With the holiday season approaching, weight loss and mindful eating might not be top of mind for many.
However, we know some are looking for healthier holiday options and might want a head start on starting a healthier lifestyle before the clock strikes midnight and it’s 2022.
If you are looking to manage your blood sugar, lose weight, or simply have a healthier lifestyle, eating the low glycemic diet might be something you want to try. Let us help you learn all about low glycemic foods and why adopting this lifestyle might help your health tenfold.
First things first, what exactly is a low glycemic diet?
A low glycemic diet is simply an eating strategy where specific foods are consumed based on their impact on blood sugar levels. Many who follow a low glycemic diet do so to manage their diabetes as this diet focuses on one’s blood sugar levels, but anyone can follow a low glycemic diet and see tremendous improvements in their health.
Unlike other diets, the low glycemic diet does not focus directly on portion sizes, calorie counting, limiting foods, or eliminating food groups. It’s pretty lax compared to lots of other diets out there today. Low glycemic diets focus on carefully selecting the foods we eat and centering it around the glycemic index, which measures how certain carbohydrates and sugars affect blood sugar levels. Carbs are found in most foods, even if it’s just a gram or two, and contrary to popular belief, carbs aren’t evil; in fact, they are an essential macronutrient we all need to have healthy bodies. However, not all carbs are created equal.
Good Carb, Bad Carb…Not Exactly
In the 1980s, a Canadian doctor created the glycemic index, which measures foods’ effects on one’s blood sugar. There are three tiers for ranking foods based on the rate they raise blood sugar compared to 50 grams of pure glucose in his system. The three GI ratings are low (0-55), medium (56-69), and high (70-100).
Foods with a low GI value generally digest slower and are absorbed by the body slower, which causes a slower and smaller rise in blood sugar levels. The higher the GI rating, the more one’s blood sugar levels are affected. Some examples of high-scoring foods include white and brown rice, whole grain bread, white baked potato, sweet potatoes, and watermelon. Medium score foods include sweet corn, honey, bananas, raw pineapple, rolled oats, and raisins. Lastly, some low-scoring foods include leafy greens, carrots, peanuts, berries, grapefruit, peas, almond milk, kidney beans, and lentils.
Low to Medium
There are a few factors that can alter the GI value of a food item or a meal.
- Processed foods tend to have higher GI values because processing methods disrupt the integrity of the carbohydrate in the food item. So processed foods tended to increase blood sugar levels quicker than non-processed items.
- Not all sugar has a high GI value, fructose is in the low range while maltose is in the high range, so it’s essential to consider this when making recipes as substituting different sugars can change the GI value of the finished product.
- The macronutrient composition of the meal can affect the glycemic value as well. For example, pairing a high glycemic value food like whole-grain bread with a healthy fat like avocado brings the GI value of the meal down as it now takes longer to digest the whole grain bread due to the healthy fat present. Pairing a carb with a healthy fat or protein automatically alters the rate at which that food is digested, hence its effect on blood sugar levels.
What Are Some Benefits Of Eating A Low Glycemic Diet?
Weight Loss: Since low-glycemic index foods are digested more slowly, they remain in the digestive tract longer, helping control appetite and hunger. Due to its sustainability and no wild restrictions, studies show that a low-glycemic diet can work for long-term weight loss. Additionally, those who follow a low glycemic diet reduce their sugar intake and make more wholesome choices that aid in weight loss.
Managing and preventing diabetes: Following a low GI diet can do wonders for those who have diabetes, as low GI diets focus on reducing blood sugar levels. By adopting a low glycemic diet, those who suffer from diabetes can expect lower A1C and reduced fasting blood sugar levels. Those who are pre-diabetic and decide to adopt a low glycemic diet can significantly reduce the risk of developing diabetes.
Managing PCOS in individuals with a uterus: Eating low GI foods can help reduce PCOS symptoms due to low glycemic foods’ ability to improve insulin levels. Insulin is a hormone that helps the body use energy from food, and lots of individuals who have a uterus and suffer from PCOS are resistant to the effects of insulin and thus have more insulin in their blood. Insulin is responsible for some PCOS symptoms as it increases testosterone levels, which can upset the balance of hormones in the body and lead to acne, excess hair, and irregular periods.
Improved heart health: Studies have shown that following a low GI diet can reduce LDL levels by nearly 10%, which correlates to a decreased risk of heart attacks.
Reduce the risk of cancer: Studies suggest that people who watch their GI values diets are less likely to develop certain types of cancer, including endometrial, colorectal, and breast cancer, compared to those who don’t follow low glycemic diets.
Are There Any Downsides To Following A Low Glycemic Diet?
Just like any other diet, there are a few difficulties when adopting a new diet or lifestyle.
When starting on a low glycemic diet, it’s essential to consider the big picture of nutrition before getting into the nitty-gritty of eating low GI, as eating strictly off GI value might lead you astray. For example, the GI value of frozen French fries is lower than that of a baked sweet potato, which is a healthier alternative. With that in mind, sometimes it’s best to pick the healthier option. Some other healthy options like watermelons are considered high GI but are low carb and loaded with vitamins. According to the GI value map, a better option for watermelon is low GI junk foods like Twix bars, low sugar ice creams, and sugar-free candies, which isn’t technically correct. It’s always best to pick wholesome food options versus what food option is low GI.
A big complaint of those starting the low GI diet is that the GI values generally measure a single food’s effect on blood sugar levels; however, most people consume foods mixed together in meals, so it can be hard to calculate the GI value of the whole meal. A good rule is to pick all low GI foods when making meals, or if a medium or high-value food is added, be sure to pair with a lean protein or healthy fat.
Here’s A Freebie Recipe To Get You Started
Looking for a delicious snack or dessert recipe to get you started on your low glycemic diet? Look no further than this delightful raspberry upside-down mug cheesecake recipe for one.
Here’s what you need:
2 tablespoons of cream cheese
1-2 tablespoon of powdered Swerve or Erythritol
2 tablespoons of heavy cream
1 tablespoon of powdered unflavored gelatin
Half tsp of vanilla extract
A little bit of lemon
Topping / “Crust”:
A few extra raspberries
Let’s Get Cooking:
Mix all the filling together except for the raspberries with a hand mixer or a small whisk. Once the filling is a thicker mouse-like consistency, it’s ready to eat. Mashup some raspberries and fold them into the mouse.
Once the filling is done, it’s time to make the “crust” made up of crush up hazelnuts or pecans. Place the crushed nuts on top of the mouse. If you have a few raspberries left, sprinkle them on top for garnish.
Putting Your Health First, Always
Need help managing your diabetes or reducing your risk of heart diseases? Our team at GeniusRx is always here to for you! From curating tons of health and wellness content to help you nip the problem in the bud to assisting you via telehealth for your condition, your health is always our top priority. Be sure to connect with us on social media for more tips and insights, and visit our website to learn more about us and how we can help you.