Low Glycemic Food List – The Low GI Diet

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 which are the perfect foods to eat the a low GI diet.

This low glycemic food list will show you the best foods to eat to keep your blood sugar on an an even keel, help you to lose stomach fat, and in turn help you avoid the kind of insulin response that encourages your body to store fat. For obvious reasons, none of these are great, and the reason why the low GI diet can be beneficial to health.

What is insulin?

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that 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 then 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.

Insulin Resistance

Big belly being measured

The body is producing insulin after every meal, but if it’s a refined carbohydrate or sugary meal then you will have a high insulin response that is what you want to avoid.  If this keeps occurring regularly (as it does in most people who eat a junk 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 into the bloodstream. But if you were to eat just pure sugar or refined carbs on their own, then it would be released very fast, thus causing a very high insulin response . So, the take-away lesson here is: it’s not always about what you eat, but what you eat it with!

Insulin and Fat Storage

woman eating cake

Insulin promotes fat storage, and is part of our survival mechanism ready for times of need, However, 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, fat burning diet.

Giving up Sugar!

Sounds hard right? Getting off the adequately termed ‘sugar train‘ can be a nightmare, as most of us have some level of sugar addiction going on. This is usually more of an addiction to the feel good endorphins that are released when we eat high sugar and fatty foods (an effect that is especially potent when sugars and fats are mixed together), and 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 most cases these days. 

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 learn to food combine correctlyFor 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.

The low GI foods on this list will release their sugars slowly over a sustained period of time, due to the fact they haven’t been refined and contain all the fibers and nutrients of the food in its ‘whole’ and natural state. During the refining process of many foods, such as white sugar, rice, bread, flours etc all the fibrous parts of the original food are taken out making them far easier and faster for us to digest. This is behind the thinking of the food companies that do this, to make our food more palatable and easy to eat.

But, they are not really doing us any favours, because digesting something fast is not good. The fast and hard sugar spike in the bloodstream, means a higher insulin response than is natural to the body were we eating foods in their WHOLE AND NATURAL FORM, like we’re supposed to.

These refined sugar responses can be continual throughout the day in a person that eats lots of junk foods and snacks, and are often a pre-curser to diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and all the other problems that come along with those 2 things in themselves.

High GI food swaps examples

new potatoes with butter

If you love potatoes (who doesn’t), then you can either eat them high GI or low GI depending on how you prepare them. This is where a bit of understanding of this concept of ‘slowing down a food’s natural sugars’ comes in.

For example:- If you eat mashed potato, then you have literally refined a potato down as far as you can in the mashing process itself. All that breaking down of its fibers means that your body doesn’t have to do any hard work, and you can literally use the potatoes energy instantly – not good in terms of insulin response. But, if you were to eat a new potato (which are lower GI naturally) in its skin, then it would be much lower insulin response due to the fact that the skin is full of fiber, along with the fact that it also hasn’t been mashed up.

If you bake a potato in its skin, or make your own healthy fries or chips with their skins on and oven baked, again, this is much lower GI than your mash. This is just one example of how different cooking methods of the same foods can change the food’s GI value. The same can be said for juices, syrups, oils. All have been extracted from their original state of being and the fibers taken out.

The general principle is to keep something as close to nature as possible and allow your digestive system to do the hard work of breaking it down. This is why a diet high in raw foods is perfect, as the cooking process of most vegetables (no matter how its done) breaks down fibers and ups their GI value.

Other benefits of the low GI diet

1. GENERAL MOOD

depressed woman on couch

You will start to notice a big difference in your mood because 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 the eating of healthy omega 3 fats and exercise) may play 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 diet plays a huge role, along with making sure you get enough sunlight, omega 3 DHA, and regular exercise.

(But, if you are a sufferer of mental illness then it is crucial that you speak with your doctor about any major 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 antioxidant rich foods such as fruits and vegetables will really help your body to regenerate, rather than degenerate, thus slowing down the aging process and keeping you looking youthful for longer. 

Check out this amazing list of 100% natural anti aging supplements and add them to your diet too!

