Setting intentions is the foundation for how you eat. In this section, we discuss methods to help direct your way of eating.
We know the order in which we eat our macronutrients can impact glucose response. One recent study found that meal sequencing, specifically consuming protein before starchy carbohydrates, promotes the secretion of glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1). This hormone reduces the secretion of insulin and glucagon and has also been shown to suppress appetite because it delays gastric emptying, keeping you feeling fuller longer. The combination of these factors has been shown to improve glucose responses to meals.
Additionally, another small study found similar effects when both protein and non-starchy vegetables were eaten first in the meal compared to when starchy carbohydrates were eaten first. The participants who ate the protein/veggies first had lower post-meal glucose and insulin levels than those who ate their carbs first. (63)
Both of these studies indicate that meal sequencing may help improve glucose swings and help manage more stable values, a major benefit when weight loss is the goal.
Meal planning and prepping
The concept of meal planning can sometimes seem a little daunting and can feel like extra work, but meal planning doesn't have to feel like a chore. Some benefits include:
- Saves time, stress, and money
- Provides balance
- Awareness of portion control
What if you've never done meal planning before and don't know where to begin? It's never too late to start! Here are 6 easy steps to help you get started:
- Understand your blood sugar levels. This will help discover what foods your body reacts well to.
- Make a list of your potential foods to test and experiment with. Food should be fun, even when pre planned. Make sure that you include foods and ingredients that you enjoy in your meal-prepping list to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Looking forward to each meal can also help motivate you to stick to your plan.
- Choose recipes or batch cook. Once you've discovered the foods that work well with your body, you'll be able to pick and choose recipes that fit those needs and the list of enjoyable foods you've made. Consider doing this regularly to have a bank of recipes to pull from when you need one instead of scrambling to find one just before you prep your meals.
- Make a grocery list. This helps you stay the course of what specific foods you need.
- Schedule a meal prep time. Find what day and time of the week works best for you to create the meals that will fuel your body.
- Prep and package foods. Decide if you need to store some meals in the refrigerator, while others in the freezer, and prep accordingly.
Similar to other healthy lifestyle habits, it takes some time to build it into a habit but once the habit is formed it becomes much easier. Below we have some additional tips when it comes to grocery shopping and meal prep.
- 5 types of non-starchy, colorful veggies (example: arugula, red peppers, Brussels sprouts, frozen broccoli, onion)
- 4 types of whole-food carbs (bag of lentils, can of black beans, sweet potatoes, quinoa)
- 3 types of protein (eggs, canned tuna or salmon, tempeh)
- 2 types of fat (avocado, olive oil)
- 1 fun food (bar of dark chocolate)
Bonus points for including 1-2 types of fresh herbs (e.g., cilantro, parsley) and 1-2 types of fermented foods (e.g., kimchi, sauerkraut, full-fat yogurt).
Set aside 1 hour (what we call the "power hour") on your preferred day of the week to cook in a 2x4 format. You can make a mix of meals using the prepped ingredients.
2x4 batch cooking method formula =
- 2 different types of protein
- 2 different non-starchy veggies
- 2 whole food carbohydrate sources
- 2 different types of fermented foods
Mapping out your menu ideas and grocery list can further set up your meal-planning success. We've included one to get you started, but feel free to use whatever method works for you.
In the next section, we'll dive into the best strategies for building a balanced meal to support weight goals.