A glycemic index diet uses the glycemic index, whereby foods and beverages are ranked based on how they affect blood sugar levels. Foods that contain carbohydrates are scored on a scale of 0 to 100. You can find extensive food lists online and in books, but many foods remain unranked. Manufacturers can pay to have their brand-name products ranked by Sydney University Glycemic Index Research Services in Sydney, Australia, which maintain a database of glycemic index values for carbohydrate-containing foods. http://www.glycemicindex.com

Sydney University's glycemic index website doesn't promote specific commercial weight-loss plans or label carbs as good or bad. Rather, it recommends that you use the glycemic index to help you choose what foods to eat and suggests that you:

  • Focus on breakfast cereals based on oats, barley and bran
  • Choose breads with whole grains, stone-ground flour or sourdough
  • Eat fewer potatoes
  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables
  • Avoid oversized portions of rice, pasta and noodles
Commercial diets that are based on the glycemic index say that you'll lose weight without having to count carbs or calories. Results from research studies are mixed. Weight loss results with a glycemic index (GI) diet may have positive results because the GI diet is easier to stick to for the long term since it's not considered an extreme diet. The bottom line is that to lose weight, you must reduce the calories you take in and increase the calories you burn. Traditional recommendations for weight loss advise losing 1 to 2 pounds a week by reducing calories and fat and emphasizing complex carbohydrates. Concerns With Glycemic Index Diet: Glycemic index doesn't rank foods according to how healthy they actually are. Some foods with a lower GI ranking may, in fact, be less healthy because they contain large amounts of calories, sugar or saturated fat, especially packaged and processed foods. Both potato chips and ice cream, for instance, have a lower glycemic index ranking than do baked potatoes, even though baked potatoes are generally considered healthier. Glycemic index ranks foods independently. In reality, how your body absorbs and handles carbs depends on how much you eat; how the food is ripened, processed or prepared, the time of day it's eaten, other foods you eat it with, health conditions you may have, and more. So the glycemic index may not give a completely accurate picture of how one particular food affects your blood sugar. You may find it difficult to follow a GI diet on your own. Most foods aren't ranked by glycemic index. Packaged foods don't generally list their GI rank on the label, and it can be hard to estimate what it might be. And for some types of food, the glycemic index database has multiple entries — you may not be sure which entry is accurate. For more information regarding a glycemic index diet or weight management classes, contact Janet Hunt.
By: Janet Hunt

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