The myth of "food separating" and why it's not effective for improving
A common myth in the diet world says that you should never eat certain carbohydrates and proteins together in the same meal. This diet fad is known as "food combining" (Actually, it would be more accurately described as "food separating," referring to the belief that certain combinations of foods, such as meat and potatoes, shouldn't be eaten together). Popularized by a number of best selling diet books, this fad still attracts followers to this day.
Arguments for separating proteins and carbohydrates usually go something like
this: Protein digests in an acidic medium of pepsin (a digestive enzyme) and hydrochloric acid, while carbohydrates digest in an alkaline medium. Therefore, when protein and carbohydrates are consumed together, they cant be fully assimilated, resulting in poor digestion, incomplete absorption of nutrients and gastrointestinal disturbances. One food combining diet book even went as far as to claim that by eating large quantities of fruit alone, the fruit enzymes would prevent the calories from being stored as body fat.
Its also been suggested that poor digestion from improper food combinations will weaken you, sap your energy and stress your immune system.
These ideas make for excellent book sales, but where this fad diet falls flat on its face is that it vastly underestimates the power of the human digestive system. Theres no evidence whatsoever supporting the practice of separating carbohydrate and protein feedings. I know several people who say that these programs removed their gastrointestinal distress and made them feel better. However, I don't know a single bodybuilding or fitness champion who successfully uses "food combining" diets to achieve low body fat or excellent muscular development (Although there are some who get paid to say they do). If muscles and low body fat are your goals, then lean proteins and complex carbohydrates should always be eaten at every meal.
The ultimate meal combination for burning fat and building muscle
On the BFFM program, a meal is not a meal if it doesn't contain a complex
carbohydrate and a lean protein. Occasionally, eating a piece of fruit, a nonfat yogurt, a cup of cottage cheese, a protein drink, or another carbohydrate or protein all by itself is fine, but that doesn't count as a full meal, it only counts as a "snack." Copyright 2003, Fitness Renaissance LLC http://www.fitren.com 140 Copyright 2003, Fitness Renaissance, LLC http://www.fitren.com 141
** The ultimate meal combination for burning fat is a lean protein, a starchy carbohydrate and a fibrous carbohydrate eaten together at the same meal...
Here are three examples of the "Ultimate meal combination"
Brown Rice (complex carb)
Mixed green salad (complex fibrous carb)
Salmon (lean protein)
Sweet potato (complex carb)
Broccoli (complex fibrous carb)
Chicken breast cutlet (lean protein)
Oatmeal (complex carbohydrate)
Egg white omelet with one yolk (lean protein)
Grapefruit (natural simple carb optional)
8 reasons why you must eat lean proteins and complex carbohydrates together at every meal to maximize fat loss and muscle growth.
To gain muscle and lose fat, it's not only unnecessary to separate carbohydrates
and proteins it's counterproductive. Here are 8 convincing scientific reasons why. Read them and then you be the judge of whether you want to eat a meal without your protein and carbohydrates.
1) To maintain positive nitrogen balance, a state where you are retaining more protein than you excrete, resulting in a net gain of muscle tissue, you must consume protein approximately every three hours. Proteins cannot be stored like carbohydrates. This requires protein feedings with every meal. Eat carbohydrates by themselves without protein, and your body must break down muscle to get the amino acids it needs (You "eat up" your own muscle tissue!)
2) To get the protein (amino acids) into the muscle cells efficiently requires insulin. Insulin is secreted most readily in response to eating carbohydrates. Therefore, a moderate (but not over-sized) portion of carbohydrate should be eaten with your protein to facilitate the uptake of the amino acids into the muscle cell. The exception to this rule Copyright 2003, Fitness Renaissance, LLC http://www.fitren.com 142 is when youre on a "contest diet," and carbohydrates are being restricted (More on carbohydrate restriction in chapter 12).
3) Eating carbohydrates by themselves, especially the simple variety, causes a rapid increase in blood sugar. Peaks in blood sugar are always followed by valleys in blood sugar (also known as "hypoglycemia"). Cravings, hunger and fatigue usually follow. If you get hunger or bad cravings, it could be because you're eating too many simple carbohydrates by themselves (Fat-free snack foods, etc.).
4) Quick elevations in blood sugar caused by eating carbohydrates by themselves cause a large release of insulin to remove the excess glucose from the bloodstream. A slow, moderate output of insulin is desirable; a large release of insulin is not. High concentrations of insulin in the bloodstream are lipogenic; they promote the storage of body fat as well as prevent stored body fat from being mobilized. In the long run, this can also lead to a diabetes-like condition in those genetically prone to it.
5) The body's stores of muscle glycogen are very limited (Between 300 and 400 grams). Muscle glycogen is the primary source of energy for weight training. If your glycogen levels become severely depleted, your training will suffer. Advocates of very low carbohydrate, high protein, high fat diets claim that your body will learn to function on fat and protein and they make convincing scientific-sounding arguments to back up their position. However, if you were to ask any champion bodybuilder how a low carbohydrate diet affects their training, virtually all of them would tell you that it reduces their energy, lowers their intensity, and makes it difficult to get a pump. Even on carbohydrate restricted programs it's important to get some carbohydrates or your workouts will suffer badly. If you cut out your carbohydrates completely or separate your protein and carbohydrate feedings in a food-combining diet, your glycogen stores will be compromised. You need a slow and moderate, but steady flow of complex carbohydrates throughout the day. Eating too many carbohydrates at once can cause fat storage, so the ideal way to consume them is in moderate portions at every meal.
6) Protein eaten with every meal slows the digestion of the carbohydrates, resulting in steadier blood sugar and energy levels and a more moderate output of insulin - without the ups and downs of eating carbohydrates by themselves.
7) Eating fiber-containing carbohydrates at every meal slows the digestion of the carbohydrates, resulting in a steadier blood sugar level and more moderate insulin output. Copyright 2003, Fitness Renaissance, LLC http://www.fitren.com 143
8) Eating protein at every meal enhances the thermic effect, which helps to speed up your metabolic rate. A meal consisting of only carbohydrate is less thermic than one containing a lean protein and a complex carbohydrate. A meal or snack thats high in fat without protein is the least thermic of all (sugar and fat, i.e., doughnuts, pastries, potato chips, etc.).
...Next: "What are "macro-nutrient ratios?"
~ Dee ~