As it turns out, Mom was right. You do have to eat your meal before you get dessert. But Mom didn’t fully understand how right she was until a group of people with type 2 diabetes were studied to see how the order in which they ate food affected their blood sugar levels.
In this blog post, I share the results and show you how you can use this simple strategy to improve your insulin sensitivity at every meal.
Improve Insulin Sensitivity At-A-Glance
- To keep blood sugar and insulin levels low after a meal, eat blood-sugar-stabilizing foods (i.e., protein, fat, fiber) before refined or simple carbohydrates.
- To reduce post-meal insulin spikes, eat carbs last, pair carbs with protein, fat, and fiber, and limit the refined carb content of your meal.
A Simple Trick to Boost Insulin Sensitivity: Eat This Second (NOT First) [Video]
In this video, you’ll learn…
- Why the order in which you eat your food matters.
- Three ways to use the order of your food to your advantage.
- A pro tip for boosting insulin sensitivity.
Food Order Matters
It is normal for your blood sugar or blood glucose level to rise following a meal. But if you have insulin resistance, prediabetes, or diabetes, or you just want to keep insulin levels low to make it easier for your body to burn fat, you want to eat in a way that minimizes the post-meal blood sugar and insulin rise.
A study involving people with type 2 diabetes looked at how the order of eating the main nutrients of a meal can affect the blood glucose response (1).
The study participants ate the same meal on two separate days. For the first meal, the participants were fed quick-digesting carbs, namely bread and orange juice, followed 15 minutes later by protein and vegetables with butter. The food order was reversed for their second meal, which they ate one week later.
When protein and vegetables were eaten before the carbohydrates, blood glucose levels were held significantly lower, by as much as 37 percent an hour after the meal.
Insulin levels were also significantly lower when protein and vegetables were consumed first.
The study authors went on to say that the surprising magnitude of the effect of food order was comparable to what would be expected from a drug designed to do the same thing. Adding that “the reduced insulin excursions observed in this experimental setting suggest that this meal pattern may improve insulin sensitivity.”
Why Did This Happen?
Why did this favorable blood sugar and insulin response happen? This was a small pilot study, so the mechanism by which it worked was not fully developed. However, it is likely that the protein, along with the fat and fiber from the buttered vegetables, slowed the digestion of the carbohydrates, blunting their blood sugar impact.
Using Food Order to Your Advantage
Let’s take this out of the study arena and apply it to real life. There are three ways you can use this knowledge to your advantage.
#1: Eat Carbs Last
If simple or refined carbs are part of your meal, eat them last.
#2: Pair Carbs with Protein, Fat, and Fiber
If you eat simple carbs, don’t eat them alone. Instead, pair them with blood-sugar stabilizing nutrients like protein, fat, and fiber.
#3: Don’t Eat Too Many Carbs
Reign in your refined carb intake. This study showed that eating chicken, salad, and buttered broccoli before bread and orange juice was beneficial. But portion size matters.
The meal in the study paired 55 grams of protein and 16 grams of fat with 68 grams of carbs. You need to be conscious of your carbohydrate intake. Eating too many refined or simple carbs at a meal or doubling up on dessert because you eat it last is not the message. You can easily override the benefits.
Pro Tip: Ditch the Refined Carbs
I can’t let this post come to a close without sharing that for the most effective insulin sensitivity boost, ditch the refined carbs altogether. Your body does not need cookies, cakes, and candies to survive, and a hamburger can be eaten without a bun.
In fact, if you give it a try, you might be surprised at how much better your stomach feels after eating the bunless burger.
We are all human and have our moments, but avoiding refined foods and following a low carb diet is such a satisfying way to eat and live. But it does require you to shop differently, and the first step is knowing which foods are low carb. I have a free list of 100 low carb foods that you can download today to get started.
Thank you for reading and have a wonderful week!
(1) Shukla, Alpana P., et al. “Food order has a significant impact on postprandial glucose and insulin levels.” Diabetes care 38.7 (2015): e98-e99.