The Glycemic Index Diet

Published:April 22nd, 2012

As more and more people are becoming health-conscious and turning into health buffs these days, diet and weight loss programs have, as a direct result, steadily increased in popularity. The Glycemic Index Diet/GI Diet/Low Glycemic Diet is a well-known weight loss regimen which served as the main concept or basis behind many other diet plans such as South Beach, The Zone, Glucose Revolution, Nutrisystem, etc. Basically, this diet plan keeps track of how the blood sugar level rises when certain servings of carbohydrate-rich foods are consumed or in other words, it’s a measure of how carbohydrates in food impact blood sugar levels. Originally conceived as a means to aid diabetics manage or control their blood sugar levels, the theory behind the Glycemic Index Diet has been adopted gradually as a tool for weight control and management even for non-diabetics.

What is Glycemic Index?

Glycemic index is defined as the incremental section below the two-hour blood glucose response curve succeeding a 12-hour fast and consumption of foods containing carbohydrate. It categorizes carbohydrate-containing foods based on their ability or power to bring about an increase in one’s blood sugar level. Foods with high GI (Glycemic Index) tend to break down quickly during digestion, thus, releasing glucose immediately into the bloodstream, whereas, foods with a low GI break down slowly and release glucose more gradually. The lower the GI, the slower is the digestion and absorption of food which translates into a lower demand for insulin and enhanced long-term control of blood glucose.

Rating of foods on GI scale

Normally, foods are rated high (70 and above), moderate (56-69), or low (55 or less) on the glycemic index scale. Examples of low GI foods include mostly fruits and vegetables, such as legumes, some whole grains, nuts, kidney beans, chick peas, raw carrots, raw apple, and grapefruit. Sources of medium GI foods include whole wheat products, sweet corn, banana, raisins, pineapple, sweet potato, and baked potatoes. Under the high GI foods are white bread, white rice, corn flakes, watermelon, white skinless baked potato, and boiled red potatoes.

Role of low GI food in weight loss

As a tool for shedding weight, proponents of the glycemic index diet espouse the concept that low GI foods are generally more satisfying because they take more time to be absorbed into the system and give dieters the feeling of satiety for a longer duration, as opposed to high GI foods (considered undesirable) which are assimilated a lot faster and do not help cut or control food cravings. Low-glycemic foods also referred to as slow carbs, also tend to be naturally high in fiber, much healthier, more nutrient-filled, and less-processed. Consuming low GI foods aids in regulating appetite, delaying hunger pangs, and maintaining balanced blood sugar which lowers the risk of insulin resistance. High GI foods on the other hand, can actually cause an increase or spike in blood sugar, succeeded by a series of hormonal changes that trigger hunger cues to come much sooner.

Low GI foods lower the risk of chronic diseases

Besides aiding in weight loss and management (although some researches seem to doubt, contradict or disprove this), applying the GI in the daily diet gradually teaches dieters to select and choose only healthier, high-quality food sources of carbs, thereby, lowering their risk of acquiring various forms of debilitating, chronic illnesses. One study links low-GI diets to decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, some forms of cancer, diabetes, and age-related macular degeneration.

However, as with any other diet, you should always consult your health care practitioner before making any major changes in your diet or beginning a new diet program.


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