food combining diet
Diets,  Nutrition,  Weight Loss

Food Combination Diet For Weight Loss: Does It Really Work?

Some individuals change what they eat or how they eat to lose weight. Others adjust the foods that they eat to slim down. But how does food combining diet alter how they eat to lose weight? For dieters that follow this diet, it is simply allowing specific food combinations and veto other foods.

What is food combining diet?

Also known as trophology, this diet is based on the concept that some foods are easy to digest and absorb if they are eaten alone, or in particular combinations. Followers of this diet believe that diseases and weight gain are due to improper combining of foods.

The Basics of Food Combining

Food combining diet is combining foods rich in protein with other healthy foods.

Proper combination of foods may stimulate the metabolism to burn fat easily. According to Donna Gates, author of Body Ecology Diet, food combining method has these basic principles:

  • Fruit should be consumed alone on an empty stomach, at least 20 minutes before taking other foods. Take note that melons should always be consumed alone because they cannot be digested easily if they are combined with other foods.
  • Starchy veggies and grains should be eaten with non-starchy veggies or ocean vegetables.
  • Protein fats like cheese, avocado, seeds and nuts, and milk should be consumed with sour fruits, non-starchy vegetables, and ocean vegetables.
  • Proteins like fish, meat, dairy, and eggs should be taken with ocean vegetables or non-starchy vegetables.
  • Small amounts of unrefined oils (like olive oil or flaxseed oil), should be consumed with grains, protein, or veggies.
  • Fermented foods may be taken with anything.
  • Dried nuts, seeds, and fruits should be taken with raw vegetables.
  • Sugar should be avoided or consumed in very small amounts and by itself.

How Food Combining Diet Works?

With fat burning food combination diet plan, you are allowed to consume anything that you want, as long as you adhere to rules.

If you are following a regular North American diet, you will normally pair starch and meat at a meal time. For instance, you may have a turkey sandwich for lunch, or toast, bacon, and eggs for your breakfast. With food combining method, you are not allowed to eat protein and carbs together.

Supporters of food combining method think that when they eat the wrong foods together, digestion is compromised. This will result to undigested food in your stomach and it ferments or rots inside. They believe that this will cause illnesses and weight gain. Hence, followers of this diet formulate food combinations for weight loss and better health condition.

There are many variations of food combination where basic rules remain similar:

  • Always eat fruit (especially melon) on an empty stomach, or at least 20 minutes before eating anything.
  • Consume starches alone, or with cooked non-starchy veggies.
  • Eat meat, fish, dairy, eggs and other food with high protein content alone, or with cooked non-starchy veggies.
  • Consume seeds and nuts, and dried fruit with raw vegetables.

Other food combination tips:

Protein.  Never consume protein, including meat, seafood, eggs, and cheese, with starchy foods (such as rice, grains, bread, and squash).

Fruit.  Avoid sweet fruit as much as you can. Opt for low-sugar or sour fruit instead. Also, eat seeds and nuts, and dried fruit only with raw veggies.

Grains and starchy veggies.  Eat starchy veggies and other carb-loaded foods (such as grains and bread) with cooked non-starchy veggies (like leafy greens only – not proteins).

Sugar.  Shun away from refined sugar and products with refined sugar. Avoid processed foods because they contain fats and sugars.

Neutral foods.  Some foods are considered neutral such as dark chocolate, egg yolks, almond milk, coconut water, cream, oil butterm and lemons. They can be consumed with any foods.

Alcohol.  Certain alcohol are allowed to be taken on food combination diet plan. White and dry red wines are categorized as protein and so they are allowed to be taken with other proteins. Beers and ale are considered starchy, so it is recommended drinking them only with other starches, or with cooked veggies.


