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Benefits of A Low Glycemic Index Diet (Plus Which Foods to Avoid)

Do You Know the benefits of a low glycemic index diet? Or what about the impact that food with a high glycemic index of carbohydrates has on your body?

Here’s the deal:

Food with a high glycemic index (GI) can raise blood sugar quickly and may cause health issues if someone eats too many of them. Eating a low GI diet may help to prevent and manage diabetes and cardiovascular disease. With the Balanced Diet, you could manage your weight with a low GI diet as part of an overall healthy eating approach. This article explains what the GI is, and which foods are high and low GI items. It also outlines the benefits of a low GI diet and the drawbacks of a low GI diet.

Ready to begin?

Let’s get started!

What Is the Glycemic Index?

The benefits of a low glycemic index diet are many, but first you must know what the glycemic index is and how it works.

The glycemic index (GI) is a measurement that ranks food containing carbohydrates according to how much they affect someone’s blood sugar. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) ranks food from 1–100 and use pure glucose, with a GI of 100, as a reference. The Glycemic Index Foundation (GIF) classifies the GI of foods as either low, medium, or high:

  • low GI is 55 or less
  • medium GI is 56–69
  • high GI is 70 or greater

The American Diabetes Association provides a list of common foods and their GI. They note that some sources use white bread as a reference point instead of pure glucose. Glycemic load (GL) is another measurement that I believe gives a more realistic picture of how foods affect blood sugar. GL considers the number of carbohydrates in a portion of food, as well as its GI. You can use the glycemic index to help you choose healthy foods and monitor how much sugar and carbohydrates you eat. This approach can help someone manage your weight or a health condition such as diabetes.

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Factors That Affect the Glycemic Index of Foods

Several factors influence how fast a particular food raises someone’s blood sugar. Some of these factors can include:

  • how refined the carbohydrate is
  • the physical and chemical structure of the food
  • the cooking method
  • how much fiber the food contains
  • how much protein, fat, and acid the food contains

Generally speaking, refined and processed carbohydrates metabolize into glucose more quickly. Foods with fiber, protein, and fats release glucose more slowly, so they have a lower GI. Longer cooking times can break foods down, which means that someone consuming those foods will absorb glucose quicker. This is why focusing on the benefits of a low glycemic index diet is so advantageous.

It allows you to create a nutritional plan that prioritizes food with a lower GI. Of course, if you need help with this process, it may make sense to contact a professional.

Foods High in GI to Avoid

Someone who wants to manage their weight or diabetes can find out the GI of foods from the International Tables of Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load Values. According to the table, the following foods are high in GI:

  • white and whole wheat bread
  • white rice
  • breakfast cereals and cereal bars
  • cakes, cookies, and sweet treats
  • potatoes and fries
  • chips and rice crackers
  • fruits such as watermelon and pineapple
  • dried fruits such as dates, raisins, and cranberries
  • sweetened dairy products such as fruit yogurts.

If you are following a low GI diet, you can eat foods with a medium GI of 56–69, but less frequently than low GI foods. Food with a medium GI includes rye bread and raisin bran cereal.

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Benefits of A Low Glycemic Index Diet

High GI foods tend to spike a person’s blood sugar, causing their body to produce more insulin. After insulin shunts glucose into cells, a person’s blood glucose can drop, leaving them feeling low in energy or mood. Besides those short-term effects, dysregulated blood glucose can have longer-term health effects such as insulin resistance and diabetes.

According to the International Carbohydrate Quality Consortium (ICQC), there is a consensus that diets low in GI and GL are relevant to the prevention and management of diabetes, coronary heart disease, cancer, and probably obesity.

I have read a couple of articles in my research that suggests that a low GI diet may be beneficial and help prevent some health issues. Being aware of the GI of foods may help people control their blood sugar and prevent or delay complications relating to diabetes. Research suggests that low GI diets may help people with diabetes lower their blood sugar levels.

A 2019 review notes that low GI diets can reduce long-term markers of blood sugar control, body weight, and fasting blood sugar levels in people with prediabetes or diabetes. One benefit of a low glycemic index diet is that it may also help with gestational diabetes. This is a condition where someone develops high blood sugar while pregnant, which usually resolves after they give birth.

A case study of meta-analysis suggests that, for people with gestational diabetes, eating a low GI diet may reduce the risk of macrosomia. This is a condition that results in larger-than-average babies, which can lead to numerous short- and long-term complications for both the person giving birth and the baby.

Another case study also suggests that in addition to controlling glucose and insulin metabolism, a low GI and energy-restricted diet may also help to reduce body weight. High GI foods may also affect mood and energy. A recent study indicated that among healthy weight and adults with overweight, eating a high GL diet resulted in a 38% higher likelihood of depressive symptoms and a 26% higher score for fatigue and inertia.

A 2019 meta-analysis indicates a relationship between high GI and GL diets and coronary heart disease. Another 2019 meta-analysis notes an association between a high GI diet and colorectal, bladder, and kidney cancers.

Long story short:

The vast array of research on the topic suggests that the benefits of a low glycemic index diet are many.

Is a low GI diet a perfect solution?

Well, this brings us to my next point…

Drawbacks of A Low GI Diet

There are many benefits of a low glycemic index diet, but there are also a few drawbacks.

Most of my clients find following a low GI diet somewhat complicated. Having to know the GI of all the foods on your plate can prove problematic when a meal has many ingredients. Following a low GI diet can limit what options someone has when eating out in restaurants. You will also need to consider the amount of fiber, fats, and protein in a meal to see how much the meal as a whole may affect your blood glucose.

I conducted a case study that shows that more people need to consider low GL and GI in the context of overall healthful eating. According to a recent review, fiber and whole grains are essential components of a healthy diet and may predict health outcomes better than GI. Therefore, it may be more important for people to be conscious of the GI of foods while maintaining a balanced diet.

Final Thoughts On the Benefits of a Low Glycemic Index Diet

You may want to follow a low GI diet to manage your weight or health condition. To do so, you can find out the GI of foods and make a meal plan. You should also consider other aspects of a balanced and healthy diet, such as fiber and whole grains, in that planning.

Low GI diets may be beneficial for preventing and managing insulin resistance, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

With the holiday season just around the corner, many are concerned with controlling their blood sugar during these festive times.

Here’s my advice:

  1. You could research low GI meal plans and use the proper supplements such as Balance Metacore-CM or Balance Metacore-XNL in order to regulate your metabolism and maintain healthy glucose levels. Or if you don’t want a DIY option, you can…
  2.  Avoid the complexitiy of planning a low GI diet and feel free to schedule a FREE 20-minute phone consultation so I could walk you through the process.

Whatever you decide, I hope this information has been helpful. Let me know if you’ve tried a low GI diet yourself or if you plan on benefiting from one by leaving a comment below.

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