Low Glycemic Index refer to a certain group of foods (usually wholegrains, lentils, pulses, nuts, seeds, fats, and certain fruits and vegetables) that release their sugars slowly into the bloodstream over a sustained period, and they are the perfect foods to eat the a low GI diet. The below low glycemic food list will show you the best foods to eat to keep your blood sugar on an an even keel, in turn helping you avoid the kind of insulin response that encourages your body to store fat.
What is insulin?
Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas, and is released in response to sugar in the blood. It signals to the muscle, liver and fat cells to uptake these sugars from the bloodstream and either use them for energy, OR stored them as fat (which is bad thing, as this type of fat usually goes on around the middle where it can be dangerous and a precursor for disease). But insulin is also designed to keep blood sugar levels stable: Too high can cause hyperglycemia, and too low can cause hypoglycemia – both of which can be dangerous conditions if left untreated.
The body is producing insulin after every meal, but if it’s a high carb/sugar meal then you will have a high insulin response, which is exactly what needs to be avoided as much as possible. If this keeps occurring regularly (as it does in most people eating a junk food filled diet) then over time this can lead to insulin resistance, which in turn can lead to problems such as type 2 diabetes, obesity and metabolic syndrome.
However, how high your insulin response will be after a meal is not always a clear cut thing. For instance, you can get away with eating sugar a lot more if you consume it alongside fats, protein and fiber, as all these things help to slow the release of the sugar release into the bloodstream. But if you were to eat just pure sugar on its own, then it would be released very fast thus causing a very high insulin response . So, the take-away here is, it’s not always about what you eat, but what you eat it with.
Insulin and Fat Storage:-
Insulin promotes fat storage and is part of our survival mechanism ready for times of need, but we rarely need this mechanism nowadays as most of us live in a world of food abundance. Every time we eat refined carbohydrates such as white sugar, flour, rice, pastries, cakes and confectionery, the sugars in those foods will hit the bloodstream quickly and cause a rapid insulin response, and unless you’re about to run a marathon or do a hard workout, then these high calorie sugars will not be needed for energy. And if they’re not burnt off, they end up being metabolised and pushed into fat cells, which of course, just keep swelling and swelling.
Unfortunately, and here’s the real kicker; this sugar usually goes on as dangerous belly fat, the kind that increases your risk of heart disease, metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Fiber slows this process down, which is why low glycemic load foods such as wholegrain breads, pasta, rice, sweet potatoes, whole fruits, leafy green vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds should all be eaten in abundance on the low GI diet.
Giving up Sugar:-
Getting off the adequately termed ‘sugar train‘ can be a nightmare, as most of us have some level of sugar addiction going on, which is usually more of an addiction to the feel good endorphins that are released when we eat high sugar and fat foods (especially potent when sugars and fats are mixed together. This is our body’s way of rewarding us for seeking out high calories foods as part of our survival instinct – but of course, it’s redundant in first world society.
So, to keep these cravings at bay as best you can, you should keep your blood sugar levels more stable by always eating as low GI as possible, AND also to food combine correctly. For instance, eating low GI foods with equal amounts of protein and a little fat, will not only help slow down the sugar release, but also keep you full and satiated for hours. This in itself is a great weight loss tool that will help to stop sugar cravings and snacking.
Low GI Food Combining
An example of low GI food combining would be either oatcakes, wholegrain rice cakes, or a piece of fresh fruit with sugar free peanut butter. Oatcakes are a wholegrain that is full of satiating fiber, and when combined with peanut butter, which is high in protein and heart healthy monounsaturated fat, it makes for a perfect low GI snack.
Other benefits of the low GI diet:-
You will start to notice a big difference in your mood, as low GI foods keep your blood sugar stable, and stable blood sugar equals stable mood – the two go hand in hand. Also, stable blood sugar (along with other factors, such as healthy fats and exercise) plays a big role against anxiety, depression, PMS, and other mood disorders.
Few people who suffer depression and anxiety actually make the correlation between their diet and their mood, but sorting my diet out was one of the single MAJOR reasons I was able to help my severe depression. Cutting down on sugar, and eating wholegrains instead of refined carbohydrates totally changed my life; that along with high strength omega 3 fish oils, and physical exercise (the best for depression being weight bearing exercise, such as gym, kettlebells, HITT and power walking).
Yes, doing all these things helped me hugely when I suffered severe depression, so do not for a second underestimate how powerful these simple changes are. But, if you are a sufferer of mental illness then it is crucial that you speak with your doctor about any changes you are making to your diet and lifestyle first.
2. ANTI AGING
Every time you have an insulin response from high GI foods, your cells will go into accelerated aging mode (now that’s a scary though for most of us!) making not only your skin more wrinkly, but everything else on the inside and out will age more rapidly too.
Eating a low GI diet along with lots of high antioxidant fruits and vegetables, plus pure green superfood powders, will really help your body to regenerate rather than degenerate – thus slowing down the aging process and keeping you looking youthful for longer.
3. KEEPING DIABETES AT BAY
A low GI, highly plant based diet diet will help keep your blood sugar stable, which in itself can help lower your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Unfortunately, these nasty diseases have a long list of side effects in themselves, making a low GI diet, along with a good fitness plan, absolutely vital for long term health.
Low Glycemic Food List – The Low GI Diet
- High quality plant based protein powders
- Sweet Potatoes
- Whole Fruits
- Green Leafy Vegetables
- Brown Rice
- Wholewheat/Spelt/ Brown Rice/ Corn or Buckwheat Pasta
- Oat Cakes/ Wholegrain Rice Cakes/ Rye Crackers
- No Added Refined Sugar Breakfast Cereals, Including Oats/ Wheatabix*/ Some Granola’s and Muesli’s/ Shredded Wheat
- Flours – Wholemeal/ Spelt/ Buckwheat, Brown Rice/ Quinoa
- Low Sugar Baked Beans
- Green and Red Lentils, either Canned or Died
- Kidney Beans
- Cannellini Beans
- Black Beans
- Borlotti Beans
- Pinto Beans
- Butte Beans
- Aduki Beans
- Wholegrain Bread
- Sourdough Bread
- Rye Bread
- Marmite or Vegemite
- Any kind of No Added Sugar Nut Butter
- Nuts of all kinds, preferably RAW
- Seeds – Pumpkin, Sunflower, Sesame, Flax, Hemp
- Tofu or Tempeh
- Any Dried Fruits – No Added Sugar
- Milks – Soy/ Rice/ Almond/ Coconut
- Fats for Cooking – Coconut Oil/ Olive Oil/ Avocado Oil/ Canola Oil/ Safflower Oil/ Peanut Oil/ Sesame Oil
- Cold Pressed Oils for Dressings and Salads – Extra Virgin Olive Oil/ Avocado Oil (also can be used for cooking)/ Flax Oil
- MEAT AND DAIRY IS NOT ON THE GI RATING SCALE AS IT DOES NOT CONTAIN ANY CARBOHYDRATES, BUT IN ESSENCE THEY ARE LOW GI.
Thanks for reading this post today. Please leave any relevant comments below and I will be sure to answer them as soon as possible. I would love to hear from you and am always happy to help with any questions about low GI eating and the plant based diet in general.