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Limitations: The glycemic index diet can be confusing. Just because a food is low on the index doesn't mean it's healthy. And some high glycemic index foods offer a lot of nutrition.

For example, parsnips have a higher glycemic index value (52) than vanilla cake (42).

Also, the diet doesn't offer advice on non-carb foods. It's up to you to figure out how many calories and how much fat you're getting each day. And eating some foods in combination -- like a high-glycemic-index carb with protein and fat, for example -- can affect how much your blood sugar rises.

Cooking and shopping: You can shop and cook like you normally would, but you need to use ingredients that are low on the glycemic index.

Packaged foods or meals: None are required, but certain programs -- like Nutrisystem -- that follow the glycemic index diet do include packaged meals.

In-person meetings: No.

Exercise: Exercise is not part of this diet.

Does It Allow for Dietary Restrictions or Preferences?

Yes. People who are on vegetarian, gluten-free, and other dietary restrictions can follow this plan. You can choose foods you like, but you may need to make substitutions -- such as using whole wheat pasta instead of white.

What Else You Should Know

Your diet needs to be healthy, and that involves more than the glycemic index. Be wary of diets that recommend extreme approaches, like eating a lot of meat or other foods that are high in saturated fat.

Cost: How much you spend depends on where you shop for groceries and the foods you buy. If you join a plan, you will have to pay the cost of packaged food.

Support: Usually you'll do this program on your own. You can get food and menu ideas in books like The Glucose Revolution or Sugar Busters!

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