The idea of weight loss can bring up feelings of utter frustration for many of us. With such an overload of information on the subject, it’s no wonder we’re confused. With each new diet trend offering up promises of weight-loss dreams come true, it’s hard to know how you should eat on a day-to-day basis to support healthy metabolism and sustainable weight loss.
This is where a low-glycemic diet comes into play. It’s an intelligent way of eating if you’re looking for healthy weight loss, better blood glucose control, and even a lowered risk of heart disease. Let’s take a look at some of the key elements of a low-glycemic diet, so that you can decide what’s best for your overall health and happiness.
What is a low-glycemic diet?
To put it simply, a low-glycemic diet is one that focuses on foods that are low on the glycemic index. The glycemic index assigns a number to any foods that contain carbohydrates. This number determines what kind of effect the food will have on your body — particularly on your blood sugar levels.
When we eat a low-glycemic diet, we stick to foods that have a lower number on the glycemic index because we want our blood sugar levels to remain slow and steady, as opposed to the dramatic ups and downs caused by foods with high numbers on the glycemic index. The glycemic index classifies foods into three categories: low GI, medium GI, and high GI. Foods with a low-GI have numbers from 1-55. Foods with a medium GI range from 56 to 69, while foods with a high GI are 70 and higher.
Why is a low-glycemic diet key to healthy weight loss?
The diet is simple once you get the hang of it. All you need to know is a food’s number on the scale. Once you find that out, you can determine whether or not you should eat it. Simplicity is key when it comes to sticking to a dietary regimen. Complex diets are often too difficult to maintain, leading us to give up on them before we achieve positive results.
Healthy blood sugar levels are key when it comes to sustainable weight loss. Why? Because foods that spike blood sugar levels also increase the amount of insulin in the body. When we have high insulin levels, day in and day out, not only do we gain weight, we’re also at greater risk for diseases like diabetes, obesity, hypertension, heart disease, and even cancer. When insulin is continually too high, insulin-resistance often follows, which makes the body secrete even more insulin. It’s a vicious cycle.
Low GI foods help keep blood glucose levels under control, which also promotes appetite control. You can think of a low-glycemic diet as a slow-carbohydrate diet. The carbohydrates eaten cause a slow, steady rise in blood glucose, as well as a slower release of insulin from the pancreas.
Foods with a high glycemic index
Some of the biggest weight-loss saboteurs rank dangerously high on the glycemic index scale. Think foods with lots of sugar: sugar-laden beverages (soda, sweetened coffee drinks, and even fruit juice), pastries, cookies, candies, jams, processed grains, and almost all desserts. By simply removing these foods from your diet, you’ll be able to make room for the foods with a low GI — those that support healthy metabolism and weight loss.
Foods with a low glycemic index
When you stick to these foods, you’ll experience considerable improvement in your weight loss efforts — especially if you have a regular exercise program set in place.
Almost all organic vegetables have a low-GI — especially the non-starchy ones. You can expect numbers from 1-7 in this category. Leafy greens, cruciferous veggies, fermented veggies, garlic, onions, green beans, bell peppers, and artichokes — these are all foods to incorporate into your grocery list each week.
Many fruits also have a low GI. Apples, pears, peaches, plums, berries, oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit, and grapes are all safe to eat in moderation.
Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds should be part of your weight-loss plan in moderation. Pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds, walnuts, cashews, almonds, almond butter, and cashew butter — these are great sources of protein and healthy fat. Peanut butter is iffy however, as it often contains added sugars. If you must have peanut butter, buy brands with absolutely no sugar added.
Lean animal protein
We all need healthy sources of protein in order to lose weight. Grass-fed beef, wild-caught fish like cod and salmon, cage-free eggs, free-range chicken, and plain Greek yogurt are all low on the glycemic index.
Healthy oils and fats
We’ve long been told to avoid fats to lose weight. Today, we know it’s not that simple. You should always avoid hydrogenated oils, but include healthy oils in your diet. These include extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, and MCT oil. If you have a bottle of canola oil in your cupboard, throw it out immediately.
Lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, and red wine vinegar
Adding these acidic foods to salads, veggies, and proteins can actually lower the glycemic index of your meal even further. Eating a salad with a vinaigrette is a good staple to turn to daily.
As with any journey of self-improvement, it’s important to be patient with yourself and understand that you will have setbacks. Start by making small changes that you can stick with, and gradually continue building healthy habits.
Need help meeting your weight-loss goals? SmartFit offers personalized diet plans to help you look and feel your best! Contact us today for a FREE consultation!