Balancing blood sugar levels
There are lots of ways in which you can control and maintain steady blood sugar levels. Exercising on a daily basis will most certainly help a lot, as well as properly timing your meals, but the most important thing are the foods you choose. This is the main aspect where low glycemic index foods can help you. Foods that have a glycemic index that is lower than 55 increase blood sugar levels slightly, the ones that are in the 55-70 range increase them a bit more and the ones that have a glycemic index higher than 70 take them through the roof. Low-glycemic foods affect blood sugar levels moderately, mainly because they can slow down digestion, which is why low-glycemic diet plans are often known as “slow carb” plans.
Several studies have shown that a meal containing low-glycemic foods can be a lot more satiating that a meal containing high-glycemic foods and can help reduce your cravings. This has led some nutrition experts to believe that these foods can ultimately lead to weight loss. Current research has also shown that following a low-glycemic diet can prevent insulin resistance, which is one of the main causes for diabetes development. What’s more, knowing that insulin resistance causes fat gain around the stomach, which is a well-known risk factor for developing a cardiovascular disease, following a low-glycemic can help protect your heart.
How to make it work
Following this type of diet is not so easy. It can become really tiresome wondering what to eat next unless you have an enormous list of items you’ll need to carry with you. And there’s a lot of confusion as to what cereals to pick, the type of bread or potatoes. What might seem as a low-GI food can quite often turn out to be a high-GI food. And you can’t rank the foods based on the glycemic index alone. There are lots of other factors to consider like the food’s nutritional value. For example, a chocolate cake can have a lower glycemic index than a wheat bread, but that doesn’t make it healthier. You have to take into consideration that the cake has more sugar, fat, calories and is low in fiber.
What complicates matters more is that the glycemic index rankings compare different foods based on a pre-set quantity of carbs, which is often 50 g. That isn’t the standard portion for the majority of people. Plus, when you begin to combine different foods, their impact on blood sugar levels starts to change. So, before you say it isn’t worth it, hold on. Here’s a list of how to get as many benefits as possible from a low-glycemic diet.
- Substitute as many high-glycemic foods as possible with healthy low-glycemic alternatives.
- Add or replace at least one low-glycemic food at every meal. Add fat or protein every time you eat a high-glycemic food.
- Opt for low-glycemic grains over processed as often as you can.
- Decrease the negative impact on blood sugar levels of any food by combining it with a food with a lower-GI. Like, substituting waffles (high-glycemic) with berries (low-glycemic).
- Measure your portions. Big portions, regardless of what they contain, almost always trigger a higher blood sugar response than the smaller portions.
- Don’t buy instant oatmeal, make yourself a home-made oatmeal instead. The thing that makes the home-made oatmeal a lot healthier is because it has a high content of compact and hard starch granules, plus fiber. The granules are hard to break down, which slows down digestion. On the other hand, the starch that is found in instant oatmeal has already been softened during refinement, which makes it a lot easier to digest.
- Making a turkey sandwich with whole wheat buns and fried potatoes on the side, can be substituted with lean turkey inside 100% stone-ground whole wheat buns with tomatoes, avocado, lettuce and a cup of soup on the side. This type of wheat is a lot coarser, and that makes it more difficult to break down and digest. The soup is acidic and the avocado has fat in it. The acid and the fat slow the digestion process by slowing down the speed at which the food leaves the stomach.
- Eating pretzels can be substituted with some apple slices and peanut butter. The apples have a lot of fiber in them and the peanut butter a lot of fat, which combined together slow digestion.
- A vegetable stir-fry and some white rice can be substituted with cooking some chicken or tofu stir-fry with some veggies and basmati rice added. That’s because just like the instant oatmeal, the instant white rice is digested quickly since the refining process has already softened the starch granules. Basmati is a better variation since the starch granules are harder and compact. And the adding of protein in the chicken or the tofu will also slow down digestion.
- Don’t eat rice pudding. Eat some frozen yogurt (low-fat) with blueberries. The blueberries have acid and fiber in them, which as we already said slows digestion.
A List of Low Glycemic Diet Foods (For reference, the glycemic index of 55 and below is considered to be low) :
Food / Glycemic Index
1.Oats / 51
2.Peas / 393.Carrots / 19
4.Broccoli / 10
5.Cabbage / 10
6.Kale / 4
7.Tomatoes / 15
8.Cauliflower / 15
9.Whole Wheat Bread / 49
10.Mushrooms / 10
11.Quinoa / 53
12.Cherries / 22
13.Coconut / 45
14.Peaches / 28
15.Apples / 34
16.Pears / 41
17.Milk / 31
18.Yogurt / 33
19.Lentils / 30
20.Beans / 40-52
21.Sweet Potatoes / 48
22.Brown Rice / 50
23.Hummus / 6
24.Peanuts / 13
25. Strawberries / 40