Food Guidelines

By January 25, 2016 November 23rd, 2017 Nutrition

One of the most important parts of maintaining a good diet is having the know-how to do so. This is why we’re sharing with you two long food lists, one of nutritious foods and another one of junk foods, so that you know what to eat and what to avoid. At the bottom of this article you’ll find important links that guide you towards other articles on various topics, including:

  •      Detailed discussions of what makes foods healthy or unhealthy.
  •      Excellent foods that are worth discussing in more detail.
  •      Analyses of different diets and snacks.
  •      MAF-approved breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert recipes.

Foods to eat and avoid: “YES” and “NO” Foods

Note: These lists of foods are different in important ways (but similar) to those for people taking the Two-Week test.

YES Foods
These are OK to eat on a daily basis, provided you do NOT have signs and symptoms of Carbohydrate Intolerance.


  • Raw and cooked vegetables: Tomato, onion, garlic, lemon and lime, greens such as spinach, kale, chard, and all lettuces, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts (for those with thyroid dysfunction, cabbage-family veggies are best eaten thoroughly cooked), carrots, zucchini, etc.
  • Legumes: Beans, lentils, fava beans, peas, chickpeas, peanuts, etc.
  • Tree nuts (and nut butters): Macadamia, almond, walnut, for example. (Does NOT include peanuts or cashews).
  • Coconut:  cream, oil, milk and flour.
  • Some cereals: Rice, including wild rice, brown rice, white rice, basmati rice, etc. Whole wheat including, farro, bulgur, khorasan, millet, etc. Whole oats. (All cereals should be eaten only in moderation.
  • Quinoa: Includes quinoa seeds and all products (e.g. quinoa pasta). Should be eaten only in moderation.
  • Potatoes: Any kind (russet, red, blue, etc.). Should be eaten only in moderation.
  • Fruits and berries: Bananas, apples, pears, oranges, grapefruits grapes, blueberries, strawberries, cranberries grapefruit, watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew.
  • Melon: Watermelon, cantaloupe, melon, etc.
  • Tofu: Includes Tempeh, miso, etc.


  • Beef: Look for organic, grass-fed varieties.
  • Turkey: Organic.
  • Lamb: Look for organic, grass-fed varieties.
  • Fish: Wild-caught cold water fish (tuna, salmon, etc) are best.
  • Eggs
  • Shellfish
  • Mayonnaise


  • Unprocessed Hard Cheeses: Cheddar, asiago, parmesan, etc.
  • Unprocessed Soft Cheeses: Feta, brie, camembert, mozzarella, etc.
  • Creams: Heavy cream, sour cream, full-fat crème fraiche.
  • Yoghurt and kefir: All kinds (Greek, etc.).


  •      Vegetable Juice.
  •      Carrot Juice.
  •      Coffee or tea: If you usually drink it.
  •      Honey: As long as it is organic and minimally processed/unprocessed.
  •      Oils: Avocado, coconut, and olive oil are better than corn, safflower, or canola.
  •      Vinegar: Includes balsamic vinegar.
  •      Pure, distilled spirits: Small amounts of gin, vodka, whiskey, etc.
  •      Carbonated water: And unsweetened seltzer or tonic water.
  •      Dry red wines: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Cab Franc, Shiraz/Syrah, Chianti.
  •      Dry white wines: Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc.
NO Foods
These foods are NOT conducive to the body’s health, and should be eliminated from the diet.


  • All sugar products: Except honey. Includes basically anything with sugar, agave, fructose, crystals (e.g. beet crystals), cane, extract, or syrup in its ingredient list.
  • Sweets and desserts: Cake, cookies, ice cream, muffins, candy, gum, breath mints.
  • All non-caloric sweeteners (natural and non-natural): Includes stevia, xylitol, erythritol, aspartame, splenda, etc.
  • Many canned and prepared veggies: Read the labels to make sure they don’t contain hidden sugars!
  • Bread: Sliced bread or rolls of any kind (whole-grain, multi-grain, flaxseed, rye, gluten-free, etc).
  • Pasta: Of any kind or any flour.
  • Corn: Bread, tortillas, etc.
  • Crackers: Includes chips, rice cakes, and similar foods.
  • Packaged Energy bars: And all packaged foods promoted as fuel for athletes.
  • Ketchup and other sauces: They often contain hidden sugars.


  • Processed meats: Sausage, pastrami, salami, pepperoni, etc.
  • Smoked products: Jerky (beef, buffalo, etc), smoked fish.
  • Many canned and prepared meats: Read the labels to make sure they don’t contain hidden sugars!


  • Milk: Especially low-fat and non-fat milk.
  • Half-and-half.
  • Processed cheeses: Stay away from pre-sliced, single-serving, pre-shredded, high-value corporate branding, etc.


  • Fruit Juice: Any kind: orange, berry, watermelon, etc.
  • All soda: Includes diet and non-diet soda.
  • All diet drinks: Diet shakes, etc.
  • “Enhanced” Beverages: Vitamin water, mineral water with “health” additives.
  • Sports drinks: Gatorade, Powerade, etc.

