Learn to choose foods that are right for you aiming to avoid sudden spikes. Find a balanced approach to you food intake to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Add fibre to fill up and help manage your glucose
The latest UK data shows that fewer than 1 in 10 adults meet the daily recommended fibre intake of 30g. (1) Vegetables, pulses, nuts, seeds, whole fruits, and whole grains are excellent sources of fibre. So make sure you include them in every meal. How fibre helps Including fibre-rich foods in a meal not only makes it more satisfying (2) it also helps stabilise your glucose. (3) As your body is unable to absorb and break down fibre, it doesn’t cause a glucose spike. A review in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) found that including fibre-rich foods was linked with improved glucose control in adults with varying health conditions. The review also showed that increasing your daily fibre intake to 35g helps improve the risk factors for heart disease, such as cholesterol levels and bodyweight. (3) Five ways to add fibre Use more pulses: three heaped tablespoons of beans or chickpeas provides at least 4.5g of fibre. Add them to your salads and sauces or have them as a side dish. Opt for wholegrain and seeded bread. A slice of wholegrain bread with avocado provides about 4g of fibre. Adding a tablespoon of flax or chia seeds to your salad (or on your soup, salad, or porridge) provides about 3-5g of fibre. For a fibre-rich snack, a handful of nuts, seeds, and dried fruit adds about 4g. A banana or an apple will each add 2g. Check the nutrition labels for foods ‘high in fibre’ (6g per 100g) or a ‘source of fibre’ (3g or more per 100g) While you’re busy adding fibre, remember to fill up on fluids too. Fibre draws water into the bowel, so drinking plenty of fluids will allow the fibre to do its job properly.
Balance your glucose and level-up your overnight oats
Overnight oats are an easy, tasty breakfast option that can be prepped in advance. However, as oats are rich in carbohydrates, adding in the right toppings or mixtures is critical to keeping your glucose steady. Traditional oats with flavoured oat milk, raisins, banana, and honey is tasty, but contains lots of carbohydrates and minimal protein. This sweet start to your day can spike your glucose, leaving you feeling low energy, hungry, and irritable hours later. Carbohydrates paired with protein and fats give a smoother post-meal glucose curve than carbohydrates alone. (1) Pair wisely with these tasty swaps: Swap the oat milk for whole milk or full-fat Greek yoghurt. These contain more protein and less sugars. If you’re vegan, opt for a fortified, unsweetened nut-based milk, and double check the ingredients to avoid ones with added sugars. To increase the protein content, add high-quality protein powder to your porridge or mix in milled flaxseed, chia seeds, and chopped nuts. Instead of raisins, dried fruit, and bananas, add berries, as these are lower in sugar. A tasty recipe Use a ratio of 1:1 for the oats and liquid. Mix the ingredients, cover, and leave in the fridge overnight. Divide the mixture into containers if you’re on the move, or portion into bowls for the following days. Having some in the fridge means you can always start your day with steady glucose. By making these swaps, your breakfast will be far more satiating and improve your energy and focus. A great way to start all you days.
Choose your sauce wisely
Sauces can make a meal delicious with loads of flavour. But proceed with caution. Depending on the sauce you choose, that flavour might be coming from sugars. That’s right- even the most savoury of sauces could include a lot of hidden sugars. These sugars impact not just the taste, but also your glucose. Choose sauces wisely Shop-bought soups, sauces, and bread products can often contain a surprising amount of added sugar, so it’s important to read and understand the food label. Most nutrition labels provide information on sugar per 100g. A product with 5g or less sugar per 100g is considered low sugar. (1) In addition to the amount of sugar, check the ingredients for added sugars (like high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, and cane sugar) as well as sweeteners that can be listed under many names (erythritol or xylitol). (2) Watch out for “low fat” or “fat-free” sauces as they may have added sugars to make up for their reduced fat content. Make your own Making your own sauces does not have to be hard or time consuming. They are fresher, tastier, and can be more nutrient dense as you have control of what you put in them. You may still want to add sugar, but you can choose to use it sparingly. Opt for more natural sources like fruit puree, dates, honey, or maple syrup. Some easy-to-make sauces include tomato sauce, pesto, salsa, guacamole, and olive oil-based salad dressings. DIY tomato sauce The next time you need a tomato-based sauce, skip the ready-made stuff and make your own. Start with fresh or canned tomatoes, add in onions, garlic, peppers, herbs, and even red lentils to make it more nutritious and delicious. Once you find a recipe you like, make a big batch and freeze some to have on hand for an easy meal another time.
Don’t be afraid to dine out. Here’s how to navigate it
Dining out is a great way to enjoy food and connect with your friends and loved ones. But it can be easy to get off track, overeat, and consume high-sugar foods. These culprits spike your glucose, leaving you feeling low-energy, hungry, and irritable. (1) And these fluctuations can even affect your sleep quality, especially if you’ve been out later in the evening. Set yourself up for success and check the menu before you dine out. Plan for steady by exploring in advance what healthy options are available and thinking through what you’ll order. When choosing your meal, keep your glucose steady by picking a protein-forward main course like chicken, salmon, or tofu. Instead of starchy sides (like mashed potatoes, chips, or white rice), opt for salad, vegetables, or low-glycaemic carbohydrates (like brown rice or quinoa). These will impact your glucose less. Avoid sauces and condiments that are high in sugar. (2) And monitor your alcohol intake. It can fluctuate your glucose, dehydrate you, and disturb your sleep patterns. When it comes to dessert, skip it, share it, or go savoury to keep your glucose steady. (3) Make it less about restrictions and more about making healthy choices.
Eat more greens for a healthy gut
Did you know that we have trillions of bacteria living in our guts? In fact, we have more bacteria in our guts than we have cells in our bodies. The amount (and type) of bacteria, also known as gut microbiota, can affect everything from your mood to your digestion. Probiotic ‘friendly’ bacteria helps keep your gut healthy by preventing the growth of unfriendly bacteria, which have been linked to health problems, including food allergies and inflammatory bowel disease. Gut bacteria also play a key role in your digestive health and immune system. In addition, research suggests there may be a link between gut microbiota and body weight, as well as factors that impact long term glucose-related health.(1) Help your good gut bacteria thrive The balance of bacteria in your gut can be easily disrupted by things like stress, poor diet, illness, and drugs (like antibiotics). Eating more produce, ranging from fruit to green vegetables (like leeks and asparagus) encourages the growth of good gut bacteria and better health outcomes (2). These vegetables (and other foods like bananas, onions, and artichokes) contain a type of fibre called prebiotic fibre, which helps probiotic bacteria thrive. Green vegetables are also a good source of dietary fibre, which keeps the digestive system healthy by preventing constipation. Bacteria in the colon digest fibre by producing short-chain fatty acids (sometimes called postbiotics), which helps keep the cells in the colon healthy and stimulates the growth of good bacteria. Emerging research suggests postbiotics may also help with control of glucose. (2) So, just one more reason to eat your greens.
Feel full and stay full with protein
Do you get hungry in between meals? You might not be getting enough protein in your diet. Including 15-30 grams of protein in your meals and snacks is an easy way to stay fuller for longer since protein is digested slower and improves satiety. These simple steps can also help reduce the glucose spikes often created by a carbohydrate-rich meal. Meals that lack protein while being rich in carbohydrates, are likely to spike your glucose levels, leading to decreased energy and food cravings. (1),(2) Also, including protein in your post-workout snacks helps to stop muscle breakdown and jumpstart recovery. (3) Try out some of these suggestions to start boosting your protein intake without compromising on flavour. Porridge Oats with jam are high in carbohydrates and very low in protein. You may feel hungry shortly after eating this. Try oats with almond butter, some milled flaxseed, a scoop of high-quality protein powder and a couple of dollops of full-fat Greek yogurt. This has more protein, which makes it more filling. Your meals You can boost a bowl of pasta by adding a source of protein (like salmon, chicken, or tofu) to reduce the meal’s impact on your glucose and keep you fuller, longer. Alternatively, add white fish, shellfish, turkey, eggs, or tempeh to hit your protein intake targets.
