For years now, you have probably heard that carbs are the enemy when it comes to weight loss. There have been countless diets that focus mainly on what you can do to cut “bad” carbs and start eating “good” ones, but success rates have definitely varied. One of the older diets from the group of low carbs is the Glycemic Index Diet, which was created by David J. Jenkins back in 2002.
Jenkins is a professor of nutritional science at the University of Toronto and his written a lot of research about how blood sugar and carbs correlate to weight loss and the prevention of diseases such as cancer and diabetes. Since the diet is still popular today, let’s glimpse into the Glycemic Index Diet works for you, and how it can help you to lose weight.
Understanding the Glycemic Index
The term glycemic index has been thrown around a lot, but many people still don’t understand what it is. The glycemic index is a numerical value that is given to foods, and the scale impacts your blood glucose after two hours. It’s better to eat foods that are lower on the glycemic index, because lower numbers don’t convert carbohydrates into glucose.
Foods that fall between 56 and 69 on the glycemic index are considered to be medium, while anything above the range is considered bad and lower numbers are better. There are many different factors that impact the glycemic index of a food, including how it’s prepared, how ripe it is and if you are eating other foods at the same time. The numbers can be a bit misleading for some foods, though, as some junk foods are lower on the glycemic index than perceived healthy foods.
So what foods can you expect to find on the glycemic index? Here are the foods that you should be aiming for, controlling and trying to avoid:
Low – Peas, Corn, Whole Wheat, Bran, Spaghetti, Yam, Sweet Potatoes, Brown Rice, Hummus, Walnuts, Cashews, Raisins, Peanuts, Pinto Beans, Broccoli, Lettuce, Carrots, Tomatoes, Onions, Peppers, Cherries, Grapes, Oranges, Strawberries, Plums, Peaches
Medium – Shredded Wheat, Couscous, Baked Potatoes, Cornmeal, Croissants, Pita Bread, Blueberry Muffins, Honey, Bananas, Pineapple, Mangos, Papayas, Ice Cream
High – Cheerios, Corn Flakes, Instant White Rice, French Fries, Mashed Potatoes, Bagels, White Bread, French Bread, Pretzels, Donuts, Rice Cakes, Scones, Pumpkin, Watermelon, Dates
Eating foods that have a high glycemic index value are more likely to cause spikes in your blood sugar, which leads to being hungry faster. Getting an exact glycemic index number can be difficult for the foods that you are eating as not every brand is covered on the database, so a lot of it can be a guessing game. However, those that are diabetic should be eating the higher glycemic index foods more often as they may need the higher blood sugar.
Losing Weight with the Glycemic Index Diet
While controlling your blood sugar and carbohydrate intake can result in weight loss, there is a chance that you depend too much on the glycemic index numbers. For instance, nuts are very low on the GI scale, but are very high in calories. Even if you are eating plenty of them to control your blood sugar, you will likely end up gaining weight from all of those calories. Also, some of the same foods can vary by more than 50 on the scale depending on how they are prepared.
Low carb diets have had a lot of success over the years when it comes to losing weight, but it also comes down to calories. The diet says that you don’t have to do any calorie counting if you want to lose weight, but you should take that with a grain of salt. It can be pretty confusing ot make sure that you are getting the right nutrients and low on the glycemic index all while keeping the calorie count low enough to lose weight.
Those that have been able to control their diet under 2,000 calories per day while focusing on foods low on the glycemic index lost an average of four pounds more than those that didn’t over the course of 12 weeks in one study. Other studies have been conducted that focused on a low-GI diet, but the results were either not conclusive or didn’t show that much more success compared to regular low calorie diets.
What’s on the Menu?
You’ve seen what foods you should be eating and which ones you should be avoiding while on the Glycemic Index Diet, but it’s putting it all together in an eating plan that makes sense for your daily routine. Let’s take a look at what an average menu is going to look like on the Glycemic Index Diet:
Breakfast – One large apple with two dried apricots, bran, yogurt and a teaspoon of honey
Lunch – Small cooked boneless, skinless chicken breast with lowfat mayonnaise and dijon mustard on a wholemeal pita
Dinner – Skinless chicken breast stir fry with vegetables and a teaspoon of olive oil and brown rice
Snack – Air popped popcorn and baby carrots
Breakfast – Medium pear with lowfat yogurt and two teaspoons of sunflower seeds
Lunch – Half a can of baked beans on a thick slice of wholemeal toast and an orange
Dinner – Poached salmon filleted and served with green beans, broccoli and sweet potatoes
Snack – Lowfat yogurt with walnuts and almonds
Breakfast – Two scrambled eggs with skim milk and a lowfat spread
Lunch – Bowl of fresh vegetable soup and a slice of pumpernickel with an apple on the side
Dinner – Grilled turkey breast steak with a teaspoon of olive oil with sweet potatoes, kale and peas on the side
Snack – Whole wheat crackers with all natural peanut butter and an apple
Exercise and Resources
There is no exercise layout when it comes to the Glycemic Index Diet. Low carb diets typically promise that you don’t need to exercise since your body doesn’t have much fuel from carbs themselves to get through a strenuous workout. However, most medical professionals will still suggest that you are still exercising even if you are on a low carb plan. You should still be exercising around 30 minutes per day, even it if it is just something simple like walking.
As for resources, there are many books that offer up guides on how to follow the Glycemic Index Diet. These books usually include recipes and eating plans, allowing you to not have to resort to eating the same foods on a daily basis. However, the books are scattered around and can have different information depending on the author. There is still no unofficial forum or book about the Glycemic Index Diet despite the meal plan being more than 30 years old.
Summing it Up
While you can certainly lose weight while following a low carb diet, this is more of a plan for those that are looking to control their blood sugar, especially diabetics. There also aren’t many guidelines outside of an online database of glycemic index values that could have some inaccurate values. All in all, the Glycemic Index Diet is one that has been popular for a long time despite not having much numerical data to back up its effectiveness.
In terms of how easy it is to follow the Glycemic Index Diet, it is ranked among the lowest by experts. Trying to put all of these numbers together can be mind numbing, even if those familiar with the diet say it’s easier since you’re not counting calories or weighing food. Calorie counting alone is more effective since the information is accurate and easily available in just a few seconds while there are conflicting numbers for glycemic index.
Controlling your blood sugar is always a good thing, as spikes can be dangerous, so the Glycemic Index Diet does get high marks in being healthy and more friendly for diabetics. Low carb diets like the Glycemic Index Diet will also result in some quick weight loss, which is where it gets another high mark.
The only problem with that, though, is sustaining that kind of eating for a long time. This means that a many people that have tried diets like the Glycemic Index Diet have ended up regaining significant weight that they have lost. Many have found that trying to lose weight for the second time is much more difficult as it can affect your metabolism and blood sugar. Staying on the Glycemic Index Diet for a couple of weeks should be fine if you’re looking to lose some quick weight, but don’t expect it to enact a lifestyle change.