The dissociated diet promises to lose weight by avoiding mixing certain types of foods. Although it is relatively balanced, it is a misconception.
Despite having entered the autumn season, already far from the summer holidays and the typical miracle diets, it is never too late to review one or another of them. In this case, the dissociated diet still has many followers around it, and with a certain sense (not scientific sense, since its evidence is questionable).
Like all known miracle diets, the dissociated diet has its variants, although they are all based on a common axis: mixing is wrong, and that is why we get fat. According to this diet, the human organism is not capable of mixing different types of macronutrients (although all foods contain, in different percentages, all of these); and therefore, mixing or consuming them at certain times of the day can be harmful and increase the risk of obesity.
How the dissociated diet works
As we mentioned, the dissociated diet ensures that the human body has difficulties processing macronutrients such as carbohydrates and proteins at the same time. In fact, this diet does not even take into account fats as a group, but divides foods according to their percentage of carbohydrates or proteins:
1. Foods rich in carbohydrates: These would be those foods with a high percentage of carbohydrates (cereals, legumes, flours and pasta, starches such as potatoes, or pastries in general).
2. Protein-rich foods: These would-be foods with a high percentage of protein, such as meat, fish, shellfish, eggs and dairy; sometimes even nuts are included in this group (although in these foods fat predominates much more).
3. Neutral foods: In this group we would find vegetables, vegetable fats and oils.
Foods that cannot be dissociated
As we can see, some of these foods also have not inconsiderable percentages of other macronutrients within themselves, such as fewer lean dogs (also rich in fat), or legumes (some of which contain between 25 and 50 g of proteins according to type). But, according to the theory of the dissociated diet, mixing the food groups between them is not appropriate; And if it does, the body "breaks down" and turns it into fat.
If we analyze the claim objectively, it falls under its own weight. If this were the case, the human being would have always been obese, since foods have always been mixed between them and obesity as an epidemic disease has not emerged until the last century (although there were cases of obesity earlier in history, it was not a disease so widespread). But, if logic were insufficient, there are studies like the one published in 1979 in the Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology, which confirmed that humans have mechanisms capable of digesting various types of macronutrients at the same time., such as carbohydrates and proteins. If this were not possible, quinoa, a pseudocereal that contains up to 16-19% protein in its natural state, would be difficult to digest. And it is not the case.
Mixes that should be made in the dissociated diet
On the other hand, in addition to “prohibiting” the mixing of food groups, the dissociated diet also advises that if carbohydrates or proteins are used, it should always be accompanied by a food from the neutral group. That is, the dishes would consist of a mixture of hydrates and neutrals, or proteins and neutrals; but not carbohydrates and proteins. Likewise, it is suggested not to abuse sugars or fats.
Therefore, there would be very healthy dishes perfectly plausible both in a dissociated diet and in any other type of diet, such as meat or fish together with vegetables (protein and neutral food), or legumes and vegetables (carbohydrate and neutral food).
Why the dissociated diet works?
To date, there is no scientific basis whatsoever to corroborate the benefits of a dissociated diet, or more specifically, there is no evidence that “dissociating” or “not mixing” food groups is useful. In fact, it is quite useless, at least at its base, since there are no foods that have a single macronutrient and absolutely nothing of the others: all foods contain mixtures of macronutrients, but have higher percentages of one or the other, although some are found in trace forms: meat and fish stand out for their high protein value, but they also contain fats; and legumes contain a high percentage of carbohydrates, but they also stand out for their vegetable protein value.
But, as if knowing this was not enough, some clinical trials have also been done to verify it. One of the best known and best designed is the one published in 2000 in the International Journal of Obesity: Two groups of participants ate the same foods, but one group did not mix macronutrients (dissociated diet) and the other did. According to their results, there were no advantages in either group.
Still, does the dissociated diet work? In concept, no, but secondarily yes. That is, the basis of the diet of separating macronutrients is totally useless to lose weight, but there are other explanations: like almost any miracle diet, in the dissociated diet there is a caloric deficit and a series of tips such as reducing the consumption of sugars and fats, which will collaborate in the weight loss finally. On the other hand, the simple fact of trying not to mix nutrients produces a greater awareness of the act of consuming food, which in turn will cause you to try to eat better and have greater self-control.
But, on the other hand, the same method of not mixing macronutrients in the medium and long term can cause " boredom " in the diet, which in turn will reduce palatability and food consumption. In fact, this concept was also proven in a study published in 1976 in the Journal of Physiology & Behavior: the lower the palatability, the lower the intake.
Dissociated diet: pros and cons
As we can see, the dissociated diet is based on the same premises as the rest of the miracle diets: basing its main hypothesis on a wrong or even useless concept, but causing weight loss through other “secondary” factors, such as caloric restriction and reducing the intake of sugars and / or fats, while reducing the general intake of food through other methods (such as lack of palatability due to boredom, in this case).
However, the dissociated diet is not dangerous, since it does not eliminate groups of nutrients, nor does it suggest restricting food intake in an extreme way. In fact, in a certain way, it is committed to balanced food intake, albeit based on erroneous basic concepts. Although, yes, if the combinations are reduced to the extreme, it is possible to suffer nutritional deficiencies, as a Spanish study published in Diet Activity in 2008 suggested.
Finally, the dissociated diet does not take into account the particularities of each individual: it is the same way of eating for anyone, without taking into account possible metabolic diseases, level of physical activity or taking some types of medication; it is not taken into account if what you are looking for is to lose total weight or lose fat in particular, it is simply generalist and without more. Therefore, it is not a recommended type of diet, and does not show significant advantages when it comes to losing weight.
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