What is Glycemic Index?
Glycemic index, or GI, is a system that assigns a number to carbohydrate-containing foods and how they affect blood sugar and insulin. It was designed to help people with diabetes control their blood sugar levels.
Foods are ranked based on how they compare to a reference food — either glucose or white bread.
Low Glycemic Index Diet
A low glycemic index diet is one of the most popular diet plans. Many popular low-carb diets are based on the glycemic index, including the Sugar Busters! Diet and the Zone Diet.
A low glycemic index diet plan typically refers to a specific dietary plan that utilizes this index exclusively as the guide for meal planning. It’s a plan based on how those foods that you eat affect your blood sugar and insulin levels.
A low glycemic diet doesn’t really specify portion sizes or the optimum number of carbs, fats or calories for losing weight and/or maintaining the weight loss, like some other diet plans.
Its main goal is for followers to eat carbohydrates that don’t cause a spike in blood sugar levels, and fiber that helps you feel full longer. Not being hungry and feeling more satisfied means you lose weight, which leads to prevention of chronic diseases related to obesity, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
For this reason, be aware of the importance of a low glycemic index diet for diabetics, as well as a low glycemic index diet for weight loss.
Foods to Eat on a Low GI Diet
Here are some low glycemic index diet foods that you can consider:
- Vegetables such as eggplant, onions, winter squash, and carrots.
- Fruits like bananas, grapefruit, apples, and grapes.
- Nuts and seeds including almonds, peanuts and cashews.
- Beans and legumes such as dried peas, kidney beans, and lentils.
- Seafood items like scallops.
- Dairy such as cheese, eggs and yogurt.
- Grains like oats, brown rice and rye.
Health Benefits of a Low GI Diet
Here are some health benefits that a low GI diet can offer:
- It promotes weight loss and prevents obesity because low GI foods are digested more slowly therefore making you feel full longer. This leads to eating less and consuming fewer calories.
- It’s beneficial in preventing diabetes, particularly type 2 diabetes. It helps manage the diabetes by controlling blood sugar levels and improving the body’s sensitivity to insulin.
- A low GI diet may help lower total cholesterol, as well as LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, while increasing your heart-friendly HDL (“good”) cholesterol — especially when combined with increased fiber in your diet.
- A low GI diet may prevent heart disease by reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and decreasing lipid and triglyceride levels, along with blood pressure and waist circumference, all which can increase your risk of having a heart attack or suffering a stroke.
- Following a low GI diet reduces a person’s risk for developing certain cancers, such as breast cancer. A low GI-high fiber diet is even more protective.
- Eating a low glycemic diet may slow the development and progression of age-related macular degeneration, due to lower blood sugar levels. High blood sugar levels tend to promote the development of macular degeneration.