If you want to get the most out of your diet, there’s an interesting concept you might want to give a try. Food combining (also known as food pairing) suggests foods are best digested when eaten in certain combinations. The reasoning behind this theory goes that since different types of food (proteins, starches, fats, etc.) digest at different rates, they should be eaten in combinations that help rather than hinder proper digestion. There are several basic rules on how to combine your foods. While the jury is still out on whether hard science can prove the effectiveness of this approach to dieting and weight loss, it may be a new approach that could really help amp up your weight loss.
• Rule #1: DON’T eat protein and starches together. Protein requires acidic enzymes to digest while starches require alkaline enzymes to digest. When eaten together, they neutralize each other (due to the different types of acids required to digest each) and slow your digestion.
• Rule #2: DO eat protein and veggies together. The emphasis here is on non-starchy vegetables. Leafy greens, carrots, beets, asparagus, and green beans are all good examples. It’s OK to eat protein with veggies because non-starchy vegetables do great digesting in either an acidic or alkaline environment.
• Rule #3: DO eat starches and veggies together. Grains, rice, starchy vegetables (potatoes, corn, and squash), and beans all count as starches. Again, starches require an alkaline environment to digest, which makes non-starchy vegetables the perfect pairing.
• Rule #4: DON’T eat protein and fat together. While it’s difficult to avoid eating any fat with animal protein, you should stay away from eating too much fat with your protein because the fats will inhibit the digestive enzymes needed to properly digest the protein.
• Rule #5: DO eat fat and veggies OR fat and starches together. Fat doesn’t affect how starches or non-starchy vegetables digest, making these dishes the perfect place to get in your healthy fats.
• Rule #6: DON’T eat fruit with anything. Fruits digest the fastest out of any other type of food. The reasoning behind eating them alone is to prevent fruit from getting “backed up” in your system behind other slower-digesting foods, causing discomfort and bloating.
• Rule #7: DO wait it out. This plan has strict timeline suggestions to follow. Eat fruit 30 minutes before a meal. Stop drinking liquids 15 minutes before a meal. Wait at least 3 hours after eating a meal to eat again. All this is aimed at giving your body adequate time to digest.
While food combining might seem confusing, this approach to dieting is really all about simplifying what you eat to make digestion easier on your body. Your head might be spinning with all the information, but to give you an idea of what this looks like, here are a few food combos worth trying:
1. Filet Mignon with Broccoli. Delicious protein + tasty non-starchy vegetable = solid win!
2. Pancakes with Butter. Make a tasty whole-grain pancake and top it with grass-fed butter and you’ll have a healthy starch combined with a healthy fat.
3. Vegetables with hummus. This popular snack combo hits non-starchy vegetables and starches.
4. Bell peppers with Eggs. Protein plus veggies, along with a healthy dose of metabolism-boosting choline in the eggs and fat-fighting vitamin C in the peppers.
5. Sweet Potatoes with Greek Yogurt. This starchy vegetable combined with a healthy fat will keep you feeling full.
6. Whole-Grain Bread with Nut Butter. You can’t go wrong with the classic combo of satisfying whole grains and rich, delicious (healthy fat!) peanut butter.
7. Salad topped with Nuts and Homemade Vinaigrette. Fill a bowl with your favorite dark leafy green, top it with some delicious nuts, and make your own dressing (They’re easy! Use a 2:1 ratio of oil to vinegar, add a pinch of salt, and you’re good to go!) Now it’s your turn! What adventures have you had food combining? What are some of your favorite pairings? Share in the comments!