Not all carbs are created equal.
That’s the idea behind the glycemic index, which assigns numbers to foods in order to measure how they will affect a person’s blood sugar levels. Spikes and drops in blood sugar levels can lead to fatigue and cravings. This can occur as a result of consuming carbohydrates high on the glycemic index, such as white bread and pretzels. However, other carbohydrates, including oatmeal, are low on the glycemic index and will not lead to these side effects.
At Houston Weight Loss & Lipo Centers, our expert weight loss team can teach patients all about the glycemic index diet and how it can help patients lose weight and keep the weight off. Feel free to contact one of our centers in Houston or Katy, Texas today!
About the Glycemic Index
The glycemic index is a number assigned to food items that reflects the effect of consumption on a person’s glucose or blood sugar level. It represents the rise of a person’s blood sugar level two hours after consuming the food item and is measured on a scale of 0-100, with 100 representing pure glucose. The closer a food is to 0, then the less it will affect a person’s blood sugar level. Food with a glycemic index level below 55 are considered to be low on the scale; food with a glycemic index level between 56 and 69 are considered moderate and food with a level above 70 are considered high on the scale. It is useful for determining how the body breaks down carbohydrates.
The glycemic index was originally developed in order to help people with diabetes manage their blood sugar levels. However, further research has shown that the glycemic index can be useful for a number of other health benefits, including weight loss.
In general, eating food with a low glycemic index level will reduce blood sugar fluctuations and the release of insulin, a fat storing hormone. When insulin isn’t released, the body can more easily access the energy in fat stores, basically burning more fat. It also stops the body from storing more fat.
Benefits of a Low Glycemic Index Diet
By minimizing drops and spikes in blood sugar, eating a diet consisting of food with low glycemic index levels will help lessen cravings and keep patients feeling full longer. Of course, this helps contribute to weight loss. But there are even more benefits to eating a diet full of foods with low glycemic levels.
- Decreased chance of diabetes
- Decreased chance of metabolic syndrome
- Decreased chance of heart disease
Good candidates for low glycemic dieting may be patients who are interested in losing weight and keeping it off with the adoption of a dieting plan. It may also be a good diet for those with diabetes. Luckily, most people can be considered good candidates for a low glycemic index diet plan.
Pillars of Low Glycemic Dieting
- Avoid overly processed grains and instead focus on eating grains such as rice, millet, natural granola, steel cut oats, and whole barley. Do not eat refined grain products, including white pasta and white bread.
- Avoid high glycemic foods with lots of calories, including ice cream, pies and cakes. Also avoid sweetened drinks or juices from concentrate.
- Eat healthy, low fat proteins, including fish, skinless chicken, and beans.
- Eat a moderate amount of healthy fats, including olive oil, nuts, and avocado, while avoiding hydrogenated, trans, or saturated fats. These are found in most packaged and fast food. They can also be found in some animal or dairy products.
- Eat lots of non-starchy vegetables, including lettuce, asparagus, broccoli, spinach, mushrooms, and peppers.
- Avoid fruits with high glycemic levels, including mangos, papayas, and bananas. Berries, peaches, pears, and apples are okay.
Results from a low glycemic index diet will vary from patient to patient. In general, within a couple weeks, patients will start to have more energy. They will experience less and less “highs” from increasing blood sugar levels, followed by crashes and exhaustion. Plus, since the food that they consume will be generally lower in calories, sugar, and fat, cravings will begin to go away. Ultimately, all of these effects will help the patient lose weight.
Depending on the patient’s current weight and weight loss goals, we may recommend additional supplements to help the patient achieve optimal results. We may suggest that the patient incorporate medications, supplements, or appetite suppressants into their diet.