  • Choosing this food combination diet will tend to more eating of whole foods. One, it does not allow any foods with added sugar and processed foods, including granola bars, cereals, and sauces. Two, it is easy to keep various kinds of food separated from one another if they are consumed closer to their natural condition. Processed foods are generally a combination of protein, carbs, and various types of fats.
  • The strict rules of this diet plan require you to be watchful of your food choices. Removing empty calories and planning every meal or snack carefully can help reduce your intake of calories and lose weight. Consuming a slice of chicken without any sauce or side dish maybe boring and this will lead you not to eat more of the chicken.


  • There is only one known random clinical trial that was made about this diet plan. The authors of the clinical trial were unable to find any significant impact on weight or reduced body fats using the food combination diet.
  • Take note that followers of this diet plan believe that this diet is significant for two reasons: one, they believe that proteins and carbs are digested at different rates, and therefore it is difficult for the body to deal with them when they are eaten together. Two, they believe that various foods need different pH levels in the digestive tract, hence, if two foods that need different levels are combined, they cannot be digested properly – together.

Those two reasons were not based in facts. The whole digestive system (like saliva in the mouth, acids in the stomach, enzymes in the small intestines, bacteria in the large intestine) perform together to digest foods. They make it usable for the whole body. Together, they can do their tasks on any type of food in any combination. Eating foods that are more alkaline or acidic do not have significant impact in the pH level of the body.

  • Generally, foods are mixed and they cannot be categorized as basically alkaline or acid. For instance, spinach is an alkaline food type but it also gives the body with proteins. Most proteins are categorized as acidic. Grains such as quinoa gives both starchy carbs and protein. Hence, it is difficult to fully categorize foods according to the rules of this diet plan.
  • Food combination approach puts dieters into risks, especially if you have certain health conditions. When you do, apply this diet plan with caution. Like when you have diabetes, it is generally not a good idea to eat carbs alone. You will need some protein or fat with these carbs to keep your blood sugar levels from increasing.
  • Food combination diet plan is not sustainable because it is difficult to follow. Dieter may likely discontinue and when one returns to old eating habits, he/she may gain back any weight that he/she lost and gain even more weight. So, if you are considering this diet plan to lose weight, results may not last long.

USDA recommends the following tips:

  • USDA MyPlate guidelines recommend filling your plate with balanced combination of grains, protein, veggies, fruits, and dairy. The guidelines do not specify any food and ingredients for every meal, but they recommend that this can be a good goal.
  • For USDA, there are no specific calorie targets in the food combining diet plan. It is all about what you consume and when instead of reducing intake of calories to lose weight. USDA suggests reducing intake by about 500 calories every day for your weight loss goals. The MyPlate app can help dieters determine a goal that is appropriate for him/her. This is because the target differs based on factors like your age, sex, and physical activity level.

The Timing of Meals

With food combining diet plan, it is when you eat specific foods and how much you eat that are important. Dr. Wayne Pickering, a follower of food combining diet, said during an interview with Dr. Joseph Mercola, that the body undergoes 4 processes “to make food materials for the body to use.” These 4 processes are known as digestion, absorption, assimilation, and elimination. The timing of meals and food are important as the foods themselves.

Dr. Pickering recommends the following:

  • The morning meal should contain the least concentrated foods like fresh fruit, except for melons, in great amount.There is no restriction as to how much you eat fruits.
  • Midday meals should have more complex food like starchy carbs but in lesser amount than the morning meal.
  • Evening meals should contain the most concentrated foods but least amount of protein.
  • All foods should be fully chewed, almost to liquid, for proper digestion.

Is this diet plan the right one for you?

Experts claim that any diet plan that is based on vegetables and fruits, lean protein, and whole grains will tend to work. Those who are interested in food combining diet are usually those who are interested in whole foods. This is because food combining diet focus on fruit-only meals, or consuming only fruit until noon time. This will reduce calories, and followed by meals that are based on salads and leafy greens paired with healthy protein. This is a good plan for weight loss, whether the combination makes an avenue to reduce weight, or simply good food choices.

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