Find better balance by adding fibre-rich vegetables to your plate
Adding fibre-rich vegetables to your diet keeps you feeling fuller for longer, improves your digestion, and helps you control your glucose. (1) Luckily, incorporating more fibre into your diet is simple. Here are some easy, delicious ideas to get you started. Breakfast Start your day off right by making sure your breakfast includes some vegetables. Add spinach or kale to your scrambled eggs, or add a boost of fibre to your protein smoothie by blending in kale, cucumber, and avocado. Lunch Fill your salad with colour. Top the bed of lettuce with a variety of colourful vegetables like cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, and carrots. Throw nuts and seeds on top for additional fibre and texture. In a rush? Grab a bag of pre-cut vegetables or a pre-made salad. And make sure your snacks are balanced. Carrots and cucumber with houmous, celery with almond butter, or roasted brussels sprouts with a sprinkle of sea salt are all tasty, healthy options that will keep your glucose steady. Dinner Roast a tray of mixed vegetables (like broccoli, cauliflower, and cubed courgette), and add a protein source (like grilled chicken or tofu) to balance your meal. Be a meal prep pro and cook additional servings and then store the extras in a container for lunch the next day. Get creative with your combinations and have fun experimenting with different flavours and textures. Your body will thank you.
Food Combining for Glucose Levels: Does It Work?
Managing your glucose is about more than just the food you eat. Food combining, or food sequencing, can be a great way to manage glucose spikes and another tool to use, especially when you are eating a meal that is higher in calories and carbohydrates than normal. A growing body of research shows that eating foods in a specific order — known as “food sequencing” — or combining certain foods together, can have an impact on your glucose after the meal. What is food combining? A previous approach to food sequencing was called “food combining,” which came from the book Health via Food by William Hay in the 1920s and put strict rules around what types of foods should be eaten together and which ones should never be combined. (1) For example, it stated that protein should never be paired with carbohydrates and sweet fruits should be eaten on an empty stomach. However, this outdated approach has no scientific data to support these guidelines, especially when it comes to stabilising glucose. More current research shows that a new approach to food combining called “food sequencing” or “food order theory" can affect our glucose as well as our overall health and mood. This approach focuses on the order in which we eat our food and/or how we compose our meals. So, what is the optimal combination or sequence of foods? Ideally, to sequence your food in an optimal way, you will eat your meals in the following order: Protein and non-starchy vegetables Carbohydrates last It is important to leave any carbohydrate-heavy foods until later in the meal, including starchy vegetables like potatoes, peas, and corn. However, some meals may not be broken down into these specific components. What if the foods are cooked into one dish such as a salad or casserole? In this case, you may think of “food combining” over “sequencing.” The most important thing is to ensure you have some protein and non-starchy vegetables in the meal, and it is not just carbohydrates on their own. For example, a salad with greens, salmon, and quinoa instead of noodles with marinara. What effect does food combining have on glucose levels? Studies have shown that eating vegetables and protein first before you eat carbohydrates can lead to lower levels of both insulin and glucose following the meal (2). Because fibre, protein, and fats take longer to digest, they can slow the rate at which the carbohydrates (aka glucose) get absorbed, therefore mitigating post-meal spikes (2,3). Additionally, because food ends up leaving the stomach more slowly with this approach, it can help you feel fuller following the meal and help reduce the amount you eat during the meal itself. This, in turn, may help you manage your weight (3,4). Ways to try food sequencing or food combining If you are preparing a meal at home, make sure it contains protein and non-starchy vegetables along with whatever carb you may want to include. For example, if you’re planning on eating rice, cook a protein like steak or chicken. Make a simple green salad with olive oil and vinegar to start the meal with before you eat the rice. Want a quick meal you can throw together and pack for lunch? Prepare a large salad that includes greens, protein, and an olive-oil based dressing. You can throw in quinoa or roasted sweet potatoes as the carb. Even when eaten all together, the protein, greens, and fat from the dressing will slow down digestion and mitigate any post-meal glucose spikes. Eating out? Make sure to skip the breadbasket or chips and salsa before your meal. Carbs alone are more likely to cause a glucose spike than when eaten with or after protein and vegetables. If you really want the bread, save it to eat along your main course (that ideally contains both protein and vegetables) or even wait to savour it at the end of the meal. Looking for some vegetarian options? Add beans as a great source of both protein and fibre to any dish and follow the same principles as above. When eating carbs like pasta, rice, starchy vegetables, or fruit, try combining them with vegetables, healthy fats, and protein to help slow down digestion. Pair an apple with peanut butter or add tofu to pasta, rice, or roasted sweet potatoes. A final note from Lingo Food sequencing (or food combining) does not need to be complicated. The “rules” for this science-backed approach are simple: eat protein and vegetables before you eat carbs. If the meal is combined, make sure there is a source of protein, healthy fat, and/or vegetables along with carbs and not just carbs alone. Following these tips can help mitigate glucose spikes, keep your hunger in check, and lead to steady glucose and steady energy throughout the day.
What is good nutrition? Advice from our experts for eating well
The food choices you make play an important role in your long-term health. (1) If you’re looking to improve your quality of life in the future, take small steps to improve your eating habits today. For example, if your glucose (commonly referred to as blood sugar) is constantly spiking and crashing — usually thanks to food choices such as eating a lot of refined carbohydrates or sugar — it can lead to health complications down the road. Research suggests that years of dysregulated glucose, or consistently riding this glucose rollercoaster, can impact heart health as we age. (2) And it’s not just heart health; managing your glucose can also help you maintain a healthy weight, improve your metabolic health, and more. The short-term benefits of keeping your glucose levels steady include helping you manage cravings, achieving better energy, improving mood and sleep. (3)(4)(5) One of the best ways to manage your glucose and reap the health benefits, both in the short term and in the long run, is to dial in your nutrition (although exercise has profound benefits, too). Luckily, we have several tips below to help you balance your plate, make healthier food choices, and manage your glucose. How to build a balanced plate While some nutrition is common sense (you know a bowl of steamed broccoli is healthier for you than a bowl of jellybeans), you also don’t have to overcomplicate building a balanced plate for steady glucose. A good formula to follow is the rule of three: Fill ½ of your plate with non-starchy vegetables (e.g. asparagus, Brussels sprouts, peppers), ¼ with complex carbohydrates (e.g. sweet potato, brown rice, quinoa), and the remaining ¼ with high-quality protein (e.g. steak, chicken, fish). Include healthy fat (e.g. avocado, nuts, seeds, or a drizzle of olive oil) across these three sections. This helps ensure that you’re pairing carbs with protein and high-fibre veggies, which will not only improve satiety but also help slow down the rate that your body absorbs glucose, lessening a spike. (6) More specifically, we’ve outlined the best choices to make in each of these sections and why they’re good for your glucose and overall metabolic health: Non-starchy vegetables: These are vegetables that grow above ground – peppers, broccoli, spinach, green beans, cabbage, cauliflower, courgettes/zucchini, lettuces. They provide vitamins and minerals as well as fibre, which can slow down digestion and reduce glucose spikes. (7) Moreover, adding diverse sources of fibre to your diet effectively diversifies your gut microbiome — your body’s complex community of microorganisms that call your digestive tract home. (8) Having a healthy gut microbiome may also positively impact glucose control both now and later. (9) High-quality protein: Chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, beef, tofu, or