Food Combining Diet Plan For Weight Loss

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Food combining diet plan for weight loss allows for a lot of freedom, as long as you don’t deviate from the outlined rules. There are no forbidden or even discouraged foods, only guidelines to follow. This makes food combining attractive to many people that have a hard time sticking with other diets.

The food combining diet plan has been a favorite diet plan of mine for many years. It’s designed to cleanse your body while you’re losing weight. The theory is that by eating fruits and veggies, you are eating food that is not hard on your digestive system, allowing your body to cleanse naturally as it eliminates unneeded waste.

What Is a Food Combining Diet?

food combining diet
Verywell / Debbie Burkhoff

At Verywell, we believe there is no one-size-fits-all approach to a healthy lifestyle. Successful eating plans need to be individualized and take the whole person into consideration. Prior to starting a new diet plan, consult with your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian, especially if you have an underlying health condition.

What Is the Food Combining Diet?

Food combining diets are based on the idea that eating certain foods separately from others can aid in digestion to support weight loss and overall health.

Food combining advocates believe that foods have unique effects on the pH level in the digestive tract and that these foods should not be consumed together. However, there is no scientific evidence to support these assumptions.

Great Food Combos for Losing Weight

Power Pairs

Power Pairs

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When it comes to slimming down, two (or more) foods can be better than one. That’s because each has different nutrients that work together. As a team, they can help you fend off hunger, stay full longer, and burn fat or calories better than they would solo.

Avocado and Dark Leafy Greens

Avocado and Dark Leafy Greens

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A spinach or kale salad is low in calories and high in nutrients, but it can leave you wanting more. To make it more filling, top it with avocado. It’s likely to be more satisfying since it has a kind of good fat (monounsaturated) that staves off hunger. Bonus: Avocado also helps your body absorb more of the veggies’ disease-fighting antioxidants.

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Chicken and Cayenne Pepper

Chicken and Cayenne Pepper

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Chicken breasts are known to be good for weight loss, and for good reason. One breast serves up 27 grams of protein for fewer than 150 calories. Protein takes longer to digest, and that can keep you full longer. Spice up this dinner staple with a rub or sauce made with cayenne pepper. It may boost your calorie burn and make you less hungry.

Oatmeal and Walnuts

Oatmeal and Walnuts

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A simple way to slim down: Eat the rough stuff. Simply adding more fiber to your diet can lead to weight loss. That’s because your body can’t break down fiber, so it slows down digestion and takes up space in your stomach. With 4 grams of fiber per cup, oatmeal can be a good source. Walnuts can add about another 2 grams, plus satisfying protein and crunch.

Eggs, Black Beans, and Peppers

Eggs, Black Beans, and Peppers

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Start your day with this protein-packed scramble. According to research in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, people who had eggs for breakfast ate less for the rest of a day and a half than those who had a bagel. Black beans and peppers make this morning meal even more filling, thanks to a double dose of fiber.

Bean and Vegetable Soup

Bean and Vegetable Soup

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Add a broth-based vegetable soup to your lunch or dinner. The liquid fills your stomach, leaving less room for higher-calorie foods. One study showed that people who started with soup ate 20% fewer calories during a meal. Stirring in beans, such as chickpeas or black beans, can give it more staying power because they’re high in protein and fiber.

Steak and Broccoli

Steak and Broccoli

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Too tired to hit the gym? This meal can help you out. Beef is rich in protein and iron, which your body uses to build red blood cells. They take oxygen to your organs, so falling short in those can zap your energy. Broccoli is the perfect side, because its vitamin C helps your body take in iron. A half-cup of this veggie has 65% of all the vitamin C you need in a day.

Green Tea and Lemon

Green Tea and Lemon

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If you need a pick-me-up, brew some green tea. The low-calorie drink is packed with antioxidants called catechins, which may help you burn more calories and fat. One study suggested that drinking 4 cups of green tea every day  may lead to decreases in weight and blood pressure. To make it even healthier, add a squeeze of lemon — it helps your body absorb them.

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Salmon and Sweet Potato

Salmon and Sweet Potato

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Fish is often called “brain food,” but it’s also good for your waist. Its omega-3 fats may help you lose body fat, and salmon is a top source. Plus, one 3-ounce serving packs in 17 grams of protein. Serve it with a baked sweet potato for a filling yet light meal. A 5-inch-long spud has 4 grams of fiber and just 112 calories.

