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Protein before carbohydrates lowers glucose
July 12, 2015, 3:01 pm

In a new study researchers have found that the order in which different types of food are consumed has a significant impact on post-meal glucose and insulin levels in obese people.

Some previous studies had found that eating vegetables or protein before carbohydrates could be an effective way to lower post-meal glucose levels. The researchers behind the new study wanted to see whether this association applied to a typical Western diet, with meals consisting of a mix of vegetables, protein carbohydrates and fat.

On the first day of the study, the participants were told to consume the carbohydrates in their meal (ciabatta bread and orange juice) first, and to follow this 15 minutes later by the protein, vegetables and fat in the meal. The experiment was then repeated 1 week later, except this time the food order was reversed - the protein, vegetables and fat were eaten first, with the carbohydrates consumed 15 minutes later.

When the vegetables and protein were eaten before the carbohydrates, the researchers found that glucose levels were 29 percent, 37 percent and 17 percent lower at the 30, 60 and 120-minute checks, compared with when carbohydrates were consumed first. Also, insulin was found to be significantly lower when the participants ate vegetables and protein first.

Dr. Louis Aronne, a professor of clinical medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College and senior author of the study, says, “Though the findings are from a pilot study with a very small sample group, based on this finding, patients with type 2 might be able to make a simple change to lower their blood sugar throughout the day, decrease how much insulin they need to take, and potentially have a long-lasting, positive impact on their health."

"Carbohydrates raise blood sugar, but if you tell someone not to eat them - or to drastically cut back - it's hard for them to comply. This study points to an easier way that patients might lower their blood sugar and insulin levels," Dr. Aronne concludes.

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