legumes (like lentils or chickpeas), nuts, and Greek yoghurt are all great choices. Protein is essential to a healthy immune system, muscle health, and keeps you fuller, longer, helping to fend off hunger (6) throughout the day and in those evening hours when you’re tempted to reach for a bedtime snack. Complex carbohydrates: Whole grain bread, pulses, wild rice, quinoa, potatoes, sweet potatoes, couscous, whole grain pasta, or amaranth are all good options. These complex carbohydrates are digested more slowly than their refined counterparts (sugar, white bread) (10) and provide a steady source of energy. (11) Include healthy fats: Avocado, a tablespoon of nuts or seeds, or a drizzle of olive oil or rapeseed oil offer not only nutrients, but also extra flavour and satiety. Plus, fats help slow down digestion and steady your glucose. Add these flavourful fats throughout your meal, especially to veggies. High-quality oils and healthy fats help your body absorb vitamins A, E, and K, which are naturally occurring in vegetables. (12) No naked carbs: Part of building a balanced plate is making sure you don’t eat carbs by themselves, what we call “naked carbs.” When eating your carbs, make sure you eat them alongside or after a source of high-quality protein to help prevent a spike. (13) Pairing carbs with protein, fat, and fibre helps keep your glucose steady. For example, a piece of toast by itself can lead to a glucose spike, but topping with avocado and eggs can help balance the carbs and keep you steady. More tips from our experts for eating well It’s important to eat foods you genuinely enjoy and not deprive yourself. Not allowing yourself to eat your favourite comfort foods in moderation often leads to a binge later on. Plus, if you restrict your food choices and calories too much, this can actually backfire and create further health complications such as nutrient deficiencies, low energy, fatigue, muscle depletion, and slowing down your metabolism. (14) We have outlined several tangible tips for eating well that you can implement today. While it may take a bit to establish a habit, practising the tips below will set you up for success when it comes to eating healthfully and making better choices. Eat slowly. Pay attention to the speed you’re eating your food. The more time you take to chew and enjoy your food, the better you’ll signal to your body when you’re satisfied. People who eat more slowly consume less than those eating more quickly. (15) The order in which you eat your food matters. When you sit down to eat your meal, focus on eating your veggies first, then protein. Finish with your serving of carbs. The fibre in vegetables, as well as proteins and fats slow the rate that food leaves the stomach, thereby impacting the rate at which glucose is absorbed and mitigating glucose spikes. (13) Stay hydrated. Staying hydrated is essential to support a health metabolism. The recommended daily water for adults is 2.7 litres for women and 3.7 litres for men. (16) Plan ahead. Meal prep, batch cook, and plan your menu for the week to stay on track. Make sure you have shelf-stable, high-protein and high-fibre snacks within reach for when hunger strikes (nuts, jerky sticks, and dried edamame are all good options). Having healthy snacks throughout the day will also help stabilise your glucose and hunger so you don’t overeat. If you’re craving a sweet treat, enjoy it after or alongside a serving of protein; eat that dark chocolate square with some roasted almonds. Eat mindfully. You tend to eat more when your attention is on something else, like the television, your phone, or work. This is particularly true when what you’re eating is highly processed and high in sugar. (17) When you sit down to eat, put all distractions away and focus on your plate. Pay attention to how your food tastes, the texture, and really enjoy your meal. Limit ultraprocessed foods and simple carbs. Ultraprocessed foods, such as breakfast cereal, instant noodles, pretzels, crisps, and packaged biscuits are designed to be highly palatable with minimal nutrients. This means they are often eaten in excess, don’t provide the same satiety and nutrients as whole foods, and can lead to weight gain and glucose spikes. (17) While ultraprocessed foods can be convenient in a pinch, focus on eating whole foods (fruits, vegetables, high-quality protein, whole grains) as often as possible. More specifically, sugar and simple carbohydrates (such as white bread, pasta, candy, and baked goods) can spike your glucose, leading to a likely crash and leaving you tired and sluggish. Work to limit your simple carb intake and opt for fibrous and complex carbohydrates (like whole grains, wild rice, fruits, and vegetables) instead. Skip the see-food diet. Store most of your food out of sight, especially your favourite comfort and snack foods. Keep countertops clear (save for a small fruit bowl) and put healthy foods and snacks in the front of your refrigerator. Clear containers of chopped raw veggies to snack on (like carrot or celery sticks) and high-protein options should be within eyesight, while high-carb comfort food should be stored in the back. Know your body. Gaining insight into how your body responds to certain foods and the impact it has on your glucose can inspire changes. With a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) like Lingo’s biosensor, you’ll learn how to reduce glucose spikes after meals by making sensible nutrition choices that will support metabolic health and promote a healthy weight. A final note from Lingo Making healthier food choices doesn’t have to be overwhelming, and you shouldn’t restrict your favourite foods. Instead, focus on making small, sustainable changes and pay attention to how you balance your plate at meals. By prioritising high-quality protein, loading up on fibrous veggies, adding in healthy fats, not eating naked carbs, and limiting ultraprocessed sugar-laden foods, you’ll be well on your way to eating for better overall health and well-being. With a CGM like Lingo, you’ll gain personalised insights into how your glucose levels are impacted by the food you eat, and work to make healthier choices for you and your long-term well-being.
How to find those hidden added sugars
The National Health Service recommends no more than 30 grams of free (better known as added) sugars per day for adults. When you think of sugar in foods, cakes, biscuits, and other sweets come to mind. But those aren’t the only sources of sugar. Hidden sugar is common in packaged foods and goes by many names. Regardless of the name, they could all cause a glucose spike.(1) But there’s good news. Even food labels with hidden sugars give us hints to lead us to them. Here are a few of them: Many countries are making it easier to identify high-sugar foods with coloured indicators. In the United Kingdom, packaged foods with over 22 grams of sugars per 100 grams are clearly marked and highlighted red. Foods with under 5 grams of sugars per 100 grams are highlighted green. And finally, foods with 5-22 grams of sugars per 100 grams are highlighted orange. Sticking mostly to foods in the green category help you avoid those hidden sugars without having to search up and down the food label.(1) Look for the words syrup and sugar. Examples include brown rice syrup, corn syrup, and cane sugar. Sugar may also be labeled with the ending “-ose”, like glucose, dextrose, fructose, galactose, sucrose, or maltose. Other names include: molasses, honey, agave, cane juice, barley malt, and potato starch. It’s important to remember that just because foods contain these words, doesn’t mean they’re always bad choices. You can still occasionally enjoy these foods, in the proper portions listed on the food label. Consuming them after you have foods like vegetables, protein, and healthy fats can help decrease their impact on your glucose.
How food sequencing affects your glucose
Managing your glucose is about more than just the food you eat. A growing body of research shows that eating foods in a specific order – known as ‘food sequencing’ – can also affect your glucose. For example, studies show that eating vegetables before carbohydrates can result in lower levels of glucose and insulin compared to eating carbohydrates first. (1) The fibre in vegetables slows the rate that food leaves the stomach, thereby impacting the rate at which glucose is absorbed and mitigating glucose spikes. (1),(2) Other studies have shown that eating proteins and fats before carbohydrates has a similar effect. And managing your glucose isn’t the only benefit of starting your meals with a salad. Foods that leave the stomach more slowly can help you feel fuller, reduce your energy intake from the rest of the meal, and help you manage your weight. (3) Of course, there are even more benefits to going green. Green vegetables are a good source of fibre, and some non-starchy vegetables (like asparagus and leeks) also contain prebiotic fibre that encourage the growth of good gut bacteria.
