Did You Know?
Carbohydrates eaten after a meal lowers blood sugar over 30%, when compared to eating bread after the meal. Studies in patients with pre-diabetes in 2017 and 2019 by Drs. Shukla & Aronne, showed reductions of up 53.8%, and similar results have been confirmed in earlier studies in patients with Type 2 diabetes. For example, blood sugar was lower both when patients eat vegetables first from 12 to 9 (or about 25%), and when normal subjects ate a combination of protein and vegetables from 180 to 120 (or about 33%), before eating carbohydrates. There have also been shown to be lower insulin and glucose levels throughout the day when more protein is consumed in breakfast.
Carbohydrates, or ‘carbs’, are a major food group that provides energy for all cells in the body (e.g. hair cells, skin, organs, bones, muscles, brain, etc.). Carbs are broken down into ‘glucose’, a smaller molecule the body can use.
When glucose is released into the bloodstream (referred to as ‘blood sugar’), the body begins the work of putting it to use. Since the first priority is getting the glucose into the cell, insulin, another chemical or ‘hormone’, is also released to assist in getting through the cell membrane (like a lock and key). However, not all cells rely on this mechanism – brain and blood cells allow glucose into the cell with NO insulin, which means they can die when levels of glucose are too high in the bloodstream (cell gets too ‘full’ of glucose and bursts!).
HOW IT WORKS
Insulin levels are then associated with fat storage, because the body has to do something with the leftover glucose not absorbed into cells. The more carbohydrate you eat at one time, or by itself, the more your blood sugar will spike. This will then cause insulin levels to rise and fat to be stored.
WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT
Eating protein and good fat does not have the same effect on the body, because they are much bigger molecules and are broken down in the stomach instead of released directly into the bloodstream. Some carbohydrates take longer to digest (i.e. fruits, veggies, and grains with fiber), but all carbohydrate starts to be digested as soon as it hits the tongue.
To avoid the blood sugar spikes with carbohydrates, eat the healthiest components first – the veggies, protein, and good fat. Then enjoy some dairy, fruit, and/or dense, healthy bread, rice, or whole grain pasta. If the meal is a sauce served over pasta, try serving it over the veggies and the pasta on the side, or using rice noodles.
Eating more protein with breakfast can also prevent blood sugar spikes throughout the day. Enjoy balanced meals, 3 times per day, to keep you running strong, all day long!