Adopting a diet that mainly consists of foods ranking low on the Glycemic Index (GI) can help you have a consistent energy level, feel calmer, improve cholesterol levels and lose weight. So, why aren’t more people following a low-glycemic diet and reaping these health advantages?
Some say a low-GI diet is hard to follow. Others consider it an eating plan only for people living with diabetes. According to Dr. Nishath Hakim, these are myths. “As an integrative health physician, I have consistently seen how easily my patients learn to incorporate low-GI foods into their meal plans and how happy (and relieved) they are with their results,” says Hakim.
Want to commit to a low-GI lifestyle? Here are some easy tips to help you see results:
* Not sure which foods are high and low and where they rank on the GI? Researchers have determined the GI values of more than 2,500 foods. Tip: Check out resources like the Guide to a Low Glycemic Diet for Better Blood Glucose Control on fifty50foods.com to make informed food choices and stick to those lower on the GI.
* All carbohydrates are not the same. Some “gush” into your bloodstream and quickly spike your blood sugar. Others just “trickle” in slowly, keeping it low. Tip: Know your carbs and choose “tricklers” not “gushers.”
* Selecting more medium- to low-GI foods will help you maximize the performance of your workout or exercise. Tip: If you are doing endurance exercises, try consuming a moderate- to low-GI meal before exercising for sustained carb availability.
“Following a low-GI eating plan is easy since most foods are commonly found in supermarkets,” says Burani. For example, specialty food brand Fifty50 Foods has a broad line of certified low-glycemic items ranging from peanut butters and fruit spreads to candies and cookies and from breakfast items like syrup and oatmeal to baking items like pie crust and crystalline fructose.
* Does following a low-GI diet mean you have to give up your favorite sweet treats? Fortunately not. Tip: Try a healthy twist on the old standard peanut butter cookie made with peanut butter, no added sugar and zero sodium.
* Can you eat out and maintain a low-GI diet? Yes, you can. Many restaurant menus feature healthier foods that are lower on the GI so you can dine at your favorite spot without guilt. Tip: Do your homework in advance to identify the low-GI selections on the menu.
Here are a few options by cuisine:
Chinese: Order noodles (egg, rice or mung bean), vegetables and lean proteins. Say no to Asian-style sticky white rice and deep-fried foods.
Italian: Pick pasta, seafood and meat dishes or thin-crust pizza topped with vegetables. Don’t overload the cheese or go heavy on the sauces.
Fast-food: Go for the salad and avoid hamburgers and fries. Most fast-food items have high-GI values since they are processed and also are very high in fat and sodium. Choose wisely!
“Once my patients start feeling and seeing the results of low-GI eating they become committed to making this a lifestyle,” says Hakim. “This applies to both those patients living with diabetes as well as those who want to improve their general health.”