How to get the most from your greens
Green vegetables are important sources of key vitamins. Especially vitamins C and B. However, these vital nutrients in are easily lost during storage, preparation, and cooking. If you want to get the most from your greens, you need to treat them right. Proper storage Minimise the nutritional losses that occur during storage by only buying what you need. If you can’t shop regularly, grab a mix of fresh and frozen vegetables. It’s often believed that frozen veggies are nutritionally inferior to fresh ones, but it’s not true. In fact, some studies show that frozen produce can contain higher levels of some nutrients (like vitamin C) compared to fresh vegetables. (1),(2) Cooking Vitamins can also be lost when cooking your vegetables. Methods like steaming, stir-frying, or microwaving help preserve vitamins. In addition to helping preserve your nutrients via cooking, you can add some fat to your plate and further help your body make the most of the nutrients, like phytochemicals, that you consume. Phytochemicals, are compounds produced by plants to help them self-protect in their natural environment, and these compounds offer human health benefits as well. And two phytochemicals, beta carotene and lycopene, found in vegetables are absorbed more easily by the body if they are served with a fat. So serve your salads with an oil-based dressing, or drizzle olive oil over your cooked vegetables. (3)
How to stay steady and snack on the road
Travelling can make it hard to stick to a healthy diet. Away from your normal routine, and well-stocked kitchen, it’s easy to reach for convenient foods. These choices are often packed with empty calories – few vitamins and minerals but rich in added sugars and fillers. What they lack in nutrition, they tend to make up for with processed and simple carbohydrates that can lead to glucose spikes. These types of snacks fill you up temporarily but soon lead to an energy dip that depletes your energy and leaves you craving more starchy foods. (1) Snack Ideas Plan ahead to help you stay on track. Opt for protein-rich, travel-ready snacks like hard boiled eggs, beef jerky, mixed nuts, protein bars, and shakes. A snack of 30 almonds and 30 grams of cheese can help quiet your hunger without leading to a spike and crash. Make your own trail mix with pecans, walnuts, cashews, and pumpkin seeds. Add some dark chocolate (over 80% cacao) and toasted coconut to sweeten the mix without throwing you off target. Keep this in a container in a dark, dry place and divide into small portions that are travel-ready. Give these snacks a test next time you need to hit the road.
Low-GI foods: Why they matter for glucose levels
All carbohydrates that you eat are eventually broken down into glucose to be used immediately by the cells or stored for later use. However, depending on the type of carbohydrate you eat, the time it takes for it to be digested and for the glucose to hit your blood stream can vary. This will have an impact on how slowly or quickly you notice a glucose spike. In this article, we’ll discuss different types of carbohydrates and their impact on your glucose (commonly referred to as blood sugar). What is the glycaemic index? The most common way that people look at slow-release carbs is by classifying foods as high glycaemic or low glycaemic. The glycaemic index (GI) ranks carbohydrates on a scale of 0-100 based on their potential to raise your blood sugar. Foods with a high GI (>70) are digested quickly and cause a rapid spike in blood sugar and insulin. Foods with a low GI (<55) are digested more slowly and result in a smaller increase in blood sugar and insulin. High glycaemic foods are often foods that have been highly processed, beverages with lots of added sugar, bakery items, and candy. High GI foods (≥70) Pretzels Cornflakes cereal Special K cereal White potatoes Sweet potatoes Sodas (Coca Cola, Pepsi) Beer Scones Pancakes Muffins Croissant White bread (GI 100) Skittles Swedish Fish Some fruits with more sugar (pineapple, watermelon) are also considered high glycaemic, although they also offer beneficial nutrients and fibre. Alternatively, low glycaemic foods are often whole foods such as non-starchy vegetables, low-sugar fruits, lean protein sources, whole grains, beans and legumes, dairy, and nuts and seeds. Low GI foods (≤55): Avocado Apples Berries Oranges Spinach Tomatoes Cucumbers Broccoli Courgette Mushrooms Steel cut oats Whole grain bread Quinoa Lentils Chickpeas and hummus Skim, low-fat, and full-fat milk Greek yoghurt Chicken, turkey, and other poultry Beef and pork Eggs Fish and shellfish All about slow-release carbs However, there is another category of slow-release carbs that is worthwhile to consider. Low glycaemic foods fall in several different food categories, but when it comes to starches (think: potatoes, beans, bread, rice, pasta, and cereals), we can further break these down into three main categories: Slowly digestible starch (SDS) Rapidly digestible starch (RDS) Resistant starch (RS) These categories represent the starches’ impact on glucose after they are consumed as well as the associated hormone response. It has been shown that foods with slowly digestible starch have a lower glycaemic index, independent of other nutrients in the food such as fat and fibre (1). While fat and fibre also lead to a lower glycaemic index, when eating foods that are pure carbohydrates (rice, pasta, bread), choosing those that have the greatest amount of slowly digestible starch can have a significant impact on blood glucose, insulin, and satiety. One study found that a breakfast containing slowly digestible starch reduced the glycaemic response not only after the meal, but also into the rest of the morning. This reduced response continued after lunch as well (2), something called the “second meal effect.” Why would eating a breakfast with slowly digestible starch reduce your blood glucose well after the meal has been consumed and even into the next meal? Research has shown that not only do slowly digestible starches slow the release of glucose into the blood stream and induce a lower secretion of insulin, but they also reduce the amount of glucose produced by the liver as well as stimulate a slower release of gut hormones that help to keep you full. (3, 4) Slowly digestible starch is highest in starchy foods that have undergone the least processing. This includes beans and legumes, cooked vegetables like potatoes, corn, peas, and squash, grains like stone-ground wheat, quinoa, brown rice, rolled or steel-cut oats, oat bran, and barley. When cooked fresh, these foods contain higher amounts of SDS than more processed versions like potato chips, breads made with enriched flours, white rice, and instant oats. What is resistant starch, exactly? Resistant starch is another form of starch and is also known as digestion-resistant starch. This is because it acts similar to soluble fibre as it moves through your digestive tract undigested and can feed your gut with good bacteria, improving your overall microbiome. Because it does not get digested, it also helps reduce the glycaemic response after a meal as well as the same “second meal effect” seen with SDS. Additionally, it has been proposed that resistant starch may help with weight management as it has a lower energy density and may help promote satiety. So where do you find resistant starch? Resistant starch has been categorized into 5 different types: Type 1: Called physically inaccessible starch because it is bound in the fibrous cells walls and is found in foods such as coarsely ground or whole-kernel grains (quinoa, whole grain barley), seeds (pumpkin, flax), and legumes (chickpeas, lima beans). Type 2: Found in unripe bananas (greener/not fully yellow bananas) and raw potatoes. Type 3: This type of starch is found in starchy foods once they are cooked and then cooled. The cooling process turns some of the digestible starches into resistant starches. Type 4: Chemically modified starch. Type 5: Formed when starch interacts with lipids. While this sounds complex, the easiest way to get resistant starch in your diet is to go for types 1-3 and opt for foods like cashews or less ripe or green bananas. Another simple and efficient way is to cook and cool certain starchy foods like rice and potatoes before eating them. Benefits of slow-release carbs and low GI foods Slow-release carbs are those with a low glycaemic index as well as those that contain high amounts of slow digestible carbs or resistant starch. They have a lower impact on blood sugar and insulin and may even help lower glucose throughout the day into the next meal. Additionally, slow-release carbs may improve satiety by helping you feel fuller after meals. A final note from Lingo There are many ways you can include slow-release carbs in your diet. If you’re wearing a Lingo biosensor, you can test your own response to the suggestions below. Choose whole grains: Opt for whole grains such as whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, quinoa, and rolled oats instead of refined grains. These have a lower GI and provide slow-release carbohydrates. Legumes and beans: Include lentils, chickpeas, black beans, or other legumes in your meals. They are rich in resistant starch and protein and can provide a sustained source of energy. Green vegetables: Load up on non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, spinach, peppers, and kale. They are low in overall carbs, rich in fibre and nutrients, and the carbs they do contain are slow digesting. Nuts and seeds: Snack on nuts and seeds like almonds, chia seeds, and pecans. Not only do they contain slow-release carbs, but they also have healthy fats and protein to help keep you fuller for longer. Cooling and reheating: Cook, cool, and reheat certain starchy foods such as rice, potatoes, and pasta. This will increase their resistant starch content, making them slower to digest and a more even glucose profile.
