What is a low-GI diet?Posted: May 2, 2014
Diabetics has been on a rise and it is essential that we start looking at what we eat in a more organized manner. Today’s lifestyle demands us to focus on our health and take pre-cautionary measures before its too late. I had spoken about GI with regards to natural sugars before and now I will be talking about it more in detail . GI is a term most often used by nutritionist but in today’s date and it has become important for a layman like us to understand the importance of it. Following a low GI diet for a healthy living will help you keep your glucose level in check.
Glycemic index (GI) is a measurement of how quickly sugars from food enter your blood as glucose. High GI results in high levels of blood glucose and low GI results in slower absorption of glucose with fewer changes in blood glucose levels. The GI ranking is from 1-100.
Apart from regular exercise, food plays a vital role in keeping us healthy. Today’s post is about low GI foods that are beyond natural sugars. Everything that we eat contains some amount of sugar in them.
Why do I need a low-GI diet?
A low GI diet ensures that you are a more active person. The lifestyle that we have right now as compared to our ancestors is not the same. Our grandparents may seem active even at the age of 80 but there is no guarantee that the same genes will carry on to us. The reason is very simple – lifestyle and introduction of packaged products to make these products last long has become a part of our daily diet. The carbohydrates that our ancestors ate were to basic beans and rice which made it easier from farm to plate due to the lack of refrigeration or processes packaged products. As a result, most of the food that we eat like pizza, burgers, cakes contains the sorts of carbohydrates that break down quickly and release their sugars rapidly into the bloodstream. However, consuming low GI foods will help us keep fit and active.
Risk of consuming high-GI foods
- Weight gain – high GI foods will make you hungry and more likely that you will want to eat again. It also causes blood sugar levels to rapidly rise and fall, which in turn results in craving for sugary and fatty foods. In both cases insulin’s main role is to promote fat storage, which means that the more insulin you have in your body, you are storing excess calories in your body.
- Food cravings and lethargy
- Lack of concentration
- Heart disease
A low GI diet can help
- Obtain a high fibre diet by consuming rolled oats, leafy vegetables, fruits.
- It is naturally more filling and makes you feel full for a longer period of time. Consuming nut butters like peanut butter or cashew butter keeps you full for long.
- Vegetables and fruits are rich source of nutrients and can help fight diseases.
- Higher in essential vitamins,minerals and antioxidants will help your immune system stay strong and healthy.
How to follow a simple low GI diet?
A low GI diet is not that difficult to follow. In India, it is much easier to achieve this as we cook our own food (most of the time).
- Eat different types of fruits and vegetables about 6-7 servings per day as per your liking. Although, some fruits and vegetables may contain high GI, in relaity when eaten in normal quantities they contain small amount of carbohydrate that they have little or no measurable effect on blood sugar levels.
- Eating whole grain foods and cereals with low GI like whole wheat or ragi breads or cookies
- Unpolished rice pulses or lentils
- Nuts and seeds are a great source of essential fatty acids. If you think that nut butters are fatty, think again.
- Eating fish or seafood 2-3 times a week is a good source of omega 3.
- Eating lean meat or chicken, minus the fat and following healthy cooking styles like grilling or barbecuing is best way to enjoy meat and control your GI.
- Snack on low GI foods like fruits, ragi/millet chips or crackers, coconut sugar biscuits or low fat yogurt.
- Replace sugary, packaged drinks with fresh fruit juices or tender coconut water
Following simple steps and taking tab of what you eat can help you a long way. GI-diet is not a fad but a scientifically proven theory. Taking smaller steps and planning your meal by swamping basmati rice with millets or white bread with whole wheat bread will help. Pasta also has a low GI if made from wheat and also depends on the shape, thicker the pasta, lower the GI. Al-dente is the best way to eat pasta and maintains its low GI. The longer you cook the higher the GI it has.
|GI and GL for Common Foods|
|Food||GI||Serving Size||Net Carbs||GL|
|Peanuts||14||4 oz (113g)||15||2|
|Bean sprouts||25||1 cup (104g)||4||1|
|Grapefruit||25||1/2 large (166g)||11||3|
|Pizza||30||2 slices (260g)||42||13|
|Lowfat yogurt||33||1 cup (245g)||47||16|
|Apples||38||1 medium (138g)||16||6|
|Spaghetti||42||1 cup (140g)||38||16|
|Carrots||47||1 large (72g)||5||2|
|Oranges||48||1 medium (131g)||12||6|
|Bananas||52||1 large (136g)||27||14|
|Potato chips||54||4 oz (114g)||55||30|
|Snickers Bar||55||1 bar (113g)||64||35|
|Brown rice||55||1 cup (195g)||42||23|
|Honey||55||1 tbsp (21g)||17||9|
|Oatmeal||58||1 cup (234g)||21||12|
|Ice cream||61||1 cup (72g)||16||10|
|Macaroni and cheese||64||1 serving (166g)||47||30|
|Raisins||64||1 small box (43g)||32||20|
|White rice||64||1 cup (186g)||52||33|
|Sugar (sucrose)||68||1 tbsp (12g)||12||8|
|White bread||70||1 slice (30g)||14||10|
|Watermelon||72||1 cup (154g)||11||8|
|Popcorn||72||2 cups (16g)||10||7|
|Baked potato||85||1 medium (173g)||33||28|
The table shows values of the Glycemic Index (GI) and Glycemic Load (GL) for a few common foods. GI’s of 55 or below are considered low, and 70 or above are considered high. GL’s of 10 or below are considered low, and 20 or above are considered high
GI ratings for some of the popular foods.
Disclaimer: the above research has been done some through personal experimentation and online research. If you are diabetic, I suggest you consult your doctor for low GI diet.