Yogurt and Raspberries

Yogurt and Raspberries

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This creamy treat may help turn up the fat burn. Research suggests that people who get more calcium and vitamin D as part of a weight loss plan shed more fat than those who don’t. So, look for a vitamin D-fortified yogurt, which serves up about 35% of all the calcium you need in a day. Top it with half a cup of raspberries for sweetness and 4 grams of fiber.

Mushrooms and Ground Beef

Mushrooms and Ground Beef

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You can eat burgers and lose weight — the key is to swap at least 50% of the meat for chopped or ground mushrooms. With only 16 calories a cup, they can lighten any dish made with ground beef without skimping on flavor. They may also help keep your blood sugar levels steady, which helps curb cravings.

Olive Oil and Cauliflower

Olive Oil and Cauliflower

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At just 27 calories a cup, cauliflower is a diet-friendly food. It’s also low on the glycemic index (GI), a measure of how much a food raises your blood sugar. One study showed that low-GI vegetables led to more weight loss than starchier ones, such as peas and corn. Drizzle chopped cauliflower with olive oil and roast it — this brings out the flavor, and olive oil’s fats can curb your appetite by making you feel full.

Pistachios and an Apple

Pistachios and an Apple

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Need a midday snack? This combo offers protein, healthy fats, and fiber to fend off hunger. With about 160 calories for 50 of them, pistachios are one of the lowest-calorie nuts. Plus, they’re usually packaged in their shells, which can slow you down and keep you from munching mindlessly. The apple adds sweetness and crunch to your treat, along with 4 grams of fiber.

Fish, Whole-Wheat Tortilla, and Salsa

Fish, Whole-Wheat Tortilla, and Salsa

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One of the top reasons weight loss efforts fail is taste. Eating bland foods at every meal can lead to a junk food binge. So it’s important to have healthy, flavorful dishes in your lineup. Fish tacos are a perfect example: Make them with white fish for lean protein and a whole-wheat tortilla for fiber. Top them with some salsa for extra vitamins.

Dark Chocolate and Almonds

Dark Chocolate and Almonds

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Swearing off sweets sounds like a good way to drop pounds, but it can backfire. Nixing them altogether can lead to overeating. With about 7 grams of sugar per ounce, dark chocolate is one dessert you can feel good about eating. Pairing it with high-protein almonds keeps your blood sugar levels steady, and that can keep you satisfied longer.

Pros of the Food Combining Diet

Like all restrictive diets, food combining diets have their benefits and drawbacks.

  • Emphasizes whole foods: Following this diet will likely lead to more consumption of whole foods. Processed foods are usually a combination of protein, carbohydrates, and different kinds of fat. The food-combining protocol bans any foods with added sugars, which eliminates a lot of processed foods (such as sauces, granola bars, and cereals). It is also easier to keep different types of food separate from each other if they are eaten closer to their natural state.
  • No carb or calorie counting: There’s no need for calorie or carb counting, or portion control, which simplifies this otherwise complicated eating plan.
  • May promote weight loss: A stringent set of rules may help followers make more mindful food choices. When meals and snacks are consciously planned, it’s possible to consume more nutrient-dense foods while also eating less food. As a result, you could lose weight. While eating more whole foods and reducing calorie intake could improve health and promote weight loss, there is no evidence to show that food combining is an effective strategy.1

Any weight loss experienced on this plan is likely the result of a calorie deficit (taking in fewer calories than you’re burning) rather than a specific combination of foods. Only one recent randomized clinical trial has been conducted on this subject,, and researchers were not able to determine that combining foods had any impact on weight loss or reduced body fat.2

Cons of the Food Combining Diet

Though there are no known health risks associated with food combining diets, a strict and regimented diet may lead to an unhealthy obsession with food for some people. It is also unnecessarily overly restrictive and complicated with no scientific evidence to support it.

