Thursday 4 July 2024

How meal sequencing with protein and veggies can improve health

 Exploring the benefits of starting meals with protein or vegetables to manage weight and balance blood sugar levels. 

Georgina Djan, a health coaching student from South Africa, discovered a powerful strategy to combat stubborn belly fat and boost her energy: meal sequencing. By changing the order in which she consumed her food, she found significant improvements in her health and well-being.

“I had never struggled with my weight, even after having four children,” Djan shared with The Epoch Times. However, after her youngest child was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, she turned to comfort eating, resulting in weight gain around her midsection that seemed impossible to shed.

The Science of Meal Sequencing

Meal sequencing involves starting meals with vegetables or proteins before consuming carbohydrates. This approach is backed by scientific studies that highlight its benefits. A study published in Diabetes Care found that eating vegetables and proteins before carbohydrates significantly reduced post-meal blood sugar levels by up to 36.7%.

Further research in the Journal of Diabetes and Its Complications in 2019 revealed that individuals focusing on meal sequence lost more weight compared to those following traditional dietary guidelines. Additionally, a 2020 review in Nutrients suggested that this approach can prevent Type 2 diabetes and obesity. Consuming protein or fat before carbohydrates enhances the secretion of glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), which helps regulate insulin, suppress appetite, and delay gastric emptying.

Practical Benefits

In practical terms, meal sequencing can help manage blood sugar and support weight loss. A study in Diabetes Care showed that taking whey protein before or with a high-carb meal significantly lowered blood sugar levels in Type 2 diabetes patients, similar to the effects of some diabetes medications.

Nutritional therapist Nicky Denvir explained to The Epoch Times that starchy carbohydrates are quickly digested and absorbed when eaten first, leading to rapid glucose spikes. In contrast, proteins, which undergo initial digestion in the stomach, slow down carbohydrate absorption, resulting in more stable blood sugar levels.

Veggies Before Carbs

Starting meals with vegetables also plays a crucial role in managing blood sugar. A study in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating vegetables before carbohydrates led to better glycemic control compared to traditional portion-based meal plans. Participants in this study achieved significant improvements in their HbA1c levels, a key marker of long-term blood sugar control.

Soluble fibers in vegetables, like psyllium husk, help regulate blood sugar by delaying gastric emptying and forming a gel matrix in the intestine, which slows glucose absorption. Studies have shown that consuming 5 to 15 grams of psyllium before carbohydrate-rich meals can significantly reduce blood sugar spikes.

Sustained Energy and Improved Mood

Mary Curristin, a nutritionist from ART Health Solutions, emphasized that starting meals with vegetables or proteins can help maintain steady energy levels throughout the day, preventing energy dips and enhancing productivity. A well-balanced diet rich in essential nutrients supports optimal brain function and mood stability.

Djan’s experience underscores these benefits. During a visit to Johannesburg, friends noticed her slimmer figure and flatter stomach. Beyond the physical changes, she also felt more energized and positive about life. “I found myself waking up energized and feeling more positive about life,” she said.

Implementing Meal Sequencing

To adopt meal sequencing, start with vegetables and proteins before consuming carbohydrates in each meal. For example, if having pasta or a sandwich for lunch, begin with a salad and some lean protein like turkey.

Some studies suggest eating slowly and waiting a few minutes before consuming carbohydrates can be beneficial. The Journal of Diabetes and Its Complications study recommended eating vegetables and proteins first, then waiting five minutes before consuming carbohydrates to improve glycemia.

2023 study published in Nutrients found that the order of food intake—vegetables first and carbohydrates last—improves blood sugar levels and insulin concentrations, even if the meal is eaten quickly.


Meal sequencing offers a simple yet effective strategy for improving metabolic health, managing weight, and maintaining steady energy levels. By starting meals with vegetables or proteins, you can experience significant benefits for your overall health and well-being.

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