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Tuesday, November 5, 2013


The article posted yesterday (Are all calories equal? How to avoid weight re-gain) showed the resuts of a study conducted by Professor Ludwig (the director of the Optimal Weight for Life Clinic at Boston Children’s Hospital): a low-glycemic diet is preferable to a low-fat diet for those trying to achieve lasting weight loss and to the low-glycemic index diet, which has negative effects of stress and inflammation.
The low-glycemic diet has many benefits, including lower risk for heart disease and fatty liver and it helps control appetite, encouraging and supporting a healthy weight.


Some premises - What's a carb?

Carbohydrates occur in three main forms.
  • Sugars are the simplest. They include glucose (the type of sugar that travels in the blood stream), fructose (fruit sugar), lactose (milk sugar), and others.
  • Starches are more complex carbs. Some starches, like those in the average baked potato, the body digests in a flash, quickly elevating blood sugar. Other starches, like those in whole grains and beans, are digested more slowly, and so don't boost blood sugar as high.
  • Fiber, another complex carbohydrate, can't be broken down by the human digestive tract. Fiber tends to move though the stomach and gut slowly, making you feel full without adding calories.
What is the difference between the glycemic index and glycemic load?

Glycemic index and glycemic load are two similar but different terms.
  • Glycemic index indicates how rapidly a certain food increases blood sugar after eating. A serving of white rice has almost the same effect as eating pure glucose—a quick, high spike in blood sugar and insulin. A serving of lentils has a slower, smaller effect. The glycemic index captures these changes by rating the effect of a specific amount of a food on blood sugar compared with the same amount of pure glucose. A food with a glycemic index of 28 boosts blood sugar only 28% as much as pure glucose; one with a GI of 95 acts almost like pure glucose.

  • Glycemic load, on the other hand, takes into account the glycemic index of a food multiplied by the carbohydrate content of the food. The concept of glycemic load was developed by scientists to simultaneously describe the quality (glycemic index) and quantity of carbohydrate in a meal or diet. For most foods, the rule follows that a food with a high glycemic index will also have a high glycemic load. However, there are exceptions to the rule; carrots and watermelon have high glycemic index but a low glycemic load, due to the small amounts of carbohydrate found in these foods. So thanks to the glycemic load, carrots and other high-glycemic fruits and veggies aren’t considered so bad for you anymore, which is a good thing as potatoes, pineapple, watermelon, and the like are often loaded with important nutrients.
Below you'll find a table of the GI and G load of the most common foods.

This is a link for a FREE CALCULATOR glycemicindex & load calculator

What does a steady glucose level have to do with losing weight?

Two things:

- It's easier to control hunger (and, ultimately, body weight) when your blood sugar level is steady, not changing quickly from high to low and back again.

-A steady level of blood sugar level also helps you shed excess body fat more effectively. 
    "Glycemic index categories can be very helpful for people trying to choose a healthy diet," says Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health.

    What foods help keep the blood sugar levels steady

    Foods with a low glycemic index help keep the blood sugar levels steady. Examples are most fruits and non-starchy vegetables.
    On the other hand, foods with a high glycemic index, such as white bread, chips and prepared breakfast cereals, cause the blood sugar levels to spike. 

    Following  a low-glycemic diet is easier than it may sound. You don't have to memorize the glycemic index/loads or count grams of carbohydrates in foods. Instead, you can:
    • Choose fiber-rich, natural carbohydrates such as vegetables, fruits and legumes, and eat them along with a source of protein* and a healthy fat**.  
    • Eat grain products in their least processed state possible (for example, stone ground whole wheat bread rather than white bread).
    • Limit fruit juice, avoid sugary soda and drink mostly water.  

    Everything in moderation

    The glycemic index is a useful guide for choosing healthy foods. But it shouldn't be the only one. 
    The amount of carbohydrate you take in matters too. Spaghetti, for example, has a low glycemic index (42). But eat a huge plate of it and your blood sugar will head into the stratosphere. 


    Swaps for lowering glycemic index

    Instead of this high-glycemic index food

     Eat this lower-glycemic index food
    White riceBrown rice or converted rice
    Instant oatmealSteel-cut oats
    CornflakesBran flakes
    Baked potatoPasta, bulgur
    White breadWhole-grain bread
    CornPeas or leafy greens



    When you take glycemic load into account, you find that nearly all fruits and vegetables are acceptable on your low-glycemic diet. This is an important realization because fruits and veggies (which are naturally low in calories) also provide the majority of nutrients and fiber in your diet. Including five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables in your diet will help you lose weight in a way that you can eat plenty of food and not starve yourself! Truly, it’s not hard to see that the processed cereal grains are the real culprit when it comes to weight gain and blood sugar disorders.


    This is a link for a FREE CALCULATOR glycemicindex & load calculator

    Glycemic index & glycemic load chart

    Glycemic index and glycemic load offer information about how foods affect blood sugar and insulin. The lower a food's glycemic index or glycemic load, the less it affects blood sugar and insulin levels. Here you'll find a printable list of the glycemic index and glycemic load for the most common foods.

    *read my article about healthy protein veggie protein elixir of life
    **Unsaturated fats are called good fats because they can improve blood cholesterol levels, ease inflammation, stabilize heart rhythms, and play a number of other beneficial roles.
    There are two types of unsaturated fats:
    Monounsaturated fats are found in high concentrations in olive, peanut, and canola oils; avocados; nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts, and pecans; and seeds such as pumpkin and sesame seeds.
    Polyunsaturated fats are found in high concentrations in sunflower, corn, soybean, and flaxseed oils, and also in foods such as walnuts, flax seeds, and fish; canola oil, though higher in monounsaturated fat, is also a good source of polyunsaturated fat. Omega-3 fats, are an important type of polyunsaturated fat. The body can’t make these, so they must come from food. An excellent way to get omega-3 fats is by eating fish two or three times a week. Good plant sources of omega-3 fats include chia seeds (sold as Salvia), flax seeds, walnuts, and oils such as flaxseed, canola, and soybean.

    Sources: Boston Childrens Hospital new-balance-foundation-obesity-prevention-center-program
    Harvard Medical School where you can also find a more detailed GI and Gload chart