Dissociated Diet – Pros and Cons of the Unique Diet

Gunjan Sooden

August 16, 2022

Dissociated diet is a type of diet that contradicts what you already know. You might have heard and read about specialists discussing the importance of including various food groups.

Everybody suggests keeping different food items on the table before sitting for the meal, giving your body a large range of nutrients and benefits. However, according to a dissociated diet, it is important to eat only a specific food in one meal. It suggests that one should not consume acidic food and alkaline food together as it will cause disturbance in the digestion process.

The dissociated diet is one of the oldest weight-loss strategies based on a food combining principle. It is pretty easy to follow since there’s no need to keep track of your calories. The only rule is ‘one group at a time.’

An Introduction on Dissociated Diet

Dr William Howard Hay designed a dissociated diet in 1911. It is based on one of the simplest and most solid principles: separating the various food items during the day.

Food products fall into two main groups based on their characteristics: carbohydrates and proteins. Dissociated diets prohibit eating these two groups at the same meal to promote weight loss.

The proteins and dairy are digested in an acidic environment, and carbs or starches are digested in an alkaline environment. Hence, the diet calls for separation between acidic and alkaline foods. 

The first group contains products like rice, bread, pasta, potatoes, cereals, sweets, cooked fruit, dried fruit, figs, dates, honey, jam, cornmeal, and all simple and complex carbohydrates.

On the other hand, in the second group, you have meat, fish, vegetables, milk, and yoghurt. Protein-containing food products like citrus fruits, melon, boiled tomatoes, stone fruits, and blueberries come under the second type. 

It is ideal to consume one group of products in a single day. You can consume the other products the next day, and so on. If not, then at least a gap of 4 hours is mandatory before switching to the other group. Say you had bread with honey for breakfast.

Now for eating meat or vegetables for lunch, you should wait for a minimum of 4 hours. Only then can you switch to the protein section. But again, you need to ensure you do not mix any carbohydrate food in your lunch. This diet also emphasises increasing vegetable and fruit intake and avoiding meat or processed food consumption.

If you want to follow the dissociated diet, do not waste your time listing the food options for different meals. It will become both hectic and complicated. For following this diet, fix the days. Keep alternate days for carbohydrates and protein. In this way, you will not miss out on any nutrients. 

The HealthifyMe Note

Dissociated diet is a method of food combination that calls for consuming only one food group during one meal or throughout the day. Since it’s not always evident whether a food belongs in the alkaline or the acidic category, the main rule of this diet plan is that you can only have either carbohydrates or protein at a time. 

What to Eat in the Dissociated Diet

There are two main variations to following the dissociated diet. The first one is eating only one type of food the entire day. The second option focuses on applying this no-mixing rule to each meal individually. For example, you can have eggs for breakfast, fish for lunch, and vegetables for dinner. 

Here is a simple way of planning your meals in a dissociated diet. The following plan is just an example of how to plan your diet if you choose to eat the same thing all through the day.

  • Monday: Only vegetables
  • Tuesday: Only meat
  • Wednesday: Only fruits  
  • Thursday: Only dairy 
  • Saturday: Only whole grains
  • Sunday: Only eggs

Pros of a Dissociated Diet

Eases the digestive system

This diet’s major rule is to separate carbohydrates and protein-rich food items. It keeps the acidic and alkaline food products different. When you have only carbohydrates in your stomach, it becomes easier for your digestive system to produce juices and break down the food. However, if you have different kinds of food groups in your gut, the breakdown becomes difficult and often causes indigestion.

Promotes weight loss

One of the main reasons why people opt for a dissociated diet is weight loss. There is a significant amount of weight loss observed in the body. A study shows that following a dissociated diet significantly decreased total body fat and waist-to-hip circumference ratio. 

Although there is no claim to having the best weight loss in the dissociated diet, a study concluded that the weight loss by a dissociated diet was the same as that of a balanced diet.

It means that the dissociated (or ‘food combining’) diet did not bring any additional loss in weight and body fat and was similar to the weight loss achieved through a balanced diet. 

Emphasis on fruits and vegetables

One of the rules in the dissociated diet is to avoid processed food and eat more fruits and vegetables. Consumption of plant-based products has already been remarkable in weight loss and improving the overall health of the body.

This rule makes it a very effective diet and makes you incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet.

Reduces the habit of snacking

Another important rule of the diet is there should be a minimum gap of 4 hours before eating the next meal. Within these four hours, you are not allowed to consume anything, which reduces your habit of snacking between meals. And once you stop the practice, the urge to snack will automatically disappear.

According to the research, snacking is energy-dense but nutrient-poor. It is one of the major contributors to weight gain.

Cons of a Dissociated Diet

Blood sugar level fluctuations

Restricting some meals to only starches and carbs can cause blood sugar levels to fluctuate wildly over the course of the day. It is due to the lack of sufficient protein or fat to help slow the release of sugars into the bloodstream.

These rapid blood sugar changes might encourage exhaustion, brain fog, mood swings, and abdominal-fat storage. Since the dissociated diet causes blood sugar levels to fluctuate, it is unsuitable for people with diabetes. 

Difficult to organise 

It might seem unclear if you have heard about this diet for the first time. Practically organising your meals might become a problem for you. Beginners would require time to plan the whole week’s diet according to the rules. 

If it is becoming very difficult to organise, you can take help from online sources or consult your nutritionist to provide a perfect dissociated diet. 

It might feel overly restrictive.

