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Keys to Success for a Glycemic Index Diet

2 of 9 in Series: The Essentials of Losing Weight on a Low-Glycemic Diet

When you’re on a glycemic index diet, you can forget the traditional food lists and stringent calorie requirements. The low-glycemic way of eating isn’t a diet in the traditional sense — it’s a lifestyle change. A low-glycemic “diet” is about listening to and working with your body to achieve long-term weight-loss (and health!) success.

When you commit to this way of eating, you discover more about the foods you eat. You also realize that you can still enjoy food while making the best choices for weight loss and your overall health.

The keys to success include:

  • Embrace a lifestyle change and abandon the temporary diet: Even though losing weight isn't easy, keeping the weight off is even more difficult. It doesn't matter what type of "diet" people follow; after one year, most folks gain back about 50 percent of the weight they lost. Yet some people are able to lose significant amounts of weight and keep it off.

    Individuals who embrace a low-glycemic diet as a way of life rather than a temporary diet can be among the latter group.

    Lifestyle change, not a temporary diet, is the key to enjoying a healthy weight for the rest of your life. Just think of these differences between the two:

    • A diet is when you follow a set meal plan developed by someone famous who wrote a book; lifestyle change is when you swap a candy bar for a piece of fruit as a midmorning snack and brown-bag your lunch instead of zipping through the fast food drive-through.

    • A diet is when you eliminate specific foods because they're too high in fat, calories, or carbohydrates; a lifestyle change is when you gradually eat fewer of these foods on a weekly basis.

    • A diet is when you follow a low-carb meal plan that lists foods to eat and foods to avoid; a lifestyle change is when you swap a lower-glycemic food for a higher-glycemic food a couple times each day.

    According to the available scientific literature, people lost more weight on a low-glycemic eating plan (one where they didn’t have to count calories or measure out food portions) than on a high-protein eating plan. They also lowered their cholesterol levels.

    Focusing on the positives — like all the great health benefits you receive just by following a low-glycemic diet — makes lifestyle changes a bit easier to make.

  • Toss strict rules out the window:If you've been around the dieting block a time or two, you're well aware that diets are full of rules.

    They instruct you on what you can eat, when you can eat it, and how much of it you can eat. They tell you when to exercise, how much to exercise, and what type of exercise you should do to burn the most calories. They make you count calories, fat, fiber, carbohydrates, or a combination of all four.

    The glycemic index diet is different, largely because it's not really a diet. It's actually just a different way of choosing your foods. When you follow a low-glycemic diet, you can forget about rules and traditional dieting phases and get back to what eating is all about — enjoying food that tastes good and is good for you.

    One of the best things about low-glycemic foods is that they fill you up so you're not searching through the cupboards looking for something to eat every couple hours. That's because low-glycemic foods have a lower energy density. Foods with a lower energy density provide fewer calories yet still fill you up.

    Low-glycemic foods also have less of an effect on blood sugar, require less insulin (so you aren't overworking your pancreas — the organ that supplies insulin), and keep you from experiencing the dramatic rise and consequent fall of blood sugar that leaves you feeling hungry, tired, unfocused, and even irritable.

    By choosing low-glycemic foods, you'll naturally eat fewer calories, feel fuller for longer, and lose weight. Granted, you probably won't lose 5 pounds in a week, but that's okay because you're in this for a lifetime, not a week. If you lose 2 pounds per month, that's still 24 pounds in a year. Who wouldn't love to lose 24 pounds while still enjoying meals and snacks?

  • Plan, cook, and enjoy healthy meals: Eating should be an enjoyable experience, not one during which you have to agonize about every single aspect of a meal. When you follow a low-glycemic lifestyle, you're not eliminating the foods you enjoy.

    Instead, you're creating balance in your diet through moderation in your food choices, which means you may still have that high-glycemic cookie once in a while but when you do you're choosing more low-glycemic foods throughout the day to balance it out.

    The key here is to enjoy food. If you enjoy your food choices, you're more likely to continue with this healthier way of eating. Sure, you may be able to tolerate a bland, low-calorie diet for a few days or weeks. But over time food has to taste good or else you're simply not going to put up with it.

    You don't need to worry about that with the glycemic index diet, though, because you're eating foods you already enjoy!

    With just a small amount of thought, you can easily and quickly plan satisfying meals that will help you lose weight.

  • Make exercise a part of your life: The benefits of exercising regularly are just as important as those of brushing your teeth daily, perhaps even more so if you're looking to lose weight.

    To lose weight long-term, you need to be in energy balance — something that's difficult to achieve when you focus on food intake alone. That's why exercise is so important to weight-loss efforts (not to mention the huge benefit exercise has on overall health!).

    To lose weight in a healthy way, you can't just keep cutting back on the amount of calories you consume. You need to get up and burn calories through movement (which stimulates your metabolism hours after you exercise).

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