Timing Matters: Don’t Start Your Meal With Carbs

That basket of warm rolls presented to your table is surely tempting, but a starchy start to your meal is probably not the best choice…for some new, and unexpected reasons.

Most people are aware that bread and rolls are calorie laden (~100 calories for each slice of bread and for dinner rolls). But apart from the calorie load, new research shows that eating starchy carbs early in a meal causes sugar levels to soar higher than if the same items were consumed after vegetables and protein rich food.

In a recent study, orange juice and ciabatta bread were served first, or alternatively, 15 minutes after meal of salad, vegetables and chicken breast. The order of eating made a substantial difference: 73% more sugar was released into the blood when starchy and sweet carbs were eaten before vegetables and protein compared to the reverse order.

The explanation is that carbs have a harder time being absorbed in the digestive tract when other food is present.

High fiber foods and proteins consumed early in the meal are particularly helpful to suppress the breakdown and absorption of carbs. The result is a much lower sugar release than when carbs hit an empty gut.

For added benefit,  begin your meal with salad tossed with a vinegar based dressing. Vinegar inhibits some of the enzymes needed to break down starchy foods and as few as 2 teaspoons of vinegar can cut sugar absorption by 20%. All vinegars are helpful, including balsamics.

Obviously, the very best plan of all is to simply eat fewer starchy and sweet foods! But for that occasional indulgence into the breadbasket, consider first having a salad with vinaigrette dressing. Chances are you’ll eat less bread after filling up on salad, and what you do eat will be less likely to bump your sugar level.

Strategy for Restaurant Dining: as you are seated, ask your server to bring a salad right away, and hold the bread for later, if at all!

References:

Food Order Has a Significant Impact on Postprandial Glucose

Examination of the antiglycemic properties of vinegar

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