Eat Foods in Combination at All Meals
Combining protein, carbs, and fat at every meal slows down the absorption of food, which makes you less likely to gain weight.
Here’s why: fats and proteins both lower the glycemic index of carbs so we don’t get a big fat-producing insulin surge, which leads to weight gain. Fat especially slows down the absorption of anything combined with it. That’s why one nice trick is to put a little all-natural peanut butter—and I stress only all-natural peanut butter, which lists peanuts or peanuts and salt as the sole ingredients—on our bread or rice cakes and why adding a teaspoon of flaxseed oil to a protein drink or fat-free yogurt is a good idea. This way it takes our bodies a while to absorb these foods and the nutrients are parceled out over time.
As many of you may already have guessed, this technique also allows us to eat some of the higher GI foods without being limited to meal after meal of low GI carbs like oatmeal.
Adding fat to our protein or carbohydrate meals also gives us a greater feeling of fullness in our stomachs, so we feel more satisfied at the end of a meal. Fats and carbs eaten in combination with protein also have another benefit—they are “protein sparing.” When eaten in moderation, carbs and fat will be preferentially broken down by the body and used for energy so the body will be free to use the protein sources for more important activities, like muscle growth.
Now, as always, there’s a slight exception to the rule of avoiding the big carb-induced insulin surge: that’s immediately after a workout. After hitting the weights for an intense hour, our muscle cells are begging to refill their depleted energy, or glycogen, stores with nutrients. So after our workouts we can deliberately elicit that insulin surge by eating a meal of 50 to 80 grams of carbs—mixing both simple or highly processed carbs and lower glycemic carbs along with about 30 to 40 grams of easily absorbed protein, like whey protein. This is where one of those meal replacement drinks often comes in handy. But right after our workouts is really the only time we want to have that insulin spike and gorge our muscle cells with goodies.