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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.