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Q: I heard that eating a salad before dinner is good for my health. But if I’m eating vegetables regardless, does the order really matter?

A popular internet health hack is: Eat In the “correct” order — vegetables first, proteins and fats second, carbohydrates — and as a result lower blood sugar levels significantly, which can reduce cravings, fatigue and health risks like type 2 diabetes, proponents say.

The past Research on of TitleIt has been concluded that blood sugar, sometimes called nutrient or food sequencing, may actually benefit people with type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes.

For everyone else, it’s not as cut and dry, says Dr. Alpana Shukla, a physician and researcher at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City who studies food ordering. There are reasons to try, she said.

Studies on the benefits of food ordering are small, but the results are consistent, experts say.

in one 2023 review of 11 studiesFor example, researchers concluded that people who kept carbohydrate-rich foods at the end of a meal had significantly lower blood sugar levels after vegetables and protein than those who consumed them first.

in one 2019 study Among 15 people with prediabetes, Dr. Shukla and her colleagues asked participants to eat skinless fried chicken, salad, and ciabatta on three different days in three different orders: ciabatta first, chicken and salad 10 minutes later; First chicken and salad, followed by ciabatta; And first followed by salad, chicken and ciabatta.

Researchers measured participants’ blood sugar levels before meals and every 30 minutes after each meal for three hours. When the participants ate the chicken and salad before the bun, their blood sugar levels were 46 percent lower following the meal.

Researchers aren’t entirely sure why this might be. One concept is to eat fat, fiber and protein first It slows down constipationThis can lower blood sugar levels from carbohydrates, Dr. Shukla said.

According to Barbara Eckhorst, vice president of health care programs at the American Diabetes Association, it makes sense for people with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes to eat vegetables and proteins first during meals, because they don’t digest as quickly as carbohydrates, vegetables and proteins. By converting to sugar, it causes an increase in blood glucose levels.

For those with type 2 diabetes A specific study Nicola Gus, a clinical nutritionist and researcher at the University of Oxford in Britain, suggests that this blood sugar-lowering effect may be comparable to that of some diabetes medications. Although more research is needed on the topic.

Studies have shown that eating carbohydrates in food can lower blood sugar levels In people without diabetes. But healthy people usually don’t need to control their blood sugar this way, experts say.

A properly functioning body can normalize blood sugar levels within hours of eating, says UCLA Health endocrinologist Dr. Vijaya Surampdi.

However, starting from proteins, fat and fiber rich vegetables Take longer to assimilate Saving carbohydrates for last, rather than simple carbohydrates, helps people feel fuller for longer, says Dr. Domenico Trico, assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of Pisa in Italy, who studied food ordering.

Studies have shown that eating this way can stimulate the intestines It produces more satiety hormones. It’s called glucagon-like peptide 1 or GLP-1. (The diabetes drug Ozympic is designed to mimic this hormone.)

“GLP-1 slows down digestion and tells your brain you’re not hungry,” says Dr. Surampdi. But some experts say it’s not clear how much of a change in satiety the small increase in this hormone (compared to the large increase you get from drugs like Ozympic) just by ordering food.

If you feel sluggish after a meal, pre-loading with vegetables or protein can help, say Dr. Shukla and Dr. Surampdi.

some Research as well He points out Saving carbs at the end of a meal allows you to fill up on vegetables and protein and eat fewer simple carbohydrates, which have fewer nutrients and more calories, says Dr. Shukla.

The bottom line, the experts say, is that while meal planning is one of many healthy eating habits, it’s not something to worry about. Such dietary trends sometimes make people anxious, which leads to disordered eating.

“If it’s easy for you, you should go get it,” says Dr. Trico. If not, just aim for high-quality food that you love. Loading vegetables at every meal is more important than focusing on the order of your meals, says Dr. Guess.

Nikki Campo is a freelance writer in North Carolina.