How to Switch to a Low Glycemic Index Diet?
The benefits of a low glycemic index diet are many, which include weight loss, improved serum cholesterol levels, better blood sugar levels, and prolonged physical endurance among others. Although GI was originally designed for diabetics, people willing to adopt a healthier lifestyle are nowadays opting for low GI foods. Here we tell you how to switch to a low glycemic index diet. Read on!
What is the Glycemic Index?
Glycemic index or GI measures the effect of a carbohydrate-containing food on blood glucose levels. Carbohydrates that break down rapidly during digestion have a high GI whereas carbohydrates that break down slowly, releasing glucose gradually into the bloodstream have a low GI. Your health condition or health goals may prompt you to adopt a low GI diet which might be daunting, to begin with. But, switching to a low glycemic index diet can be made significantly easier with a little knowledge of the glycemic index of some common foods.
Why Should we follow a low Glycemic index diet?
Foods with a low glycemic index result in more stable blood sugar levels and are usually a richer source of fiber. Lower glycemic index foods are less refined than their more refined, higher glycemic index counterparts. These foods are digested over a longer time which prevents blood sugar spikes. This provides a prolonged feeling of fullness after eating. It also improves the body’s response to insulin, helps in weight loss, and improves physical endurance. Thus, a low GI diet is a perfect choice for people suffering from diabetes or obesity.
One begins a low glycemic diet by eating foods rich in whole grains such as bran, barley or oats, along with certain fiber-rich fruits and vegetables. Bread made from whole wheat, bran or rye is also low GI. The basic technique in switching to a low glycemic index diet is to avoid foods such as refined sugars, white rice, white bread, potatoes, processed flour and other processed food products.
For example, you can switch from white bread to soy and linseed loaf, multi-grain bread, fruit loaf. Switch from corn flakes, puffed rice to Muesli, porridge, bran-based cereals etc. Why? Low-GI carbohydrate-containing foods such as oats, dairy foods, pasta and most fruits, not only digest slowly, keeping blood sugar levels low, they also provide longer-lasting energy. Low glycemic index diets are better for the heart and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Here we mention seven easy steps that will help you kickstart your low glycemic index diet.
- Eat breakfast cereals which include oats, barley, bran and whole food grains to make a healthy beginning of your day.
- Reduce the consumption of bakery foods made primarily with white flour (e.g. white bread, cookies, crackers, pasta etc.). Choose grainy bread, authentic sourdoughs or stoneground wholemeal options.
- Reduce your consumption of potatoes. Additionally, you can add vinegar to potatoes to reduce its GI level or switch to alternates such as sweet potato.
- For snacks, go for fresh fruits, dried fruits, nuts, and yoghurt. Avoid refined flour products like cookies, crackers, and biscuits.
- Watch the amount and type of rice you eat at home and when you are eating out. Jasmine and Calrose varieties are high in GI. Choose rice varieties that have a lower GI and a higher portion of amylose (starch). Amylose takes longer to break down, helping to manage your blood glucose levels.
- Make water your first choice. Avoid sugary drinks and drink only one to two glasses of alcohol a day.
- Most dairy products including milk and yoghurt have a low GI. They are also an important source of protein and calcium. For alternative dairy products select calcium-enriched soy milk rather than higher GI Rice milks.
Identifying low GI foods for diabetics is not that challenging if you keep a few things in mind. A low glycemic index diet is not only beneficial for people suffering from diabetes or weight-related issues but also for people who want to adopt a healthy lifestyle.