Low-sugar drinks: 5 options that avoid glucose spikes
Staying hydrated is key for your overall health and for maintaining steady glucose levels. However, many of the popular drinks people reach for contain a lot of sugar that can spike your glucose. This can lead to fluctuations in mood and energy (1), cravings (2), and impact sleep (3). Fortunately, you can enjoy a range of refreshing and flavourful drinks that have little or no sugar and are unlikely to spike your glucose. 5 glucose-friendly drink options 1. Sparkling or plain water We know you’ve heard this before, but it bears repeating: drinking plain water is a great and accessible way to maintain hydration. Many people don’t drink enough water, and adults should aim for around three litres of water a day (4). You may need more depending on a number of factors, such as if you exercise or your environmental temperature is warm. If you find regular H2O boring, plain sparkling water and seltzer are just as hydrating and might be more enjoyable to drink, especially with meals. If you forget to drink enough water, try setting alerts on your phone or make a habit of carrying around a refillable water bottle to drink from throughout the day. Start early so that you’re not trying to play catch up in the evening before bed, which can disrupt your sleep if you have to get up at night to use the bathroom. Try habit stacking by placing a large glass of water on your nightstand to drink soon after you wake up or keeping a bottle of water in your car cupholder to finish on your commute home. After a few weeks, these choices are likely to become long-term habits. 2. Flavour-infused plain or sparkling water You can jazz up plain still or sparkling water with slices of orange, lemon, cucumber, or other fruits for a hint of natural flavour. Try adding sprigs of mint or rosemary, and have fun with the combination of fresh fruit and herbs to find flavours you enjoy. Sparkling water with slices of fresh ginger and lime make for a particularly zesty combination. Invest in a water infusion pitcher or just add fruit and herbs to a large bottle of water to keep in the fridge overnight. You can also infuse your plain water with powdered or liquid water enhancers on the market that contain little to no added sugar and aren’t likely to cause a spike. Popular hydration powders such as Pedialyte Powder Packs, or Pedialyte Electrolyte Water provide flavour and electrolytes for a tasty and hydrating option. 3. Zero-sugar carbonated beverages There are a number of carbonated beverages on the market that are made with little or no sugar and won’t cause a spike. Popular flavoured seltzers such as La Croix and Dash are made simply with carbonated water and natural flavours or fruit essence, which contain no sugar, calories, or non-nutritive sweeteners. Many popular carbonated drink brands have their own zero-sugar versions, although these are often made with non-nutritive sweeteners and other ingredients and should be consumed in moderation. Despite being sugar-free, these non-nutritive sweeteners yield varying glucose responses in people. By using a continuous glucose monitor such as Lingo, you can monitor your individual response to beverages like these to find what works best for you. It’s important to note that these beverages are still not a replacement for plain water and shouldn’t be consumed in excess. 4. Alcohol: Dry wines and plain liquor While alcoholic beverages aren’t hydrating (in fact, they do the opposite), you may still be looking to enjoy an alcoholic drink from time to time that won’t cause a spike. Although you may not avoid a spike entirely, we recommend a dry wine like pinot noir or brut sparkling or a mixed drink with a shot of pure liquor such as vodka or gin in plain seltzer with a slice of citrus for the lowest impact on your glucose levels. For optimal glucose control, it’s best to consume alcohol in moderation — alcohol interferes with your sleep (5), which can negatively impact your glucose (6). Plus, the more you drink, the more you lower your inhibitions, which may cause you to reach for sugar or carb-heavy snacks that can cause a spike. 5. Hot or cold herbal teas Herbal teas (without added sugar) are an excellent way to enjoy flavourful beverages without spiking glucose levels. It’s easy to make herbal teas at home, and you can enjoy them hot or iced. Try to avoid adding sugar and sweetened milks, and be mindful when ordering tea beverages out (especially iced tea variations) that they aren’t made with added sugar or simple syrups. Many of these teas have a natural sweetness on their own. Chamomile, rooibos, hibiscus, and liquorice teas are all great options. A note on coffee Drinking coffee is a morning ritual for many. The caffeine in coffee (and some caffeinated teas) may cause a glucose spike for some, and adding milk and sugar can exacerbate these spikes. However, over the long term, caffeinated black coffee has been shown to have favourable effects on glucose metabolism (7). Additionally, caffeine can have a diuretic effect, causing you to urinate more, and if consumed in excess may compromise your fluid balance. Dehydration can lead to greater glucose spikes and dips (8). If you’re a regular coffee drinker, try having a large glass of water before your cup of coffee and continue to drink water throughout the day. Drinks to avoid Many popular drinks are high in sugar and can spike glucose levels. Some obvious culprits include fruit juice, sugar-sweetened carbonated beverages, alcoholic cocktails, and sweet wines. When it comes to glucose regulation, sugar-free beverages are a better choice than beverages with added sugar, but it is best to monitor your own tolerance and drink them in moderation. Consuming too many non-nutritive sweeteners has been shown to affect the gut microbiome, which can negatively impact glucose levels (9). A good rule of thumb is to try to get at least half of your daily fluid requirements through water and the other half may be reached with more flavourful options like the ones outlined above. Be sure to check the nutrition label of any beverage you buy at the store and watch out for added sugars. When dining out, be mindful of sugar-sweetened beverages like fizzy drinks, lemonade, sweet tea, and mixed cocktails. A final note from Lingo Most of the time, water is the best choice to stay hydrated. However, supplementing plain water with some of the beverage choices above can help keep you hydrated while enjoying more flavourful options. We hope this list has provided some inspiration for drinks that aren’t boring and won't spike your glucose levels. And remember, how your glucose levels respond is unique to you. Using a continuous glucose monitor like Lingo can help you work towards limiting glucose spikes without stopping you from enjoying your favourite drinks.
Nourishing snacks to keep you steady
What’s your schedule look like? Keeping your glucose stable throughout the day requires thoughtful planning. When trying to keep your glucose in check, snacks can make things tricky. Many snacks on the market are packed with refined sugars and highly-processed ingredients. They are full of the ingredients we don’t want and lack the nutrition we do want. But you can make snacking a part of your balanced, glucose-friendly diet with some of these healthy, but tasty, choices. Banana-Coconut Bites: these bites are perfect for when you need something more grab-and-go. All you need is: one banana, two tablespoons of shredded coconut, and one teaspoon of cinnamon. Mash the banana in a bowl until creamy, then mix in the coconut and cinnamon. Drop mixture by spoonful onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and flatten slightly. Bake at 180° Celsius for 20 minutes, and enjoy. Veggies & Houmous: vegetables like carrots, celery, cucumbers, and bell peppers are the perfect snack. They are full of fibre and low in calories. They also pair perfectly with hummus which adds flavour and is packed with protein and healthy fats to fill you up without weighing you down. Fruit & Nuts: fruits like apples, oranges, pears, and berries are packed with vitamins and minerals. Pair them with a handful of nuts and you have yourself a nutritious, simple snack. Nuts deliver an added crunch while providing healthy fats and protein to keep you satisfied until your next meal. (1) Get moving: movement is great for many reasons, but one of its biggest benefits is its ability to lower your glucose curve. Set aside some exercise time each day. Even just 15 minutes of walking after lunch can have a positive impact on your glucose. (2)
What does protein do and what are its health benefits?
