The study was published in the Diabetes Care Journal this month and even though the number of study participants is small (11 people) it presents some interesting findings that warrant more large scale studies to see if it is really true.
The participants were given the same meal for two weeks. During the first week they had their carbohydrate rich foods first (orange juice and ciabatta bread) followed 15 minutes later by protein and fats (grilled skinless chicken, garden salad with oil dressing and broccoli with butter). On week two the meal was reversed. The people in the study had their blood taken before they started eating, then 30, 60 and 120 minutes after they started.
What was interesting is that on average when the participants ate the protein and fat foods first their blood sugars tended to rise more slowly and were lower overall compared to when the carbohydrate foods were eaten first. Furthermore, the people that had the protein and fats first tended to have lower levels of insulin in their blood suggesting that their insulin sensitivity was better. Insulin sensitivity is how well you body responds to the natural insulin you produce. Insulin is responsible for moving sugar from your blood into the parts of your body that need it. So having good insulin sensitivity is important to good health.
Overall the study showed that, at least with this particular meal, having the protein and fats first had a very significant impact on how the participants were able to handle their sugars. Again this is a small study and all the participants had type 2 diabetes and were overweight. More studies will be needed but I am hopeful we see similar results in the future.
Dietitians and Diabetes Educators already understand that eating balanced meals can help better control blood sugars. That is why we often recommend a technique called the Plate Method so there is a better balance of carbohydrates, fats and proteins in a meal. Things like fat, fiber and protein all help to slow down the natural sugars found in foods so they enter the blood stream more gradually and your body is able to manage them better.
It will be interesting to see what comes from this. Who knows? Maybe we will start having our main meal of meat and veggies and follow it up with our garlic bread appetizer. :)