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Chemical Breakdown Diet: Using Food Combinations for Weight Loss

written by: Rafael • edited by: DaniellaNicole • updated: 1/31/2010

The chemical breakdown diet claims you can lose weight fast and easy by eating specific food combinations. Learn about this diet and see for yourself why it may not be as good as it sounds.

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    The chemical breakdown diet is one of those eating regimes that seem to good to be true. It claims you can lose 10 pounds a week (or more) by following simple rules and ingesting specific foods in specific combinations. You can not substitute foods on the list nor you can alter the combinations of food set on this diet.

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    What is the Chemical Breakdown Diet?

    This diet is known by many names: the 3 Day Diet, the 3-Day Diet - 4 Days Off Diet, the tuna diet, the New Mayo Clinic Diet, etc. Essentially you have to follow a specific eating regime (set as a very low calorie diet) for 3 days and then switch to a 4-day of healthy “normal” eating (of course, not overeating). After the 4 day period you continue to alternate between the 3 day restricted calorie period and the 4 day regular calorie intake period until you obtain your desired weight.nubuck - Pics 

    This diet is said to work on the premise that specific food combinations produce chemical reactions (thus the chemical breakdown name) of fatty deposits. Then, these are flushed out of the system. Although, this explanation seems very good, I still have to find scientific evidence about it.

    In fact, any diet (or to be more precise, any healthy eating habits) should have as priority eliminate fat deposits and eliminate them out of the body. All the evidence you can find about the 3-day diet is purely anecdotal and not published in reputable medical literature.

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    What is the Typical Eating in the Chemical Breakdown Diet?

    A typical day has three meals: morning, midday, and evening (breakfast, lunch, and dinner if you prefer).

    For breakfast you may ONLY have: a cup of coffee or tea (no sugar or milk), a slice of toast with 1 tbs. of peanut butter, and half a grapefruit. That’s it, nothing more.

    For lunch: a slice of toast with 1 tbs. of peanut, half a cup of tuna, and one cup of tea or coffee.

    For dinner: one portion of skinless chicken breast, 1 cup of green beans, 1 cup of beets, 1 cup of ice cream and 1 small apple.

    The other two days are pretty much the same, with some variations of foods you can take, but with the same restrictive pattern. Again, according to proponents of this diet you can not make any food alteration or substitution in food types and/or quantities.

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    Final Consideration

    This diet is one of those that seem to good to be true. It promises to deliver quick results with a simple, and perhaps low-cost, food regime. Although, there may be weight loss with this diet, it is sure that it is a temporary one. Weight will be gained afterward. This diet is based on hype, anecdotal evidence, and a very calorie restricted food intake scheme. Weight loss does nor come from any chemical breakdown but from not eating enough calories per day. Perhaps there are other weight loss approaches that may be more durable and healthy than this fad diet.

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    Insel et al (2009) Discovering Nutrition. ISBN:09 978-0763758738

    Image credit: photo taken by nubuck and made available at