Combining Low-Glycemic Foods with Calorie Awareness
8 of 9 in Series: The Essentials of Losing Weight on a Low-Glycemic Diet
Following a low-glycemic diet isn’t a stand-alone solution for weight loss. If you eat a low-glycemic diet that’s still high in calories, attaining your weight-loss goals may be difficult. Like it or not, you still need to consider the number of calories you take in each day. Successfully losing weight requires an approach that includes eating a combination of low-glycemic carbs, healthy protein, and fats; counting calories; exercising; and pumping up your metabolism.
Understanding why calories still count
Calories are always going to be one of the most important aspects of weight loss. If you consume more calories than your body can convert into energy, your body turns that unspent energy into body fat and stores it somewhere. To lose weight effectively, you need to reduce your calorie intake through dietary changes and exercise.
Cutting back on your calorie intake doesn’t mean you need to diligently count calories. Who really wants to do that all day every day? Instead, you just need to make small changes that lead to a calorie deficit. Adopting a low-glycemic lifestyle is one of those changes because many low-glycemic foods are lower in calories. People who start choosing lower-glycemic foods tend to naturally lower their calorie level without even having to think about it.
Changing even one meal a day to incorporate low-glycemic foods — replacing a baked potato with steamed broccoli, for example — can be enough to impact your weight loss each week. These changes may seem small, but they add up to big calorie deficits when you stick with them over time.
Knowing that low-glycemic doesn’t always mean low-calorie
Although it’d be great if eating low-glycemic foods always resulted in lower calorie levels, it doesn’t always work out that way. The calorie deficits you experience on a low-glycemic diet really depend on what your diet looked like before. If you’re exchanging a lot of unhealthy or high-calorie choices for more healthy, low-calorie foods, then yes, you may see a difference in your calorie level. However, if you already eat a fairly healthy diet and you’re simply replacing your high-glycemic grains and veggies for their lower-glycemic counterparts, you won’t see much of a difference in your overall calorie level. For example, brown rice is lower-glycemic than jasmine rice, but both contain the same amount of calories. And some treats, such as chips and even some types of candy, have a lower glycemic index but are still high in calories.
Keeping portion sizes under control
Even if you’re swapping your favorite high-glycemic foods for healthier low-glycemic options, if you regularly eat inappropriate portion sizes, you won’t see success. I can’t tell you how many times I hear people saying, As long as it’s low-glycemic, you can eat as much as you want. That’s simply not the case.
Eating inappropriate portion sizes hurts you in two ways:
Low-glycemic foods can become high-glycemic foods if you eat too large of a serving. The low-glycemic status of many foods is dependent on you consuming the right portion size, meaning if you eat more than that amount, your glycemic load will add up. So if you eat two servings of pasta rather than one, you wind up with a higher glycemic load for that whole meal.
More food equals more calories. Adding more calories with large portion sizes will defeat your efforts at weight loss quickly. Whether or not your calories are coming primarily from low-glycemic foods, eating too many of them raises your insulin levels and causes you to gain weight.
Portion sizes are probably one of the biggest culprits in weight gain. People are eating larger portion sizes than ever these days, a fact that correlates directly to the rate of weight gain in many countries.