Diet Nutrition

How a low-GI food plan can benefit you

Great news for carb-lovers.

Do low-GI foods help you lose weight? It's official. Counting calories is out; keeping an eye on the glycemic index (GI) is in.

What are low-glycemic foods?

What exactly is the GI? The glycemic index is a way of ranking foods based on how quickly the carbohydrates enter your bloodstream and how much they affect your blood sugar levels.

In a nutshell, the lower a food's GI, the easier it is for your body to process it.

Canadian researchers have discovered that women lose up to 60 per cent more weight plus double their energy levels when they focus on eating low-GI foods, instead of counting calories.

What's more, eating low-GI foods can do more for your body than just aid in speedier weight loss. Low-GI foods help cut the risk of major health woes in half, including heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

That's another very good reason to increase the amount of foods you choose from the low-GI foods list. Experts recommend the following ways to get more low-GI foods in your diet.

1. Are noodles a low-GI food?

Eating firmer veggies and al dente noodles is a way to lower your GI.

University of Sydney studies show that opting for tender, still-crisp veggies over mushy ones and al dente pasta over soft pasta cuts a meal's GI in half.

When these foods are cooked lightly, their carbs take longer to digest, so they don't cause sudden blood-sugar surges, the study authors explain.

Add some fresh vegetables to your favourite omelette recipe for a low GI-loaded hit.
Add some fresh vegetables to your favourite omelette recipe for a low GI-loaded hit.

2. Are potatoes a low-GI food?

Make sure to cook your potatoes perfectly. If you microwave or boil your potatoes, you'll be eating a high-GI food that can cause a pretty major blood-sugar surge.

Serve those potatoes baked instead, and you'll cut your meal's GI as much as 30 per cent. Potatoes are packed with fibre, which stalls the absorption of carbs — but microwaving and boiling break down a lot of that fibre, sabotaging its ability to keep carb absorption in check, says nutritionist Nikki Goldbeck, C.D.N., co-author of American Wholefoods Cuisine.

3. Is chocolate a low-GI food?

If you're often hit with diet-sabotaging sugar cravings, try taming them with a few grams or two of dark or milk chocolate daily. Although this truly delicious treat tastes sweet, its glycemic index is up to 50 per cent lower than that of other candies.

The reason: Chocolate contains stearic acid, a unique kind of fat that actually stalls the absorption of sugars.

4. Master the list of low-GI carbs.

When it comes to carbs, the coarser, the better, says Goldbeck. So choose long-cooking oats (which aren't as finely ground as instant), orange juice with pulp and whole-grain breads that contain crunchy seeds or bran.

You'll slow carb absorption, improving your blood-sugar control as much as 30 per cent, say UCLA researchers.

Check out where your favorite foods stand.

When planning your meals, take a glance at where your favourite foods stand on the glycemic index (GI). For a free online GI rating of a selection of common food items, check it out here.

This story originally appeared on Woman's World.