There are a lot of rules in this diet that might seem too restrictive. Some people might be okay with the rules and restrictions because it is only to improve your eating habits.

But if you feel that you cannot enjoy your meals because of this restriction, switching to a different diet is okay. Not all diets are for everyone. You should select the diet where you feel comfortable.

Is the Dissociated Diet a Healthy Choice for You?

You can try this diet if you are looking for something new for your weight loss journey. It will help you understand how your body functions and if this diet is helpful for you. 

The dissociated diet may not be extreme, but it is pretty restrictive. Despite the potential slimming benefits, self-restriction can trigger intense cravings and erode self-control over the long term.

Doctors also warn that limiting the variety of foods can lead to potentially dangerous shortfalls of nutrients necessary for controlling appetite, regulating metabolism, and warding off fat storage.

Dissociated diet is safe if you only plan to use it for a short time. But this diet is not the choice if you’re looking for a balanced diet that supports a healthier lifestyle.  

The HealthifyMe Note

There is no perfect or the best diet to follow. The diet you follow should be your choice. Choose the best diet according to your body, requirements, and product availability. Dissociated diet has its pros and cons like any other diet.


The dissociated diet encourages consuming only one food group, either carbohydrates or protein, at each meal or even for the entire day. One of the benefits of the dissociated diet is that it will help you balance your digestive enzymes.

However, it’s not a long-term weight-loss strategy that you can follow. Your body needs a balance of various nutritious elements every day. Eating only one group of foods daily means not receiving all the necessary nutrients.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. What foods should you avoid when dieting?

A. Avoid foods and beverages with high sugar, saturated fat, sodium, or alcoholic beverages. Also, avoid processed foods and focus on eating more vegetables and fruits. The goal is to include only balanced meals comprising a combination of macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats). 

Q. Is the Hay diet healthy?

A. Hay diet is another version of the dissociated diet. It is a type of diet that separates food into three groups: alkaline, acidic, and neutral. Consuming one group per day is good for digestion and improves gut health. It also focuses on eating fruits and vegetables which are good for health. As with any diet, it is important to seek medical advice before getting started on the Hay Diet to ensure it is safe.

Q. What is a mono-food diet?

A. Mono diet is a diet where a single food product is consumed for days or weeks. It is a type of diet that claims weight loss. It might help short-term weight loss but is very harmful in the long run. The main disadvantage of this diet is that you deprive yourself of nutrients and important vitamins and minerals. There might be a way to do it, but not an advisable way of weight loss. There are better diets that can help you lose weight and be healthy.

Q. Does the combination diet work?

A. Combination is a type of diet where certain combinations of foods are claimed to be more effective in weight loss, while some foods need to be eaten separately. It helps the digestive system ease digestion as acidic food is not consumed with alkaline food. However, there is not much difference between a balanced and combinational diet regarding weight loss.

Q. Do not mix carbs and a protein diet?

A. The dissociated diet suggests you not mix carbs with protein. This diet is also known as the Hay diet or combinational diet. Carbs and protein break down at different pH levels. Protein needs an acidic environment to break into glucose and sugar. In contrast, carbs need an alkaline environment to break down properly. That is why you should not mix the two while consuming food. It helps in easier digestion. 

Q. Can I skip ice cream on a military diet?

A. Military diet is a low-calorie diet with strict instructions on what to eat and when to eat. This diet needs to be strictly followed and claims a reduction of 10 pounds in a week. The diet consists of various natural and packed food products, including ice cream. But if you have any issue with the ice cream, you may replace it with yoghurt. However, you must make sure that the amount of consumption is not compromised. The military diet leaves no room for snacking. 

Q. How much is half a cup of tuna on a military diet? 

A. In the military diet, half a cup of tuna is allowed. It prescribes 4 ounces of canned tuna, which is 113 grams. The military diet is very strict and specific. A few substitutions can be considered, but apart from that, it must be followed as given. 

Q. What are alkaline foods to eat?

A. Various items promote alkaline digestive and pH nature in the body. Such food products are known as alkaline. It is also a type of diet when the body requires more alkaline food to neutralise the acidic nature. Some alkaline foods include rice, bread, pasta, potatoes, cereals, sweets, cooked fruit, dried fruit, figs, dates, honey, jam, cornmeal, and all simple and complex carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are considered to be alkaline.

Q. Which foods can not be eaten together?

A. All food products are divided into two main groups based on their characteristics: carbohydrates and proteins. Dissociated diets prohibit eating these two groups at the same meal. More precisely, you should never have alkaline and acidic foods on the same meal or during the same day. 

Q. What is Kenzie Burke combining?

A. Kenzie Burke is a health coach and an influencer. She works on providing nutrition facts and the benefits of different food products. Kenzie Burke combining are her suggestions about the combination of food. She suggested a way to segregate the food depending on its nature and advised eating only certain food categories simultaneously.

The influencer suggests three rules to follow. These rules are:

1. Stick to vegetables

2. Never combine starches with protein

3. Pick a starch or protein, then pair it with non-starchy vegetables.

About the Author

Gunjan Sooden graduated from Delhi University with a degree in nutrition and dietetics. She is passionate about helping people understand the value of healthy eating, cooking, and food & nutrition in their fitness journey. Eating healthy, she believes, should not be boring. With experience as an intern in the food sector, she is best at exploring and producing recipes using local, day-to-day ingredients. This generation differs from the previous one. We need to figure out quick ways to make our regular meals healthier and more delicious. Because this is our current way of life, we must balance being busy while still being able to eat healthily, right?

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