Many people are familiar with the Glycaemic index, (GI) which provides a measure of how quickly bloods sugar levels rise after eating a particular type of food.
The GI of a food measures how much each gram of carbohydrate (minus the fibre) raises a person’s blood glucose level after eating that food relative to eating pure glucose (which has a glycaemic index of 100).
The effects that different foods have on blood sugar levels vary considerably: usually carbohydrate foods, especially those that are highly processed, rate high on the GI along with sweets, chocolate and refined foods such as pasta and bread. Many fruits also have a high GI.
However, some are not so familiar with the Glycaemic load (GL) which takes into account the actual amount of carbohydrate consumed in a serving. The GL measures the amount of sugar and starch in foods and the impact this has on your body ie how quickly the carbohydrate is broken down into glucose causing blood sugar levels to rise.
So, why is it important to know about the GL of foods?
Because, if you combine protein and carbs together when you eat, the protein slows down how quickly the sugars are released into the blood (proteins and fats take longer to digest that carbohydrates).
The health benefit is that you are better able to manage your insulin levels – insulin is the hormone that is released to bring your blood sugar levels down. Excess insulin raises cholesterol levels, increases blood pressure, has a role in how quickly cancer cells proliferate and encourages the body to store excess energy (sugar) as fat.
How can you ensure that you are eating a low GL diet?
Be aware of the GI of foods and combine them with proteins and healthy fats to improve their GL:
- For example, at breakfast have your oats (complex carb with good amounts of fibre) with berries (lower GI fruit) and add some nuts and seeds (proteins and beneficial fats). This is a much healthier option than a processed cereal with high sugar fruit such as a banana or grapes.
- If you are having a sandwich, choose wholemeal or seeded bread and make sure you have a source of protein (eg tuna, chicken, meat, hummous, egg, cottage cheese) and always include lots of salad (good source of fibre).
- When you are snacking, again combine proteins with carbs: eat your piece of fruit with some nuts and seeds (unsalted) or have it with a plain bio yoghurt.
- Be aware that so called ‘healthy’ options such as fruit juices and bought smoothies can contain lots of sugar so try to add in proteins. You can make sure that you have your juice with a meal that contains protein and healthy fats, and that your smoothie has a protein such as yoghurt added to it.
If you would like more information on how to eat healthily, please contact Pippa Mitchell on 01483 527 945, who can formulate an individually designed diet plan for you taking into account your health goals.
Salmon and potatoes – mixing carbs with protein
So, first off, what is a ‘low-GL diet plan?’ GL stands for glycemic load, which measures the amount of sugar and starch in food and their impact on your body. Patrick says that a measure of glycemic load shows how much carbohydrate there is in each food and how fast the carbohydrate will break down into glucose (and therefore how quickly your blood sugar levels will rise).
The crux of the diet is about managing your insulin, or blood sugar levels. Insulin, says Patrick, is an ageing hormone, and also plays a key role in burning fat. So if you can control the levels of insulin, you can slow the ageing process and keep the weight off.