Glycemic Index Diet Hastings NE
By Lisa Marshall
We’ve churned through Atkins, South Beach, and The Zone and seen the rise and fall of countless other “miracle” diets. But as the nation’s collective waistline continues to swell, along with rates of heart disease and diabetes, many believe the solution lies in a decades-old system called the glycemic index. “It’s not glamorous, it doesn’t have any sizzle, but it works,” says Lucy Beale, a weight-loss coach in Utah and co-author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Glycemic Weight Loss (Penguin, 2005).
Created nearly 30 years ago, the glycemic index ranks carbohydrates on how much they raise blood sugar. It has been generating considerable buzz, with such celebrities as Bill and Hillary Clinton among its fans and TV commercials heralding it as the key to weight loss. At the same time, a chorus of critics has emerged questioning the index’s purported benefits and arguing that following it too strictly leads to an unhealthy diet.
Diabetes researchers in Canada invented the index in the late 1970s while testing the effect of starchy foods on blood sugar. When you eat carbohydrates, digestive enzymes break them down to glucose, which enters the blood and raises blood-sugar levels. The pancreas pumps out insulin, prompting cells to take in the glucose to either use as energy or convert to fat.
During the 1970s starch tests, the researchers discovered that—contrary to conventional wisdom at the time—not all carbs are created equal. Some, like Russet potatoes, speed through the digestive system and send blood sugar and insulin levels soaring and crashing fast; others, like lentils, metabolize far more slowly. Surprisingly, much maligned foods—like ice cream—actually spike insulin less than healthy-seeming ones like rice cakes.
In the glycemic index system, foods receive a score from zero to 100 based on how much and how quickly they raise blood sugar levels. Pure glucose scores a 100, while proteins and fats, which don’t impact blood sugar, get a zero. A score of 70 or higher qualifies as high glycemic; 56 to 69, medium; and 0 to 55, low. For years, the index didn’t spark much interest. But fast forward to 2006, and diet gurus and health experts have resurrected it, calling the low-glycemic or “slow carb” diet a healthier evolution of the low-carb fad.
“Part of the rationale of the low-carb diet is to reduce those radical spikes and ebbs in insulin,” says Thomas Wolever, MD, a professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Toronto and one of the pioneers of the index. “The GI is a way to do that without reducing the carb intake and without eating more fat and protein.” A growing body of research suggests that stabilizing blood-sugar and insulin levels not only lowers the risk for diabetes, but also fends off heart disease, certain cancers, and age-related macular degeneration. One Harvard study, for example, found that those who ate foods higher on the index had nearly twice the risk fo...
Author: Lisa Marshall
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