Article by Organic Liaison Health Director Deborah Klein, M.S., R.D., registered dietitian and program expert. Need Deborah’s professional advice? Ask her questions related to nutrition, fitness and weight loss at Phitter.com. Or visit our Health Director page.
Together, a high fiber carbohydrate and a low fat protein food create a balanced meal—one that keeps you feeling satisfied and sustained.
Think of carbohydrates as your fuel source, since your brain and muscles’ main source of energy is glucose (carbohydrates). When you don’t get enough carbohydrates, the protein you eat is converted into glucose through a very inefficient process that requires a lot of water, making you feel dehydrated and minimizing the protein available to build muscle mass! So, in the long run, if you’re carbohydrate-deficient, your metabolism slows down, causing you to feel lethargic and experience muscle fatigue. That means your body is not in an optimal fat-burning state!
Carbohydrates are essential to the complete burning of fat. Without carbohydrates, your body cannot burn fat properly. (A potential side effect from this incomplete breakdown of fat is the production of ketones, which are poisonous acidic chemicals that could increase your risk of kidney stones, calcium loss, and osteoporosis.)
When you choose a carbohydrate food, go for a high fiber option, such as the edible skin or edible seeds of fruit, whole grains (e.g. brown rice, sprouted grain bread, oatmeal, millet, and barley), or high fiber starchy vegetables (e.g. green peas, butternut squash, artichokes, lima beans, sugar snap peas, yams, and quinoa).
Fiber is also key to a balanced diet because it helps slow your absorption of the sugar in the carbohydrate food. Fiber helps stabilize your sugar levels, preventing that sugar rush that you typically get from a low-fiber carb like white rice, white bread, white potatoes, juice, mangos, or bananas. You can balance out the lack of fiber in these foods by eating them with green leafy vegetables, nuts or seeds.
How do you put it together? Eat the high fiber carbohydrate first, since that’s your energy fuel. Then eat the protein at the same time or within 2 hours of eating your carb food. Since carbs are digested more quickly (within 1 to 3 hours) compared to protein (within 4 to 6 hours), the included protein is needed to help slow your digestion and keep you feeling satisfied and energized. Eating this way helps you feel fuller for longer and nourishes your muscle growth, so that your body can be a more effective calorie burning machine. If you eat the right way (and incorporate weight/resistant training into your exercise routine), you can burn calories even while you sleep!
The balanced eating principle—high-fiber carbs plus low fat protein—also applies to snacking. Examples of balanced snacks: An apple with a 1/4 cup of nuts and seeds; a slice of sprouted grain toast with a melted slice of organic cheese, romaine lettuce and sliced tomatoes; a cup of organic blueberries stirred into 5 ounces of low fat Greek yogurt. You can also try out our Organic Liaison Energizer Shake Recipe.