Over the last 30 years many diets have come and gone, some useful and some ludicrous, but what we know now is that the secret to weight control may lie not in reducing dietary fat but in lowering the amount of refined carbohydrates you eat. This has become popularly known as the low G.I. diet and it is also beneficial for a reduced risk of diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers.
High or Low – What are the effects?
Dr. David Ludwig, director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center at Harvard-affiliated Boston Children’s Hospital, and his colleagues have discovered some clues to why people on a low-glycaemic diet find it easier to lose weight and keep it off.
In 2013 they looked at the effects of high and low-glycaemic meals with the same number of calories four hours after people ate them. They found that people were hungrier, had lower blood sugar, and had more activity in the area of the brain that is associated with craving and reward after they consumed a high-glycaemic meal.
When you eat a high-glycaemic food, the sugar in that food becomes readily available as soon as it passes through the stomach to the intestines. You may feel a sudden surge of energy as sugar (in the form of glucose) pours into your blood. Your body will react by producing more insulin to metabolize it. However, the insulin rush will deplete that blood glucose within the next couple of hours. You may even feel exhausted, shaky, and woozy if your glucose level drops too low too quickly, a state called hypoglycemia. And you’ll probably crave a high-glycaemic snack, which certainly won’t help with weight loss.
In contrast, low-glycaemic foods require more processing time in the digestive system as enzymes work to separate the sugar from other components. Glucose flows slowly into the bloodstream, and insulin is released gradually, too. As a result, you remain fuller longer and are less likely to overeat.
How does the G.I. rating work?
The glycaemic index is a rating system for foods containing carbohydrates. It shows how quickly each food affects your blood sugar (glucose) level when that food is eaten on its own. Another measure, the glycaemic load, takes into account both the GI of a food and the carbohydrate content in a serving.
Although some foods, like watermelon, have a high GI, they have a moderate glycaemic load because a serving has relatively few carbohydrates. Foods like white potatoes that are both high-GI and high-carbohydrate have a greater glycemic load.
High GI foods
As a rule, high-GI foods are those with lots of concentrated sugars and refined starches such as white flour products, “quick-cooking” or “instant” rice or grains and most cold cereals. Carbohydrate foods that are broken down quickly by your body and cause a rapid increase in blood glucose have a high GI rating and need to reduced if you want to lose weight. High GI foods include:
* sugar and sugary foods
* sugary soft drinks or fruit juices including those with sweeteners
* white bread
* white rice
Low and medium GI foods
Foods with a low GI are likely to contain few sugars, but when they do contain the sugars are part of the natural food structure and aren’t as readily available. This means they enter the blood slowly and cause a gradual rise in blood sugar levels over time and so can help control your appetite and improve weight loss. They include:
* fruit and vegetables (but not dried fruit)
* pulses, beans, lentils
* wholegrain foods, such as porridge oats
Can low GI foods help me lose weight and gain energy?
Unlike high-protein diets which in excess may cause constipation, bad breath and even cancer, or low fat-diets which can cause skin or hair problems and lead to blood sugar issues, the only side effects of the low-GL diet are extra energy, better mood and memory, and clearer skin.
Low GI foods, which cause your blood sugar levels to rise and fall slowly, may help you feel fuller for longer. This could help control your appetite and may be useful if you’re trying to lose weight. For example try exchanging a glass of apple juice for an actual apple as the juice has a much higher glycaemic load as it contains much more sugar.
Weight loss is a key subject for many women, but how best to do it? The diets that work best are those that are healthy and sustainable, and if you want an easy to follow regime then nutritionist Patrick Holford’s excellent book ‘The Low-GL Diet Bible’ provides scientific research about why G.I. eating is so healthy, along with testimonials from people who have tried it for themselves and have the results to prove their health turnaround.
Fatigue is also associated with increased weight, but also an unbalanced diet high in foods that drain energy so this way of eating will also help you tackle that too.
If your weight increase is related to bloating and hormone imbalance then bioidentical progesterone can help with weight loss as it supports thyroid function and helps you get rid of excess fluid from the body.