9 Food Combinations For Weight Loss 2023: How Do They Work, Pros & Cons

Ellie Busby

Updated on - Written by
Medically reviewed by Dr G. Michael DiLeo, MD

food combinations for weight loss

The term, food combining, means eating certain foods together because there are more health benefits than eating the foods individually. That is, for the respective benefits, the sum is greater than the addition of the parts.

There’s no evidence for specific food combinations for weight loss, but macronutrient combining is a great way to support weight loss and burn fat. Food combining also achieves healthier eating overall, which promotes sustainable weight loss

In this article, we look at the evidence for food combinations for weight loss, how they work, and our recommended combos.

9 Food Combinations For Weight Loss

  1. Oatmeal with yogurt, berries, and almond butter
  2. Black bean, spinach, and coconut curry with brown rice
  3. Banana, peanut butter, and soy milk smoothie
  4. Avocado, eggs, and spinach on wholegrain bread
  5. Hummus with carrot and cucumber sticks
  6. Chia pudding with soy milk, dates & cinnamon
  7. Tofu scramble with red peppers, kale & olive oil
  8. Sweet potato fries with chili sauce, tofu mayo, and guacamole
  9. A cup of green tea with almonds and dark chocolate

9 Food Combos For Weight Loss

There’s a lot of food combining weight loss advice on the internet, but not much science to back it up. However, there is evidence that combining macronutrients can work for weight loss.

The golden rule of food pairings for weight loss is to always combine

  • Complex carbohydrates
  • Protein-rich foods
  • Healthy fats

Here are some macronutrient-balanced food combinations which could help you lose weight.

Oatmeal with Yogurt, Berries, and Almond Butter

food combinations for weight loss

Many start their day with oatmeal as a weight-loss-promoting superfood. Oats are high in fiber[1], and eating oats every day has been shown to reduce cholesterol levels[2], balance blood sugar, and burn belly fat[3]

Dairy or non-dairy yogurt is a good source of protein and probiotics. Studies show yogurt can lower blood sugar and burn fat – especially liver fat[4]

If you’re dairy-free, choose soy yogurt for the higher protein content compared to other dairy-free yogurts. And make sure your yogurt is “live,” meaning the bacteria cultures are alive and can help cultivate your gut microbiome.

Almond butter is a source of healthy fats, protein, and other nutrients[5]. Eating almonds every day is linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, better blood sugar balance, lower cholesterol levels, and weight loss[6]. They can even support a healthy gut microbiome[7], which can aid weight management. 

Almonds also contain L-arginine[8], an amino acid associated with helping burn[9] body fat when combined with exercise.

Top tip: Make sure to choose large, jumbo oats over small, finely milled oats – the larger the oats, the more slowly you digest them, and the lower your blood sugar[10].

Black Bean, Spinach, and Coconut Curry with Brown Rice

food combinations for weight loss

Beans and greens are a good way of getting all your energy-boosting B vitamins and iron

Iron and B vitamins[11] are crucial for weight loss because they’re important nutrients for energy production[12]. Not getting enough B vitamins can lead to fatigue[13], making it hard to exercise and lose weight.

Legumes, leafy greens, and whole grains are all packed with iron and B vitamins, especially B9, B6, B3, and B2. 

Whole grains and beans are a low-calorie way to get your protein plus healthy fiber, while combining with spinach boosts iron levels[14] and adds bulk to your meal, meaning you may eat fewer calories overall. 

There’s strong evidence that a diet rich in whole grains is associated with a lower weight[15]. There’s even evidence that certain nutrients in beans slow down carbohydrate digestion[16] and absorption, which may partly explain their association with weight loss.

Coconut milk or coconut cream adds fat to this meal, which slows down digestion and keeps you fuller for longer. 

Top tip: Vitamin C promotes iron absorption[17], so add a squeeze of lemon to this meal to boost iron absorption even more.

Banana, Peanut Butter, and Soy Milk Smoothie

food combinations for weight loss

This gives us the perfect macronutrient combination: complex carbs from the banana, and protein and fats from soy milk and peanut butter.

