Glycaemic index is the relative ability of a food to increase the level of glucose in the blood, as compared to glucose as the standard at 100.
The GI Diet was originally developed to help diabetics manage sugar in their diet, but it was hijacked by the diet industry, although has never been proven to aid weight loss.
The premise of the low GI diet is that eating foods with lower GI ratings will take longer to digest, maintain more constant blood glucose levels and prolong satiety.
Predicting which foods have a lower GI can be remarkably difficult, and is sometimes surprising, but think wholegrain bread and pasta, beans and pulses. GI ratings for fruit and vegetables can be a bit hit and miss. Apples have a GI of around 40 but watermelon hits over 70! Fat and protein contain no carbs so, in their purest form, have a GI of zero.
Some critics of this register complain that there’s little consideration for the way in which preparation or combination of foods affect their GI. For example, a baked potato alone might have a high GI but schmoosh it up with a load of butter and it will reduce the load (whoop!).
So whilst it might not promote weight loss (if that’s what you’re after) having a handle on the glycaemic index of your food is a good way to manage the sugar rollercoaster.
I struggled with hypoglycaemia throughout my twenties, frequently having episodes where I thought I would pass out, vomit or both, whilst shaking and sweating profusely. It was easily resolved by eating, but left me a bit out of kilter for the rest of the day, and is not a great solution for someone who is prone to be on the heavier side of the scales. I was told by the doctor “Oh, you’ll grow out of it. Have something with protein, like a bacon sandwich, for breakfast.” I kid you not.
So it took for-flippin’-ever for me to figure out what worked and what didn’t. I haven’t grown out of it, but I have got better at managing it. So now my rules are as follows
Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dine like a pauper
- BREAKFAST: Higher protein and fibre, usually oat-based, breakfast – porridge, Bircher muesli or homemade granola, which can be gluten free where required, or as a treat, wholegrain spelt bread toast with PB&J 🙂
- LUNCH: A balance of carbs and low fat protein to see me through the afternoon, eg sushi, even better now you can get brown rice sushi
- DINNER: I do fine on lower protein and higher carb, eg vegetarian wholegrain spelt pasta
- I will eat immediately if I start trembling or feeling faint, and I ALWAYS CARRY CALORIES!