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THE LOW GI DIET

The low GI diet is about avoiding foods with a high glycemic index (GI). The GI is the rate at which our bodies break down the carbs in our food to energy. This includes processed white foods that are high in carbohydrates such as white bread, pasta cereals, cakes and other foods made with white flour or white sugar.  The reason for this is that when eating these foods your blood sugar rises rapidly.  Your body works to bring down your sugar levels.  The body then thinks it is low in sugar and will begin to feel hungry again very quickly.  Carbohydrates also provide the body with readily available energy which the body will use rather than turning to your fat stores.

PROS

Weight-loss: Eating low GI foods results in the body digesting food more slowly so the body works to burn more fat.  When you eat low GI foods you also feel fuller for longer and as a result you eat less and don’t feel like constantly snacking.

Low sugar levels: The GI diet was originally designed for diabetics to keep their blood sugar levels under control.  Whether diabetic or not it is a healthy choice to keep your blood sugar low for a number of reasons.  A quick rise in blood sugar can actually lower the speed at which the body burns fat.

More energy:  When eating low GI foods you will have more energy throughout the day.  Foods containing lots of sugar can give you a surge of energy often know as a ‘sugar high’.  This energy surge only lasts for a short time and once it wears off you tend to feel lethargic, hungry and wanting something else sweet.

GI scores vary:  A food’s GI score changes depending on the way it is prepared or cooked or in the case of fruit, how ripe it is.  This means you may not have to cut out your favourite foods, just change the way they are prepared and cooked.

You don’t have to cut out all high GI food:   If you do want to eat a high GI food ensure it is eaten with low GI foods like protein and some fat. This will minimise the negative effects of the high GI foods.

You can still have carbohydrates:  Not all carbs have a high GI.  You will have to research which ones have a low GI.  Also, be aware where the GI tests were carried out as sometimes the same product rates differently in different countries as they might use different ingredients in different locations.

CONS

Much research:  You will have to discover the GI of all the foods you like to eat but there are many lists and guides available online.  These either group foods into three groups, high, medium and low.  Others use a traffic light system grouping foods into red, yellow and green groups.  There are also pocket-size guides available that you can take with you when shopping.

Food preparation time will be longer:  Quick, easy to prepare ready meals usually have a high GI. Unprocessed, fresh foods have a low GI but do require more preparation and cooking.

CONCLUSION: The low GI diet, though originally developed for diabetics or those at a risk of developing diabetes, has health benefits for anyone choosing to follow it.  It is not very restrictive and there are still many foods you can enjoy on the low GI diet.  There is also much information about the diet available online and in books so it can be well-researched.

    Ketogenic Diet

    The ketogenic diet (also known as the keto diet) is a low-carb, high-fat and moderate protein diet.  It encourages you to exclude grains, sugar, fruit and tubers.  When we eat a high amount of carbohydrates the body will produce glucose which it will use as its primary energy source.  Since any fats we eat are not needed for energy the body will store them.  By lowering our carbohydrate intake the body goes into a state of Ketosis which is when the body begins burning the fat we eat for energy.

    PROS

    Weight-loss: The keto diet definitely helps one lose weight.  The body is now burning fat instead of storing it as it will be using fat as an energy source.  Some studies show that those following the keto diet lose even more weight than those following a low-fat diet.

    Controlled blood sugar: The keto diet naturally controls our blood sugar levels which can reduce the risk of diabetes or help regulate diabetes.

    Mental benefits:  Many say that when following the keto diet they are more focussed and are able to concentrate for longer periods of time.  This is because when the body is in a state of Ketosis, burning fat produces ketones which provide energy to the brain.

    More energy:  When the body is using fat as an energy source you will feel more energised throughout the day

    You won’t feel hungry:  No part of this diet requires you to feel hungry and snacking is allowed, just be vigilant about what your snacks are.  You are lowering your carbohydrate in take but this does not mean you eat less it just means you replace carbs with fat.  Fat is generally more filling than other foods so if this makes up the majority of your diet you are going to feel more full and stay full for longer.

    Better skin:  Many notice improvements in their skin and reduction in acne when following the keto diet.  There are studies suggesting that the keto diet also assist with a number of other conditions or diseases but more research has to be done to make these findings conclusive.

