Benefits of a Low-Glycemic Diet
3 of 9 in Series: The Essentials of Losing Weight on a Low-Glycemic Diet
In addition to weight loss, a low-glycemic diet promotes many other health benefits. Whether you’re looking to get better control over your blood sugar levels, increase your energy, improve your mood, or prevent health problems, following a low-glycemic diet can help you realize these goals:
Better blood sugar and insulin control: The American Diabetes Association acknowledges that low-glycemic foods that are also high in fiber and a good source of nutrients. Including low-glycemic foods within an overall carbohydrate budget can provide additional blood sugar–control benefits because eating lower-glycemic foods helps keep blood sugar levels under better control and decreases the need for insulin.
A good nutrition strategy to lower your blood sugar and insulin levels is to first look to the total carbohydrate content in foods. Strive to maintain an even carbohydrate intake at meals and snacks. Incorporating low-glycemic foods helps provide additional blood sugar–control benefits because higher-glycemic foods raise blood sugar levels faster and require more insulin to process.
Disease prevention: Following a low-glycemic diet independently reduces your risk for Type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, gallbladder disease, and breast cancer. Choosing a low-glycemic diet that’s also high in fiber is even more protective.
Can a low-glycemic diet also help prevent cancer? The traditional Mediterranean diet, which is based on vegetables, olive oil, seafood, and minimally processed grains, helps prevent several types of cancer. Turns out the Mediterranean diet is also a low-glycemic way of eating.
Increased energy: Knowing which foods to eat before, during, and after exercise based on their glycemic index level helps athletes maximize their energy and recovery time. Even if you’re not a world-class athlete, or even a weekend athlete, understanding how the glycemic index of foods affects your energy levels can help you stay alert and focused throughout the day. The human body digests and metabolizes low-glycemic foods slowly, thereby providing a continued amount of energy for working muscles. High-glycemic foods, on the other hand, are quickly digested, meaning their carbohydrates are readily available to power hard-working muscles.
Improved mood: One of the most important neurotransmitters that determines mood is serotonin. High levels of serotonin boost your mood, decrease food cravings, and promote restful sleep. Low serotonin levels have the opposite effect, making you feel tired, cranky, and out of sorts. The amount of serotonin in your bloodstream and brain is strongly linked to the foods you eat, especially to foods that contain carbohydrates. Once again, the type of carbohydrate-containing food you choose is crucial. Eating sugary foods when you’re stressed causes a quick release, which feels great at the time but not so great when your blood sugar and serotonin levels come crashing down shortly afterward.