1) What is a low-GI diet and what are its benefits?
A low-GI diet is simply a way of eating that focuses around foods that release their sugars at a slow and steady pace into our blood stream which in turn helps to avoid the excessive release of insulin. The benefits of eating this way are many, including the permanent loss of excess body fat and up to a 50% reduction in your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes and many cancers. Most people also experience far greater energy levels, a reduction in appetite and fewer food cravings. There is also evidence to suggest that a balanced, low-GI diet may have a significant, beneficial effect on many of the symptoms associated with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) – particularly amongst women who are overweight. This is because many overweight women with PCOS are known to suffer from abnormally high circulating levels of insulin. Insulin is the hormone that controls the storage of fat in our bodies, so it can be very difficult for women who have a high level to diet successfully by conventional methods. Trials have shown that a low-GI diet can reduce the amount of insulin in the blood which in turn reduces the body's ability to store fat. This is great news because even a relatively modest reduction in weight has been shown to regularise ovarian function and increase fertility.
2) How can a low-GI diet fit around a busy lifestyle?
A low-GI diet is the perfect diet for anyone who is short on time because it's so easy to implement. Simply swap the high-GI carbs in your diet for lower GI alternatives such as white bread for rye bread, cornflakes for porridge, white rice for brown basmati rice, mashed potato for puy lentils, broad beans for soy beans, baked potato for sweet potato and so on. Then reduce your portion sizes, add in plenty of extra vegetables and increase protein rich foods such as fish, meat and pulses. Save time by reducing cooking durations too as al dente pasta or crunchy vegetables tend to have a lower GI rating then those that have been cooked for a longer period.
Prawn and mango salad3) How do you know if a food is low GI or not? Are there any general rules?
For a comprehensive guide to GI values check out the database at
www.glycemicindex.com. However as a general rule, to keep the overall GI value of your meals low eat small portions, try to combine carbohydrate-rich foods such as potato, pasta, rice and cereals with protein rich foods such as fish, poultry, red meats, nuts and seeds, add in plenty of extra fruit or vegetables, go for wholegrain options to increase fibre, use beans and pulses as often as possible and keep cooking times to a minimum.
4) Why is the low-GI diet better than fad diets that provide quick fixes?
A low-GI diet is not only a permanent solution to fat loss, it's also an extremely healthy, tasty and enjoyable way of eating that will not leave you feeling hungry, deprived or socially excluded. There are no gimmicks or products to buy – just delicious, healthy meals that the whole family can enjoy.
5) Does eating low GI mean cutting out all treats and foods high in carbs?
No, not at all. Research shows that just switching two of your meals a day to low GI is all that may be needed for most people. You can always combine your favourite high-GI foods with a protein rich or a lower GI food too which will lower the overall rating of a meal. For example, instead of eating a whole baguette at lunchtime cut it in half lengthways and load it up with plenty of lean ham, chicken or tuna topped with lettuce, cucumber and tomato.
6) Can you give us some tips for introducing low-GI foods into our diet?
There are lots and lots of tips in the GI High-Energy Cookbook but to get you started think about how you can swap some of the high-GI carbs you currently eat for lower GI alternatives then add them to your shopping list. Cut back on high-GI, high-fat foods such as cakes, biscuits, pastries, refined breakfast cereals, white breads and stock up instead with whole grain varieties, oat cakes, brown rice, whole meal pasta, canned beans and pulses and rye breads and crackers.
7) With most diets there is usually only one dieter, or perhaps two, in the household. Is this a diet suitable for the whole family?
Absolutely! A low-GI diet is great for everyone, including the kids, so there's no need to make separate meals or for anyone to feel excluded from the dinner table. Don't be surprised however if the men in the household lose weight even faster than the females. This is purely because the female body is designed to shed fat less easily than a male one.
You can get a copy of the GI High-energy Cookbook from the Ryland Peters & Small online bookshop.