What if what you ate mattered less than the order you ate it in? Um, that'd be awesome, but it's probably too good to be true, right?
Well, according to two recent research published in the journal Nutrition and Diabetes, eating food in a particular order might have very real body benefits. Specifically, eating proteins and fats first may help your body better digest the carbohydrates you eat later and lessen the impact these carbs have on your blood sugar. (See also: The Best Carbs for Weight Loss)
The details: Seventeen men and women with type 2 diabetes were asked to follow the same diet for four weeks. They were then split into two groups: everyone ate the same foods, but one group ate fats and proteins first, and carbs last.
This one small tweak had big results. Both groups lost a similar amount of weight and inches from their waists, but those who ate their fats and proteins first saw improvements in their glucose control and insulin sensitivity, while the other group didn't.
Proteins and fats take longer to digest, which in turn slows how quickly the sugars hit your system, says Domenico Tricò, M.D., lead author of the paper and a researcher in the Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine at the University of Pisa in Italy. Eating fats and proteins first also helps by better regulating how much insulin is released by your liver, making your body more sensitive to insulin and reducing fat storage after the meal. In other words: No more post-meal sugar crash! Plus, fat, protein, and fiber fill you up faster and keep you feeling full longer, helping you to eat less overall and lose weight.
But while it's clear this diet trick helps people with diabetes, Tricò says that, in a separate study, they also found similar blood sugar benefits in healthy, normal-weight people. He adds this could be an important tool both for managing diabetes and in preventing the development of the disease in the first place, calling this strategy "rapid, feasible, inexpensive, and safe."
To make this work for you, Tricò simply suggests saving all high-carb foods for the end of the meal. The people in the study ate meat or fish and vegetables as the first course, followed by pasta (it was done in Italy, after all), and ended with dessert (generally fruit). It's also important to pay attention to how your body is feeling—if you fill up quickly on the meat and veggies, then just take a bite or two of dessert or save it for later.
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