Glycemic Index Diet For Dummies book cover

Glycemic Index Diet For Dummies

By: Meri Reffetto Published: 02-03-2014

Get proven results from this safe, effective, and easy-to-follow diet

The glycemic load is a ranking system for carbohydrate-rich food that measures the amount of carbohydrates in a serving. The glycemic index indicates how rapidly a carbohydrate is digested and released as glucose (sugar) into the bloodstream. Using the Glycemic Index is a proven method for calculating the way carbohydrates act in your body to help you lose weight, safely, quickly, and effectively.

The second edition of The Glycemic Index Diet For Dummies presents this system in an easy-to-apply manner, giving you the tools and tips you need to shed unwanted pounds and improve your overall health. You'll not only discover how to apply the glycemic index to your existing diet plan, but you'll also get new and updated information on how to develop a healthy lifestyle.

  • Recommends foods that boost metabolism, promote weight loss, and provide longer-lasting energy
  • Features delicious GI recipes for glycemic-friendly cooking at home
  • Includes exercises for maintaining glycemic index weight loss and promoting physical fitness
  • Offers guidance on shopping for food as well as eating at restaurants and away from home

Glycemic Index Diet For Dummies, 2nd Edition is for anyone looking for an easy-to-apply guide to making the switch to this healthy lifestyle.

Articles From Glycemic Index Diet For Dummies

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89 results
89 results
Glycemic Index Diet For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Cheat Sheet / Updated 02-23-2022

Following a low-glycemic diet for weight loss isn't about deprivation; it's about making better choices and swapping high-glycemic foods for ones that have a lower glycemic index or glycemic load. Once you get the hang of figuring out which foods are the best choices, you can easily shop, cook, and snack the low-glycemic way.

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Low-Glycemic Lemon Chicken Salad

Article / Updated 02-25-2020

Chicken Salad is a great low glycemic lunch or dinner that you can pair with a tossed green salad, a slice of sourdough bread or some rye crackers. Prepare it ahead and have it ready for lunch the next couple of days! Preparation time: 15 minutes Yield: 4 servings 3/4 cup finely chopped celery 1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise 1/4 cup low-fat plain yogurt 1/4 cup finely chopped green onions 2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 1 teaspoon lemon zest 3 cooked boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch cubes 1 green apple, cored and cut into 1-inch chunks Salt and ground black pepper to taste Mix the celery, mayonnaise, yogurt, green onions, tarragon, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a large bowl to blend. Stir the 1/2-inch chicken cubes and 1-inch apple chunks into the mayonnaise mixture. Season with the salt and pepper. Per serving: Calories 240 (From Fat 46); Glycemic Load 1 (Low); Fat 5g (Saturated 1g); Cholesterol 91mg; Sodium 250mg; Carbohydrate 13g (Dietary Fiber 2g); Protein 34g.

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Low-Glycemic Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Step by Step / Updated 02-25-2020

The glycemic index and glycemic load are all about choosing carbohydrate-containing foods wisely and putting them to work for you. These recipes are a good start to eating the low-glycemic way, which results in weight loss, more energy, and better health!

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10 Real-Life Strategies to Lighten Your Daily Glycemic Load

Step by Step / Updated 03-10-2017

Selecting low-glycemic foods rather than high-glycemic ones is always a good tactic for weight loss. As you begin to make some changes it can feel overwhelming, but your best bet is to take just a few steps forward by making small changes.

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10 Myths About the Glycemic Index

Step by Step / Updated 03-27-2016

Plenty of myths are floating around about the glycemic index these days. It seems like just about everyone knows something about it and is happy to tell you which foods to eat as well as which high-glycemic foods to avoid. The truth is that measuring the glycemic effect of foods is a highly precise and scientific process that requires specific testing.

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Carbohydrates and the Glycemic Index

