Glycemic Index Diet
When people are trying to lose weight, they may focus on different numbers to decide whether or not to eat an item, including its calories, grams of fat, or grams of carbohydrate. Another number to consider if you want to lose weight is the glycemic index of your foods.
The glycemic index is a measure of how quickly a food containing carbohydrates (carbs) affects your blood sugar.
Foods that tend to be high in carbs include:
- Sweet desserts
Your body breaks down most carbs into glucose -- the main source of energy for your body's cells. The glucose then moves into your bloodstream. As a result, your blood sugar goes up.
The glycemic index is designed as a scale. Typically, white bread or glucose is ranked at 100 on the scale, since these make your blood sugar rise quickly and steeply. The number for other foods represents their effect on your blood sugar compared to these items.
A term often used with glycemic index is "glycemic load." A food's glycemic load is a measure of both its glycemic index and the amount of carbohydrate it contains in a usual serving. Usually, foods with a high glycemic index will also have a high glycemic load. However, some foods, like watermelon, have a high glycemic index but a low glycemic load because they contain few carbs per serving.
Using the Glycemic Index for Weight Loss and Health
Following a glycemic index diet may be helpful for your weight. And it may lower your risk of health problems that are often linked to being overweight.
Here are some health advantages of a glycemic index diet:
Weight loss. Research shows that diets with a low glycemic index or a low glycemic load can help people lose more weight than low-fat diets or diets with a high glycemic index.
Foods with a low glycemic index may help you feel more full. They may also ward off hunger for longer.
Heart disease. Eating low glycemic index foods has been linked with better HDL "good" cholesterol and lower triglycerides, a type of blood fat.
Diets that are high in glycemic index or glycemic load have been linked to a higher chance of heart disease, especially in women.
Diabetes. A low glycemic index diet may lower your risk of type 2 diabetes.
However, experts don't know yet whether eating a low glycemic index diet can definitely protect you from this disease.
How to Follow a Glycemic Index Diet
Learning how to create a low glycemic index diet isn't hard. Be sure to:
Know the scale. Foods with a glycemic index in certain number ranges are considered "high," "medium," or "low" on the glycemic index. Here are the index ranges:
- High: more than 70
- Medium: 56 to 69
- Low: 55 or less