According to the advocates, follow the rules of fat burning food combinations and you won't have to count calories to lose weight. The theory of food combining to burn calories, however, has no science to it. There is no evidence that following the rules help you burn fat and this is not an easy eating style to sustain.
The Food Combining Theory
The theory of food combining (trophology) is that eating certain foods together interferes with the digestion of each of them.
It is important to note that one study in 2000 did not find a difference in weight loss in participants on a combining diet compared to those on a traditional diet.
What You Can Combine
The fat burning food combination plan allows you eat anything you want, as long as you follow the rules. In general you can eat the following food combinations:
- A protein with non-starchy vegetables (example: stir-fried chicken with green beans)
- A starch with any vegetables or with legumes (example: rice with kidney beans or black beans)
- A starch with fats
These combinations don't interfere with the digestion or metabolism of protein or starch or fats, according to the theory. After eating what's allowed, wait a few hours for your food to digest before you eat a food you are forbidden to combine.
What You Can't Combine
The following are the food combinations the advocates say to avoid and their explanation of the theory for each.
Protein With Starch
It is claimed that proteins enzymes need an acidic environment to work carbohydrates enzymes. Protein and starch together in a meal neutralize each other's enzymes and it takes longer to digest the foods as they ferment and cause digestive symptoms, slowing metabolism. The normal process of digestion does not support this, however.
Proteins With Fats
Protein absorption from the gut to the blood is slower than other nutrients. The theory is that when combined in a meal, protein slows down fat passage through the gut so more is absorbed.
Sugar With a Protein or Starch Meal
Simple sugars cause an insulin spike so they are said to interfere with digestion and absorption of complex starches and proteins.
Desert Within Half Hour of Eating
Sugary sweets are assumed to stop digestion of all other foods by advocates of this diet, therefore wait a few hours after a meal to eat dessert.
Acidic With Non-Acidic Starch or Protein
Acidic foods interfere with the digestion of non-acidic foods because one type neutralize the enzymes of the other, so neither gets digested properly.
Fruits With Other Foods
Fruits digest fast, so never eat them close to or with other foods because they will slow their digestion. It's better to eat them on an empty stomach. Melon is digested the fastest, so don't combine it with other foods or even other fruits. It is better not to eat melon at all, according to this diet.
Sweet Fruits With Acidic Fruits
The acidic fruits interfere with the digestion of the non-acidic fruits because they neutralize each other's enzymes, according to this diet.
A Mix of Proteins
Different kinds of protein need different enzymes to digest, which will interfere with each other, says advocates of this diet. Each interferes with the digestion of the other.
A Mix of Red With White Meats
Some devotees go as far as separating red meats (beef, venison, buffalo) from white meats (chicken, fish, lamb, pork). Don't combine a protein from the red group with one from the white group because neither will be digested efficiently, according to this diet.
Advocates of food combining believe benefits of this way of eating are improved digestion, fat metabolism and weight loss. However, carbohydrate foods have protein and protein foods have fat, so it is not possible to avoid natural nutrient combinations.
Remember also that your gut, pancreas, small intestine and liver are very efficient at handling any food combinations you present to them. When eaten with carbs, protein in the gut also helps to dampen the insulin spikes which decreases fat deposition. The science doesn't support this fat burning food combinations plan.