Having high blood sugar doesn’t have to mark the end of eating all of your favorite foods. You can still manage your blood sugar while enjoying delicious food, but it may take some intentional adjustments to find the healthiest eating patterns for managing your glucose levels.
For instance, starting your day off with a healthy, nutritious breakfast is a great way to work toward managing blood glucose, but what specifically can be done at breakfast to make sure you’re avoiding a blood sugar spike?
According to Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD author of The Sports Nutrition Playbook and member of our Expert Medical Board, one of the most crucial things you can do at breakfast to help you manage your blood sugar levels is to pair a high-fiber carb with some protein.
This is because both of these nutrients are vital for a healthy diet for those with high blood sugar because carbohydrates can cause a blood sugar spike if they’re not paired with digestion-slowing foods. Read on to learn more, and for more healthy eating tips check out The 4 Worst Breakfast Habits for Blood Sugar.
How pairing protein and fiber with your carbohydrates can help manage blood sugar at breakfast.
“Carbohydrates are a quick source of energy for the body and because of that are the fastest digesting macronutrient,” says Goodson. “And while it is true that higher-fiber carbohydrates (oatmeal, 100% whole grain bread, etc.) digest slower than more processed carbohydrates with added sugars (sugary breakfast pastries, muffins, some cereals, etc.), they still have the ability to spike your blood sugar when eaten by themselves!”
Thankfully, eating a delicious protein source alongside your carbohydrate of choice can help you manage your levels. “Protein digests the slowest and helps you get full faster and stay full longer after a meal. So, when you combine a high-fiber carbohydrate with a protein, you help stabilize your blood sugar after you eat,” says Goodson.
Diabetes experts and researchers have also confirmed this pairing to be extremely beneficial. Although it doesn’t contain any carbohydrate, there is evidence to support that protein does not increase blood sugar levels and may actually lower blood glucose levels post-meal in those with type 2 diabetes, according to an American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study.
To summarize, eating only high-fiber carbs will cause a spike in blood sugar—although not as high as eating simple carbs—but pairing it with protein can help lower these levels. That doesn’t mean you should avoid carbs altogether at breakfast, though. Skipping carbs can cause you to miss out on helpful levels of fiber. But together, a high-fiber carb and a protein make the perfect breakfast pair.
Try these breakfast ideas
If you’re looking for some yummy protein and high-fiber-carbohydrate breakfast options, Goodson has some helpful ideas of where you can start.
“Consider starting your day with breakfast combinations like eggs with veggies and whole grain toast, Greek yogurt with berries and 100% whole grain cereal, oatmeal with nuts and seeds paired with a lean breakfast meat, or a smoothie made with cow’s milk, Greek yogurt , fruit, and nut butter.”