Eating starchy and carbohydrate-rich foods can cause our blood sugar levels to spike and then drop, which can lead to problems with concentration and energy. But simply combining carbs with foods high in protein and fat can minimize this, experts tell Insider.
When we eat carbohydrates, our body breaks them down into glucose. It is our main source of energy and fuels the brain, heart, liver and muscles, Nestoras Mathioudakis, MD, a
expert at Johns Hopkins Medicine, Insider previously told.
Blood sugar is a term used to describe the amount of glucose in the blood, and it’s important to keep the level stable to avoid spikes and dips, which can help you stay focused, eat healthy, or lose weight. . When blood sugar drops, some people find themselves reaching for less nutrient dense snacks, such as cookies, which may not keep them as full. Managing blood sugar is especially important for people with diabetes.
“If you eat something high in sugar or carbs, your blood sugar goes up and down like a roller coaster,” registered dietitian Bonnie Taub-Dix told Insider’s Gabby Landsverk.
But we can minimize these dips and spikes by eating balanced meals.
All foods contain a mixture of carbohydrates, fats and proteins (apart from pure sugar), Professor Mike Lean, director of human nutrition at the University of Glasgow and the Royal Infirmary, told Insider. from Glasgow, UK. But pairing high-carb foods with high-fat or high-protein ingredients reduces blood sugar spikes by slowing the digestive process, as this 2006 study shows.
Try to eat carbohydrate-rich foods with fats and proteins
Experts told Insider to avoid eating starchy foods – like bread, rice, pasta and potatoes – or sugary foods – like fruits, desserts, pastries or anything sweet – alone. Instead, combine them with a source of fat, protein, or fiber.
Examples: avocado on toast, spinach in pasta, or cream cheese on a bagel.
Dr Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, UK, used the example of a cheese sandwich.
“If you had just eaten bread on your own and ate bread, your body would have a sugar spike,” said Spector, author of bestselling book “Spoon-Fed: Why Almost Everything We’ve Been Told AboutFood”. is wrong,” Insider said.
However, combining bread with cheese has a different effect on the body because the cheese “mitigates” the sugar response, he said.
This slows the breakdown of starches and sugars into glucose in your digestive system, which means your blood sugar levels stay more stable.
“Combining fats and proteins with carbs also helps slow the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream, so balanced meals are key,” registered dietitian Nichola Ludlam-Raine previously told Insider.