As the name suggests, a food combining diet involves not eating certain types of foods at the same meal or even during the course of the same day. The theory is that you put on weight when incompatible foods meet in the digestive tract, so you can lose weight by watching what foods you combine. There isn’t just one type of food combining diet; here are the most popular ones explained.
The Herbert Shelton diet
Developed in 1951 by Dr Shelton, this method aims to adapt to the body’s ability to digest and absorb foods and respect the way that enzymes work. The three main rules are:
- fruit should only be eaten on an empty stomach and never at the end of a meal, because it causes sugar fermentation (ie sugars get broken down into energy). Breakfast is an ideal time to eat fruit.
- protein (meat, fish and eggs) should always be eaten separately from carbohydrates (starchy foods). Combining these leads to poor digestion and, as a result poor breakdown of the nutrients. Combine protein with veg instead.
- cut out dairy produce and sugar.
The Antoine diet
This diet, introduced by Albert Antoine in 1968, aims to satisfy your appetite quickly by only eating one type of food per day.
- Monday: fish
- Tuesday: vegetables
- Wednesday: dairy produce
- Thursday: fruit
- Friday: eggs
- Saturday: meat
- Sunday: mixed day
The Montignac diet
Introduced by Frenchman Michel Montignac in 1980, the first version of this diet was a combination of several methods, including the Shelton diet and glycaemix index, which has become increasingly popular in recent years. The Montignac diet used to be very restrictive, but is now much more flexible. Today's diet suggests two meal types:
- Fat and protein meals, with no carbohydrate.
- Carbohydrate and protein meals, combining low-GI carbohydrates and protein, with no fat.
This diet also has some forbidden foods, including high-GI carbohydrates (white bread, ordinary pasta, jam, sweets etc), foods that contain both sugar and fat (chocolate and oil-producing fruits), saturated fat, coffee and alcohol.
The downsides to food combining diets
There is currently no evidence that these different diets, all of which revolve around the same principle, are actually effective...and there are many arguments against them. According to the majority of nutritionists, food combining diets:
- Provide a very boring range of foods, which encourages boredom and doesn't help motivation.
- Can lead to nutritional deficiencies, since certain foods are cut out and/or certain types of nutrients are not allowed during particular meals or on particular days.
- Encourage dramatic weight gain once they finish.