Food-Related Articles, Recipes, and More.

These articles discuss the principles of healthy eating, popular diets and how they impact health, and healthy recipes that can be included in the diet of just about anyone!
Healthy Foods
How to eat more healthy


  • Sebastien Garcia says:

    I have seen in an other page that cold cuts are a NO food. But I live in France and we made saussages and cold cuts at home with organic pork from the farm next to our house, Only using pork meat, salt and black pepper. I guess that could be a YES food, no ?

  • James Davies says:

    Hi, are alternative flour pastas still OK. Such as these (green pea flour:, brown rice flour:


  • Katrina Wrobleski says:

    Just wondering, is fruit ok? I thought I saw a list that showed fruit wasn’t ok in the 2 week test, but I might have misread that list.

  • Nick says:

    Just curious why grass fed butter doesn’t show up in either category. Thanks!

  • Mike says:

    Can i just ask: why is corn in the no list?

  • Iona says:

    Hi, I am just about to embark on this two week test.. prob around the next two to three days, once I finish eating the oranges and bananas left in my refrigerator for smoothies.. Anyway, I downloaded your app, and I appear to have come across some information that is presented differently there than here on the website, under the two-week test( I am aware that this is not the appropriate page, right now). The app says legumes are allowed during the two week test, but your website says no. Which one is it?

    Also, what do you suggest we put in coffee if we are used to having soy milk in there? This whole thing is a big shift for me because I am generally vegan, so I will be eating meat, because I actually think I may be having an issue metabolizing that which I am eating as a substitute for protein (beans, lentils, nuts), and the only other thing I was having as protein was a plant based protein shake in almond milk. Anyway, back to my original question, I really do like some creaminess in my coffee, but full fat cream just freaks me out right now.. Would you mind proposing a list of alternatives that work on the two week test?

  • chris says:

    Hi. I’m one week in and “accidently” ate smoked mackerel. With this destroy the test, and should I start the test again?

  • Charles says:

    HI Ivan
    First thank you very much for all your answers. I have been following MAF method for a couple of months, and you are very helpful.
    I have a question regarding Generation UCAN products that I have been using for a couple of years before, during and after my runs/races.
    I was wondering what you would think of that product ?
    Thank you for your help

  • Mike says:

    Why is peanuts a yes under legumes but then no right under that?

    • Hi Mike:

      Peanut is a “Yes” food for the regular diet (this article) but NO for the two-week test.

      I couldn’t find peanuts on the NO list on this article…

      • Mike says:

        On the yes list, it’s listed as yes under legumes. Immediately under that in tree nuts, it says “Does NOT include peanuts or cashews”.

        Does this mean peanuts are OK but not peanut butter? What if the peanut butter doesn’t have any added sugar?

        • Hello Mike,

          I see your point. Peanuts are not listed under tree nuts as they are not tree nuts–they are legumes. So the point we are making is that the “tree nuts” list does not include peanuts (not that the “YES foods” list does not include them.) Does this make sense?

          Peanuts ARE ok, as is peanut butter (provided it doesn’t have added sugar, like you say).

  • Robert says:

    *answering, not another.

    Looking through the recipes it looks like honey is a definite yes. Just fyi it is listed under the NO foods under sugar products.

    Thanks again, Robert

  • Robert says:

    Hi Ivan, thanks for all your work another the thousands of questions on the website. My question:

    Honey, yes or no? I thought it was ok since it is part of the post TWT reintroduction on day 6. Above it is not ok. Which is correct?

    Thanks, Robert

  • Ryan says:

    Where do milk substitutes fall? Like almond, soy, cashew or coconut milk? Not canned but the cartons you would find in and around the daily section.

  • Wendy says:

    How are gluten intolerance and carbohydrate intolerance different or the same?

    • Wendy:

      Hello, thanks for your comment.

      Gluten is a major protein found in grains. Gluten intolerance is primarily an allergic reaction by the immune system to the presence of gluten in the gut, or in some cases, to the presence of gluten in the bloodstream.

      Carbohydrate intolerance is a metabolic disorder that occurs when the body becomes unable to correctly process carbohydrates, producing an adverse responses to further carbohydrate ingestion, such as sleepiness after meals, fluctuating energy levels, etc. Carbohydrate intolerance is characterized by insulin resistance.

  • fm-NYC says:

    Checking back in: I’ve been in S. America for a few weeks and the daily diet is full of plantains and yuca. We might think of plantains as unripe bananas but as far as I understand, they’re a different variety from what we in the US eat as bananas (and sometimes the plantains are cooked ripe, called maduros). I’ve been eating them, as they are delicious (they tend to be fried, and it may be that they are fried in vegetable oil, which I suppose is really bad; that only occurred to me just now). Returning to US tonight so a bit of a moot point, but what is the MAF stance on plantains? Also, yuca (which I believe is the same as manioc/cassava)? I have been in S. America much of the summer so have had to eat accordingly. White rice is served daily as well. And lots of salt! I have been eating that sparingly. Have managed to mostly avoid any sort of bread or pasta, at least.

