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A Beginner’s Guide To A Low Glycemic Diet

There is so much talk around it; sometimes, you wish you could lay your hands on a beginner’s guide to a low glycemic diet. Well, consider yourself lucky because here is one. On the other hand, perhaps luck has nothing to do with it, and it’s the universe advising you on which diet route to take. Whichever one it is, you are here, and that’s all that matters. 

In recent years, there has been a lot of attention on diet and its effect on the body. Of course, not all size fits all; therefore, there are many diet plans from which anyone can choose from. A low glycemic diet is built on the foundation of the glycemic index. A Glycemic index is a number assigned to foods. Ranging from 0 to 100, these numbers give you an idea of how fast your body will convert these foods into glucose. 

Some foods tend to make your blood sugar shoot up quickly while others do so relatively slowly – which, of course, is considered healthier. The numbers tell the difference between slower acting good carbs from the faster unhealthy carbs. 

Beginner’s Guide To A Low Glycemic Diet – What’s The Noise About?

Carbohydrates are found in dairy products, cereals, bread, fruits, and even vegetables. They form a vital part of a healthy, nutritious, and well-balanced diet. Physiologically, the body metabolizes carbohydrates into simple sugars that enter the bloodstream. Carbs have different effects on the body’s blood sugar because not all are the same. The rate at which these different carbs raise the blood sugar is compared with the absorption of 50 grams of pure glucose. 

This measurement scale was created by Dr. David Jenkins, a Canadian professor, in the 1980s. The Glycemic index is divided into three classes, low GI rating (55 or lower), medium rating (56 to 69), and high rating (70 or more). There are published articles that contain a listing of everyday food and their GI ratings. Of course, you should not go looking for foods that do not have any carbs. 

Studies show that a low glycemic diet may result in ‘healthy’ weight loss, drastically reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, and generally reduce blood sugar levels. With these amazing research results, many food processing companies have used this fact in their advertising campaigns to rake in more customers with the idea of a healthier food diet. Interestingly, the way this classification ranks food has been condemned for being unreliable and failing to detail the relative healthiness of marketed food expressly. 

Initially, this fluke was attributed to advertising campaign errors. Thus, several institutions took up the challenge to look into the disparities and sort things out as it ought to. Presently, the number system of the glycemic index is a trusted means of grading the healthiness of food – when you see the number 50 on a food package, best believe it! 

The glycemic index of any food is primarily affected by several factors, some of which include:


Funny how that something so little can be so significant. Unripe fruits, for example, contain a complex chain of carbs that break down as the fruit ripens. Unripe banana has a rating of 30, while overripe banana rates at 48. 

Nutrient Composition

With prior knowledge of the GI rating of food, you can slow down the glycemic response of the body by adding protein or fat to the meal. In essence, this addition will reduce the metabolism of the carbs present and maintain steady blood sugar. 

The Type Of Sugar Present

It is erroneously believed that all types of sugar have a high glycemic index. That idea is false because the rating is as low as 23 for fructose and 103 for maltose. So, the rating on the food you take is dependent on the type of sugar it contains. 

The Structure And Processing Of Starch

Chemically, carbs contain both amylose and amylopectin. Amylopectin is easily digested and has a higher GI rating than amylose with a lower rating because it is difficult to digest. Furthermore, food processing methods such as rolling or grinding disrupt molecules of amylose and amylopectin, thereby raising their GI. Therefore, the more processed a food is, the higher the GI – which, in a way, explains why experts recommend a reduced intake of processed food. 

Cooking Method

As it is with processing, cooking methods tend to disrupt carb molecules and increase the GI. The longer a food is cooked, the easier it is for the body to digest and absorb its sugars. This, in effect, means a higher GI rating. 

With all of these facts, the controversies surrounding the glycemic index have not waned a bit. Due to this, the Glycemic Index Foundation, an Australian nonprofit organization, created awareness for the glycemic load (GL). Glycemic load is a measure of the type and quantity of carbs you eat. This is generally accepted because it takes into account the amount of food eaten as compared to the GI. According to the Glycemic Index Foundation, the goal is to keep the daily glycemic load under 100 and consume food in moderation. 