Protein is the macronutrient (macro, for short) that gets the most hype — and for good reason. While it’s best known for helping you build muscle, this macro can do way more than aid your efforts in the gym. Research shows that protein benefits your entire body, from boosting your metabolism to supporting bone and heart health. Below, read on about the health benefits of protein and how to get more of this superstar macronutrient in your diet. What does protein do? Protein is made up of amino acids. These building blocks are vital for your body to carry out important functions. (1) While your body can make some amino acids on its own, there are nine you can only get from food. These are called essential or indispensable amino acids. Foods that contain all nine essential amino acids are known as “complete proteins” and include any animal-based sources of foods such as eggs, chicken, beef, and yoghurt. Few plant-based foods, like soy, tofu, tempeh, and quinoa contain all 9 essential amino acids making them great plant-based protein options. Amino acids, the building blocks of protein, are vital for your body to carry out important functions, such as helping you build and maintain lean muscle, balance blood sugar, and manage your weight, among other benefits. The current Reference Nutrient Intake (RNI) for protein — eating 0.75 grams of protein per kilogram (kg) of bodyweight each day — is not nearly enough for optimal health and well-being. The RNI set by the UK government is the absolute minimum adults should consume to prevent muscle atrophy and other negative health complications associated with a lack of protein intake. Although exact protein needs may vary from person to person, Lingo’s Director of Medical Affairs and Clinical Research Jim McCarter, MD, PhD, recommends eating about 1.5 g of protein per kg of desired bodyweight — twice the current RNI. If your goal weight is 68 kg, that means eating 102 g of protein each day. Aim for at least 30 grams of protein at meals and 15-30 grams of protein for snacks. It’s important to note that this is a general guideline and not a substitute for medical advice. For more personalised nutritional guidance, please visit a registered dietitian or other qualified health care professional. What are the health benefits of protein? Building muscle mass Protein is essential to building muscle tissue. Eating enough protein in conjunction with resistance training, also known as strength training (such as lifting weights), is shown to increase muscle mass and strength. (2) Eating enough protein can also help you maintain that lean muscle mass, especially if you’re cutting calories to lose weight. (2) More muscle mass means more calories burned at rest, improved blood sugar control, reduced risk of injury and disease, and more. Fewer cravings If you’ve ever felt hungry after eating a bagel with cream cheese or a bowl of pasta, you’ve likely surmised that carb-heavy meals aren’t enough to keep you full. Out of all three macronutrients, protein is the most satiating. That means eating more protein can help ward off cravings and help you feel fuller for longer. (3) Including a source of protein in every meal and noshing on high-protein snacks — such as edamame, yoghurt, or jerky —can help keep you satisfied throughout the day. More balanced blood sugar levels Protein helps regulate your blood sugar (also known as blood glucose). Pairing carbs with a source of protein can help blunt a glucose spike that can leave you feeling sluggish and hangry (hungry + angry). (4) So next time you’re craving some pasta, make sure to pair it with meatballs or grilled chicken. Or if you’re ordering a bagel for breakfast, pile it high with lox or an omelette. Eating a high-protein breakfast can help keep glucose levels steady throughout the whole day. (5) Burning calories The thermic effect of food (or TEF, for short) refers to the energy, or calories, your body burns by digesting and absorbing food. Protein has the highest thermic effect of all macronutrients. So that means your body burns more calories digesting and processing protein than it does carbs or fat. In fact, 30 percent of the calories consumed from protein are burned off. (6) The higher the TEF, the more of a boost to your metabolism you’ll see. Because protein burns more calories than other macros, eating more protein may aid in weight loss by helping you take in fewer calories, and weight loss occurs when you burn more calories than you consume. (6) Supports bone health Eating enough protein – including protein from animal sources – can support your skeleton. Research reviews have shown that a high-protein diet can support bone health by helping with calcium absorption (calcium is another nutrient your bones require to stay strong) as well as helping secrete growth hormones and maintain muscle mass. (7) Eating enough protein is especially important as you age because the ageing process is associated with a decline in bone density, as well as decreases in muscle mass and strength after your 30s. (8) Helps lower blood pressure Hypertension, or high blood pressure (BP), puts you at risk for heart disease and stroke, which are the leading causes of death globally. Taking measures to lower your BP if it’s high includes lifestyle factors like your diet and specifically eating enough protein. Research shows that a protein-rich diet is linked to lowering both systolic blood pressure (the top number of your BP reading) by 1.4 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) by 3.5 mmHg in people with hypertension. (9) Helps lower cholesterol Swapping some of the carbs in your diet for protein may have favourable effects on your cholesterol levels. In fact, eating a healthy protein-rich diet is associated with lowering low-density lipoprotein (LDL), which is your “bad” cholesterol, as well as decreasing triglycerides. (10) Having high LDL and triglyceride levels are linked to a higher risk of heart disease. A final note from Lingo Eating enough protein is essential for so many processes in your body, including building and maintaining lean muscle, controlling cravings and appetite, balancing blood glucose levels, revving your metabolism, and supporting bone and heart health. Not only do you need to eat enough protein, but it’s also recommended to diversify your sources. Including a mix of different proteins — such as beans, tofu, dairy, animal meats and poultry, seafood, legumes, and whole grains — can help you get all your amino acids to support your whole-body health.
How much protein should you eat in a day?
Protein is a macronutrient (aka “macro") essential for total-body health. While we often associate this nutrient with building muscle, protein is essential for regulating numerous physiological functions in the body such as supporting bone health and carrying oxygen in your blood. That’s why it’s so important to meet your protein goals every day. Getting enough protein is especially important for active people, those wanting to improve their metabolic health, and everyone as we age. Protein intake is essential to build and maintain muscle mass, and increased dietary protein intake earlier in life may help mitigate muscle loss from ageing. While the exact amount of protein you need per day depends on your age, weight, activity level, and other factors, there are some general protein guidelines that work for most adults to support optimal health and well-being. Here, find out how much protein you need per day to stay healthy, and why the recommended daily amount is usually not enough. Why do we need protein? Proteins are molecules made up of amino acids that are essential for the human body’s structure and function. These amino acids help build DNA synthesis, muscle repair, bone support, muscle contractions, and cell signalling — all functions that keep us alive and healthy. (1) Protein also helps support our immunity. For example, antibodies are blood proteins that help us fight off infections. (2) The proteins keratin, collagen, and elastin help support our hair, skin, and nails. Most of the protein in our bodies is found in the muscles, skin, and blood. Eating protein foods supplies our body with the amino acids needed to carry out important functions and to support our health. What is the recommended protein intake for adults? Given all the vital health benefits of protein, it’s important to get enough of this macronutrient in the daily diet. Not only that, but protein also provides us with energy: Each gram of protein contains 4 calories. The recommended intake for protein depends on certain factors such as your weight, age, activity level, life stage (such as pregnancy), and other goals, like losing body fat and building muscle. The Reference Nutrient Intake (RNI), or daily recommended amount of protein set by the government, is 0.75 grams of protein for every kilogram of bodyweight. With these guidelines, adult women need at least 45 grams of protein per day while adult men need at minimum 55 grams of protein each day. (3) However, it’s important to note that the RNI is the absolute minimum recommended amount of protein people should consume daily to support life functions and to prevent nutrient deficiencies. In reality, the most up-to-date scientific evidence on dietary protein shows that daily protein intake should be much higher than the RNI for optimal health and well-being. Lingo’s Director of Medical