Food combining — or pairing specific types of foods together during meals — is a common practice that is believed to be associated with a variety of health benefits.
Some variations, including the Ayurvedic practice of food combining, provide strict rules and regulations about which foods should be eaten together and which should be avoided.
Conversely, other variations of food combining are flexible, easy to follow, and may even be supported by science.
This article will take a closer look at the concept of food combining, if it works for weight loss, and whether it offers any health benefits.
Food combining is a concept based on the idea that eating certain foods together can offer certain health benefits, such as increased weight loss or improved digestive health.
Proponents of food combining claim that the specific nutrients found in different foods can complement each other and work together in the body. It’s also believed to ease digestion and help prevent overeating, which could lead to weight loss for some people.
There are several variations of this eating pattern, some of which include a complicated set of rules and are not backed by any actual evidence.
For example, some types of food combining diets recommend never eating carbohydrates and protein in the same meal, consuming certain types of fruit only on an empty stomach, or avoiding drinking water with meals altogether.
Others advise dividing foods into categories like animal protein, starch, fresh fruit, and nuts or seeds, and sticking to only one category in a single meal.
Though there is no research to support these claims, some other types of food combinations may actually be useful for supporting weight loss and several other aspects of health.
Food combining is based on the idea that pairing certain foods can promote weight loss and overall health. While some variations involve following complicated and arbitrary rules that are not based on research, some other food combinations may be beneficial.
While there are no studies available to support certain methods of food combining — such as avoiding fruit on an empty stomach or sticking to one type of food per meal — other variations can be beneficial.
In particular, pairing foods high in protein and healthy fats with high carb foods can help stabilize blood sugar to prevent spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels after a meal (
In addition to causing symptoms like shakiness and dizziness, low blood sugar levels can also increase hunger (3).
By regulating blood sugar and managing hunger levels, combining macronutrients — including proteins, fats, and carbs — at meals may help you consume fewer calories overall, which could potentially support weight control.
Studies show that a high protein diet can increase weight loss and alter levels of specific hormones involved in hunger and appetite to promote satiety (fullness) (
Plus, fat slows the emptying of the stomach, which can help promote feelings of fullness between meals (6).
For this reason, enjoying a variety of nutrient-dense foods as part of a well-rounded, balanced diet is a great approach to support weight loss.
MyPlate — the nutrition guide published by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) — provides a more detailed visual guideline of how a balanced meal can look and is a good, general example of effective food combining for weight management and overall health (7).
Pairing carbs with proteins and healthy fats in each of your meals can help stabilize blood sugar levels and increase feelings of fullness, which may help support weight loss.
In addition to enhancing weight loss efforts and supporting blood sugar management, combining foods that are rich in proteins, fats, and carbs in each of your meals may also offer other benefits.
For starters, that can make it much easier to meet your nutritional needs by following a diverse diet where each food group is represented.
It is also a much more sustainable eating pattern than weight loss-oriented fad diets, many of which eliminate certain foods or exclude entire food groups altogether (
Furthermore, following a well-rounded diet that includes lean proteins, high fiber carbs, and healthy fats is also recommended to support heart health and protect against chronic disease (
Plus, not only can a balanced diet support healthy blood sugar levels in people with diabetes, but it may also reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the long run as well (
Though more research is needed on the potential effects of combining specific foods, it’s clear that pairing a balanced diet with a healthy lifestyle and regular physical activity is beneficial for multiple aspects of health.
Including a good source of protein, fats, and carbs in each meal as part of a balanced diet can protect against chronic disease and make it easier to meet your nutritional needs. It’s also a healthier, more sustainable approach than fad diets promising quick weight loss.
Pairing foods high in protein or fat with high fiber carbs is a great way to stabilize blood sugar levels, promote feelings of fullness, and support sustainable weight loss if that’s your goal.
It can also make it easier to ensure that your nutritional needs are met and that you’re getting enough proteins, fats, and carbs in your daily diet.
Here are a few examples of nutritious food combinations to help get you started:
- whole grain bagel with fried egg and avocado
- baked salmon with brown rice and broccoli
- omelet with veggies and cheese, plus a side of fruit, hashbrowns, or an English muffin
- sandwich with turkey, spinach, tomatoes, and guacamole
- oatmeal made with dairy or soy milk, mixed with walnuts and berries
- whole wheat toast with cream cheese and scrambled eggs
- fresh fruit with yogurt and chia seeds
- wrap with feta, chicken, and veggies
Feel free to mix and match other ingredients in the examples above to tailor them to your tastes, but be sure that each macronutrient — including proteins, fats, and carbs — is present on your plate to see the greatest benefit.
The meals listed above are a few examples of nutritionally-balanced food combinations that you can try making at home.
What foods can I eat together for weight loss?
Including a good source of protein, fiber, and heart-healthy fats with each meal is a great approach for sustainable weight loss. These nutrients increase feelings of fullness and stabilize blood sugar levels to help you reach or maintain a moderate weight.
Try some of the combinations listed above, or get creative and experiment with your favorite foods to find what works for you.
Can certain foods (or food combinations) help burn fat?
Several foods contain nutrients that may temporarily increase your metabolism, which is an important mechanism for weight loss. However, note that the only effective and sustainable way to lose body fat and promote weight loss is to consume fewer calories than you burn each day (
Do certain foods (or food combinations) speed up metabolism?
Foods rich in protein require more energy to digest and can temporarily increase the number of calories that you burn. Additionally, research suggests that several other ingredients — such as chili peppers or coffee — may also slightly increase your metabolism (
However, keep in mind that the effects of these foods is minimal and only lasts temporarily.
For this reason, it’s best to incorporate these foods into a well-rounded diet and pair with resistance training and increased protein intake, both of which can help increase muscle mass to boost your resting metabolic rate (
Food combining is based on the idea that specific nutrients found in certain foods can complement each other and provide health benefits or support weight loss.
While some variations of food combining are not based on any scientific evidence, pairing carbs with healthy fats and a good source of protein is one food-combining strategy that may be beneficial.
In addition to improving blood sugar management, including all three of these macronutrients in each of your meals can help you meet your nutritional needs. It may also support long-term, sustainable weight loss, especially when combined with regular physical activity.
Just one thing
Try this today: For more information on macronutrients and how each can affect your health, check out this article. It also includes some specific examples of nutrient-dense proteins, fats, and carbs, which you can mix and match to create your own balanced meals at home!