Soy and peanuts also contain hormone-balancing phytoestrogens, such as soy isoflavones and genistein. Soy isoflavones[18] have been shown to balance blood sugar and aid weight loss, while genistein may protect from weight gain on a high-fat diet[19]

Top tip: Use slightly green bananas as they contain resistant starch[20], which feeds your gut bacteria. A healthy gut microbiome may be associated with better weight management[21], so giving your gut lots of different fibers and resistant starch could promote weight loss.

Avocado, Eggs, and Spinach on Wholegrain Bread

food combinations for weight loss

Avocado and eggs on toast may be a weekend breakfast treat, but it’s actually a great food combination for weight loss. 

Eggs are one of the best protein-rich foods for filling us up. Studies show that people who eat eggs for breakfast have lower ghrelin levels[22] – our “hunger hormone” – and eat fewer calories at lunchtime[23] compared to those who eat breakfast cereals. 

Avocados are often demonized as being high in fat, but studies show they protect you from weight gain[24] and even promote weight loss[25]. Avocados provide energy-promoting nutrients[26] – B vitamins, iron, and fat-soluble beta-carotene – which may protect against obesity[27].

Complex carbs are provided by whole grain bread, and spinach adds extra nutrients and fibers.

Top tip: Low vitamin D levels are associated with higher body weight[28], so add salmon to this meal to provide protein, fats, and vitamin D.

Hummus with Carrot and Cucumber Sticks

food combinations for weight loss

Hummus is made of chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, and olive oil – a great combination of carbs, protein, and fat. Plus, the vitamin C in lemon juice promotes iron absorption from the chickpeas and tahini.

Carrots aren’t only a good source of beta-carotene – the physical structure of whole carrots can increase fullness[29] and help you eat less overall. Olive oil can also help us absorb carotenoids[30].

Top tip: Add cucumber as it’s mostly water. Eating cucumber means you’re likely to eat fewer calories overall as you’ve filled up on water and fiber.

Chia Pudding with Soy Milk, Dates & Cinnamon

Chia Pudding with Soy Milk, Dates & Cinnamon

Eating chia seeds every day can suppress appetite[31] and promote weight loss – even more than flaxseeds[32]. The soluble fibers add bulk to your meal, promoting fullness and a healthy gut microbiome.

Chia seeds are also a great source of plant-based omega-3[33]. Studies[34] show that lower omega-3 levels promote weight gain, so eating more omega-3-rich foods and less processed unhealthy foods high in omega-6 may help you lose weight.

Finally, studies show that cinnamon can lower blood sugar, improve insulin sensitivity, and protect against obesity[35]. As insulin resistance can lead to belly fat, adding cinnamon to desserts is a great way to manage your weight.

Tofu Scramble with Red Peppers, Kale & Olive Oil

Tofu Scramble with Red Peppers, Kale & Olive Oil

Tofu is one of the best sources of plant-based protein because it provides all the essential amino acids. It’s dense and filling while being low in fat and calories.

Similar to spinach, kale is rich in B vitamins, beta-carotene, iron, and calcium, as well as antioxidants. 

Red peppers are actually one of the best sources of vitamin C[36] (better than oranges, even), meaning combining these two foods can promote iron absorption and protect against anemia and fatigue.

Olive oil is rich in healthy, monounsaturated fats which can lower high cholesterol[37], improve diabetes[38], and promote weight loss efforts.

Top tip: Contrary to popular belief, good quality extra-virgin olive oil is the healthiest oil for frying[39]. It contains lots of antioxidants protecting it from oxidation[40] at high temperatures. 

Sweet Potato Fries with Chili Sauce, Tofu Mayo, and Guacamole

Sweet Potato Fries with Chili Sauce, Tofu Mayo, and Guacamole

Potatoes may be high in carbs, but studies show that white potatoes are more filling[41] than whole grains such as brown rice or oats.

Choose white potatoes or sweet potatoes – white potatoes have more resistant starch, while sweet potatoes are high in beta-carotene.

Alongside our potatoes, tofu mayo provides protein and guacamole provides healthy fat. You can make tofu mayo at home by blending silken tofu, mustard, apple cider vinegar (ACV), garlic, and salt. 