3. WEIGHT LOSS

person on weighing scales

Eating a low GI and highly plant based diet full of whole plant foods will mean you will naturally lose weight over time. Stable blood sugar helps to bust sugar and carb cravings, which ultimately will make you gain weight and eventually suffer all the other problems that go along with that.

Not only that, but the anti inflammatory, plant based diet can boost your energy, give you more clarity, better sleep, higher fitness levels, and give you to-die-for skin. I mean, people WILL 100% notice the difference in you and ask you what your secret is.

LIST OF LOW GI FOODS: 

  • High quality plant based protein powders (Find the highest reviewed here)
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Whole fruits
  • Green leafy vegetables 
  • Avocados
  • Brown rice
  • Wholewheat/spelt/brown rice/corn or buckwheat pasta
  • Quinoa
  • Oat cakes/wholegrain rice cakes/rye crackers
  • No added refined sugar breakfast cereals including oats/wheatabix*/some granolas and mueslis/shredded wheat
  • Flours – wholemeal/spelt/buckwheat/brown rice/quinoa
  • Low sugar baked beans
  • Green and red lentils either canned or dried
  • Chickpeas
  • Kidney beans
  • Cannellini beans
  • Black Beans
  • Borlotti beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Butter 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) 
  • Hummus
  • Tahini
  • 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
  • This amazing spaghetti bolognese sauce recipe
  • MEAT AND DAIRY IS NOT ON THE GI RATING SCALE AS IT DOES NOT CONTAIN ANY CARBOHYDRATES, BUT IN ESSENCE THEY ARE LOW GI.

CONCLUSION

I hope this post prompts you to stat making the changes TODAY to a healthier lifestyle that will make you feel awesome.

If you need help with this, please check out our FAST & EASY meal plans where you will learn how to put all these foods together in the right way to keep you bursting with health and vitality for life.

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Please help us spread the word for a more plant based world!
Stefanie Taylor
Plant based eating is set to EXPLODE in 2021; not just for health reasons, but also to help keep our beautiful planet thriving too!

Here at ZestForever we pledge to be part of that change to a more plant based world, to help others eat more healthily, purchase more mindfully, and support projects and organisations that wish to have a positive impact on the environment.

On a personal note, I have studied, tried and tested all manner of ways of eating over the past 20 years, but nothing has come close to giving me the buzz that plant based has. I have also studied and worked as a Sports Nutritional Advisor, Nutritional Therapist, and Clinical Weight Loss Advisor, and have a Registered Dietitian, Nutritionist, and Personal Trainer reviewing and contributing to posts to ensure you get the most accurate information possible.

This website is not intended to treat or diagnose any medical diseases or illnesses. It's merely meant to show you ways of potentially boosting your health through the eating of more nutritious plant foods in place of junk foods.

14 thoughts on “Low Glycemic Food List – The Low GI Diet”

  1. Thank you for such an informative post. This post can definitely benefit many people with diabetes as well as people that like to have a healthier diet. I love sweet potatoes, nuts, seeds, and avocados. Avocado is my favorite fruit of all and I make avocado salad on a weekly basis. It is delicious. I will be sharing this post to my friends that have diabetes.

    Reply
    • Hi Hong, I’m glad you enjoyed the post and that would be great if you could share with your friends who have diabetes as it would be of fantastic help to them I am sure. Yes, I love all those foods too, especially avocados, they must be one of the healthiest foods around in terms of blood sugar control, weight loss and good monounsaturated fats. Can’t recommend them enough and I make sure to have at least half an avocado a day.

      Reply
  2. Hi Stefanie,
    Great information on low glycemic eating. I have a few people in my family that have just discovered they are in onset of diabetes and I will be passing this information on to them.
    I have already changed my eating habits to include many items on your list. You have done a good job of explaining the benefits and I feel what we eat can make a big difference in our health.

