Switching from a basic healthy diet to a low GI lifestyle isn’t easy – but making the change and forming new habits doesn’t have to be difficult. Adopting a low GI diet could alleviate health concerns and prevent future complications.
The low GI diet is a diet that’s based on the glycemic index, or a measurement of how carbohydrates affect blood sugar levels. For people with diabetes or frequent blood sugar spikes, this diet can help regulate blood sugar levels.
If you’re thinking of experimenting with a low GI lifestyle, read on to learn more about this diet.
When Is a Low GI Diet Beneficial?
The glycemic index measures how fast your blood sugar spikes after eating foods that contain carbohydrates. Anything under 55 is considered low, while any food that makes your blood sugar levels rise to 70 or higher is considered high.
Refined carbs and processed, high-sugar foods like white bread, soda, and potatoes are the highest on the glycemic index. Foods like beans and whole-grain bread are some of the lowest.
People who have conditions like diabetes, or those who are considered at risk for obesity, have a vested interest in keeping their blood sugar low. That’s when the low GI diet comes in handy.
6 Tips For Maintaining Your Low GI Diet
In order to start living a healthy low GI lifestyle, it’s important to understand the glycemic index. And you’ll need to know where most foods fall on that scale.
People assume that when a food is sweet, it must be a high GI food – but that isn’t true. Here are a few tips to help you live healthier through the low GI diet.
1. The Glycemic Index Doesn’t Determine a Food’s Overall Health Value
Although the low GI diet is based on ranking foods on the glycemic index, it’s important to use common sense when meal planning. The glycemic index doesn’t measure a food’s nutritional value, which is an integral factor in maintaining a balanced and healthy diet. You can feel confident cutting out foods like processed white bread, chips, and candy, but foods like cereal and potatoes are high GI foods that are fine to eat in moderation.
Make sure you’re checking the overall nutritional value of your food, as well as their place on the glycemic index.
2. Avoid These Foods When Following the Low GI Lifestyle
There are a few foods that are really high on the glycemic index. Generally, the more processed a food is, the higher it falls on the glycemic index. These foods are also extremely low in nutritional value. White bread, processed sugar treats like candy and cookies, and high-sugar, low-fiber fruits like watermelon and pineapple are best avoided.
Having the occasional treat is fine, but if you’re having processed or overly-sugary foods often, it’s important to replace them with lower-GI alternatives.
3. Don’t Alter Your Diet Completely – Replace Your Favorite Foods with Low GI Alternatives
If you’re just getting started on the low GI diet, it can be difficult to figure out what’s okay to eat. It’s tempting to start completely from scratch and throw out your old habits and favorite foods, but unless you have a ton of willpower, that will be difficult.
Instead of throwing out all your old favorites, replace them with healthier, low GI alternatives. If you’re used to having cereal and milk every morning, replace the cereal with oatmeal or granola. Pick a grainy, nutrient-dense bread at the supermarket instead of processed Wonder Bread. You’ll feel better, and it will positively affect your glycemic index.
4. Learn the Ideal Format for Low GI Meals
According to the Glycemic Index Foundation, the ideal format for low GI meals is half veggies, one-fourth lean protein, and one-fourth low GI carbs. This meal breakdown gives you the ability to make your own meals, but makes it easier to ensure they’re low GI-friendly.
The half of your plate that’s taken up with veggies should be a mix of colorful veggies. That will ensure you’re getting plenty of nutrients. Lean proteins include anything from chicken and turkey to seafood or even tofu.
The low-GI carb can be anything high in fiber that falls lower on the glycemic index, like whole-wheat bread, quinoa, or brown rice.
5. Pay Attention to How Food Prep Can Affect a Food’s GI
Following the specific GI numbers of your weekly meal plan is easy – until it’s time to actually prep and cook your food. GI numbers are assigned when a food is in its most basic form. So, as soon as you cook a food, its position on the glycemic index changes. Generally, the longer you cook something, the more the sugars in it are concentrated, which gives it a higher GI number.
Many people find that even cooking pasta to al dente instead of soft makes it less likely to raise their blood sugar levels. Sometimes, pairing certain foods with other foods and condiments can increase or decrease their GI.
However, there are benefits to preparing your food with the GI in mind. Healthy fats and acids, like olive oil or vinegar, can lower a food’s GI.
6. Make Sticking to the Low GI Lifestyle by Planning Meals Ahead of Time
Many people who try to follow the low GI diet get frustrated because they need to check the glycemic index every time they eat or choose a food. This handy tool from the University of Sydney makes checking a food’s glycemic index easy, but it’s still annoying to do when you’re in the middle of a work day, or already hangry from lack of food.
Avoid these issues entirely by planning your meals. You can create a meal plan each weekend for the week ahead, and you can even prep the meals or ingredients ahead of time. Then, when it’s time to eat, you can skip the frustration and confusion and simply eat.
The Low GI Can Offer a Number of Benefits
To see success with the low GI diet, it’s best to plan in advance so you’re never caught by surprise. Although adapting to a new diet can be difficult, it doesn’t have to be.
There are tons of suggestions for great low GI meal plans online. These handy meal plans let you pick and choose your favorite meals, and give you lots of inspiration, so you’re never caught without a healthy meal or snack. If you’re wondering what to eat to maintain the low GI lifestyle, you can search online for exciting, enjoyable options.