How to Mix Fast and Slow Carbs With Protein to Burn Fat

Fact Checked

iGYRO PHOTOGRAPHY/amanaimagesRF/amana images/Getty Images

The adage that "abs are made in the kitchen" has a lot of truth to it -- your diet choices can make or break your weight loss, and you can't "outrun" a poor diet. One easy way to keep your diet in check is combining fast-digesting carbs with slow-digesting carbs and protein, which will help keep your blood sugar stable to keep your appetite in check. Make meals that combine these three nutrients and follow a calorie-controlled meal plan to torch fat and get the body you want.

Why Mix Fast and Slow Carbs With Protein?

The difference between "fast" and "slow" carbs is how quickly they're digested and absorbed. Fast carbs trigger rapid spikes in your blood sugar level -- spikes that are typically followed by blood sugar crashes that can leave you hungry. Slow carbs, on the other hand, trigger a more gradual increase in blood sugar, which keeps your levels relatively stable between meals.

Combining fast carbs with slow carbs and protein minimizes the chances you'll experience a blood sugar spike after your meal and helps stabilize your blood sugar. That's a definite bonus if you want to lose weight; you'll feel more satisfied and full between meals, and you're less likely to have cravings caused by low blood sugar. As a result, you may find it easier to stick to a calorie-controlled diet needed to lose fat.

Choose Healthy Fast Carbs to Combine

While, technically, slow carbs and protein will dampen the effects of any fast carb on blood sugar, you'll get the most fat-burning benefits if you go for healthful fast carbs.

Most fast carbs aren't exactly healthy -- that group includes white rice, white bread, white pasta and sugary foods that offer little nutritional value. In contrast, slow carbs -- for example, dairy, beans, whole grains, veggies and whole fruits -- tend to offer more nutritional bang for your buck. However, some healthy carbs actually digest relatively quickly, and these are the best foods to choose for your "fast" carb option. Reach for fruits like watermelon, raisins or bananas, which offer other nutritional benefits, like vitamin A, iron or vitamin C. Eat potatoes or sweet potatoes as healthy sources of fast carbs. Even though a baked potato, for example, digests relatively quickly, it also supplies potassium that supports your cardiovascular health.

Eat Fast-Digesting Carbs in Recipes

Include your healthy fast carbs in recipes and meals so you can take in slow carbs and protein at the same time. For example, include fast-carb sweet potatoes in a bean chili that also features turkey or tofu; the beans supply slow carbs and protein, while the turkey adds an even more significant protein boost.

Even if you can't use a fast-carb food as an ingredient in a recipe, you should pair it with slower-digesting food to lower its effect on blood sugar. If you're drinking juice, for example -- a fast-digesting carb -- save it for mealtime instead of sipping it on its own. Or if you choose to indulge in a square of chocolate, serve it as a dessert immediately after your meal, instead of eating it on its own as a snack.

Fat-Burning Meals to Try

Don't worry if it feels intimidating to create a meal plan that combines fast carbs with slow carbs and protein; chances are, your favorite meals can fit the bill with some minor modifications. If you love spaghetti, for example, try serving it with a generous serving of roasted vegetables -- packed with slow-digesting carbs -- and lean turkey or chicken meatballs, a rich source of protein. Fill a white flour tortilla with chickpeas, sliced chicken breast, spinach and mixed veggies for slow carbs and protein. If you're craving fast-carb breakfast foods, like pancakes, pair them with eggs to slow down digestion.