ACV has been shown to balance the gut microbiome, improve mood[42], and help you lose weight[43]. In fact, adding vinegar to fries isn’t just a weird British fad – 2-6 tablespoons of vinegar can actually balance your blood sugar[44] when combined with a high-carbohydrate meal.

Chili sauce may seem like a strange addition to this food combination, but studies suggest[45] that chili can aid weight loss by improving insulin control and activating the nervous system.

Top tip: Eat cold fries the next day because cooled-down cooked potatoes form more resistant starch[46], which feeds our gut bacteria. 

A Cup of Green Tea with Almonds and Dark Chocolate

A Cup of Green Tea with Almonds and Dark Chocolate

A cup of green tea with a snack is a great mid-morning or mid-afternoon pick-me-up which a load of health benefits. Green tea can increase fat-burning[47], especially when combined with exercise.

Nuts are an easy, energy-dense snack that you can take on the go or just grab a handful at home. Almonds are high in antioxidants such as vitamin E[48], can stabilize blood sugar, and help you lose body fat. 

Combining almonds with dark chocolate has been shown to lower cholesterol levels[49] and reduce the risk of heart disease. 

Eating 30 g of dark chocolate per day is shown to help you lose body fat[50] over 8 weeks. Dark chocolate increases energy expenditure[51], meaning you burn more calories by doing the same amount of exercise when you eat dark chocolate every day.

Top tip: Always go for a minimum of 70% dark chocolate. The darker the chocolate, the better for weight loss!

Does It Work For Weight Loss?

There are no specific combinations that “zap” body fat. But it is known that combining macronutrients and certain nutrients can help you lose weight – alongside a healthy diet and lifestyle.

For example, combining carbohydrates with proteins and fats has been shown to slow digestion and avoid blood sugar spikes and crashes[52]. This makes you feel satiated for longer and less likely to snack later with a subsequent crash in blood sugar. 

Protein-rich foods fill you up[53] more than carbs, and fats have been shown to slow digestion, both of which can help you consume fewer calories throughout the day and lead to weight loss. Certain micronutrients have also been shown to help with losing weight. 

Also, combining nutrients can aid absorption and increase levels more than eating the nutrients in isolation. For example, fats help us absorb fat-soluble nutrients such as vitamin D, vitamin K, and beta-carotene – all nutrients linked to better weight loss outcomes.


As we’ve seen, there are many benefits of food combining for weight loss. Some other health benefits of food pairings for weight loss include

  • Encouraging you to lose weight by eating more healthily, rather than restricting yourself or taking pills to lose weight.
  • Making it easier to meet your nutritional needs by eating a variety of foods. 
  • Being more flexible and sustainable than other weight loss diets, which tend to be restrictive and exclude certain food groups.
  • Feeling more satisfied after a well-balanced meal.
  • Stabilizing blood sugar, which protects you from blood sugar crashes and Type 2 Diabetes.
  • Eating more healthy fats protects you from high cholesterol and heart disease.
  • Encouraging you to get creative with your meals and try out different combinations of foods.


There aren’t many downsides to food combinations for weight loss as it’s so flexible, but some cons could include

  • Feeling restricted by rules.
  • Not always being able to eat what you want.
  • Needing to meal plan more.

Is Food Combining Diet A Good Choice For You?

Healthy food combinations for weight loss promote eating more balanced meals and snacks which keep you satisfied for longer between-meals periods. 

Including healthy sources of complex carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and fiber with every meal can also help protect you from chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. 

In summary, alongside a healthy diet and lifestyle, food combination can be a sustainable way to increase your nutrient intake, protect yourself from illness, and lose weight.

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Health Canal avoids using tertiary references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic researches from medical associations and institutions. To ensure the accuracy of articles in Health Canal, you can read more about the editorial process here

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Ellie Busby

Written by:

Ellie Busby, MS, RDN

Medically reviewed by:

Michael DiLeo

Ellie Busby is a Registered Nutritionist (MSc, mBANT) and nutrition writer. She holds a bachelor's in Chemistry and a Masters in Nutrition. Ellie specializes in plant-based nutrition for health and fitness. She is also the Founder of Vojo Health, a personalized nutrition service based on genetic testing.

Medically reviewed by:

Michael DiLeo

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