Affairs and Clinical Research Jim McCarter, MD, PhD, recommends adults eat about 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of desired bodyweight. If your ideal bodyweight is 68 kg (about 150 lbs), that means 102 g of protein per day. To reach this amount, aim for at least 30 g of protein at each meal and 15-30 g of protein with snacks. To hit this protein target, a typical day of eating could look like (highlighting protein foods only): Breakfast: Scramble with two whole eggs + 126 g liquid egg whites (26 grams protein) Snack: 57 g beef jerky (19 grams protein) Lunch: 114 g ground turkey (30 grams protein) Dinner: 114 g salmon (30 grams protein) Daily total: 105 grams of protein Is more protein better? As mentioned, eating more protein than the RNI of 0.75 grams per kilogram of bodyweight is recommended for most adults. Eating more protein can help you build and maintain lean muscle and aid in weight loss. Protein is the most satiating macronutrient compared to carbs and fats, and it helps curb cravings and keep you fuller for longer, partly by helping stabilise blood glucose levels. (4) You can get protein from both plant and animal sources. Some healthy protein-rich foods include red meat, poultry, dairy products, eggs, seafood, soy (including tofu and tempeh), beans and legumes, and nuts and seeds. Animal-based protein sources are particularly useful as they contain high amounts of the amino acid leucine, which acts as a metabolic switch to turn on muscle building. You may have heard concerns over a high-protein diet causing kidney damage; however, recent research shows this to be untrue. (5) Ultimately, if you’re concerned about your protein intake and kidney health, it’s best to speak to a doctor. It’s also important to note that 1.5 g of protein per kg of bodyweight is a general recommendation and not a substitute for medical advice. For personalised guidance, consult with a registered dietitian or other qualified health care professional. What if I eat too little protein? Protein deficiency is very rare, and most people generally don’t have trouble meeting the RNI on protein. However, some groups of people, such as older adults, people with disabilities, and those that over restrict calories, are more at risk of a protein deficiency. (6) Not eating enough protein — i.e. less than the RNI of 0.75 grams per kilogram of bodyweight — can result in health issues. If you regularly don’t eat enough protein, it could cause muscle loss, feeling weak or trouble thinking, a weakened immune system (getting sick often), brittle hair and nails, muscle weakness, and stress fractures. (7) A final note from Lingo Protein deficiency in developed countries is very rare. Most people meet the minimum recommendation by NHS for 0.75 g per kg of bodyweight per day. Those at risk of not getting even this minimum amount of protein are older adults, people with disabilities, and those that over restrict calories. (6) Not eating the minimum amount of protein could cause muscle loss, feeling weak or trouble thinking, a weakened immune system (getting sick often), brittle hair and nails, muscle weakness, and stress fractures. (7) If your protein intake is somewhere around the government recommended minimum, while that may be enough to avoid deficiency, it's not optimal. If you find yourself hungry soon after you've eaten, have unsteady energy levels, or never seem to be making much progress in the gym, try aiming for 1.5 g/kg per day and see how you feel. Consuming enough protein helps improve your body composition as it aids in building and maintaining lean muscle and supporting body fat loss by promoting satiety and curbing hunger. Protein also balances your glucose levels by slowing down the absorption of carbs and helping with appetite control and more stable energy levels. To get more protein in your day, try centring meals around high-protein foods such as lean meat, poultry, seafood, and tofu, and opt for snacks such as Greek yoghurt, edamame, nuts and seeds, and jerky.
Start your day the right way. How breakfast affects your glucose
Whether it’s getting your morning started with a workout, morning meditation, or taking your morning coffee on a nice walk, starting your day on the right foot is a wonderful feeling. Building your perfect morning also needs to include a good breakfast. A good breakfast can set the tone for your day and really make the difference. A proper breakfast should provide you with a few things: Protein. Whether it’s from animal or plant sources, protein is the building block of your body’s cells and helps reduce hunger. Because protein alone doesn’t impact our glucose and is slower to digest, it can help flatten your post-meal glucose spikes. Eggs, nuts, Greek yoghurt, tofu, and grilled meat are some great examples of protein sources that can easily fit into your breakfast. Fibre. Fibre also does its part to keep you full. It slows the digestion of sugar, keeping your glucose steady. It doesn’t stop there. Fibre also does double duty as it’s beneficial for your gut health. Sauteed vegetables in scrambled eggs, or nuts and seeds on top of yoghurt are all great sources of fibre. Even whole fruits (when combined with protein, fat, and other fibre sources) can fit into a great breakfast. Healthy fats. Fat doesn’t instantly mean bad. Healthy fats keep you full while helping to absorb important fat-soluble vitamins, and provide unsaturated fatty acids like omega-3 fatty acids (which benefits your heart and brain health) Check out our recipes section for a few breakfast ideas and try some out. Follow The Fundamentals and remember, combining protein, fibre, and fats with your carbs helps to keep you full and minimise your glucose spikes. Making more informed choices in the morning can lead to a day you can really feel good about.
Stuck in a food rut? Try something new
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut with your meals. We find something we like and we stick with it leaving most of us to repeat the same meals and snacks again and again. Even when we’re presented with a mountain of fresh green vegetables we still reach for our old favourites. We’re creatures of habit. Variety is key to a healthy, balanced diet. No single vegetable can give you all the vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals your body needs. So, try out green vegetables you wouldn’t normally choose. All green vegetables supply us with vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. They are also high in fibre, which can help prevent glucose spikes. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, and brussels sprouts also contain a phytochemical compound called sulforaphane, which studies show may help protect against certain types of cancers. (1) Experiment with the leaves you put in your salads. Watercress and spinach are nutrient dense choices, rich in vitamin C and the B vitamin folate. (2) Why not get around to trying kale? It’s a good source of calcium and iron. You can add it to salads, curries, and smoothies. You can even bake kale chips. Kale chips: Rinse kale and remove the thick stems. Cut leaves into bite sized pieces then wash and thoroughly dry the kale. Drizzle with olive oil (you can massage the oil into the leaves), sea salt, and some of your favourite spices (chilli, paprika, etc). Spread out on a baking sheet, without the leaves touching one another, and bake at 150 degrees Celsius for 20–30 minutes.
Cracking the food labels code
Your days are busy. Our days are busy. Most people’s days are busy. You don’t always have time to prepare all your food from scratch every day. Some recipes also may require ingredients you don’t use very often or are overly difficult to find. On the other hand, when you reach for the more convenient, packaged foods, they aren’t always the dictionary definition of health. However, Lingo can help you navigate those aisles with ease. Making simple swaps is a good place to start. Look for alternatives to your favourite sauces, dressings, and packaged foods. Reach for options with less sugar to lower the impact these common ingredients have on your daily glucose. To avoid spending extra time in the supermarket reviewing labels, here are a few simple things to remember: If sugar is in the first few ingredients, the food is more likely to spike your glucose. And sugar goes by many names: corn syrup, fruit concentrate, honey, agave, maple syrup and dextrose. You can find a full list or hidden sugar names here. Look for foods that have high levels of protein and fiber on the Nutrition Facts. These help your glucose stay steady. The United Kingdom’s National Health Service categorises foods with less than 5 grams of sugar per 100 grams as a low-sugar food, and a food with over 22 grams of free sugar per 100 grams as a high-sugar food. All this doesn’t mean you have to avoid your favourite gelato or biscuits. Even if you buy a high-sugar food , you can always use the tips Lingo gives you to reduce the spike those foods are more likely to cause. Also remember to have a balanced meal beforehand with plenty of fibrous vegetables, protein, and healthy fats. Use your muscles before or after the meal, and review the portion sizes on the label and stick to them. Finally, slow down. Enjoy your food. Lingo’s goal is to show you how to appreciate the foods you love while reducing the impact on your glucose and maximising the impact on your health.
