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What is a Glycemic Index Diet Plan?

A. Pasbjerg
A. Pasbjerg

When one's blood sugar level rises, the body releases the hormone insulin to regulate it. The higher the blood sugar level goes, the more insulin is released. One of the issues with excessive insulin is that it encourages the body to store extra fat. The basic concept behind a glycemic index diet plan is that different types of carbohydrates, which digest into glucose, or sugar, have different effects on blood sugar, and that eating primarily those which increase it the least will contribute to weight loss.

The glycemic index is a ranking system which rates how specific foods affect blood sugar levels. Ratings go from 1 to 100, with 100 being the highest level, which is assigned to essentially pure glucose. Those following a glycemic index diet plan are encouraged to eat primarily foods considered to have a low glycemic index, which is a rating less than 55, or a moderate glycemic index, which ranges from 56 to 69. Foods with a high glycemic index, meaning 70 or above, should be eaten sparingly.

Most vegetables have a low glycemic index.
Most vegetables have a low glycemic index.

Another important factor in most glycemic index diet plans is when and how certain foods are eaten. Often the timing of intake of carbohydrates or proteins is considered important for optimum weight loss. Foods with a high glycemic index can be eaten occasionally, but should be combined with low glycemic index foods to minimize their impact. Finding the right combination of foods to get a balanced diet while still keeping within a low or moderate glycemic index level may be challenging.

In addition to helping reduce increases in blood sugar and insulin, a glycemic index diet plan can have other positive effects on the body which encourage weight loss. Avoiding spikes in blood sugar and insulin can help dieters feel full longer and reduce feelings of hunger. Often dieters experience an overall increase in energy, which may lead to an increase in physical activity. Cravings for sugary foods, which are also usually high in calories, often decrease. The kinds of foods recommended in these types of plans, such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and lean protein are usually very nutritious.

One group that can particularly benefit from a glycemic index diet plan is diabetics. People with this disorder naturally have difficulty regulating their blood sugar levels. By avoiding foods that cause it to spike, they may be able to control their disease more naturally and lead healthier lives.

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    • Most vegetables have a low glycemic index.
      By: Morgenstjerne
      Most vegetables have a low glycemic index.