Low Glycemic Diet

Prevention Clinics

Low Glycemic Diet

A low-glycemic diet is one made up of low-glycemic foods.
The glycemic index is a way to measure the impact a food source of carbohydrate has on blood sugar. Formerly, carbohydrate foods are classified into simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates are those constituted by some carbohydrate molecules, while polysaccharides are more complex compounds that require further work of the digestive system to be digested and absorbed.

Polysaccharides tend to slower raise postprandial glycemia (blood glucose measured after eating), while simple carbohydrates to be digested and absorbed faster and raise blood sugar as peak, then decrease to baseline levels.

However, analyzing the type of carbohydrate and source food, it was observed that some simple carbohydrates such as fructose, had a reduced ability to increase blood sugar.

Although the amount of carbohydrates is also a parameter influencing the rise in blood glucose, there are other factors to consider.

Thus, the glycemic index emerges as a new way of analyzing foods based on their metabolic impact.

A low GI diet is an eating plan consisting of foods that maintain stable blood sugar levels and prevent the sharp rise in glucose and insulin after eating.

The glycemic index is not a food plan itself, but a tool used in order to select the most suitable food from the metabolic point of view and according to the objective of the individual.

The term glycemic index diet is used to refer to a food plan in which the glycemic index is used to plan and select meals.

An example of a low glycemic index diet may be the Zone diet. Such diets do not take into account the portion sizes, but the metabolic impact of food consumed.

To explain it in a simplified way, it can be said that the glycemic index is a number that arises from measuring the impact of a food portion with 50 grams of net carbohydrates (total carbohydrates – fiber) on blood glucose 2 hours after intake. This number gives us an idea of how quickly our body digests and absorbs the glucose molecules found in that food. Thus, two foods with the same amount of carbohydrates can have a very different impact on blood sugar.

The glycemic index value of a food can be classified into three categories:

Low glycemic index: 1-55.
Medium glycemic index: 56-69.
High glycemic index: 70 or more.

It is important to note that if a large amount of a low glycemic index food is consumed, the raise of blood glucose will be greater than if a higher glycemic index food is consumed, but in smaller amounts.

It is for this reason that many times the glycemic load is also used to analyze the impact of a meal on metabolism.

The glycemic load of a meal takes into account not only the glycemic index but also the amount of carbohydrates it provides.

The glycemic index may be used in different situations. Generally, it was used to design diets for diabetics. However, today many dietitians use the glycemic index for weight loss.

The sharp rise in blood glucose does not promote fat loss for three reasons:

– Increases insulin levels, anabolic hormone that stimulates fat storage.
– Causes a rapid decrease in glucose, even leading to hypoglycemia (glucose below the appropriate level) that stimulates appetite and intake of sweet foods.
– Destabilized blood glucose leads to low levels of energy and constant tiredness.

For these reasons, it is recommended that people who want to lose weight, maintain stable levels of insulin and glucose to promote fat loss and healthy energy levels.

What is a low glycemic diet

Then, what is a low-glycemic diet?
It is a diet plan that encourages a metabolic environment conducive to weight loss.
The glycemic index for weight loss is a new approach to analyze food, beyond calories and macronutrients, but broadens the vision and takes into account the metabolic variables that influence fat loss, as the concentrations of glucose and insulin in blood.

A plan that favors:

– Stable blood glucose concentrations.
– Reduction of insulin levels.
– Steadily fat loss.
– Stable energy levels and vitality.
– Reduction of food intake.
– A proper mood, avoiding the typical irritability of restricted eating plans.
– A decrease of binge eating and cravings for sweet foods.

Low glycemic foods

This is a list of low glycemic index foods.

Breakfast cereals

All-bran (UK/Aus)            30

All-bran (US)      50

Oat bran              50

Rolled Oats         51

Special K (UK/Aus)          54

Natural Muesli 40

Breads

Soya and Linseed             36

Wholegrain Pumpernickel            46

Heavy Mixed Grain         45

Whole Wheat    49

Sourdough Rye                 48

Sourdough Wheat           54

Vegetables

Frozen Green Peas         39

Frozen Sweet Corn         47

Raw Carrots        16

Boiled Carrots    41

Eggplant/Aubergine       15

Broccoli                10

Cauliflower         15

Cabbage              10

Mushrooms       10

Tomatoes            15

Chillies 10

Lettuce                 10

Green Beans      15

Red Peppers      10

Onions 10

Staples

Wheat Pasta Shapes       54

New Potatoes   54

Meat Ravioli       39

Spaghetti             32

Tortellini (Cheese)           50

Egg Fettuccini    32

Brown Rice         50

Buckwheat         51

White long grain rice       50

Pearled Barley   22

Yam       35

Sweet Potatoes                48

Instant Noodles                47

Wheat tortilla    30

Snacks and sweet foods

Slim-Fast meal replacement        27

Snickers Bar (high fat)    41

Nut & Seed Muesli Bar 49

Sponge Cake      46

Nutella                 33

Milk Chocolate 42

Hummus              6

Peanuts               13

Walnuts               15

Cashew Nuts     25

Nuts and Raisins               21

Jam        51

Corn Chips          42

Oatmeal Crackers            55

Fruits

Cherries               22

Plums    24

Grapefruit           25

Peaches               28

Peach, canned in natural juice    30

Apples 34

Pears     41

Dried Apricots   32

Grapes                 43

Coconut               45

Coconut Milk     41

Kiwi Fruit             47

Oranges               40

Strawberries      40

Prunes 29

Legumes

Kidney Beans (canned)                 52

Butter Beans      36

Chick Peas           42

Haricot/Navy Beans        31

Lentils, Red         21

Lentils, Green    30

Pinto Beans       45

Blackeyed Beans              50

Yellow Split Peas              32

Dairy

Whole milk         31

Skimmed milk    32

Chocolate milk 42

Sweetened yoghurt       33

Artificially Sweetened Yoghurt   23

Custard                35

Soy Milk               44

Low GI Foods have certain characteristics for which are beneficial to our metabolism:

– Contain dietary fiber: fiber, especially soluble fiber slows digestion of carbohydrates and reduces the arrival of sugars to the blood.
– Have a small amount of fat: healthy fats slow gastric emptying reducing time of arrival of sugars into the blood.
– They are natural and rich in water: The higher water content stimulates satiety and reduces food intake. In contrast, processed foods are digested quickly and cause blood glucose peak.


References

Glycemic index. University of Sidney.

Glycemic Index and Diabetes. American Diabetes Association.

Glycemic index diet: What’s behind the claims. Mayo Clinic.

What is the Glycemic Index? Glycemic Index Foundation. 

Atkinson FS, Foster-Powell K, Brand-Miller JC. International Tables of Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load Values: 2008. Diabetes Care 2008; 31(12).

Foster-Powell K, Holt HA, and Brand-Miller JC. International table of glycemic index and glycemic load values: 2002. Am J Clin Nutr2002;76:5—56.

Castro-Quezada I, Sanchez-Villegas A, Diaz-Gonzalez V, et al. Relationship between dietary glycemic index, dietary glycemic load and major cardiovascular events in the PREDIMED study. European Geriatric Medicine, Volume 4, Supplement 1, September 2013, Pages S128-S129.  

Kumar SB and Prabhansankar P. Low glycemic index ingredients and modified starches in wheat based food processing: A review Review. Trends in Food Science & Technology, Volume 35, Issue 1, January 2014, Pages 32-41.

Wolever TM. Is glycaemic index (GI) a valid measure of carbohydrate quality? Eur J Clin Nutr. 2013 May;67(5):522-31. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2013.27. Epub 2013 Feb 13.