Breaking down the low GI diet
The low GI diet has been a popular diet for decades.
There are so many dietary trends out there, here on the La Española Olive Oil blog we really have no issue coming up new and interesting ideas for our ‘trends’ category each month.
So far, we’ve touched on a number of food trends, both controversial ones and more widely-accepted options, and we are steaming along this week by looking at an original, long-standing favourite in the health world - the low GI diet.
Let’s jump right in and have a closer look!
What exactly is ‘GI’ and how does it work?
GI is short for Glycemic Index, which is an often-complex facet of the dietary world to get your head around. Essentially, the Glycemic Index ranks carbohydrates found in foods in order of how they affect your blood glucose levels.
At this stage it would probably pay to explain what carbohydrates (carbs) are, or what blood glucose levels are. Carbohydrates are found in most food groups and break down into further subgroups, like fructose, glucose or starch, for example. Blood glucose levels are the levels of sugar concentration in your blood.
Got it? Great! Let’s continue back to all things GI.
According to the Glycemic Index, low GI foods are foods that have a ranking (or value) of 55 or less. High GI foods are foods with a ranking above this benchmark.
What does it mean if a food is ‘low GI’...and which foods are?
If a carbohydrate has a ranking of less than 55 on the Glycemic Index (GI), and is therefore ‘low GI’, it means that it is slower to digest, absorb into your system and metabolise. Low GI foods lead to a lower, slower rise in blood glucose and insulin levels.
This slow digestion process and steadier rise in blood sugar levels means that you feel fuller for longer and find it easier to control your appetite, in contrast to high GI foods that lead to energy levels spiking and then crashing quickly. In addition, opting for low GI foods also plays a major part in lowering cholesterol levels, defending against Type 2 diabetes and improving mental alertness.
As opposed to many food trends that court controversy and tend to burn out in popularity quickly, the low GI diet has been a popular diet for decades, and one that health professionals advocate for.
Additionally, you are not heavily-restricted in your food choices when undertaking this lifestyle change. While many diets see most carbohydrates are a no-no, the low GI diet is pro-carb, granted it is the right kind of carb.
Low GI foods include wholegrain breads and cereals, pasta, fruit, low-fat milk and yoghurt, legumes and veggies such as sweet potato. Chocolate is actually considered low GI, further proof this diet is not at all restrictive. And olive oil? As it is entirely free of carbohydrates, our favourite substance is completely low GI!
There are many online resources breaking down the low GI diet, so as we always advise, do your research before investing in any dietary switch!