You might have come across various diets, and now in a search for a diet that goes in hand with diabetes? There is a diet designed for diabetics that works to control blood sugar levels. Here is an overview of glycemic-index diet for your understanding.
Glycemic Index diet is a general term for weight loss diet based on the blood sugar levels. It uses the glycemic index to guide the eating plan. The diet revolves around selecting the foods based on minimal alteration of the glucose levels. It was originally developed to improve the blood sugar in diabetes patients.
The Glycemic index and glycemic load are measures of blood glucose levels in the body. Glucose is the body’s main source of energy. It is used by the brain, muscles and other organs as a fuel. Glucose is set at 100 and all the foods are indexed against this set score.
The aim of this diet is to help in weight management, reduce blood sugar levels and maintain the proper health of the heart. It helps you lose weight while improving the cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood.
High blood sugar levels are linked to health diseases like diabetes, heart diseases and obesity. The main aim of this diet is to help people control and prevent diabetes. The diet is based on the theory that eating good carbohydrates like fruits, vegetables and whole grains controls appetite and irregular hunger pangs, while producing a steady rise in the blood sugar levels. Foods that contain starch like cookies, potatoes and white bread elevate the blood sugar levels. They are digested quickly and are released into the bloodstream, spiking the blood sugar levels and making you hungrier.
Following a diet based on the glycemic index can help you shed weight, stave off diabetes and prevent chronic diseases. Glycemic Index (GI) classifies the carbohydrate containing foods according to their potential in raising the blood sugar levels. Good carbohydrates have lower glycemic index are they are digested slowly and keep you full for longer time and bad carbohydrates have a high glycemic index.
The glycemic index diet ranks food in isolation, not in combination with other foods. The glycemic index depends on many factors like:
Ripeness and Storage Time:
As a rule, it is believed that the more ripe a fruit or vegetable is, the higher would be the glycemic index.
The juice has a higher GI than a whole fruit. Similarly, mashed potato has a higher GI than a whole baked potato.
How long a food is cooked also determines and affects the GI index. For example, al dente pasta has a lower GI index than soft-cooked pasta.
Variety of food can also affect the GI index. Converted long grain white rice has a long GI than brown rice. Short grain white rice has a higher GI than brown rice.
Therefore, a glycemic index may not give an accurate picture of how food affects blood sugar levels.
How Does the Diet Work?
As mentioned earlier, glycemic index categorizes foods and beverages, according to their effects on the blood sugar levels. The foods are scaled to the level of 0 to 100. Foods that contain high levels of carbs are ranked the highest as they have a strong effect on the blood sugar. You can access the list of carbohydrates in each category online.
High glycemic index foods are not recommended while following the glycemic index diet. Foods and beverages with high glycemic index are digested rapidly by the body, causing a spike in the blood sugar levels. This is followed by a rapid decline in the blood sugar levels, which create wide fluctuations. Foods with low glycemic index stay for a longer time in the digestive tract. They control appetite and delay hunger, thereby helping you with weight management. A balanced blood sugar also reduces the risk of insulin resistance.
Drinking excess levels of alcohol, particularly beer, can raise blood sugar levels. So, try to drink in moderation. A drink for women and two for men is enough for the day.
Although GI index Diet is a diet program, it equally emphasizes on exercise and physical activities. The more you move, the quicker the pounds will come off. Indulge in moderately intense exercises for 3 hours every week, along with muscle strengthening exercises.
The experts are of the view that the GI diet is misleading and does not predict with consistency on how a specific combination of foods can affect the blood sugar levels. It also raises questions about whether a carbohydrate induced spike in blood sugar even matters or not.
Benefits of the Low Glycemic Index Diet:
The proponents of low glycemic index diet claim that you can reduce the risk of various serious diseases while following the GI diet.
1. No Calorie Counting:
The dieters do not have to do any calorie counting or portion control. You do not need to cut out on most of the carbs, but a sound selection is required. Check the GI index value of the foods before you eat. You also get to eat a varied diet.
