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. This 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 it 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 the precursor of 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 occuring rugularly, as it does in most people, then over time this can lead to insulin resistance, in turn leading to all sorts of problems the most prominent being type 2 diabetes.
However, how high your insulin response is after a meal is not always a clear cut thing. For instance, you can get away with eating sugar a lot more if you have it with fats, protein, and fiber as all these things help to slow the release of those sugars 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 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.
Belly fat is the most dangerous kind
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 cells to be stored as fat which of course, is not good thing for most of us.
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 GI 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.
Getting off the adequately termed ‘sugar train‘ can be a nightmare, as most of us have some level of sugar addiction going on. The very best you can do to keep your sugar levels stable is to always eat 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 something like 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.
Clear the junk out of your life!
Clearing your life (and your kitchen cupboards) from unhealthy and high GI foods is something you may need help with tackling, and should be done one step at a time. New habits work much more effectively if they are taken in bite size chunks (excuse the pun).
To make these changes in a smooth and easy manner then please check out these 10 easy steps to clean eating for tips and strategies on how to begin a clean, healthy plant based lifestyle that will be the start of a journey that I promise you will make you feel amazing, and even change your life FOREVER.
OTHER BENEFITS OF A 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 just go hand in hand. Also, stable blood sugar plays a very big role in 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 conquer 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 also, most importantly, physical exercise (the best for depression being weight bearing exercise such as gym, kettlebells, HITT, and power walking).
Yes, doing all these things saved my life so do not for a second underestimate how powerful these simple changes are, and also so much better than any tablet from the doctor.
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 scary), 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 powerful green superfoods, will really help your body to regenerate rather than degenerate – thus slowing down the aging process and keeping you looking youthful for longer. These things, along with other natural anti aging supplements, will not only make you glow, but more importantly give you heaps of energy and help protect you from many diseases in the process.
3. KEEPING DIABETES AND OTHER DISEASES AT BAY
A low GI diet will keep your blood sugar stable, which in itself can help treat and stave off 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:
- 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.