We all have been to restaurants where you sit down and they throw down a basket of bread before they take your order. Sometimes the bread is mediocre. Sometimes it’s brownish dense stuff and filled with nuts, berries, and twigs. And sometimes it’s hard to resist piping hot rolls with butter on the side. Whichever variety of bread it is they put before you though you must resist – if your goal is to be healthy and lean.
It is not the bread per se that is the problem so much here – it’s when you eat the bread. Your body sees bread as essentially sugar. The starches in the bread are broken down very fast in your digestive system (it even starts in your mouth). On an empty stomach this means you will absorb this sugar very quickly, which leads to a spike in blood sugar and a spike in insulin.
The significance of this was recently illustrated in a scientific study published in the Journal Diabetes Care. The researchers took a group of 11 individuals with Type 2 diabetes and had them consume a controlled meal on two separate days a week apart. The meal was the same both times but the order in which the constituents of the meal were eaten was altered.
In the first meal, the group started off by eating high glycemic carbohydrates (bread and orange juice) followed after 15 minutes by chicken breast and vegetables. A week later the order was reversed – the chicken and veggies were consumed first followed by the carbs. Both times blood glucose and insulin were monitored (before the meal and at various intervals during and after the meal).
What they found was the average glucose levels were reduced by 28.6% at 30 minutes, 36.7% at 60 minutes, and 16.8% at 120 minutes after starting the meal with chicken and veggies compared with the bread and OJ. The overall “area under the curve” for glucose during the time period was 73% lower. Levels of insulin after the meal (60 minutes and 120 minutes) were also substantially lower.
This study was done in type 2 diabetics but the phenomenon I expect would apply to everyone. Lower glucose levels and lower insulin levels should lead to greater appetite control, less fat deposition, a less pro-atherogenic environment, and possibly greater insulin sensitivity.
So skip the bread or save it for during or after the meal. It’s not hard, just do as Arnold was reported to have done in Pumping Iron and tell the hippie waitress that you don’t vont the bread because it’s not on your special sex diet.