The GI Diet Basics
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What is the glycemic index?
The Glycemic Index is a measurement of how quickly foods raise your blood sugar levels. Foods that raise your blood sugar quickly are given a high GI number. Foods that take longer to raise your blood sugar have a lower GI number.
What does it do to your body?
When your blood stream has an increase in glucose, it triggers the pancreas to release a hormone called insulin. This hormone regulates energy and blood glucose levels. It is often referred to as the fat-storing hormone. Glucose is turned into glucogen which gets stored in the liver and muscles for times when the body may have low blood sugar. Insulin lowers blood sugar levels.
When your blood stream has low blood glucose levels, it stimulates the pancreas to release a hormone called glucagon. This hormone is the opposite of insulin. It breaks down glucogen stores into glucose as energy for the body. It is often referred to as the fat-burning hormone. Glucagon raises blood sugar levels.
The pancreas cannot release insulin and glucagon at the same time. When one is being produced, the other is not. By eating foods that have low GI numbers, you minimize the amount of insulin that is released into the body, which allows more of the fat-burning hormone to work on your energy reserves (unwanted fat).
How does the diet work?
The GI diet works by assigning foods a number and color.
Low GI is 55 or less.
Medium GI is 56-69.
High GI is 70 or more.
Foods in the low GI section are green light meaning you are safe to eat them almost as much as you want (use moderation and the rule of appropriate portions). Medium GI foods are yellow light. They can be eaten but in smaller quantities. High GI foods are red light and should be avoided or eaten only on occasion.
By eating foods with a low GI, your body doesn't feel the need to snack as often or over eat. It takes the body time to break it down and so energy slowly and steadily trickles into the blood stream.
This diet will help you lose weight, manage your diabetes, reduce your risk of heat disease, manage your symptoms of PCOS, improve your blood cholesterol levels, and reduce your hunger.
The first phase of the GI diet is the green light only phase. As long as you are trying to lose weight, you are encouraged to eat only low GI foods such as whole wheat bread, green leafy vegetables, and fish. This is the phase that will help you cut calories enough to drop pounds.
Dieters are told to eat three meals a day and up to 3 snacks a day. The rule of portions for each of the three meals is to divide your plate in four. Cover half the plate with fruits and vegetable, one-fourth with lean protein, and the last quarter with whole grains. This gives you about the right number of calories. You may need to tweek the portion sizes as you go along, so be mindful of what is happening with your body.
The second phase is designed to help you maintain your new weight. In this phase you can start to eat yellow light foods and you are encouraged to exercise for 30 minutes a day to offset the increase in calories. Yellow light foods include blueberry muffins, bananas, and low-fat yogurt.
What can I eat and how can I start?
Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans and low-fat dairy will be your staples on The GI Diet. Although no specific food groups are eliminated with this diet, white rice, white potatoes, and white sugar are greatly discouraged. The real trick with this diet is to eat more low GI foods than high GI foods. As long as you do that, you will be able to keep your blood sugar to a minimum.
You can start to switch over to this diet by identifying the high GI foods you eat and switching them out for low GI foods.
Choose breakfast cereals that are made with bran and oats.
Use whole wheat bread in the afternoon.
Eat lots of fruit and veggies.
Cut back on potatoes.
Eat pasta, basmati rice and quinoa.