is currently little evidence supporting real - world success for these theories. One randomized controlled trial has been reported in the peer-reviewed medical literature, which found no evidence that food-combining principles were effective in promoting weight loss.
William Howard Hay introduced food combining to United States in 1911. His approach was based upon the ideas current at the time regarding the alkalinity required to digest the food in the stomach and the pH of food itself. Herbert M. Shelton also contributed a food classification based on the type of nutrients in products. Shelton categorized foods into three groupsâ€”protein products, carbohydrate products and "neutral" productsâ€”and recommended eating proteins and carbohydrates at separate meals.
What is the Food Combining Diet?
The food combining diet is based on the theory that different food groups are digested optimally when eaten in the following combinations:
- Proteins (beans, nuts, seeds, meat, fish, poultry) and starches (grains, pasta, breads, cereal, rice, carrots, etc.) should be eaten at separate meals. Proteins can be eaten with vegetables and starches can be combined with vegetables.
- Fruits should be eaten alone.
Starches are absorbed best when the pH of the digestive tract is alkaline. This occurs when starches are eaten alone or with vegetables.
The digestion of proteins, however, requires stomach acid. When proteins and starches are combined, the digestive environment is neither acid or alkaline enough for either group to be absorbed well.
Many proponents of the food combining diet believe that this can lead to digestive problems and weight gain.
However, the following points should be considered before trying this diet:
1. Most people can handle a variety of foods at the same time without causing health problems. Simply changing to a diet higher in fruits, cooked vegetables, and whole grains often has a greater impact on digestion.
2. This diet can be difficult and time-consuming to follow. Favorite pairings such as chicken with potatoes, tofu with rice, soy milk fruit shakes, beans and rice, and tuna sandwiches are not allowed.
3. Nutritional deficiencies can occur. Protein and starches cannot be eaten together, so people have to choose one or the other. As a result, people often consume more starch than protein, as starches tend to be more filling and satisfying. Special care should be taken to ensure adequate intake of protein, calcium, zinc, vitamin D, and vitamin B12.
4. Many health practitioners believe that combining protein and starch can be beneficial. When protein and fats are combined with starch, the absorption of starches is slowed. This helps to maintain stable blood sugar and insulin levels and prevent cravings. A full evaluation by a health practitioner is the best way to determine what the most suitable diet is for you.
The Inside-Out Diet