Beginner’s Guide To A Low Glycemic Diet – The Endgame

With all the noise surrounding a low glycemic diet, there have to be several benefits to it. On the one hand, information about a low GI diet enlightens individuals about its benefits and, on the other hand, exposes them to the risks of taking a high GI diet. 

Effects On Diabetes

Usually, the central crux surrounding a low glycemic diet is always linked to diabetes. Diabetes is a complex disease that is increasingly becoming prevalent around the world. The disease affects the body’s metabolism of sugars and makes it relatively impossible to maintain a healthy blood sugar level.  

The principal issue with this disease condition is that it is a precursor to several other disorders. Ranging from heart disease, stroke, damage to a nerve, to kidney failure, all have a direct or indirect link to irregular blood sugar level. 

Research has suggested a low glycemic diet for people with diabetes as it reduces blood sugar levels. Additionally, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes is reduced by at least 8%. The diet may also improve pregnancy outcomes in women with gestational diabetes. In pregnancy, it can also reduce the risk of macrosomia by 73%, a condition that could lead to long-term complications for mother and child. 

Improved Cholesterol Levels

Aside from regulating blood sugar levels, another tenet of good health is the maintenance of good cholesterol by the body. Low-density lipoprotein (bad) cholesterol is linked to an increased risk of stroke and heart disease. A low glycemic diet can reduce the total body cholesterol by 9.6% and LDL by 8.6%. This is a good figure considering how difficult lowering cholesterol seems without using medications. 

Maintenance Of A Healthy Weight

Some evidence from published research suggests that a low GI diet can promote fat loss on a short-term basis. To maintain the fat loss for a longer duration, other weight maintenance factors like exercise will need to come into play. In other words, a low glycemic diet should be an adjunct for exercise in maintaining a healthy weight. 

Risk Reduction Of Cancer And Heart Disease

Ongoing research has associated high glycemic load and index with an increased risk of heart disease and cancer – especially endometrial, colorectal, and breast cancer. Maintaining a diet of low glycemic index will reduce this risk, thereby keeping the individual relatively healthy. 

Beginner’s Guide To A Low Glycemic Diet – How-To

Keeping a tracking on the glycemic index and calorie count may be considered stressful and somewhat impossible by some. So, it is easier to swap high GI foods for lower alternatives. There are several low GI foods to choose from. Therefore you can use this list as a basis. 

Fruit – apples, kiwi, tomatoes, plums, peaches.

Vegetables – carrots, zucchini, celery, cauliflower.

Root vegetables – sweet potatoes, yams, winter squash.

Legumes – lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, butter beans.

Bread – sourdough, whole grain, multigrain, rye.

Rice – basmati, doongara, brown rice, long grain. 

Grains – freekeh, semolina, barley, quinoa, buckwheat. 

Pasta and noodles – rice noodles, vermicelli noodles, pasta, soba noodles. 

Dairy – almond milk, coconut milk, yogurt, soy milk, cheese. 

To ensure a balanced diet, you can easily pick from any of these food groups and moderately mix with other mild GI foods.  

Of course, asides from main meals, you should also make plans for low GI snacks to munch on during the day. The typical low GI snack ideas include Greek yogurt with sliced almonds, apple slices with peanut butter, carrot sticks with hummus, unsalted nuts, berries, or grapes served with cubes of cheese. 

The few drawbacks about this diet plan is that it can be difficult to calculate – imagine trotting around the house or the store checking the GI of foods. Furthermore, it does not paint a full nutritional picture of a meal as there are other classes of food to consider. 

Concluding A Beginner’s Guide To A Low Glycemic Diet

Admittedly, this has to be the best beginner’s guide to a low glycemic diet that you have read. While there are numerous benefits the diet plan has to offer, at the end of the day, it is more important to eat a healthy, balanced diet, regardless of GI. Nonetheless, stay healthy and satisfied – that’s the central point!

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