Are you diabetic or at risk of acquiring diabetes? Are you looking for a healthy way to lose weight through which you promote better overall health for heart, eyes, kidneys and other essential organs? A low glycemic diet could be the lifestyle change you need to regain control of your health.
What is a Low Glycemic Diet?
Every food that contains carbohydrates raises blood sugar levels in the body. These foods are assigned a glycemic index rating which corresponds to the degree to which the food increases blood sugar levels. According to a glycemic index chart, foods like doughnuts, pasta and sports-drinks have a high glycemic index (55+) whereas vegetables and meats have low glycemic index ratings (under 55).
Followers of a low glycemic diet strive to eat foods with a glycemic index below 55 in order to keep blood sugar levels and the resulting cravings under control. Since there is a correlation between carbohydrates and a high glycemic index rating, a low glycemic diet is similar to a low carb diet in many ways.
Benefits of a Low Glycemic Diet
So what benefits can be obtained by following a low glycemic diet?
1. Controls blood sugar. Low glycemic dieters enjoy lower blood sugar levels and a decreased need for insulin. This can be key for people with diabetes or people at risk of acquiring diabetes.
2. Decreased risk of disease. Low glycemic diets also tend to be high in fiber and thus help promote a variety of health benefits. In addition to a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes, low glycemic diets also promote a decreased risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer. Followers of a healthy Mediterranean diet enjoy many of these health benefits since such diets incorporate mostly low glycemic foods.
3. A happier life. A low glycemic diet has been linked to an improved mood. Stabilized blood sugar levels promote normalized levels of serotonin in the brain which help control mood swings and crankiness. This means no more “sugar crashes” that leave you feeling tired and irritable.
4. More energy. Low glycemic foods are digested slowly. As such, they provide a slow-burning source of fuel for working muscles. Low glycemic foods promote stable energy levels which can help you feel alert throughout the course of the day.
5. Better digestive health. Vegetables make up a large percentage of the foods available to low glycemic dieters. Since vegetables are high in fiber, followers of a low glycemic diet often consume higher quantities of fiber than the average person which leads to a healthier digestive system and regularity with bowel movements.
6. Increased metabolism. Consistently increasing one’s blood sugar creates a hazard in the metabolic system. The key to speeding up metabolism, in addition to daily exercise, is to consume foods that burn slowly and keep blood sugar levels under control.
Low Glycemic Diet Foods
It’s not always realistic to keep a glycemic index chart on hand at all times, so it’s good to gain a broad understand of which foods have a low glycemic index. As a rule of thumb, low carbohydrate foods have low glycemic index ratings. Meats have a glycemic index rating of zero since they contain no carbohydrates, only fat and protein. With the exceptions of beets, potatoes, pumpkin and parsnips, vegetables also have very low glycemic index values. Most fruits have low glycemic index ratings, but some, such as watermelon, banana, mango, and dates, have high glycemic index ratings and should be avoided.
The real violators of a low glycemic diet are processed, starchy foods. White rice, pasta, potatoes, breads, breakfast cereals, and sweet desserts are all big “no-no’s” for anyone on a low glycemic diet. While some foods such as bran flakes, wild rice, and bagels may have a perception for being “healthy”, they are bad news for anyone on a low glycemic diet. Indeed, just because a food is low calorie or considered kosher on a separate diet plan does not mean it isn’t a major violator of the rules of a low glycemic diet.