Low GI index foods like beans, whole grains, fruits and vegetables contain high amounts of fiber, which keep you full for longer time, thereby keeping hunger at bay.
3. Weight Loss:
The Glycemic Index Diet, like most of the low carbohydrate diets, can help you with moderate and short -term weight loss. However, the diet is not effective in keeping weight at bay. In a 2006 trial, 129 people were assigned to follow four diets- high protein/high-GI, high protein/ Low-GI, low carbohydrate/high GI and high-carbohydrate/low GI diet, along with reduced fat and moderate fiber intake. After 12 weeks of the trial, people in the low-GI group lost an average of 11 pounds, while people following the high-GI group lost 8 to 12 pounds. Other studies have concluded that you are a lot likelier to lose weight and reduce the body mass index with a glycemic index lower than the traditional diet.
4. Cardiovascular Benefits:
Some researchers have suggested that GI diet could reduce the bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol in the blood. However, you should not entirely depend on this diet for controlling your cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
The glycemic index diet is very useful for people who wish to control their blood glucose levels. A diet based on foods with low glycemic response improves blood lipids and reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes. Foods with low glycemic index take a long time to digest, which helps to keep the blood glucose levels at a constant state. Low GI diet has been proven to have beneficial effects on the hemoglobin A1C levels, a measure of blood sugar levels in both type 1 and 2 diabetes. GI diet decreased the A1C levels by 0.5%, according to a trial involving 402 participants. In addition, keeping the weight off will give you a better chance of avoiding type 2 diabetes.
Cons of the Glycemic Index Diet:
GI diet is not very nutritious. The food choice given in the diet is laden with sugar, calories, saturated fat, yet is considered a low Glycemic Index food. A diet heavy in sugar and fatty foods can jeopardize your weight loss efforts.
Low Glycemic Index diet can be difficult to follow. Finding a GI ranking for every food is not possible, so you will have no idea regarding the foods you are consuming. Even the perfectly healthy foods can be high in GI, while the unhealthy ones can be low in GI. Packaged foods do not list the glycemic index on the label. This can be confusing for some people.
The GI index diet does not give advice on the consumption of non-carbohydrate foods. It is totally upon the dieters to figure out how much fat and calories you are getting for each day. Lack of guidance can give a tough time to the dieters in designing a plan to reduce the calories. For example- eating high glycemic index foods with fat and protein can have adverse effects on the blood sugar.
The GI applies to the food when it is consumed alone. The combination of foods with other foods and the preparation method can alter its glycemic index. It is not easy to predict the glycemic index of certain foods.
Foods You Can Eat:
The foods recommended in the GI diet are scored on a scale of 0 to 100. This score is based on how much they elevate the blood sugar levels.
High GI foods (70 or higher)
- White rice
- White bread
- White bagels
- Baked white potato
- Sugary laden drinks
Medium GI foods (56 to 69)
- Ice cream
- Corn on the cob
Low GI food (55 or under)
- Kidney beans
- Skim milk
While following the diet, you have to eat foods that are low in the low GI category and a few in the High-GI group.
A Sample Diet Chart for the Glycemic Index Diet:
The meal planning with GI involves selecting foods that have a low or medium GI. If you choose a food with a high GI, combine it with a low GI food to balance the meals.
Breakfast: 9 am
- Whole grain cereals or oats with nuts
- Beans on toast
Lunch: 1 pm
- Tomato soup with cheese and pickle sandwich
- Lettuce salad
Evening snack: 4 pm
- Cracker with peanut butter or
- Hummus with carrot sticks
Dinner: 8 pm
- Chicken and cashew nut stir-fry
- Whole grain pasta with pesto sauce
- Fresh green salad
How about starting this diet plan to keep your blood sugar levels under control? This is one of the best diet plans for vegetarians and those who are on gluten free and other dietary restrictions. However, it is good to seek an advice from your physician before you start the diet. Feel free to share your experiences and ideas with us.