Carb Pairing: 10 Best Food Combinations For Weight Loss

 by Dr. Steve Hruby
Reviewed by Dr. Steve Hruby

I am a chiropractor, father, husband, coach, entrepreneur, and motivational speaker. Feeling good about yourself is a choice: My mission is to transform lives through optimized health and overall well-being.

  Fact Checked
 by Rhealyn Tropia, RMT
Reviewed by Rhealyn Tropia, RMT

I’ve been called a Data Ninja, The Fact Checker, and a Human Search Engine. I’m an indie content curator who does research daily, and quizzes myself on the important issues of the day.

carb pairing

Most people probably think of carbohydrates as either “good” or “bad.” But there’s more to them than that. Carbohydrates are one of the three macronutrients, along with protein and fat. They’re available in various foods, including bread, pasta, rice, fruits, vegetables, and even some dairy products.

Carbs are an important part of a healthy diet, but they can also be a source of excess calories if you’re not careful. That’s why it’s important to understand how to use carb pairing to make the most of your diet.

Carb pairing is a way of eating that combines carbs with other nutrients to maximize health benefits. For example, you might pair a complex carb like brown rice with a protein-rich food like chicken or fish.

This combination provides your body with a steady supply of energy. Simultaneously, it ensures you get the building blocks needed to repair and build muscle.

Besides weight loss and muscle growth, carb pairing has other health benefits. Let’s find out which ones, plus which food pairs allow you to exploit the most carb pairing advantages.

What Is Carb Pairing? How Does It Work?

When you eat a meal, your body turns carbohydrates into glucose, which then gives energy. However, if you eat more carbs than your body needs, the excess glucose gets stored as glycogen in the liver and muscles.

Suppose you continue to eat a high-carb diet; your body stores excess glycogen. As a result, it starts converting excess supplies into fat. That’s why a high-carb diet can lead to weight gain.

So, how can you ensure you’re getting the most out of your carbs?

The answer is carb pairing.

Carb pairing is when you pair carbohydrate-rich food with protein-rich food. Combining these two nutrients helps slow down the sugar release into the bloodstream. Therefore, carb pairing helps prevent spikes in blood sugar levels.

The concept of carb pairing relies on the glycemic index, which measures how quickly meals elevate blood sugar. High-index products are more likely to trigger quick blood sugar rises. Meanwhile, those with a low index cause steady blood sugar rises.

Eating carbs with foods that burn belly fat ensures ample nutritional supply, satiation, and less weight gain.

Does Carb Pairing Work for Weight Loss?

Are you wondering, “what is carb pairing to lose weight?” and whether it’s even a thing? The answer is that carb pairing works for weight loss in two ways.

fork wrapped with measuring tape on a yellow background

First, it may help you control your carb intake. By pairing carbs with other nutrients, you’re more likely to feel full while taking fewer calories. Pairing can help you eat less overall and may lead to weight loss.

Second, carb pairing can help you burn more calories. When you pair carbs with protein, the digestion process demands more effort. This process (thermic effect of food) can boost your metabolism and help you burn more calories.

So, carb pairing may be a helpful strategy if you’re looking to lose weight. Just ensure to incorporate healthy foods like lean protein, healthy fats, and vegetables when food pairing for weight loss.

Other Benefits of Carb Pairing

Besides weight loss, what’s a carb-pairing diet good at?

Better Blood Sugar Control

Pairing carbs with protein or healthy fat can help slow down the release of sugar into your bloodstream. Pairing can help prevent blood sugar spikes and crashes, which can be especially beneficial for people with diabetes.

Improved Digestion

Pairing carbs with protein or fat can also help you digest them slower and more evenly. Slowed food breakdowns can deter sugar surges. It may also help you feel fuller for longer.

More Nutrient Absorption

Protein and fat may help slow down the digestion of carbs. Hence, pairing carbs with protein or healthy fat can help your body better absorb the nutrients in the carbs.

List of Foods with Carbohydrates and Protein

Are you seeking foods with decent amounts of both protein and carbohydrates? Here are some that might help.

bowl with beans and quinoa
  • Protein bars like ONE and Quest
  • Soy products like tempeh, tofu, and soy milk
  • Hummus: A cup contains 7.9 grams of proteins and 14.3 grams of carbs.
  • Quinoa: A cup of cooked quinoa has around 39 grams of carbs and 8 grams of protein.
  • Traditional and Greek yogurt: One cup of Greek yogurt has around 10 grams of carbs and 24 grams of protein.
  • Beans: A cup of cooked black beans has around 40.8 grams of carbs and 15.2 grams of protein.

Examples of Carb Pairing

Now that we understand carb pairing, let’s look at some examples.

1 – Chicken and Cayenne

What better way to start our food-pairing diet than with chicken? Brimming with flavor and nutrients, it’s no surprise that chicken is a weekly delicacy to about 91% of US consumers.

When it comes to chicken, there are many ways to cook it. You could fry it in a pan with some vinegar oil or bake it in the oven. However, one of the healthiest ways to cook chicken is to grill it.

When grilling chicken, add cayenne pepper to give it a bit of a kick. Cayenne pepper is not only tasty, but it also has many health benefits.

For example, cayenne pepper can help to boost your metabolism and help you to burn fat. It can also help to improve your circulation and reduce inflammation.

2 – Tuna and Ginger Sushi

Loving sushi? Well, good news – you can still enjoy sushi on a food-pairing diet!

sushi roll with tuna and wasabi on a plate with chopsticks

Get yourself some tuna, an excellent source of protein and omega-3. The omega acids reduce swelling, lower vascular pressure, and improve heart health.

Spice up your sushi with sweet and savory ginger. Ginger can help to reduce inflammation and pain. 

