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What are Glycemic Index Diets?

Monday, 22 Nov 2010 04:55 PM

The Glycemic Index diet, usually referred to as GI diet, may help you keep cravings at bay, is easy to follow and does not focus on calories.
The diet was developed by Dr. David Jenkins in the early eighties as a way to achieve healthy and permanent weight loss. In his research on the effect of different sources of carbohydrates on an individual’s blood glucose levels,  Jenkins found that not all carbohydrates impact sugar levels similarly. While there are few that influence the blood glucose levels quite dramatically, there are many that show very little effect. And hence, a scale called glycemic index was introduced to rank foods on the basis of how they impact an individual’s blood glucose levels.

The key to success is to include foods with low GI value and low glycemic load (a ranking system based on the GI value and its portion size).
In the Glycemic index diets’ ranking system, foods with a GI value of 55 or less are ranked as low GI foods, such as apples, milk, curd, beans, green vegetables; foods with a GI value of 56 to 69 are ranked as moderate, such as brown rice, muesli, whole grains, pineapple, etc. and; GI of 70 or more is considered as high - e.g. white flour, white rice, banana, French fries, etc.
The glycemic index diets are quite effective in diabetes management. The concept works to control calories by curbing cravings and improving satiety.
High glycemic index foods cause drastic fluctuations in glucose levels, which lead to weight gain, mood swings, and general weakness. Low glycemic index foods on the other hand tend to be richer in fiber content, and maintain stable blood sugar levels by releasing glucose gradually into the blood stream. This helps the person to stay satisfied for longer duration and keeps him away from frequent bingeing.
Identifying the correct GI value of a food may become difficult as the GI value gets affected by  factors such as the total nutrient content of the food, the method of processing or cooking, and even the degree of ripeness or the basic structure of the carbohydrate present (simple or complex). The presence of fat (cholesterol) and protein in foods is also known to reduce the GI value. Hence, a chocolate milk shake enjoys lower GI value than boiled potatoes. The diabetics must look at the fat and sodium content of the food, along with the GI value, and follow the diet after consultation with physicians.

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