What is the Glycemic Index Diet?
G.I. stands for Glycemic Index. The Glycemic Index is a way of scoring different foods according to the effect they have on blood sugar levels, or more accurately, how quickly the sugars (carbs) in foods are absorbed.
Generally the lower the Glycemic index the better the food item will be at controlling blood sugar levels and appetite. This is because foods with a low Glycemic Index release the energy in a slow, steady manner; this in turn helps limit the body’s release of insulin (a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels).
The end result is blood sugar is regulated in a more natural way rather than the roller-coaster levels most people experience when a diet is made up of many processed and/or convenience, fast foods. The outcome is many G.I. dieters feel fuller for longer helping them to eat less food over the course of the day.
Some research indicates that a diet made up of many low G. I. foods can be a healthy way to lose weight permanently. With a few minor changes the G. I. diet is fairly easy to follow, by selecting foods with mostly low G.I. you can be on the G.I. Diet in no time.
Why is the Glycemic Index Diet So Popular?
The glycemic index diet or G.I. diet is gaining a reputation as a healthy way to lose weight. Although more of a way of eating rather than a diet, more and more people following the G. I way achieve their weight loss goals.
Many health experts agree that the Glycemic Index diet, if followed correctly, can be a great way to weight loss success, especially for those who struggle with conventional low calorie diets or dieters who have trouble controlling their appetite.
The G.I diet is similar to the low carb diet but it is not as strict and targets the types of carbs rather than the quantity of carbs for each meal. There is also a focus on the correct timing of the two basic types of meals – a carb or protein meal. The science behind the timing and types of meal makes G.I dieting a potent way to help lose fat stores, safely and relatively quickly.
The G.I diet is all about Insulin and controlling blood sugar levels.
Insulin is a hormone which helps regulate our blood sugar; actually it lowers blood sugar levels by stimulating cells to absorb any excess sugar from the blood. The problem with Insulin is it also causes fat cells to take up excess fatty acids from the blood. Often we ingest a meal which includes both sugar and fats so if any meal includes foods which have a high Glycemic Index then the fat from that meal can be easily stored on the hips.
There is an established theory that if one can control insulin levels then one can control how much fat the body will store from each and EVERY meal. Fat can only be stored when Insulin is present, and Insulin is only released when blood sugar levels become elevated.
The problem with modern foods
The problem with many modern foods on the market is many tend to be highly processed; they often contain lots of added sugar and salt, as well as preservatives. The high sugar content causes a rapid absorption of sugar, the body responds by releasing the hormone insulin. A large release of insulin eventually causes the blood sugar to crash, once again low blood sugar levels will trigger the appetite and the dieter feels hungry once more.
What raises blood sugar?
Carbohydrate in foods will raise blood sugar if it is absorbed too rapidly. The types of foods which cause rapid absorption of sugar are all those with a high G.I index rating.
The basics of the G.I index
The Glycemic Index ranks carbohydrate foods by assigning them a number ranging from 0 to 100. The number indicates the rate at which the food raises blood glucose levels during its absorption. The higher the value the quicker the sugar is absorbed.
A high Glycemic index food has a value of 70 and above. A G.I value of 56-69 is considered medium and any foods lower than 55 are considered a low Glycemic index food. Foods with a low G.I are best as they digest more naturally and help provide a steady supply of energy over the course of several hours, it also makes us feel fuller for longer.
How does the G.I. diet work?
A standard Glycemic index score of 100 has been assigned for glucose. A G. I. index of 70 or above means sugar absorption is quick resulting in a rapid increase in blood sugar levels, these are the types of foods which should be avoided or limited to very small portions and mixed with other low G.I. foods. A G.I. score of 69 down to 56 is considered medium G. I. Any foods with a score of 55 or less is classed as low and good for controlling sugar release.
The G.I Diet is not a miracle diet plan which guarantees permanent weight loss. Calories do count, which means that any food eaten in excess can still result in weight gain. A diet made up of mostly low G.I. foods can help the dieter regulate the appetite so they generally consume less energy over time. In reality the G.I. Diet is not a diet it’s really a healthy way of eating as many low G.I foods are generally natural and unprocessed. As a general rule many natural carbohydrate foods which are broken down gradually tend to be good or lower G.I. foods. Processed convenience foods loaded with added sugars are often high on the G.I. food chart.
Is the G.I Diet simple?
The diet sounds simple because foods are generally chosen from the low G.I food list, but it gets complicated when you create a meal made up of many different food items, each with a unique G.I value. The idea is to make sure most items which make up every meal have a low Glycemic index, thus the overall G.I of the meal stays within the low to medium range.
How to incorporate G. I. foods into your dietary plan
Because we eat various types of foods every day it is impractical to eat all low G.I. foods. The overall balance of foods is more important and more realistic way to incorporate G.I. foods into a dietary plan. Below are examples of low and high GI foods.
Eating a low G.I. food along with a high G.I. food at the same meal will probably equal a medium G. I. index, so it may a good idea to make sure at least three-quarters of the meal is made up of lower G.I. foods. This could also mean that the odd junk food treat could still be enjoyed as long as the overall calories are still controlled enough to lose weight.
Gaining complete nutrition
There are some foods which have a high G.I rating but are considered a healthy nutritious food. In these cases healthy high G.I foods can be combined with low G.I foods to maintain low-medium G.I value, plus help create a complete nutritional intake. An example is baked potato (high G.I) topped with baked beans (low G.I). There are also low G.I foods which should be limited. Fresh meat and poultry contains no sugar so the G.I. will be very low, however, they do contain lots of fat and protein so the energy content will be high. Remember calories do still count!
One positive point about the G.I meal plan is it’s possible for dieters to enjoy the odd “treat” item once or twice each week, maybe an occasional dessert after a light dinner. As long as these “bad” items are NOT eaten alone it should not ruin the diet plan.
Benefits of G.I. way of eating:
- 1. Enjoy tasty foods but limit storage of fat
- 2. Enjoy some favourite foods AND still lose fat
- 3. Increased energy level and wellbeing
- 4. Control of blood sugar
- 5. Less hunger feelings
- 6. Less craving for sugary foods
- 7. Less bloating feeling after meals
- 8. Ability to eat more food if desired
- 9. Less risk from diabetes and other diseases
- 10. No strict calorie reductions
- Bread and Cereals
- Milk and Yogurts
- Pasta and Grains