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Carbohydrates are a big topic in the world of weight loss and a glycemic index diet. Numerous diets call for modifying your carbohydrate intake in some way. The problem is, not all carbs are created equal, so you can't treat them equally. You've probably heard or read about simple versus complex carbohydrates, fiber content, white versus whole grain, and so on. Throw in the glycemic index and figuring out what you’re supposed to focus on for your health gets really confusing! But it doesn't have to be that way. Yes, when considering carbs, you need to look at many factors, including the glycemic index, nutrients, and fiber. However, simple guidelines are available that can help you make the best choices for your health — and for successful weight loss. To better distinguish carbohydrates that can help your diet from those that can harm it, you should really know a little basic info about carbs in general. Carbohydrates are your body's major fuel source. They all break down into blood glucose, but they react differently in your body depending on their type. Carbs come in two varieties: Simple carbohydrates, which contain one or two sugar units Complex carbohydrates, which contain multiple sugar units In the past, scientists thought that simple carbohydrates raised blood glucose levels quicker than complex carbohydrates because of the length of the sugar units. However, the latest discoveries with the glycemic index show that all carbohydrates, simple and complex, vary greatly in regard to their blood sugar response. The glycemic index actually simplifies that technical mumbo jumbo a bit. Instead of focusing on complex versus simple carbs to find your best food choices for weight loss, you can focus on choosing low-glycemic foods that have a high nutrient content. Low-glycemic foods are therefore the new "friendly" carbs, and high-glycemic foods are the new "foes." Most people think of sugar, sweets, or white flour as simple carbohydrates that make for unhealthy choices. However, the issue isn't quite that black and white. Consider the case of white flour. Often mistakenly lumped in the simple-sugars category, white flour is actually a complex carbohydrate, and complex carbs are typically labeled as "good carbs." So not all complex carbs are necessarily the healthiest choices. White flour is an example of a high-glycemic "foe," spiking the blood sugar much higher and faster than its whole-wheat counterpart (a low-glycemic "friendly" carb). You can't tell what food is friend or foe just by looking. Instead, the food must undergo scientific testing to determine how it responds in the body.

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How to Use Beans (Legumes) on a Low-Glycemic Diet

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

If you're not familiar with the class of foods known as legumes (which includes beans, lentils, and peas), you're missing out. The all-star legumes, beans, really have it all. Beans are low-glycemic, high-fiber, high-protein, and packed with important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. These little foods are also very convenient to cook or add to a meal. And as a bonus to the dieter, beans help you feel fuller for a longer period of time. What you should know about canned beans versus dried You have one major choice when it comes to beans: canned or dried. Canned beans are already cooked, so you can use them instantly on a salad or in soups and other hot meals. Dried beans, on the other hand, need a little preparation before you can enjoy them. Specifically, dried beans must be soaked before you can cook them. Not only is soaking dried beans the only way to get them clean before cooking but it also helps Decrease their overall cooking time Remove gas-producing compounds from the outer coating of the shell Retain nutrients Making small changes in the way you prepare foods can greatly impact the foods’ glycemic content. Canned beans and dried beans often have different glycemic levels. Sometimes the canned is higher than the dried; other times the dried is higher than the canned. These differences are subtle and shouldn't make a large impact on your choices. Why? Because you're not getting too caught up in small number variances. The numbers still fall within a low or medium range, so you're in good shape regardless. Prepare and cook both kinds of beans Similar to whole grains, beans may seem intimidating, but they're not as bad to work with as you may think. Granted, dried beans require a bit more preparation, but cooking them is a fairly straightforward process. Of course, if you really don't want to tackle the soaking and cooking steps of dried beans, you can easily use canned ones. Regardless of which way you go, here are some quick preparation and cooking tips. Canned beans Whether you want the convenience canned beans offer or you just prefer the taste of them, keep the following in mind: If you're adding cold beans to a salad, rinse them in a colander. Doing so removes the saucy liquid and helps decrease some of the sodium used as a preservative. When adding canned beans to a hot dish, make sure to add them toward the end of cooking. Otherwise they can become too soggy and fall apart. Dried beans Eating dried beans requires a little more upfront work, but it's certainly worth it. First things first: preparation. Preparing dried beans for cooking involves soaking them in one of two ways: A leisurely soak is the most common method for preparing dried beans. Soak — in a large pot of water overnight. Afterward, simply discard the liquid and cook with fresh water. You can also soak your dried beans the quick way. Bring water to a boil, remove it from the heat, and let the beans soak in the hot water for three to four hours. Discard the liquid and then cook the beans in fresh water. To cook dried beans after soaking, cover about 1 pound of beans with 6 cups of fresh water (not the soaking water). Simmer the beans until they're cooked and soft. The table shows you some great low-glycemic beans along with their cooking times (which depend on whether you're cooking in a saucepan or a pressure cooker). Cooking Times for Low-Glycemic Beans Type of Bean (Previously Soaked) Cooking Time in a Saucepan Cooking Time in a Pressure Cooker Black 1–1-1/2 hours 5–8 minutes Garbanzo 1–1-1/2 hours 5–8 minutes Kidney 1–1-1/2 hours 5–8 minutes Lima 45 minutes–1 hour Not recommended Pinto 1–1-1/2 hours 5–8 minutes Soy 3 hours 12–15 minutes

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Choosing Foods for Weight-Loss on a Low-Glycemic Diet

