Monday, 2 November 2015

Low GI still a winner

The low-GI diet proves that weight loss doesn't have to be complicated, restrictive or expensive.

Hardly a week goes by without a new weight-loss craze hitting the headlines. From pills and detox programs to prepackaged meals, it's no wonder dieters can become confused. But there's one diet that has been helping people to successfully lose weight for years. It's backed by sound scientific research, it can be followed by eating everyday foods and all the information you need to follow it is free.
The low-GI diet was based on research that shows that some carbohydrates have a different effect on blood glucose levels than others. While some flow into the bloodstream quickly, causing glucose to spike, others trickle in slowly, keeping it low. Based on this research, the glycaemic index, or GI, was established about 25 years ago. It's a scale that ranks foods from zero to 100 based on their effect on the body's blood glucose, but how does it relate to our weight?
Your body performs best when blood glucose is kept relatively constant. If blood glucose drops too low, you are left fatigued and looking for your next food fix. But if it goes too high, the pancreas secretes more insulin. This brings the level of glucose down, but primarily by converting the excess glucose into stored fat.

Weight-loss "power tool"

The low-GI diet was originally intended to help people with diabetes control their blood glucose levels, but it was quickly adapted to help people trying to lose weight as it also helps to control cravings and appetite.
Jennie Brand-Miller, a professor of human nutrition at the University of Sydney and a world authority on the GI, describes the diet as a "power tool" for healthy weight loss. "This is not a low-carb, low-fat or high-protein diet," she says. "On this diet you will be eating sensible quantities of bread, pasta, cereal, rice and noodles. It is just a matter of choosing the low-GI varieties."
Professor Brand-Miller says there are many benefits to the diet. One is that it promotes fat loss rather than muscle or fluid loss, and it increases the rate of weight loss compared to conventional low-fat diets. If you have "dangerous" levels of belly fat, a low-GI diet can help to get rid of that too.
All of the information you need to know about the GI, including a comprehensive database of food rankings, can be found free of charge on the glycaemic index website ( If you want to follow a specific 12-week diet plan, you can buy The Low GI Diet (Hachette Australia) by Professor Brand-Miller and her team.
When looking through the food database, a few things might come as a surprise. One is that some healthy, high-fibre foods, such as brown rice, have a high GI ranking. "Fibre is essential in our diet, but for a lot of people, eating everything 'brown' isn't very appealing," says Professor Brand-Miller. "One of the great things about the low-GI diet is that it is naturally high in fibre. People can eat low-GI bread, pasta and basmati rice, and not have to eat the brown versions."

Beneficial carbs

Also, certain high-fat foods, such as chocolate, have a low-GI ranking. "High-fat and saturated-fat foods still need to be limited as they would in any healthy diet," says Professor Brand-Miller. Lisa Renn, a Melbourne-based accredited practising dietitian and a spokesperson for the Dietitians Association of Australia, gives the diet a thumbs up. "The GI is a scientifically sound way of eating, as opposed to 'fad' diets which may avoid food groups, as it is based on eating carbohydrates which are generally higher in fibre and less refined," she says.
"The GI diet also teaches people about different types of carbohydrates, and how some may be more beneficial than others to their health. And it helps people to understand that carbohydrates are part of a healthy diet and can be useful for weight loss."
And there's more. "The GI diet does not require any supplements or [different] foods to be purchased," Renn says. "And the fact that people following this diet will prepare more meals at home will also be a saving for their budget in these tough economic times."
The key points
  1. High-GI foods have a ranking of 70 or higher, such as potatoes and most breads.
  2. Low-GI foods have a ranking of 55 or lower, such as pasta, legumes and porridge.
  3. Low-GI foods are best for most people most of the time, because they reduce the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
  4. Low-GI foods are the most satisfying to eat, and help suppress appetite.
  5. Low-GI foods help people with diabetes control their blood glucose levels.
  6. Low-GI foods help people lose and control weight.
  7. Low-GI foods help reduce blood insulin levels.

The GI symbol
 The University of Sydney has developed a GI symbol to help consumers make healthier carbohydrate choices. The symbol appears on a range of foods that have been tested for the glycaemic index by an accredited testing laboratory.

    Switching to a low-GI diet- the basics

    1. Eat breakfast cereals which include oats, barley and bran.
    2. Eat breads with wholegrains, stone-ground flour or sourdough.
    3. Reduce your consumption of potatoes.
    4. Enjoy all other types of vegetables and fruit.
    5. Cook basmati or doongara (a low-GI) rice.
    6. Eat pasta, noodles and quinoa.
    7. Eat plenty of salad with vinaigrette dressing.

    Comment below if you liked this article and found it helpful. Let me know what you think, love hearing from you. :)



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