches eating small portions. However, the diet focuses on nutritious and flavorful foods, so you will have all the nutrients that your body needs.

Following the diet in the long-term is realistic and achievable, as Wave 2 and Wave 3 are more flexible and allow eating even a dessert. Plus, you will develop healthy eating habits.

Some critics think that diet may not be the most practical weight loss method as it requires a lot of cooking and involves considerable ingredient cost. For example, olive oil is more expensive than butter, and fresh fruits and vegetables cost significantly more than the frozen ones. Also, you might need to spend more time preparing the meals than you did before the diet.

The California diet does not include any specific requirements concerning exercises. So, you might want to add daily 30-minute moderate exercises to your routine for a more enhanced result.

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