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

If you want to keep your body working at peak performance to ensure an increased metabolism, improved health, and success with long-term weight loss, then you need to make the foods you eat work for you. In other words, aim to get the most nutritional bang for each bite. Choosing lots of fruits and vegetables Two food groups are generally safe to eat in greater amounts when you want to lose weight: vegetables and fruits. These foods (particularly vegetables) contain lower calorie levels and lower glycemic loads than most other foods. In fact, most vegetables aren’t even measured for their glycemic index/load because the amount of carbohydrates in them is so low (approximately 5 grams on average). As for the calorie factor, a whole cup of raw vegetables or a half cup of cooked vegetables is, on average, a mere 25 calories. That's a lot of food for such a small calorie amount! On the fruit side of things, most fruits tend to have a low-glycemic load, and one small piece averages out to 60 calories. Sure, that's not as low as the veggies, but it's still lower than many other food groups. When you want to lose weight, you can choose to either have tiny portion sizes of high-glycemic foods or pump up the volume with fruits and vegetables and still maintain a lower calorie level. Consider the following calorie information: 1 cup of steamed broccoli = 50 calories 1 cup of fruit = 60 calories 1 cup of pasta = 160 calories 1 cup of ice cream = 340 calories As you can see, for the same volume of food, you can consume far fewer calories by eating more fruits and vegetables. The beauty is that most of the foods in these two food groups end up on the low-glycemic food list! The following examples illustrate how you can cut the calorie level of your dinner and dessert with some simple, low-glycemic food swaps: Dinner Grilled salmon served over 1-1/2 cups of pasta = 345 calories Grilled salmon served over 1/2 cup of pasta with 1 cup of roasted broccoli, cauliflower, and zucchini = 240 calories Total savings: 105 calories Dessert 1 cup of ice cream with chocolate sauce = 440 calories 1/2 cup of ice cream with 1/2 cup of fresh strawberries = 230 calories Total savings: 210 calories By incorporating more low-glycemic fruits and veggies, you get the same volume of food on your plate but with fewer calories, a lower glycemic load, more fiber, and more nutrients. Not bad for a simple switch! You can also use vegetables and fruits to increase your overall volume of food for the calorie level. For example, you can have a large salad with 3 cups of mixed greens plus 1 cup of assorted veggies (including tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers) with grilled salmon and light vinaigrette dressing for around 250 calories. Compare this meal to the grilled salmon over 1-1/2 cups of pasta for 345 calories. You get around 4-1/2 cups of food for the salad meal compared to around 2 cups of food for the pasta and chicken dish. Eating more vegetables and fruits at a meal means you can have more food for fewer calories. Including healthy fats and protein Of course, you can't pursue weight loss and health without taking a look at all the foods you consume, including your protein and fat sources. These are two of the nutrients that make up the Big Three of calorie sources (carbohydrates being #3). Not only that but they also help you feel full and give you long-term energy. Choosing lean-protein foods is essential for weight loss and general health. Some examples of lean-protein sources are skinless chicken breasts, lean cuts of beef and pork, eggs, fish and shellfish, and soy foods like tempeh or tofu. You also need to eat fat. Believe it or not, fat is healthy when it's the right kind and when you consume it in moderate amounts. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble vitamins that can't be absorbed without some fat in your diet. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish, chia seeds, and flax seeds (among other foods) are essential for good health. Look for unsaturated fat sources, specifically oils, seeds, nuts, nut butters, olives, and avocados. Do your best to limit saturated fats like butter and cream, and avoid trans fats like hydrogenated oils. Consuming a protein source and a fat source at each meal is a great way to slow down your body's digestion and conversion of carbohydrates into sugar to provide long-term fullness and nutritional health . . . both of which are keys to long-term weight loss! Eating the right amounts of low-glycemic fruits and vegetables along with portion-controlled low-glycemic starches is great, but if you're pairing those foods with excessive amounts of butter, oils, or high-fat meats, your hard work may all be for naught. Pay attention to your portion sizes. Fats in particular are very calorie dense, so keep a close eye on ’em. One teaspoon of oil, 1 tablespoon of nut butter, or six almonds, for example, is plenty.

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Glycemic Load and Popular Foods

