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Beginners Guide to Following a Low Glycemic Diet

With so many diets to choose from, men and women looking to lose weight or improve their overall state of health are left with several options. The reality is, some diets are based on science and some are trendy, fad diets that might be here today or gone tomorrow. The Low Glycemic Diet is not a fad, and it has become popular not only as a way to help men and women improve their health, but it also helps them take charge over their eating lifestyle by increasing their knowledge of and control over their eating

What Is a Low Glycemic Diet?

Because of the increasing prevalence of diabetes, many men and women have become more and more familiar with blood sugar, insulin, and how important it is to closely monitor and control your blood sugar. Although blood sugar control can become more difficult due to years of poor eating, obesity, or an underlying disease, some diets are based around the idea of limiting foods that increase blood sugar or on carefully choosing your food on meals based on the affect they have on your blood sugar.

The Low Glycemic Diet is just such a diet, one based on careful selection of foods in order to keep blood sugar low.

The term glycemic in Low Glycemic diet refers to glucose, a sugar that serves as an important energy source for the body. Glucose is also closely regulated by the hormone insulin, which stimulates the uptake of this sugar into cells as well as controlling its metabolism in various other ways. High blood sugar is associated with the medical condition diabetes. People with high blood sugar due to an inability to produce insulin have type I diabetes, while people who have become insensitive to the effects of insulin due to longstanding high blood sugar have type II diabetes.

The Low Glycemic Diet is an eating regimen that is centered on eating foods that have a low glycemic index. The glycemic index divides foods into three categories based on the effect that these foods have on the blood sugar. Because carbohydrates are broken down into sugar by the body, many diets focus on reducing or eliminating carbohydrates in order to lose weight. This is because the body tends to store excess sugar (that is, sugar that your body doesn’t need to meet its requirements) as fat. The Low Glycemic Diet allows you to understand what’s in your food and regulate your carbohydrates finely.

We will delve into the ins and outs of being on this diet later on, but it basically requires that you have some understanding of which foods contain sugar and which ones don’t or, at the very least, having an understanding of how foods you eat affect your blood sugar. This means that you need to understand the glycemic index and how it is used in this diet. Essentially, the glycemic index divides foods into three categories:

  • Low, rating of 55 or less
  • Medium, rating of 55 to 69
  • High, rating of 70 or more

These three categories are rated based on the absorption of 50 grams of glucose. Fifty grams of glucose would have a rating of 100, which would place it in the high category. A low glycemic diet requires eating food in the range of 55 to 69, which is, again, a category based on 50 grams of glucose and, in this case, about half what someone would normally eat if they are eating a food (or drinking a sugary drink) that contains an equivalent amount of glucose.

Foods that have a low glycemic index are digested more slowly by the body and therefore do not cause great increases or fluctuations in blood sugar. This means that these foods will not place the man or woman eating them into hyperglycemia and therefore reduce the risk of complications of hyperglycemia, or long term effects of hyperglycemia like the development of diabetes. Low glycemic foods can also be beneficial in other ways, like helping to reduce your appetite since food is being digested more slowly.

It is important to note that foods are only rated on the glycemic index if they contain carbohydrates as carbohydrates are broken down into sugar. Foods that do not contain carbohydrates, like chicken, beef, fish, eggs, or other meat products, will not be found on glycemic index charts because these foods do not have a direct effect on blood sugar levels in the body after you eat them. It should not be surprising that quantity of a food will impact how it affects blood sugar levels, but other factors are important. Some factors that influence glycemic index include:

  • Ripeness of fruit
  • How refined the sugar is
  • How the food is prepared
  • How much of other nutrients, like fats and proteins, are present
  • Type of sugar contained in the food
  • Structure of the starch

Although it may seem that carbohydrates and starches should all be the same and that the better course of valor is just to reduce these foods or cut them out completely; in reality, carbohydrates and starches are not all the same. Some sugars have a relatively low glycemic index while others, like maltose, have a very high GI. Some starches are digested very slowly by the body or not at all, serving as fiber, while others are easily broken down into sugars that send the GI way up. In terms of other nutrients, fats tend to slow down digestion and therefore fat in a meal will result in a lower glycemic index.

Why Follow a Low Glycemic Diet?

Many men and women choose to embark on a diet to lose weight or feel healthier, but in reality, everyone has their own reason as to why they choose to start a diet. The benefits of a Low Glycemic Diet are many, and several of these benefits are related to the ways they allow you to be more informed on the foods that you are eating and the way these foods impact your body. Like some other diets, this diet has been shown to reduce the incidence of several adverse health conditions that are associated with the nutrient-rich diet that most Americans of today consume.

We have already spoken about diabetes, and one of the most compelling reasons for many people to embark on this diet is its ability to lower blood sugar, thereby reducing the incidence of type II diabetes. In fact, dietary control of sugar is the recommendation that most health providers make when counseling men and women at risk of developing type II diabetes, along with a regimen of exercise and weight loss, if required.

The benefits of the Low Glycemic Diet extend beyond the effect it has on reducing the chances for developing diabetes mellitus, although this is a big one for most people. This diet can confer several other health benefits, in addition to the overarching benefit of embarking on a healthier lifestyle and the satisfaction that comes with that. Some benefits of this diet include:

  • Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Reduced risk of some types of cancer
  • Better control over cholesterol levels (total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol)
  • Improved and more rapid weight loss

Many people embark on a diet hoping to achieve weight loss and a good diet is one that not only helps you meet this goal, but helps you keep the weight off. Some diets are very strict as regards the foods that the dieter is allowed to eat, especially sugar-containing foods like carbs, but because this diet allows you to intake some carbs, it may be a more effective diet and keeping weight off as men and women are more apt to stick to it.

How to Follow a Low Glycemic Diet

  • Whole grains
  • Long grain and brown rice
  • Lentils, baked beans, kidney beans
  • Sweet potatoes, corn, and yams
  • Apples, kiwis, plums, and strawberries
  • Broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and zucchini
  • Wholegrain and multigrain breads

Notice that these are products that contain carbohydrates are starches, but merely do not dramatically increase blood sugar the way that some other starches do. There are also foods that should be avoided, including:

  • Cookies, cupcakes, waffles
  • Instant noodles
  • Processed breakfast cereals
  • Sugary drinks like Gatorade
  • White rice 
  • White bread
  • Watermelon

Conclusion

Although many diets promise weight loss or make other dramatic claims, not every diet can result in a long-lasting change in the way that we look at and understand food. The Low Glycemic diet puts men and women in the driver’s seat when it comes to their diet by giving them a clear guideline on which foods have negative effects on their blood sugar and which foods are not as dangerous. One cannot ask for more from a diet than that.





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