  • DeeDee Duffy says:

    Hello, what is the reason for chicken not being allowed? I’ve through many threads and have not seen that question. Thank you

  • Fm-NYC says:

    Thanks again Ivan. So, I’m still fine tuning post-test eating habits. I enjoyed some Banza chic pea pasta last night, but noted that it is made with Xantham Gum (presumably, the binding agent), which is made from corn. The pasta is marketed as gluten-free, grain free, and low glycemic, as well as high fiber and high protein. Is xanthan gum a concern? If so, are there perhaps some “approved” pastas of this sort?

  • fm-NYC says:

    Thanks Ivan. Any opinion on the Ezekiel breads? I’ve had a few bits of that this week. Or Julian Bakery paleo bread? I can attest that having mostly eliminated regular bread, pasta, and most rice, I am feeling better, and am leaner, even faster, a little younger. I only tried pasta a couple times. And on one occasion, a birthday, I had a little cake; didn’t seem to present a problem (I had run 9 miles that morning). I guess through experimentation I’m settling into something of a routine. Lots of almonds, avocados, veggies, eggs, good cheeses, fish and meat, Phil’s coffee, lentils and other legumes (but not overdoing it), and a little fruit, the occasional grain (oatmeal, brown rice, and a little specialty bread such as Ezekiel). Aside from the birthday cake that one day, I haven’t had any sugar whatsoever (although I noticed there’s a little bit–2g–in my raw coconut butter, despite it being nothing but raw coconut). Also, I enjoy a little wine with dinner and the occasional beer too. …

    • fm-NYC:

      Same issue. If you look at the acceptable foods list, they all share the characteristic that you can eat loads and loads of them without a great big impact on your blood sugar. And that’s really the issue here. For example, 150 grams of bulgur wheat has a glycemic load of 12, while one (30 gram) slice of Ezekiel bread has approximately a glycemic load of 8. So each gram of bulgur wheat has a glycemic load of 0.08, while every gram of Ezekiel bread has a glycemic load of 0.26 (more than 3 times as much!).

      So it’s not that Ezekiel bread is “bad”—it’s simply well outside of our suggested food categories on the grounds that a significant impact on blood sugar comes so much sooner (and eating it therefore requires so much more care) than our suggested foods.

  • fm-NYC says:

    I’m about 2 weeks post-TWT now. I didn’t have much weight to lose, or so I thought, but I am definitely much leaner now, in a good way. I’m also trying to run at MAF heart rate, when not doing speed training. I have greatly reduced carbs but occasionally eat grains such as oats or rice. I reintroduced whole wheat pasta, but that didn’t seem to go well, although I’m not sure it was the pasta that upset my stomach as I had some supermarket sushi the same day. Legumes and fruit are fine. But I remain curious as to why all breads are bad. Why not whole grain, or sprouted, or seed breads, in small amounts? Similarly, why is it that pasta is so bad? It doesn’t seem to have such a high glycemic index. Where do bread and pasta fit into runners who do high intensity workouts?

    • Fm-NYC:

      Thanks for your comment. It’s not that all breads are “bad,” but rather that any flour (organic or not) is much higher-glycemic than its whole grain counterpart, regardless of whether it comes from sprouted wheat, whole wheat, etc. While whole wheat flours (for example) are less glycemic than refined wheat flours, the vast majority of grain flours cross the threshold where they stack onto the “unhealthy” side of the equation.

      Whenever you can replace a flour with the grain it comes from, do so.

      Pasta, since it can come from many different grains, has different glycemic loads, but again, they are almost always too glycemic. Of course, pasta that doesn’t come from grain, such as quinoa pasta or pasta made with lentil flour, is a different animal.

      Runners who do high-intensity workouts do need to replace their glycogen, but that can easily be accomplished by eating whole grains. We don’t see a good reason to eat foods with a higher glycemic load when foods with a lower glycemic load will quite effectively replenish depleted muscle glycogen.

  • Anita says:

    What about whole milk, just a bit in the morning with coffee? I’m frustrated it is a NO food even not in the two week test and I cannot understand why.

    • Emrys says:


      Yes so I also wondered about milk, especially full-fat milk. Is it also a NO food? I sometimes like to drink flat white coffee.
      Also, I wondered about “jerky” types of meat. In fact, the other day I was at the airport and the only snack I found that would be tolerable was jerky. It was made of reindeer meat with nothing added but salt. (And I also bought and cashew until I saw they’re a not food… after eating them of course xD)

      Thanks for your help

      • Emrys:

        Full-fat milk is fine, but we generally say “no” to milk and yoghurt because there are just so many varieties that have too much sugar (lactose is a sugar). So if you’re confident that you can identify full-fat milk, go ahead.

  • David says:

    Couple questions on the food guidelines:
    -For breads and pastas, does it help if you make them yourself from scratch?

    -What is the concern with smoked products, like fish? If you smoke your own meat, is that recommended to not eat?

    -For pure, distilled spirits, is that any type? Are their types of spirits (i.e. types of vodkas or whiskeys) we need to avoid, and how should we assess that?


  • Alan says:

    Why are Cashews not a Yes Food? It is one of your top nuts in the “Nuts for your health” article.

Leave a Reply