Glucose Revolution biochemist and author Jesse Inhauspe says changing your diet can change your life.
Among her recommendations in the mainstream media and on Instagram, the founder of the “Goddess of Glucose” movement says that eating food in a certain order is the key.
By eating salads first, before protein, and ending your diet with starchy carbs, she says that your blood sugar spikes will be leveled, which is better for you.
From a scientific point of view, does this make sense? It turns out, yes, in part.
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What is a glucose jump?
The glucose spike appears in your blood about 30-60 minutes after you have eaten carbohydrates. Many things determine how high and how long the peak lasts. These include what you ate with or before carbs, how much fiber is in carbs, and your body’s ability to secrete and use the hormone insulin.
For people with certain medical conditions, any tactic to equalize the peak of glucose is extremely important. These conditions include:
reactive hypoglycaemia (a special type of recurrent sugar breakdown)
postprandial hypotension (low postprandial blood pressure) or
if you have had bariatric surgery.
This is because high and prolonged spikes in glucose have lasting and detrimental effects on many hormones and proteins, including those that cause inflammation. Inflammation is associated with a number of conditions, including diabetes and heart disease.
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Different foods, different spikes
Does eating different foods before carbs affect glucose spikes? It turns out, yes. This is also not new evidence.
Scientists have long known that foods high in fiber, such as salads, slow the emptying of the stomach (the rate at which food leaves the stomach). Thus, foods high in fiber slow down the delivery of glucose and other nutrients to the small intestine for absorption into the bloodstream.
Protein and fat also slow down the emptying of the stomach. The protein has the added benefit of stimulating a hormone called glucagon-like peptide 1 (or GLP1). When protein from your food gets into the cells in your gut, this hormone is secreted, slowing down your stomach emptying even more. The hormone also affects the pancreas, where it aids in the secretion of the hormone insulin, which clears glucose in your blood.
In fact, drugs that mimic how GLP1 (known as GLP1 receptor agonists) work are a new and very effective class of drugs for people with type 2 diabetes. They are making a real change to improve their blood sugar control.
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How about eating food consistently?
Most research on whether eating in a certain order is important for glucose spikes involves giving fiber, fat or protein a “pre-load” before a meal. The preload is usually a liquid and is given about 30 minutes before the carbohydrate.
In one study, drinking a whey protein shake 30 minutes before (instead of with) mashed potatoes was better for delaying stomach emptying. Each option is better at reducing glucose spikes than drinking water before meals.
While this evidence suggests that eating protein before carbohydrates helps reduce glucose peaks, evidence of consuming other food groups individually and consistently during a medium meal is less strong.
Inchauspé says that fiber, fat and protein do not mix in the stomach – they mix. But nutrients do not leave the stomach until they become fine particles.
The steak takes longer than a puree to break into fine particles. Given the added fact that liquids drain faster than solids and people tend to finish their entire dinner in about 15 minutes, is there any real evidence that eating food in a certain sequence will be more beneficial than eating of food as you want, and everything confused on the plate?
Yes, but not very strong.
A small study tested five different eating sequences in 16 people without diabetes. Participants had to eat their food within 15 minutes.
There is no general difference in glucose spikes between the groups that ate their vegetables before meat and rice compared to the other sequences.
What is the message for home?
Monitoring these spikes in glucose is especially important if you have diabetes or a handful of other medical conditions. If this is the case, your doctor or dietitian will advise you on how to change your diet or food intake to avoid glucose spikes. Ordering food can be part of this advice.
For the rest of us, don’t tie yourself in knots, trying to eat your food in a certain order. But consider eliminating sugary drinks and adding fiber, protein or fat to carbohydrates to slow stomach emptying and smooth out glucose spikes.