While the majority of diets focus on counting calories and tracking nutritional values, there is a concept from the mid-1980s that completely disregards this idea and focuses on food grouping. It’s called Fit for Life. This is a rather radical idea many nutritionists since have been openly disputing. But, following the book Fit for Life, millions of people tried this method. Even these days, the exact fit for life diet and slight variations of it still pop up on various forums and people are willing to give it a try.
What is Fit for Life Diet?
Fit for Life was created by Marilyn and Harvey Diamond. This diet reached the peak of its popularity in the mid-1980s, and it is based on the idea that certain food groups shouldn’t be eaten together.
Marilyn and Harvey outlined the entire concept in the book and presented the notion that there are dead foods and living foods. Dead foods would clog your body and rot while living foods go through your body and cleanse it. So, the main idea is that these food groups shouldn’t be combined.
This is an interesting concept and Harvey even went so far as to claim their book, and the subsequent diet, were responsible for the boom of salad and fruit bars during the 1990s. After selling millions of copies, the book got a couple of revisions and later included other ideas like genetic predispositions towards certain foods and personalized dietary protocols.
According to the diet creators, there are two food groups: dead foods and living foods. Dead foods, later called enzyme deficient, don’t agree well with your stomach and they rot in it. Living foods consist of vegetables and raw fruit and they have body cleansing properties.
The Fit for Life diet strictly prohibits mixing these two food groups. Even in the living food group, fruit is separated from vegetables, and they are not to be eaten together. The Fit for Life diet also features specific rules regarding carbohydrates and proteins. These two should also be eaten separately. Here are some of the rules of this diet:
• Fruit only for breakfast
• Avoid combining different food groups: animal-based proteins and complex carbohydrates (meat and sweet potatoes, lentils, whole grains)
• No dairy should ever be eaten
• No drinking water during meals
• Limited meat consumption; not eating meat at all would be beneficial
• Cooking destroys enzymes, and you should eat raw food as much as possible
• Avoid white bread, canned foods, vinegar, simple carbohydrates
• Light use of garlic and raw onions
The entire diet is based on planning out meals in accordance to the food group. Breakfast is always reserved for fruit. There is also an intriguing idea that you should eat your water and use fruit for the majority of water intake during the day.
• Breakfast: fresh melons (these are supposed to be eaten before any other fruit), ripe strawberries, red grapes, sliced kiwi, orange juice. Bananas are eaten only if you still feel hungry after breakfast.
This, according to the diet creators, should cleanse your body and hydrate it for the rest of the day.
• Mid-morning snack: an apple, orange, grapefruit, grapes, or whatever fruit you have available
The idea is not to consume any dead foods before noon. The Diamond’s suggest you should eat two pieces of fruit every couple of hours.
• Lunch: Raw vegetable salad, fresh orange or carrot juice — or — a properly combined sandwich with tomatoes, whole-wheat bread, and steamed chicken breasts. Use zucchini or avocado instead of bread if possible.
The main idea to follow regarding lunch is not to mix proteins and complex carbohydrates.
• Afternoon snack: any piece of fruit, orange or grape juice for hydration
Note that at least a couple of hours after eating lunch (provided you had proteins or carbohydrates) you shouldn’t eat anything.
• Dinner: vegetables, roasted sweet potatoes, avocado, kidney beans, creamy vegetable soup — or — fresh vegetable salad and chicken or fish.
The key thing here is not to overeat. A light dinner makes sure you sleep better and allow your digestive system to efficiently process the food you ate throughout the day.
Natural Body Cycles
The book outlines three distinctive body cycles.
• 4 AM to 12 PM – waste elimination period
• 12 PM to 8 PM – eating and digestion period
• 8 PM to 4 AM – food absorption and use
These periods should be taken into consideration, especially the waste elimination period, when constructing meal plans. Fruit is naturally cleansing food, and that’s why you are advised not to eat anything but fruit during the morning. It is also beneficial to eat water-rich foods to help your body cleanse all the toxins and eliminate waste.
What Do Scientists Say?
This diet has been widely criticized, partly because of its creators and partly because of its inefficiency. Harvey Diamond’s doctoral degree came from American College of Life Science, a school without accreditation. The scientists around the globe also point out that Fit for Life diet fails to mention the roles of fats and trans-fats, fibers, and exercise play in your daily diet and how they affect the weight loss. Many also pointed out that even Fit for Life website mentions clinical trials, no citation or research institution was ever mentioned. Some of the claims have actually been disproved by published independent clinical studies.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Fit for Life Diet
This diet promotes eating fresh fruit as it is low in calories and rich in naturally occurring vitamins. This lowers the risk of heart diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes and aids in healthy digestion. The disadvantages stem from advising against dairy, carbohydrates and protein intake. These restrictions may increase the likelihood of developing nutritional deficiencies and other problems.
It has also been proven by clinical studies that Fit for Life and similar diets that disregard calories and nutrients counting are way less effective for weight loss. Testimonials from users are mixed, but a great majority of them reports being hungry and energy depleted throughout the day. This diet was marketed as one of the best weight loss diets but it simply failed to live up to the promise and has been disproved and criticized by scientists for decades.