Carbohydrates and Protein: The Perfect Pair

Two essential components of a balanced plate are proteins and high-fiber carbohydrates. Whether you’re trying to jump-start your day with lasting energy, hoping to avoid the dreaded blood sugar spike after a meal, or needing a pick-me-up in the middle of the afternoon, a balanced plate is an integral way to feel your best. 

Here’s how protein and carbohydrates work together to nourish your gut and help you meet your health and wellness goals.  

Reduced blood sugar spikes
  • During digestion, the food you eat gets broken down into simple sugars that are delivered to your muscles and liver through the bloodstream. Insulin is the “key” that unlocks the gate for sugar to leave the blood and enter the cells. When you eat large portions of carbohydrate-rich foods, sugar is released into the bloodstream. This can cause an increase in blood sugar, which, if it happens consistently over time, may lead to negative health impacts.  
  • Proteins take longer to digest than carbs, so pairing a protein with a carb slows digestion in the stomach and absorption in the intestines. This helps slow the rate of sugar entering the bloodstream to keep blood sugars steady and prevent blood sugar spikes. 
  • Choosing high-fiber carbohydrates will help feed those good gut bugs and help blunt a higher blood sugar response.
Decreased muscle damage and shortened recovery time in active individuals 
  • Pairing carbs with protein is great for people who partake in regular physical activity.
  • Carbohydrates are the first line of fuel for the body. During and after a workout, your body uses carbohydrates for energy. If your body runs out of carbs to burn for energy, it begins to use protein. 
  • Protein is crucial for repairing muscle after a workout. You’ll find it helpful to pair carbs with protein in meals before and after a workout. 
Here are some examples of easy carb and protein pairings that make for a great snack or light meal.
Wheat bread and avocado

There’s nothing like starting your morning with avocado toast. Avocados are packed full of healthy fats, some protein, and a great amount of fiber to help blunt the blood sugar response you might see from a slice of toast by itself.
Fresh berries and Greek yogurt

Add some fresh berries to Greek yogurt to make a parfait for a breakfast treat. Raspberries and blackberries are two of the highest fiber fruits—perfect to nourish your gut microbiome. Add some granola or peanut butter to really up your carb and protein pairing game.
Whole wheat tortilla and tuna

A tuna wrap is a quick and easy lunch ​​entrée. Add vegetables and hummus for a well-rounded meal.
Apple and peanut butter

Apples dipped in peanut butter (or any nut butter) make a great snack. Try varying the fruits you pair with your nut butters to promote diversity.
Peaches and cottage cheese

Did you know one cup of cottage cheese contains 25 grams of protein? Mixing peaches and cottage cheese is a great snack that will keep you feeling full throughout the day.
Raspberries and cheese cubes

Fruit and cheese is a great carb and protein snack because of the distinct flavor profiles. Opting for high-fiber fruit—such as raspberries, blackberries, or pears—will keep your gut happy and full.
Dried apples and almonds

Dried apples and almonds make a tasty trail mix to add to any snack routine. Mix and match the fruits and nuts for a well-balanced, on-the-go snack.

Sign up to receive healthy-living tips and exclusive offers.