The glycemic index diet can promote better health and weight loss if followed correctly. Certain foods are healthier than others on the glycemic index. Thus, knowing which foods to choose can help you achieve optimal health and weight loss.
About the Diet
Each food is assigned a number from 1 to 100 on the glycemic index (hereafter referred to as just "GI"). Foods are categorized as high, moderate and low. Those that are high on the GI are ranked 70 and above. Medium-GI foods are between 56 to 69, and low-GI foods are at 55 and below. If a food is high on the GI, it indicates the food releases sugar quickly into the bloodstream. Foods low on the GI release sugars slowly. How quickly or slowly foods release sugar affects metabolism and therefore how quickly we become hungry again after eating. The goal while following the diet is to eat foods low in the GI--these foods stave off hunger and help you lose weight. The diet can also assist diabetics, who must watch their sugar intake; foods low on the GI do not cause a spike in blood sugar.
Why Glycemic Diet Foods Help You Lose Weight
Most, but not all, of the foods low on the GI tend to be healthier foods. Many fruits and vegetables are low on the GI, while refined, starchy foods that are high in calories and fats are high on the GI. Therefore, a correlation exists between appropriate calorie consumption and its level on the glycemic index. Likewise, foods that influence metabolism can create feelings of hunger or satiety; foods low on the GI, like berries, can boost metabolism whereas foods high on GI can slow it down.
Best Foods to Consume
Fruits low on the GI include apples, grapes, cherries, mangoes, grapefruit, peaches, plums and strawberries. (High-GI fruits are watermelon, dates, pineapple and bananas.) All vegetables except starches (like potatoes) are low on the GI. Milk products like yogurt and milk are also fine on the GI diet. Oatmeal and bran cereals are low on the GI, and therefore can be consumed. Beans from kidney to lentil to navy are all great choices on the diet, as they are nutritious, high in fiber and low on the index. Some grains are also good choices, like barley, brown rice and bulgur.
Worst Foods to Consume
The worst foods on the glycemic index diet that are also high in calories and low in nutrients include waffles, donuts, white rolls, baguettes, macaroni and cheese, pasta, chips, jelly beans and other candy.
Not all foods low on the GI are healthy, and some very nutritious foods are high on the GI. Using such black-and-white standards of "high GI = bad" and "low GI = good" creates conflicting results. As an example taken from a GI chart (see Resources), pound cake is low on the GI at 54, while a rice cake is high at 82. Tufts School of Nutrition published one study conducted at the Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory: it determined that using the GI to assess health is difficult when each individual's ability to produce insulin is varied. Another problem, the study found, is that combining foods with every meal (like in a sandwich) creates different GI levels. Should you be contemplating what type of carb to eat if debating between a bagel or a bran muffin, the GI might be a good resource. Otherwise, too many factors exist in the healthiness of a food, like its calorie, vitamin, mineral and nutrient profiles. For further assistance on how to make healthy choices on the glycemic index diet, consult a registered dietitian.
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