Is a low glycemic diet the right choice for you?

Why you might follow the low glycemic diet

You might choose the GI diet because:

  • You are at genetic risk of insulin resistance, which can lead to the development of type 2 diabetes;
  • If your genes make you prone to obesity;
  • Your cholesterol levels are too high. A low GI diet has proven to be beneficial to lowering cholesterol levels by almost 10%, as well as LDL cholesterol levels by just under 9%. For those who don’t know, higher LDL cholesterol levels can lead to strokes, heart attacks, and heart disease;
  • Need help to maintain blood sugar levels if you have diabetes;
  • You want to lose weight. By merely adapting your diet to make it a low GI diet, you can lose 4-5 pounds over the course of 5-10 weeks, without taking any other measures to lose weight;
  • Simply you would like to eat healthier;

If you have any health conditions, you should check with your doctor before starting any diet.

Beginners Guide to an LG Diet

In past few years the world has seen the LG (Low-glycemic) diet – a diet which has been built around the glycaemic index – become increasingly popular.

Research has shown that as a result of this diet, dieters can lose weight, reduce their risk of heart disease and heart problems, and even lower blood sugar levels.

Glycemic Index – What is it?

Carbohydrates, more commonly known as carbs, can be found in foods such as bread, fruit and vegetables, dairy-based products, and cereals. While most people associate carbs with being unhealthy, they are essential to a healthy and stable diet.

Our bodies break down carbs into simpler sugar cells that can then be absorbed into our bloodstreams. Of course, there are several types of carbohydrates, and different types have different impacts on our bodies.

By using the Glycemic Index (GI), we can determine how a carbohydrate will impact our blood sugar levels. This concept was initially thought of by Dr David Jenkins back in the 1980s.

Ultimately, the value depends on how fast a carbohydrate will be absorbed into your bloodstream.

This index is split into three categories:

  • Low (GI value of 55 or lower)
  • Medium (GI value of between 56 and 59)
  • High (GI value of 70 or higher)

Concerning healthiness, it’s in your best interest to focus on consuming carbs that have a low GI value as they can help to maintain a reasonable blood sugar level.

Similarly, limiting your consumption of carbs with a high GI value is essential to prevent sudden changes in your blood sugar levels.

Remember that if a food doesn’t contain any carbs, it won’t have a GI value. Foods such as beef, eggs, chicken, and many others won’t have GI values.

What contributes to the GI of foods?

There are few factors which contribute to a food’s GI value, some of which we have listed below.

1.Sugar Type. Remember that not all sugars have a dreadfully high GI value. There are a group of sugars which have a low GI value, such as fructose which has a GI value of 19, and a group of sugars which have higher GI values, such as maltose which has a GI value of 105. The type of sugar that is used is essential to determining the GI value of food.

2. Starch Structure. Without overcomplicating things, starch is a type of carbohydrate and is made from two different molecules – amylopectin and amylose. Amylopectin can be digested by our bodies easily whereas amylose takes longer to digest and thus has a lower GI value.

3. Processed Foods. More common than not, foods that are processed have higher GI values as a result of the disrupted starch structures – specifically amylose and amylopectin.

4. Nutrient Build-Up. Fats and acids increase the time that it takes for foods to be digested and the nutrients to be absorbed; this results in a lower GI value. With this in mind, if fats or acids are added to a dish, the GI value will be decreased.

5. Preparation and Cooking. Both the preparation and cooking of a meal will contribute to the GI value of a meal. Generally speaking, if it takes longer for certain foods to be cooked, then the GI value will be higher.

6. Ripe Fruits. Fruits that have yet to ripen contain carbohydrates which, over time, are broken down into sugar. The riper than a piece of fruit is, the higher the GI value. If we take a banana as an example: unripe bananas have a GI value of 30 and a ripened banana’s GI value of 48.

Tracking Your Carbs

There are two things which impact your blood sugar levels – how much you eat and the types of carbs that you are eating. Given that the GI factor only considers what kind of carbs foods contain and not how much of these carbs you consume, we have to use something known as the GL (Glycemic Load).

The GL of food takes into consideration how a carb will impact your blood sugar levels with both the type of carb and the quality of it.

The GL of food shows you how a carb will affect your blood sugar levels while taking into consideration the type of carb and how much of the carb you’re

consuming. Similar to GI, there are three ratings of GL.

  • Low (GL value of 10 or lower)
  • Medium (GL value of between 11 and 19)
  • High (GL value of 20 or higher)

The GIF (Glycemic Index Foundation) recommend that alongside GI, you should take into account your GL values and keep your GL below 100 each day.

If you don’t want to keep track of GL, then you can just continue to eat foods with a low GI value and instead try to cut down on your portions which, as a result, would keep your GL low.

Diabetes and low GI diets

Diabetes is a very intricate health condition which millions of people are affected by. Without overcomplicating things, when someone has diabetes it means that their pancreas isn’t producing glucose as it should be. This results in unstable blood sugar levels, and thus, it’s important for people with diabetes to maintain their levels.

Research has shown that by diabetics following a strict low GI diet, they can reduce their blood sugar levels. One specific study observed a group of 3,000 diabetics and focused on how their blood sugar levels were adjusting over the course of three months, while on either high or low GI diets. As a result, this study discovered that HbA1c levels had decreased by an average of 10% on a low GI diet (where the GI values were between 58 and 79), whereas those on high GI diets had GI values between 86 and 112 – thus proving that a low GI diet is beneficial to anyone with diabetes.

There have been studies published which report that by having a high GI diet, you are increasing your risk of becoming a Type 2 diabetic by between 8% and 40%. After analysing 24 different studies which claimed this, it was found that by adding 5 GI points to your diet, you are increasing your risk of Type 2 diabetes by approximately 8% – if you added 10 GI points, you’d increase your risk by about 16%, and so on.

  • You can find out if you are in the risk group for diabetes from our tests below:

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Pregnancy and low GI diet

For women with GDM (Gestational Diabetes Mellitus), low GI diets have been proven to help ease the effects of this and improve the outcome of the pregnancy.
This is a result of low GI diets helping to lower the risk of macrosomia by up to 73% – a health condition which results in babies being born and weighing more than 8 pounds 13 ounces.

There’s no doubting that low GI diets are the way to go.

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