Moreover, ginger has been natural nausea and indigestion remedy for ages. So, if you’re the type who always avoids sushi purely for nausea, try this pairing and see whether it works for you.

3 – Bell Peppers and Eggs

Pepper and eggs are an excellent combo for those seeking high-volume low calorie foods. I love mine scrambled, but you can also try the egg-in-a-pepper recipe.

Bell peppers are excellent sources of vitamins C and B6, potassium, and folic acid. They also contain fiber and carotenoids that promote good vision and healthy skin.

Eggs are among the few products containing all of the essential amino acids. They’re also a good source of choline, which is important for brain health.

4 – Almonds and Yogurt

Craving something creamy and velvety? Yogurt and almonds are a delicious and healthy combination.

Get some Greek yogurt packed with antioxidants which can help to improve heart health. Yogurt can also help to improve digestion and cognitive function.

Almonds are a good source of healthy fats, fiber, and vitamins. They can also help to lower cholesterol and improve heart health.

5 – Apples/Banana and Peanut Butter

Who doesn’t love a good peanut butter and banana/apple sandwich? This classic combination is not only tasty but it’s also packed with nutrients.

healthy breakfast food with sliced banana on peanut butter

Peanut butter is a good protein, fiber, and healthy fats source. It helps to reduce swellings and improve heart health.

Apples and bananas are great sources of potassium, which is essential for maintaining healthy blood pressure. They also supply decent amounts of fiber and vitamins C and the B-complex group.

6 – Sunflower Seeds with Oats

Start your day with a nutritious and filling breakfast with sunflower seeds and oats.

Sunflower seeds are a good source of protein (20.77%), fiber (8.5%), and vitamins. They help to boost heart health and counter inflammation.

Oats are a good source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals, especially manganese. They’re vital for cholesterol reduction, improving blood sugar control, and promoting weight loss.

So, next time you’re looking for a healthy breakfast option, try sunflower seeds with oats.

7 – Oatmeal and Berries

Try pure oats topped with your favorite berries for those seeking gluten-free carbs.

Whole oats abound in fiber  (11%), which can help to improve digestion and GI health. They’re also a good source of protein and essential vitamins and minerals.

Berries are low in calories but high in fiber and antioxidants. They also support heart health and proper brain function.

Wondering which berries to add to your oatmeal? Blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries are excellent choices.

8 – Spinach + Lemon Juice

Craving sour things? It may be your body alerting you of imbalanced gut bacteria, one of the contributors to weight gain.

smoothie with spinach and lemon ingredient

But did you know that you can use sour foods to your advantage? For example, adding lemon juice to spinach can help you to absorb its nutrients better.

Spinach is a superb source of A, C, and K vitamins, plus minerals like iron, magnesium, and calcium.

Lemon juice is rich in vitamin C, which boosts immunity. It also aids in the absorption of iron from spinach.

So, next time you’re looking for a healthy and delicious way to eat spinach, try adding some lemon juice.

9 – Walnuts and Raspberries

This pairing is perfect for sweet tooths aiming to lose weight.

Reach for a handful of walnuts to tap into their healthy fats (65.21%), protein (15.23%), and fiber. They also support heart function and cognitive abilities.

Top up with raspberries; tasty low-calorie treats high in fiber and antioxidants. Raspberries promote heart and gut well-being while helping with weight management.

10 – Stir Fry

When it comes to food pairing, there are endless possibilities. For instance, you could make a stir fry with chicken, ginger, and cayenne pepper (as mentioned earlier).

Or, you could try a vegetarian stir fry with tofu, broccoli, and carrots.

Tofu is a good source of protein and essential amino acids. It’s also low in calories and fat yet high in antioxidants.

Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable packed with vitamins and minerals. The antioxidant-rich food helps to boost heart health and combat inflammation.

Carrots abound in beta-carotene that your body converts into vitamin A. This vegetable promotes improved vision, immunity, and cell growth. Carrots are also a good source of fiber (2.8%), which is vital for gut health.

FAQs: Top Burning Questions on Carb Pairing

fit man holding containers of healthy food

Is It Necessary To Eat Paired Foods at the Same Time?

It’s not necessary to eat paired foods at the same time. However, eating them following each other is beneficial rather than waiting for a while. Closely eating different foods helps combine carbs, protein, and healthy fats. That helps to slacken carb absorption better.

Does Food Pairing Imply That I Won’t Need Medication or Insulin?

While it helps with sugar regulation, food pairing doesn’t imply that you won’t need medication or insulin. Individuals with higher insulin resistance may be unable to regulate their blood sugar with food pairing alone.

Ensure you’re working with a healthcare professional to understand what is best for your blood sugar regulation. Everyone is different, so what works for one person may not work for another.


When carb pairing, consider complex carbs over simple carbs. Complex carbs are slower to digest and absorb than simple ones. As a result, they aid in blood sugar stabilization.

Don’t forget to pair carbs with various nutrients besides protein to get the most benefits. Try pairing carbs with healthy fats to slacken glucose absorption and reduce the risk of blood sugar spikes.

Eat carbs in moderation. Also, exploit low-calorie carbs or find ways to reduce their caloric content. If you eat too many carbs on a carb-pairing diet, you’ll still store them as glycogen. That won’t do anything to aid in weight loss.

So, carbohydrate pairing is an excellent approach to losing weight, developing muscle, and improving your health. Just be sure to choose complex carbs, pair them with other nutrients, and eat them in moderation.

I believe you now understand the meaning of carb pairing and the best option for weight loss. What pairing was your favorite? Check out whether there is such a thing as vegan rice. It’s time to see whether it’s an excellent candidate for your next paired dish.

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