Posted BY: Rachel Hosie
- Blood-sugar spikes and dips can lead to a lack of energy and make it harder to eat healthy.
- Experts say you can minimize spikes by combining carbs with protein and fats.
- Foods high in protein and fat slow the digestion of glucose, which helps stabilize blood sugar.
Eating starchy, high-carbohydrate foods can cause blood sugar to spike and then crash, which can lead to problems with focus and energy. But combining carbs with foods high in protein and fats can minimize this, experts told Insider.
When we eat carbs, our bodies break them down into glucose. This is our main energy source, fueling the brain, heart, liver, and muscles, Dr. Nestoras Mathioudakis, a diabetes expert at Johns Hopkins Medicine, previously told Insider .
The term blood sugar is used to describe the amount of glucose in the blood, and keeping the level stable is important to prevent spikes and dips , helping you stay focused, eat healthy, or lose weight . When blood sugar crashes, some people find themselves reaching for less nutrient-dense snacks such as cookies that may not keep them so full. Managing blood-sugar levels is particularly important for people with diabetes.
“If you eat something high in sugar or carbs, it causes blood sugar to come up and go down like a roller coaster,” Bonnie Taub-Dix , a registered dietitian, previously told Insider’s Gabby Landsverk .
But we can minimize these dips and spikes by eating balanced meals.
All foods (except pure sugar) contain a mixture of carbohydrates, fat, and protein, Mike Lean , the chair of human nutrition at the University of Glasgow and Glasgow Royal Infirmary in the UK, told Insider. But pairing high-carb foods with ingredients high in fat or protein can reduce blood-sugar spikes by slowing digestion.
Try to eat high-carb foods with fats and protein
Experts suggested avoiding eating starchy foods (such as bread, rice, pasta, and potatoes) or sugary foods (such as fruit, dessert, pastry, or anything sweet) on their own — instead, combine them with a fat, protein , or fiber source.
Examples include avocado on toast, spinach in pasta, or cream cheese on a bagel.
Tim Spector , a professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, used the example of a cheese sandwich.
“If you just had bread on its own, and you ate the bread, your body would get a sugar spike,” Spector, the author of ” Spoon-Fed: Why Almost Everything We’ve Been Told About Food is Wrong,” told Insider.
Combining bread with cheese, however, has a different effect on the body, as the cheese “dampens down” the sugar response, he said.
This slows down the breakdown of starches and sugars into glucose in your digestive system, meaning your blood-sugar levels stay more stable.
Nichola Ludlam-Raine, a dietitian, previously told Insider that “combining fats and protein with carbohydrates also helps to slow down the absorption of the glucose into the bloodstream,” adding that “balanced meals are key.”