There are a number of books out there on the Glycemic Index (GI) diet. They promise to help you lose weight, flatten your belly and reverse insulin resistance, but is it just another fad diet, or does it really work? Well, based on the research out there, it won’t hurt, and it may very well help if you are one of the 79 million Americans have been diagnosed with impaired fasting glucose or prediabetes, which is the step before full blown diabetes.
The underlying problem for so many people is called insulin resistance – your body makes insulin, but it’s not working. Even though it’s been happening to record numbers of individuals, it’s not a club you want to be part of, because it usually happens when you are overweight, too sedentary, and have a diet that is too high in sugar and refined carbohydrates.
The two most important steps you can take to stop prediabetes from turning into diabetes, are to exercise (30 minutes of exercise each day can reduce the risk for diabetes by 58%), and start eating lower glycemic index (GI) carbs. If you feel like you need to follow a specific diet from a book, by all means pick one up, but but you can also get good results by just making it a point to swap low glycemic index carbs for any that are high GI.
Anytime you eat anything with carbohydrate in it, your blood sugar goes up, and your insulin has to get to work to bring it down, and get that sugar into your cells and muscles so it can help fuel your body. GI is a measure of how quickly a food increases your blood sugar, and in the case of someone who is insulin resistant, slower is much better. As a general rule, higher glycemic index foods tend to be more processed or refined – think white bread or rice, sweetened cereals, and desserts. They have a more drastic impact on your blood sugar, and also stress your insulin. A recently released study out of Boston also suggests that eating lots of high GI foods turns on brain regions linked to overeating – those involved in reward, craving, and hunger.
Lower glycemic index foods are usually less refined and full of sugar, and therefore they help to keep your blood sugar more stable. They include things like high fiber whole grains, whole fruits (as opposed to juice) and vegetables. Individuals who eat low GI foods for breakfast tend to have lower blood sugar level even through lunchtime.
Even if you don’t have diabetes or prediabetes, whole grains and lower GI foods are still a good choice, because they’re usually much healthier overall, and higher in fiber and vitamins. Low GI foods also tend to keep you fuller, longer, which means less calories consumed, and healthier weight.
Instead of white rice choose quinoa
Instead of white potato choose sweetpotato
Instead of corn choose peas or leafy greens
Instead of watermelon choose peaches
Instead of pretzels choose peanuts