How the Glycemic Index Impacts Weight Loss
About the Author
Abby Campbell, BSc, SFN, SSN, CPT, is a leading professional fitness and nutrition expert, researcher, and published author of One Size Does NOT Fit All Diet Plan, one of Amazon's Top Gluten-Free and Weight Loss Diets. (You may read more about Abby at the bottom of this article.)
"How does the glycemic index affect body weight?"
As one of the first researchers to study the effects of the glycemic index on blood sugar levels, Thomas Wolever, MD, PhD, DM (Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Toronto) had the first breakthrough on how the glycemic index affects body weight. By studying diabetics, Wolever and his research team discovered how to manage the disease with food. After studying over 100 different carbohydrates, they realized the biggest impact on blood sugar came from carbohydrates such as white bread, white pasta, and white potatoes.
Soon after Wolever's discoveries, another professor from the University of Sydney, Australia, took up research on the glycemic index and found that people lost weight when consuming low glycemic foods. Jennie Brand Miller, PhD, found that these foods didn't stimulate an insulin rise. When blood sugar levels rise, insulin levels rise. Insulin is the fat storage hormone in the body.
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Stabilizing Blood Sugar
If you've been eating clean and frequently with small meals throughout the day, then you have been eating properly. In order to keep blood sugar levels from wavering, you should eat small meals every two to four hours throughout the day. Begin with your first meal within an hour of awakening. Snacks are also considered meals. With both regular meals (i.e., breakfast, lunch, and dinner) and a couple of small snacks throughout the day, you may end up with five, six, or even eight meals by the end of the day.
Make sure you are getting a significant amount of protein such as lean beef, chicken, turkey, pork tenderloin, fish, egg whites, low-fat cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, and tofu.
Include a good amount of complex carbohydrates such as vegetables and fruits. Green and colorful vegetables should make up the majority of your carbohydrate intake. Try to get 8 to 10 servings in per day. A serving would be one cup raw or one-half cup cooked. One to two servings of fruit is also good. Limit starchy carbohydrates like brown or wild rice, oats, or sweet potatoes for your most active days of the week. Vegetables are the greatest source of carbohydrates because they provide your body with tons of nutrients that protect your body from disease.
Don't forget about dietary fats! They should be included with every meal and snack as they are necessary for proper digestion. They also keep a slew of other bodily functions working well. Healthy fats come from food sources such as olive oil, coconut oil, flax seed oil, flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, and coldwater fish such as salmon, tuna, and sardines.
Because you are eating more frequently, you need to also make sure you don't overeat. Eat only until you are 80 percent full. If you do this, you will be hungry at the appropriate times which is every few hours. Besides, overeating also causes insulin spikes which is something you should try to prevent.
How to Lower Blood Sugar Naturally
If you happen to overdo it on the sugar, there are a few things you can do to immediately lower the glycemic effect.
- Eat acid foods. A tablespoon of vinegar drizzled over your salad will lower the glycemic index by a third. You may want to include capers, olives, pickles, or lemon juice as all of these will work immediately.
- Include cinnamon. Sprinkling cinnamon on your sweet potato will lower the glycemic index right away.
- Take a fiber supplement. After having a heavy meal, a fiber supplement such as Metamucil can work wonders.
We must be realistic. Every piece of white bread or bowl of pasta may not always be avoidable. Sometimes, you may even have a weak moment. Just don't be too hard on yourself if you do indulge in a little of this or that. Your crisis can be averted by getting back on track immediately.
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About the author
Abby Campbell, BSc, SFN, SSN, CPT, is a leading professional fitness and nutrition expert, researcher, and published author. For the past 10 years, she has coached thousands of women locally and online to lose body fat and lead healthy lifestyles. Her clients have lost thousands of pounds, reclaimed health, and call her “Coach No Gimmick.” She is from Northern Virginia but now resides near Charlotte, North Carolina. Abby has been married for 20 years and has three grown daughters, one of which is autistic. She is a 19 year cancer survivor.
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