  • Confusing to follow: The diet’s rules are complex and could be hard for some people to follow. That impracticality, along with having to give up certain convenience foods and remember when it’s OK to drink water and when it’s OK to have fruit, makes this diet challenging to comply with.
  • Difficult to categorize: Most foods can’t be classified as simply carbs or protein. For example, grains like quinoa provide both starchy carbohydrates and protein. It is nearly impossible to neatly categorize foods according to the rules of this plan.
  • Not sustainable: Diets like these are tough to follow. Additionally, any weight loss experienced on this restrictive plan will likely come back once everyday eating habits are resumed. And lastly, following a diet with so many restrictive rules prevents a person from learning to eat intuitively.
  • Unsafe for some people: Those with certain health conditions should be cautious with food combining. People with diabetes should not consume carbs alone—they also need some protein or fat to keep their blood sugar levels from spiking. If you have a chronic health condition, be sure to check with your doctor before attempting this diet.
  • No scientific evidence: Proponents of food combining believe that proteins and carbs are digested at different rates, so it’s harder for the body to process them when they are consumed together. They also suggest that different foods respond to different pH levels in the digestive tract. So if two foods requiring different pH levels are combined, they can’t be digested together. Neither of these beliefs is based on scientific facts.

FOOD COMBINING CHART

guide to food combining with plate of detox spaghetti

Did you know that digesting food requires more energy than any other function in the human body? It’s no wonder we’re exhausted after a big lunch! It stands to reason, then, that the best way to free up some extra energy is to make our digestion as quick and efficient as possible.

Food combining is one of my favorite tricks to streamline the digestive process. Though food combining principles can get very complicated, depending on which expert you ask, I prefer to keep them simple. Simply pick just one dense food at each meal, whatever you’re craving most at that moment, and then fill the rest of your plate with raw and cooked non-starchy vegetables. Easy! By simplifying your meals, the digestive system doesn’t have to tackle too much in one sitting, helping you to avoid that bloated, sluggish feeling that can put a damper on the rest of your day.

Studies have shown that humans have a tendency to overeat when we are offered a wide variety of foods during a meal. (source) So, by simplifying our meals, we will naturally eat less, without counting calories or worrying about portion sizes.

Best of all, you don’t have to give up any food groups that you love– you just may not want to eat them all at the same time. The following guide should help!

food combining chart showing you how to properly combine foods

(click on chart above to enlarge or print)

As you can see in the chart above, the foods have been divided into four general categories:

  • FRESH FRUIT
  • STARCH
  • ANIMAL PROTEIN
  • NUTS/SEEDS/DRIED FRUIT

Note: Look for these food combining labels clearly marked in my cookbooks, and here on the blog. All of the recipes in my cookbooks are properly combined, and both cookbooks include properly combined meal plans to help you easily get started. 

For a properly combined meal, simply choose ONE category and only eat foods out of that category for that particular meal. The foods listed within the same category combine well with each other, and you may also include anything from the “Neutral” column to fill out your plate.

Wait 3-4 hours between each meal, before switching categories.

PROPERLY COMBINED SAMPLE MEAL IDEAS

A properly-combined STARCH meal might look something like this:

A sandwich on whole-grain bread, filled with avocado, mustard, lettuce, tomato and sprouts. Served with a leafy side salad and a baked sweet potato topped with butter. You could follow this meal with some dark chocolate for dessert!

A properly-combined ANIMAL PROTEIN meal might look something like this:

A leafy green salad topped with cherry tomatoes and goat cheese, followed by a piece of baked fish served with a side of roasted broccoli and cauliflower. You could follow this meal with some dark chocolate or goat’s milk ice cream for dessert!

A properly-combined NUT/SEED/DRIED FRUIT meal might look something like this:

A leafy green salad topped with dried cranberries and raw walnuts, followed by a platter of raw hummus served with raw crudités. Dessert could be a slice of raw cheesecake, a few raw macaroons, or a couple raw almond butter cups!

FRESH FRUIT is best eaten in the mornings, on an empty stomach.

This is because fruit digests so quickly, typically within 30 minutes of eating. (However, fruit can be combined with leafy green vegetables in a green smoothie, if you like!) Fruit is not recommended as a dessert after a meal, as it could potentially cause fermentation, gas and bloating, and promote bacterial overgrowth in the body. You can eat fruit as an afternoon snack or post-workout, as long as it’s been 3-4 hours since your last properly-combined meal.

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