    Large variety of options:  Though this diet requires you to lower the amount of carbohydrates you eat there is still a large number of foods you can eat while following this diet.  This means you can still have variety in your diet and situations like eating at a restaurant are not made difficult.

    CONS

    You will initially experience ‘keto flu’:  As your body adapts to your lower carb intake and your increased fat intake you may experience reduced energy levels, grogginess and headaches.  This is known as ‘keto flu’ and should only last for a few days.

    Increased urination:  It is common to urinate more often when following the keto diet.  Just ensure you drink enough water so that you do not become dehydrated.

    Bad breath:  When the body goes into a state of Ketosis it is normal to experience bad breath.  This is not a long-term effect and can be combatted in the usual ways such as chewing gum as long as it is sugar free.

    Research will be required:  As you begin his diet you will need to do some research on the foods you eat and read labels before you buy foods.  Many foods that seem keto-friendly actually contain ‘hidden’ carbs.

    CONCLUSION: The keto diet encourages you to reduce the amount of carbohydrates you eat and replace them with fat.  This will result in the body burning the fat you eat instead of storing it.  There are many mental and physical benefits to following the keto diet including weight loss.  There are still many foods one can eat while following this diet and therefore it is easy to maintain in the long-run.

      South Beach Diet

      The South Beach diet is lower in carbohydrates and higher in healthy fats and protein.  It does not eliminate all carbs but encourages low glycemic index carbs as well as lean proteins and unsaturated fats and divides carbs and fats into ’good’ and ‘bad’ groups.  High glycemic index carbs can lead to weight gain and possibly diabetes.  The South Beach diet consists of three phases.  The first phase is very restrictive but only lasts for two weeks and helps you to reduce the cravings.  The second phase is less restrictive and this phase lasts until you reach your goal weight.  The third phase is even less restrictive.  You begin this phase once you have reached your goal weight and it will help you to maintain a healthy weight and life style.

      PROS

      Weight loss:  Studies have shown that those following the South Beach diet do lose weight.  They lose weight quite rapidly in the first two weeks while in Stage 1 but continue to lose weight steadily while in Stage 2.  While this may seem slow it is considered a very healthy way to diet.

      Reduced risk of heart disease:  The South Beach diet was developed by cardiologist Dr Artur Agatston.  Unhappy with many of the fad diets his patients were following, Dr Agatston developed the South Beach diet to not only help people lose weight but also reduce their risk of heart disease.

      No food is not allowed:  One you have reached your goal weight and are in stage 3 you are allowed all foods and can have ‘treats’ as long as you do not over-indulge in some foods.

      It is easy to maintain:  The worry with many diets is that once you stop you will put on the weight you lost.  The South Beach diet is easy to maintain in the long run, especially in stage 3 and will help you maintain a healthy weight.  Many who follow the diet say that they have been able to keep the weight off after reaching their goal weight.

      Many South Beach diet recipes are available:  There is a huge amount of South Beach diet recipes as well as meal plans available online.

      You won’t go hungry:  No part of the South Beach diet requires you to go hungry and allows snacking.  It is more about what you eat than how much you eat.

      CONS

      It is very restrictive in the first phase:  Some may struggle with the South Beach diet to begin with.  The first phase is the most restrictive which may be difficult.  However, it is only for two weeks and more foods can be introduced in phase 2.

      Allows fats that are high in omega-6:  The South Beach diet does allow fats that are high in omega-6 fatty acids, such as soybean oil and sunflower oil.  Too much omega-6 can lead to inflammation and other health problems.

      The diet allows processed foods:   The South Beach diet does allow some processed foods but these do have other health risks attached to them.  To remain healthy, it would be best to choose the non-processed options in these cases.  While the diet does allow processed food, it does encourage eating mainly unprocessed food.

      CONCLUSION: The South Beach diet is low in carbs and encourages eating mainly unprocessed foods, liberal amounts of vegetables and healthy, high-fibre carb sources.  The diet has been proven to promote weight loss as well as reduce the risk of heart disease.  It is not a diet to be used if you want to lose weight in a hurry but it is sustainable and helps one maintain a healthy weight.