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Saturday, July 01, 2006

The Glycemic Index & Weight Loss

1. GI does not consider calories. The main flaw with theories based on GI is that the index does not take into account calories, which are the most important factor to consider when it comes to weight loss.

For example, if you consumed foods according to the GI theory, carrots and ripe bananas -- which are very nutritious and low in calories -- would be eliminated from the diet because they have high GI values, yet ice cream and chocolate peanut M&Ms would get the green light, because they have low GI values. (According to the system, jellybeans look better than potatoes too!)

2. GI does not consider portion size. Also, the GI of a food is independent of portion size -- that is, it has no relation to portion size. So even if you ate only low GI foods (and we see, some, like M&Ms, aren't even that healthy!), but even if you chose spaghetti (41), because it has a lower GI than potatoes (93) -- if you ate large quantities you would gain weight.

During meals, we eat combinations of foods, which produce a GI that is different from any individual food's GI value. For example, eating carrots as part of a salad with low-fat dressing gives a different GI than eating them alone.

4. GI may be useful for diabetics, for single foods. That being said, since diabetics require the tightest control of their blood sugar level, diabetics should avoid high GI foods if they are not in combination with other lower GI foods. For example, instead of having carrots alone, diabetics can have them with some hummus or low-fat dressing.

Bottom Line: Don't judge a food only by is GI value -- it doesn't tell you everything about what a food offers. The best thing to do to control your weight and blood sugar is to eat lots of fiber-rich foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains, along with small amounts of healthy fats, such as nuts and olive oil.

Also, watch how much you eat -- if your portions are too big, you will gain weight, whether you're eating low or high GI foods. And be sure to exercise as often as you can -- being active helps to control our weight and our blood sugar at the same time.

Glycemic Index of Foods
Carrots: 95
Baked potato: 93
Jellybeans: 80
White bread: 77
Banana (ripe): 70
Sweet corn: 55
Spaghetti: 41
Premium ice cream: 37
Peanut M&Ms: 33

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