Food has significant physiological impacts that are often overlooked. Not surprisingly, it is said of food that it is a drug, among the most powerful.
Glucose spikes are at the root of failed diets and eating disorders. The order in which you eat your food affects glucose absorption.
Eat vegetables first, fiber, avoid sweets as snacks, drink vinegar, move after meals, prefer salty snacks, dress up carbohydrates.
Food is said to be one of the most powerful drugs. After all, any substance we introduce into our bodies has, inevitably, consequences. Of course we find it more difficult to associate it with the effects of drugs, but that does not mean that these are negligible. In other words, food also affects mood and general well-being: if it were a drug, we would just say that it takes a little longer to have an effect. And with equally important consequences, such as eating disorders and, in more extreme cases, diabetes.
The fact is that we do not always associate what we eat or drink with how we feel afterward. If we have eaten a lot and feel weighed down and slowed down, it is easy to blame food, but this is not always the case.
Let us then start with one of the effects we all know: cravings. The feeling that shortly after becomes a need to eat as soon as possible. We usually experience it before meals because, at that point in the day, we have reached our limit and need to eat something. But how is it possible that sometimes an hour after breakfast we are already hungry? How can this then happen when we have eaten perhaps large amounts of granola or cookies? The problem is not how much we ate but what we ate.
Studying the issue in more detail, including providing answers and especially suggestions, is a Frenchwoman: Jessie Inchauspé is a biochemist, author and expert on the effects of nutrition on health. In his book“The Glucose Revolution,” she focuses specifically on what, for simplicity’s sake, we call “blood sugar.” Glucose is a very familiar substance to runners: it is their first source of energy, as those who carbo-load before a race know well, as do those who take gels during.
It matters how you get them
The assumption from which Inchauspé starts is that underlying the failure of diets and even several eating disorders are glucose spikes, that is, those particular glucose concentrations that, it should be specified, are normal (especially after a meal very rich in pure carbohydrates or foods with a high glycemic index, such as cookies, granola, cereals, potatoes, and many other foods) and occur typically an hour and a half after meals.
Unfortunately, they bring with them primarily a sense of hunger that is sometimes difficult to manage, but also drops in concentration and exhaustion. And what happens when you are very hungry despite having eaten recently? You still want to eat, often biting into what gratifies you immediately, i.e. snacks, foods that are readily available and often processed, and therefore once again high in sugar. And at that point you got back on the merry-go-round for another ride.
How to do it then? Inchauspé has identified some hacks that allow you to eat what you normally eat but in a different way.
The mistake we often make is not so much in the foods we take in (or at least not always) but in the order and manner in which we take them. In short, the good news is that in managing glucose spikes, the sequence in which we eat and alternate dishes matters, and not just what we eat. But let’s take a look at these hacks, with the caveat that you don’t have to put all of them into practice, not least because some (and you’ll find out) maybe won’t blow your mind.
1. Eating foods in the right order
The rule is very simple and consists of the following sequence:
– Vegetables first
– Then protein and fat
– Finally, carbohydrates.
We explain why in Step 2. For now let us point out that it is the exact opposite of the typical Italian meal, which starts with pasta (carbohydrates) and continues with protein (meat or fish) accompanied by vegetables as a side dish. Instead, the desserts at the end are okay.
2. Always begn with a vegetable starter
As mentioned earlier, you need to start meals by eating vegetables, preferably rich in fiber. The reason is simple: fiber, precisely, serves as a shield to allow the body to slow down the absorption of carbohydrates, namely sugars. Which, we repeat, do no harm and are not bad, but have a tendency to get absorbed very quickly, raising the glucose spike etc. etc.
3. Stop counting calories
Calories do not distinguish between foods and nutrients. Inchauspé gives a very effective example: two completely different foods can have the exact same calories but have completely different effects on the body. Putting them on the same level is like saying that two books of 500 pages each are identical. This is not true, and the only thing they have in common is that they both have 500 pages. Do you know how the calories of foods are evaluated? Maybe after reading this you will convince yourself to stop considering them so important (and to count them!).
4. Flatten the breakfast curve
Like the day, proper nutrition starts with breakfast. For which Inchauspé suggests proteins such as eggs, cheese, bread and fiber, carefully avoiding anything sweet, precisely to keep the blood sugar curve as flat as possible (without spikes) from the first few hours.
If you cannot avoid dessert, the advice is to eat fruit, as long as it is whole fruit, that is, not smoothies or juices because, especially the latter, do not contain fiber and retain only the sugary part of the fruit of origin, thus eliminating one of their most important parts in controlling glucose peaks.
5. Better a dessert than a snack
If you love dessert (and she, as you will see later, loves it very much) always eat it in dessert form after meals and not as a mid-morning or afternoon snack.
6. Have a sip of vinegar before eating.
This is one of the most difficult tricks to put into practice but fear not-you can dilute it in a nice glass of water. Okay, but why vinegar specifically? Because it delays the absorption of sugars, you only need to know this.
7. Move after eating
What is there an abundance of after a meal? Well, of glucose, or at least immediately available energy. If you want to start consuming them and avoid turning it into fat, nothing beats a good walk. We would even tell you a run but that one is best done after 2 to 3 hours, more so because running on a full stomach is unnecessarily tiring and can make you nauseous.
8. Choose salty snacks
This is the mirror of tip 6: If you want to snack outside meals, avoid sweet ones and go savory.
9. Clothing Your Carbs
The expression is funny but it is a very clever trick. Inchauspé herself recounts that she began to think about these problems when she realized that she was following a diet that was too chaotic and wrong. Yet she also did not want to create one so monastic that it did not include something she loves very much, which is sweets. Now what? Coating them before intake, that is, anticipating their intake from nuts or fiber. The pleasure of dessert remains but “putting a coat on it” slows down its assimilation by the body.