The Glycemic Index Diet

low glycemic index

The Glycemic Index diet (the 'Low GI' diet) was developed in Toronto in 1981 by a professor of nutrition Dr David Jenkins - he was exploring exactly what happened inside the body when carbohydrate foods were eaten. Today the home of the Glycemic Index diet is the Human Nutrition Unit, School of Molecular and Microbial Biosciences, University of Sydney, where thousands of foods have now been tested and assigned a number called the glycemic index (GI)

This number tells us what effect eating a certain food has on the tester's blood sugar level, ie how quickly it raises it, and how slowly it then drops away afterwards. It's usually published as a number between 0 and 100, where a GI of 100 is as high as it gets and is equivalent to eating pure glucose sugar. Every food containing measurable levels of digestible carbohydrate can be assigned a GI, and research shows that a diet that is predominantly comprised of low GI foods - ie causes less sharp impact on the blood sugar - is good for you all round.

Initially developed as a tool to help diabetics avoid blood sugar spikes, eating low GI food actually helps people to feel full and satisfied for longer, compared to eating similar volumes or calorie equivalents of high-GI food. They then realised they were on to something that could help everybody control their blood sugar and insulin reaction and therefore the effect on appetite - which could benefit anyone trying to lose weight!

These days some foods are labelled as high, medium or low GI, often using a red-yellow-green 'traffic light' system, and a generally accepted distribution for this is that...

    Low GI = 55 or less
    Medium GI = 56-69
    High GI = 70 or more

It's important to understand that the GI is just a number, and index, and doesnt tell you everything about the food you are eating - a more practical concept for actual meal planning is the glycemic load, which takes into account how much of a food you are eating as well as it's GI - a pretty vital concept when weight loss is the name of the game!

But without wanting to get into highly complex algebra, you can incorporate the principles of the glycemic index diet very simply into your daily routine just by swapping a high glycemic load ingredient for one which is less so.

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