What are ultra-processed foods? Common food examples
Much of the modern diet we eat includes processed foods. Although it’s common advice to avoid processed foods in favour of whole, natural foods, it’s important to note that not all processed foods are created equal and that some processed foods can have a place in a healthy diet. We often turn to processed foods for a number of reasons, whether out of convenience, cost, and a long shelf life, or just personal preference. Many of the foods we buy at the supermarket have undergone some level of processing, and it’s a good idea to be aware of what goes into the food you eat. Here, we break down the differences among the types of processed foods, why you should limit ultra-processed foods, and how to make the best choices for yourself the next time you hit the supermarket. What are ultra-processed foods? Put simply, processed food has been altered from its natural state. For example, an apple picked off a tree is a whole food found in its natural state. When a food company takes apples and mashes them with sugar, water, and other additives to make store-bought applesauce, that's a processed food. “Processed food” is a broad term that encompasses the various changes food undergoes before it reaches store shelves, and there are distinctions between processed and ultra-processed foods. It’s useful to understand the degree of processing when making food choices and to understand the health implications of consuming too much ultra-processed food. One way to evaluate the level of processing of food is with the NOVA system, which classifies foods according to the extent and purpose of their processing (1) This system was developed by researchers at the University of São Paulo in 2009 and is widely used by health professionals and public health organisations. The NOVA system takes into account the extent and purpose of food processing rather than solely focussing on the nutritional content. We’ll be using the NOVA system to help explain the differences among processed foods: NOVA1: Natural or minimally processed foods These foods are in their natural state, or foods that have undergone basic processing, such as removing inedible elements, freezing, grinding, pasteurising, or filtering to make them edible or safe, but do not have any added ingredients. These are foods you would prepare and cook at home: raw and frozen fruit and vegetables, fish, meat, milk, and eggs. NOVA2: Culinary ingredients NOVA2 foods are single-ingredient foods derived from NOVA1 foods but processed slightly to be used in cooking. These foods are typically used to season or cook with, and you wouldn’t normally consume these foods on their own. Some examples include honey, olive oil, butter (from milk), flour (from wheat), vinegars, salt, and spices. NOVA3: Processed foods These foods are made up of a few ingredients – a combination of groups 1 and 2. They have been modified, typically by adding salt, oil, or sugar, to make them taste better or last longer. These include cheese, fresh bread, jam, tinned vegetables and fish, and smoked and cured meats. NOVA4: Ultra-processed foods These are made with substances that have been extracted from food or created in a lab. NOVA4 ultra-processed foods contain many ingredients, few or none of which come from group 1 foods, and are never or rarely used in kitchens. Manufactured to be convenient and ready to eat with a long shelf life, these foods are high in additives, colours and preservatives, dense in energy, but low in nutrients. (2) These food products tend to feature a long ingredient list and often include unfamiliar additives and substances. Examples of ultra-processed foods Breakfast cereals Carbonated soft drinks Packaged snacks like crisps, snack bars, sweets, chocolate Instant noodles Oven pizzas Ice cream Ready meals Margarines and other dairy spreads Packaged desserts Condiments There will be versions of some foods that fall under NOVA3 rather than NOVA4, for instance natural Greek yoghurt versus fruit yoghurts with sweeteners and colourings; natural meats versus processed meat slices; or fresh bread from natural ingredients versus industrialised bread products with preservatives. What’s the problem with ultra-processed foods? When foods undergo processing, not only does it alter the physical form, but the nutritional profile can also change. This sometimes translates to fewer nutrients and more additives, giving your body less of what it needs to thrive. As ultra-processed foods are often high in salt, sugar, and other additives to enhance the flavour, colour, or texture of foods, they can be detrimental to your health for many reasons. (2) To start, these additives are designed to make the food hyper-palatable, which increases the risk of overeating (3). In fact, one study showed that people who consumed ultra-processed foods ate on average 500 more calories a day compared to those who ate primarily unprocessed foods. (8) And eating ultra-processed foods in excess over a long period of time can lead to weight management concerns and associated health issues, such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. (4) Ultra-processed foods are often energy dense but low in important nutrients, especially fibre. (6) If someone’s diet is made up of mostly ultra-processed foods, they may be lacking the vitamins and minerals they need for healthy bodily function. Undereating fibre in particular can result in a lower consumption of prebiotics and fewer bowel movements, which can further contribute to bloating and poor gut health. (4) In addition, dietary fibre helps keep glucose levels balanced and can help to lower your risk of heart disease. (5) Unfortunately, most people under-consume fibre. Studies across several countries have shown that increases in ultra-processed foods are linked to chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, gastrointestinal disorders, and cancer. (2) Moreover, ultra-processed foods are often digested more quickly, which can lead to more rapid glucose spikes, especially when eaten in excess. Not only can a glucose spike followed by a crash leave you feeling sluggish, hungry, and irritable, frequent glucose spikes have been linked to health complications including insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. (9, 10) In general, the less processing that a food undergoes, the better. Although many ultra-processed foods contain unhealthy fats, sugars, and artificial additives, there are other options with fewer ingredients, more balanced macronutrients, and enriched with vitamins and minerals. Not all processed foods (including ultra-processed foods) need to be eliminated entirely. They can have a place in a well-rounded diet if consumed in moderation, especially since these foods are often a convenient and cost-effective option. Ultimately, understanding the nutritional content of ultra-processed foods and how they affect you is important in deciding whether they are a good choice for you and your goals. Using a continuous glucose monitor like Lingo provides insight into how these foods impact your glucose, or blood sugar, and what effects this has on you both in the short- and long-term. How can I avoid ultra-processed foods? As mentioned, you don’t need to avoid ultra-processed foods entirely; sometimes they are the only option available or are helpful when you’re short on time. However, swapping ultra-processed foods for more nutritious whole foods is a better choice for your overall health. We often turn to ultra-processed foods out of convenience, but planning ahead can keep you prepared and help you make more nutritious choices. Weekly planning and batch cooking can transform homemade meals into easy-to-grab and healthy options. Prepare your weekly meals and shopping list in advance and make a plan for when you hit the grocery store to steer clear of the aisles containing ultra-processed foods. This will not only streamline your choices, but also help you stick to whole foods that will benefit your overall health. Making snacks at home will decrease your need to buy packaged foods and help keep your glucose levels steady. Cut up a large batch of vegetables crudités and keep them in the fridge for a few days for when you need them. Craving crisps? Try roasting chickpeas with olive oil, sea salt, and paprika for a nutritious option. When you do need to buy a quick snack, check the ingredient list. Prioritise foods with shorter ingredient lists and foods in their natural state, and watch out for added sugars like dextrose, fructose, maltose, or sucrose that can spike your blood sugar. In general, awareness is key when it comes to understanding ultra-processed foods and how your body responds to different foods. Lingo gives you real time insights into how your glucose levels respond to your food choices and lifestyle factors. Replacements for common ultra-processed foods that are low in refined fats, salt, and sugar, and can help keep your glucose steady: Swap white pasta with a store-bought tomato sauce for zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash with a homemade tomato sauce and a source of protein (like tuna, chicken, or tofu). Substitute sugary soda drinks with sparkling water infused with fresh slices of cucumber, lemon, or berries. Instead of eating a frozen ready-to-eat meal, make a quick vegetable stir-fry with a fresh protein source (like salmon, chicken, or pork), a complex carbohydrate like quinoa (which you can batch cook in advance), and a quick homemade sauce of low-sodium soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and lime. A final word from Lingo Processed foods have become a staple in most diets due to their convenience, long shelf life, and palatability. However, it’s important to differentiate between processed and ultra-processed foods to see how they can fit into a healthy diet. Ultra-processed foods, which are industrially formulated with multiple ingredients, often lack nutritional value while being energy dense. When eaten in excess, these foods can lead to health complications. Having a plan is key: map out meals in advance, batch cook, and prepare homemade snacks to avoid the convenience of ultra-processed foods. By reading labels and using systems like Lingo, which use a continuous glucose monitor, you can gain insight into how certain foods impact your glucose levels, helping you make the best choices for you and your overall health.