The Gracie Diet: Do Meal Spacing and Food Combining Work?

By Mel Thomassian (RD)


The Gracie family are well known for their achievements in Martial Arts. And, one secret of their success is the strict diet they follow, apparently.

Grand Master, Carlos Gracie, developed the Gracie Diet based on his observations (over 65 years) of the effects of various food combinations.

Gracie Diet Principles

The basis of this book is spacing meals at least four and a half hours apart, and food combining – something I first heard about years ago when my mum when on “Fit for Life.” However, it’s not an idea I’m particularly fond of.A study, published in the International Journal of Obesity in 2000, looked at of the benefit of food combining for weight loss, and found no evidence that it was effective.

In the book, foods are grouped according to the digestive enzymes needed to break them down. This means that only foods from compatible groups can be eaten together at a meal, as a way of reducing the body’s workload, easing the digestive process, and therefore essential functions, such as training, healing injuries, and fighting disease, can take precedence.

Unfortunately, even though this sounds great on paper, there is very little science to back it up.

The book is also promoted as a “family affair,” however I feel it would be quite difficult for children to adjust to this way of eating. And, it seems unnecessary for them, too.

I have to say the main concept behind this diet, is a no-no for me. I don’t like diets which complicate matters for people, because it makes being “healthy” seem unattainable.

Gracie Diet Plus Points

However, I also don’t think the diet is a dangerous one. So, if this sounds like your kind of thing, here are some of the ideas I like about the Gracie Diet:

  • It encourages spacing between meals – for most people that is a good thing, forcing them to eat less. However, it’s probably not suitable for diabetics, or those who train vigorously.
  • Almost all foods can be eaten (but they do have to be combined correctly).
  • On the official website there are recipes, how-to videos, and lots of other tools and tips. The Interactive Gracie Diet Table is very useful for getting to grips with the food groups, and which foods can be eaten together.
  • Eating right vs. eating junk food is always going to leave you feeling healthier and more energetic.
  • Exercise is encouraged.

The Gracie Diet is available from Amazon for $30.


  1. Expect A Miracle

    You could not possibly have read any of the FIT FOR LIFE books. If you had you would know that proper food combining is but a fraction of what Harvey Diamond has written in his eight books over the last 25 years.

    And by the way, have you ever heard of “science” being in error about something with which it was certain beyond any possible doubt? Ever heard something like, “Well, we used to think such-and-such, but now we know otherwise.”

    “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.” –Arthur Schopenhauer

    Whenever a new discovery is reported to the scientific world, they say first, “It is probably not true.”
    Thereafter, when the truth of the new proposition has been demonstrated beyond question, they say, “Yes, it may be true, but it is not important.”
    Finally, when sufficient time has elapsed to fully evidence its importance, they say, “Yes, surely it is important, but it is no longer new.”—Montaigne

  2. Mike Howard

    Hmmm, a grand conspiracy against food combining. I see you share the same distaste for those with real credentials as the diamonds do. I can understand, however as they wouldn’t want actual evidence to get in the way of selling books based on folklore.

    Testimonials are not evidence. If you have something to say about the science, I think many would love to hear about it. Please do have a look at the Golay study cited in the article.

    Nothing escapes the acid soup of the stomach.

    People who are successful on FFL are so due to calorie restriction and better food choices – not the mythical combinations of foods.

    “The recipe for perpetual ignorance is: Be satisfied with your opinions and content with your knowledge”
    – Elbert Hubbard

  3. Spectra

    I am also fairly skeptical about the idea of food combining–any food you eat is going to become a homogeneous mixture in your stomach anyway, so there is not really any point in combining them in certain ways. As long as you eat healthy foods, it doesn’t matter if you eat a piece of melon with an egg or if you eat it with a serving of steel cut oats. It’s sort of ridiculous, if you ask me. Any diet that promotes eating healthy foods like fruits and veggies and lean protein and encourages exercise is probably going to help you lose weight.

  4. Melanie Thomassian R.D.

    I have known several people in my family and friends to go on Fit for Life and also experience improved health, but they cannot maintain it long-term… therein lies the problem.

    I am, however, happy that you have had success with food combining.

  5. Expect A Miracle

    What is it with you RDs? FIT FOR LIFE has been around for OVER a quarter century. You tried squelching it then but too many people became aware of its benefits. I’m one of them. My entire family, and many of our friends, have been using the principles delineated in FFL for years and our health is supreme. It is NOT a diet. It is an eating lifestyle from which you can choose what works best for you. Literally millions of people around the world use the FFL principles with great success. And all you can do is badmouth it because it is not in alignment with your belief system.

    “Those who were dancing were thought to be quite insane by those who could not hear the music,”–Lisa Monet