Blog Post - News, Views and Tips

G.I. Low, The Way To Go

Now that Christmas has come and gone, and after the usual festive excesses, New Year will be the time when many peoples’ thoughts turn back to their goals of fitness and fat loss.

Now while it’s fashionable to be looking for the latest diet trend, the magic solution that promises you the body of your dreams in record time if you only eat and drink x, y and z. I want to tell you about the healthy eating plan that really works, one that real nutritionists and qualified dietitians actually encourage.

Put simply, it’s using the Glycaemic Index as a basis for filling your fridge and food cupboard with healthy nutritious foods.

Now for those who don’t know too much about it, the Glycaemic Index runs as a rating from 0 at the bottom to 140 at the top, and usually uses White Bread rated at 100 as the reference point. The effect other foods have on blood sugar levels is then compared against the reference food to determine where it sits in the ranking. If a food raises blood sugar levels quickly and dramatically, then that food is rated high on the scale, whilst foods that only have a slow or small effect on blood sugar are rated with a low G.I. value. Breaking it down, foods classified with a G.I. value of 55 or less, are classified as low, values of 56 to 69 are medium, and anything over 70 is high.

So the big question is why is this good for weight loss?

Well, foods ranking high on the G.I. scale cause a rapid and short lived rise in blood sugar, and this roller coaster effect on your sugar levels causes your brain to demand more fuel making you feel hungry again quickly. Unfortunately this vicious circle process simply ensures you are constantly reaching for snacks all day. On the other hand, low ranking foods release sugar into the blood slowly, providing you with a steady supply of energy and leaving you feeling fuller for longer. This has the positive effect that you are less likely to snack on junk foods and therefore makes it perfect sense to try basing your meals around low G.I. foods, as less snacking has a significant impact on reducing calorie intake.

There are some things though that can affect the G.I. value of foods which you need to be aware of. Importantly, the overall nutrient content of a food will affect its G.I. rating. First and foremost, fat and protein slow the body’s absorption of carbohydrate (sugars), so chocolate which is high in fat has a low G.I. value. Similarly, so do high fat crisps and whole milk which is packed with protein and fat. Yes you can include chocolate and crisps in your diet, but they must be kept to a minimum and not over indulged. Secondly, some foods have a low G.I. because they are packed with fibre which acts as a barrier to sugars, slowing the carbohydrate absorption into the blood.

So if you can arrange your diet to consist of mainly low to medium G.I foods, ones which are nutritious, but keeping control of your portion sizes. Then you should expect to see a reduction in your hunger cravings, and a subsequent improvement in your fat loss. Other useful tips include ensuring that if you do crave something sugary, then have it after your main meal, as this will also help slow down the blood sugar spike.

An example of a healthy balanced, low G.I. meal would be –

Breakfast

Mini wheat breakfast cereal and a half cup of semi-skimmed (2% fat) milk, topped with fresh strawberries.

1 glass of grapefruit juice.

Lunch

Bowl of cream of tomato soup with 2 slices of wholegrain bread.

1 yoghurt and a piece of fruit.

Dinner

Wholewheat pasta with finely chopped chicken, grilled mushrooms and cheese,  stirred in with a pesto dressing.

Snacks

Carrot and cucumber sticks dipped in a couple of tablespoons of low fat houmous.

Handful of walnuts.

Here are a few more low G.I foods (ratings in brackets) which you can use as part of your eating plans –

Breads

Heavy mixed grain (45)

Wholewheat (49)

Cupboard Staples

Brown rice (50)

New potatoes (54)

Breakfast Cereals

All Bran (30)

Special K (54)

Vegetables

Frozen peas (39)

Frozen sweetcorn (47)

Fruit

 Apples (34)

Strawberries (40)

Snacks

Peanuts (13)

Oatmeal Crackers (55)