    Reply
    • Hi Monika, I am so glad this list has helped you and yes they can probably reverse the onset of diabetes if they start to eat like this as soon as possible. I really hope you can convince them to change their eating habits. This can be tough though, especially when there is a life time of conditioned thinking about food. It’s something that may need to be tackled one step at a time which is why I also created this post How To Eat Clean – 10 Easy Steps.

      Please also show them this as it may be of a big help.

      Wishing you and all your family all the best for their health and the future, and I would be happy to help if you have any more questions. Just drop me a line!

      Reply
  3. Great information. Thanks so much for sharing. Education is key. People can only take action and make changes when they have the information and motivation to take action. Would love your input on my recent weightloss app thinvested.com
    I have the link to an article below Too. Best!

    Reply
    • Hi Jorge, You are absolutely right, education is definitely key. I’m often surprised to see how many people, even with all the information out there, still have little idea about nutrition and are walking around sick and depressed and a million other things. That is why I love what I do, and it feels great when I can help others feel as good as they should.

      Yes I would love to read your article but I see no link here to it. Maybe it is because I am on my mobile phone so I will check again later. Or you could pm me it. Thanks for reading and have a fantastic, healthy day:-)

      Reply
  4. This is a great list of glycemic foods. My son’s doctor told me that he needs to start eating less sugars, because of a genetic disorder he has. This can cause him to get diabetes. I have tried talking to him about this, and how scary diabetes is. He can prevent it now, or have diabetes his whole life. So, are these foods the ones that he needs to stick with for this? We have not been back the doctor yet to have this discussion. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hi Leahrae, I’m sorry to hear about your sons condition, and yes he most definitely can stop it becoming full on diabetes which would obviously mean then he would then have to cut all sugar out of his diet. As it stands at the moment, and if he balances his food he can probably get away with odd treats etc. But although I am a sports nutrition consultant I am not doctor so check with him as well.

      And yes these low GI carbohydrate foods on my list are the foods he should be eating (and are the foods everyone should be eating to stop diabetes as it is so common). Try to balance them with protein and fats as this will slow down those sugars even more. If he really does have to have sugar then never have ‘just’ sugar if you know what I mean. Example, never eat dried fruit alone, always mix it with nuts for fats and protein.

      In fact you should read my post as there is much better information in there on slowing down carbohydrates in your food. The great thing about eating low GI and food combining like this is it will stop you craving sugar anyway so it shouldn’t be to much of an issue when you get used to it. Please let me know if you have any more questions and I will be happy to help.

      Reply
  5. Hi Sarah, yes it is very important to eat low GI for health, and keeping slim also of course! And it is especially useful to have a list to be able to go on and even take shopping with you. Thanks for the nice things you have said and I am glad you find my website helpful to you.

    Reply
  6. I found the explanation of insulin and the role it plays in fat storage was written in a way that is really clear and easy to understand.

    Diabetes is prevelant in one side of my family so I do try to limit refined sugar as much as possible. Its not always easy though!

    Reply
    • Hi Darren, really glad that my articles are easy to understand as that is my aim. People don’t really want complicated jargon when it comes to these sort of things, which is why I try to keep things simple.

      Yes, sugar is crazy hard for some people to quit. I had a hard time with it at one point, but fortunately I now have it under control. Hormones and mood still play a big role in my cravings for me which is why I like to have craving busters to hand at all times such as dried fruits, nuts, seeds etc.

      Reply
  7. Hi, Stefanie, you hit it exactly right. I do love that you mentioned ‘about to do an intense workout,’ as I will eat more simple sugars about thirty minutes before hitting the gym, but one must keep in mind my workouts occur in two one-hour bouts per day, where in such workouts I’m constantly moving.

    Other times of the day, with each meal, sugar remains low while fat is moderate and protein and complex carb intake is high. Ultimately, it depends on lifestyle, but for most of us, low GI is the way to go.

    Reply
    • Hi Todd,you sound like a super fit guy if you’re working out 2-3 times per day. Wow! You can afford to eat more sugar than most of us that’s for sure.

      So many people eat sugar in abundance and never work it off at all, which of course means masses of weight gain. I think there needs to be a happy medium, which is what I try to promote on this website.

      Reply

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