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Similar weight loss with low-energy food combining or balanced diets


OBJECTIVE: The goal of this study was to evaluate the effect of two diets (‘food combining’ or dissociated vs balanced) on body weight and metabolic parameters during a 6-week period in an in-hospital setting.

SUBJECTS AND DESIGN: 54 obese patients were randomly assigned to receive diets containing 4.5 MJ/day (1100 kcal/day) composed of either 25% protein, 47% carbohydrates and 25% lipids (dissociated diet) or 25% protein, 42% carbohydrates and 31% lipids (balanced diet). Consequently, the two diets were equally low in energy and substrate content (protein, fat and carbohydrate) but widely differed in substrate distribution throughout the day.

RESULTS: There was no significant difference in the amount of weight loss in response to dissociated (6.2 ± 0.6 kg) or balanced (7.5 ± 0.4 kg) diets. Furthermore, significant decreases in total body fat and waist-to-hip circumference ratio were seen in both groups, and the magnitude of the changes did not vary as a function of the diet composition. Fasting plasma glucose, insulin, total cholesterol and triacylglycerol concentrations decreased significantly and similarly in patients receiving both diets. Both systolic and diastolic blood pressure values decreased significantly in patients eating balanced diets. The results of this study show that both diets achieved similar weight loss. Total fat weight loss was higher in balanced diets, although differences did not reach statistical significance. Total lean body mass was identically spared in both groups.

CONCLUSION: In summary at identical energy intake and similar substrate composition, the dissociated (or ‘food combining’) diet did not bring any additional loss in weight and body fat.

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We are grateful to the members of the Dietary staff of the Department of Medicine for their assistance, in particular to P Rigoli, C Bussien and J Duffey.

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Correspondence to A Golay.

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Golay, A., Allaz, AF., Ybarra, J. et al. Similar weight loss with low-energy food combining or balanced diets. Int J Obes 24, 492–496 (2000).

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  • weight loss
  • dissociated diet
  • balanced diet

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