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

The information here is designed to provide you with some insight into how the glycemic load varies among popular food choices. As you can see, fruits and vegetables typically end up on the low end whereas the more starchy foods, such as potatoes, rice, and pasta, end up on the medium to high end. Your goal is to pick low- to medium-glycemic foods most of the time. The Glycemic Load of Popular Foods FoodPortion SizeGlycemic LoadGlycemic Measurement Level Apple 1 small, 4-ounce (120 grams) 6 Low Baked beans Around 2/3 cup (150 grams) 7 Low Baked russet potato 1 medium, 5-ounce (150 grams) 26 High Banana 1 medium, 4-ounce (120 grams) 12 Medium Carrots Around 1/3 cup (80 grams) 3 Low Cherries 1/2 cup (120 grams) 3 Low Chickpeas Around 2/3 cup (150 grams) 8 Low Cooked white rice Around 2/3 cup (150 grams) 20 High Cracked-wheat bread One 1-ounce slice (30 grams) 11 Medium Fettuccini noodles Around 3/4 cup (180 grams) 18 Medium Full-fat ice cream Less than 1/4 cup (50 grams) 8 Low Grapes 1/2 cup (120 grams) 8 Low Green peas Around 1/3 cup (80 grams) 3 Low Linguini Around 3/4 cup (180 grams) 23 High Macaroni Around 3/4 cup (180 grams) 23 High Oat-bran bread One 1-ounce slice (30 grams) 9 Low Orange 1 small, 4-ounce (120 grams) 5 Low Reduced-fat yogurt A little over 3/4 cup (200 grams) 7 Low Spaghetti Around 3/4 cup (180 grams) 18 Medium Steamed brown rice Around 3/4 cup (150 grams) 16 Medium Waffles About 1 small, 1-ounce (35 grams) 10 Low White bagel 1 small, 2-ounce (70 grams) 25 High Notice the different portion sizes and their glycemic load measurement. Some foods are clearly a slam dunk as far as being a healthy choice, but others are a little gray. For example, if you look at spaghetti, you see that it has a medium glycemic load for a portion size of 3/4 of a cup. Spaghetti is therefore fine to eat in that amount, or you can even lower the glycemic load a little by eating just 1/2 of a cup. But if you go over the 3/4-cup portion size, you’re entering into high-glycemic territory. If the idea of a portion's size effect on glycemic load still seems confusing, don't get discouraged in your efforts to understand it. After a while you'll get the hang of looking at the glycemic load of a food compared to just its portion size.

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Comparing the Glycemic Index to the Glycemic Load

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

The glycemic load, which is based on the idea that a high-glycemic food eaten in small quantities produces a blood sugar response that's similar to the response produced by low-glycemic foods, is a much more useful tool for your day-to-day use. It allows you to have more food choices than the glycemic index does alone. That's good news because no one wants to be too restricted in what he or she can eat. But to create the glycemic load, researchers first had to come up with the glycemic index. The glycemic index concept was developed in 1981 by two University of Toronto researchers, Dr. Thomas Wolever and Dr. David Jenkins. Their research compared the effect of 25 grams of carbohydrates (just picture two slices of bread if you're not familiar with the metric system) to that of 50 grams of carbohydrates (picture four slices of bread) to see whether the smaller amount created a lower-glycemic response in the human body based on the lower quantity of carbohydrates. However, with the amount of carbohydrates varying so much in different foods (for instance, some fruits and vegetables have only 5 grams of carbohydrates whereas starches have up to 15 grams), 50 grams of carbohydrates (the standard amount used for glycemic index testing) doesn't always depict the portion size a person may typically eat. To account for this variation, in 1997, Harvard University's Dr. Walter Willet created the glycemic load, which calculates the quality and quantity of carbohydrates at a meal. The fact that the glycemic load takes portion size into account is quite helpful because the average person is far less likely to eat 50 grams of a particular food in one sitting. Looking at portion sizes and carbohydrate grams can give you a better understanding of the glycemic load. Although foods vary, the following table breaks down the average amount of carbohydrates in each carbohydrate-containing food group based on a particular portion size. Average Carbohydrate Grams in Four Food Groups Food GroupCarbohydrate GramsPortion Size Starches 15 1/2 cup pasta, 1 slice bread, 1/3 cup white rice Fruits 15 1 small piece Dairy products 12 1 cup milk, 1 cup light yogurt Nonstarchy vegetables 5 1/2 cup cooked, 1 cup raw As you can see, the amount of carbohydrates in a serving of a particular food depends as much on the portion size as it does on the food itself. So consuming 50 grams of carbohydrates (which is definitely more than one serving) will have a dramatic impact on your blood sugar. Take carrots, for example. Carrots have a high glycemic index when cooked (41 to be exact), yet they're considered a nonstarchy vegetable. To consume 50 grams of carbohydrates in carrots, you'd have to eat 5 cups! Because the amount of carbohydrates in carrots is so low compared to their average portion size, the glycemic load of carrots is low as well. On the other hand, a serving of instant white rice, another high-glycemic food with a glycemic index of 72, has around 15 grams of carbohydrates per 1/3-cup serving. To eat 50 grams of carbohydrates in instant white rice, you'd have to eat slightly more than 1 cup of rice — a fairly typical portion size for most people. This portion size means the glycemic load for instant white rice doesn't change much from the food's glycemic index. The glycemic index compares the potential of foods with equal amounts of carbohydrates to raise blood sugar. The purpose of the glycemic load is to have a usable indicator of the glycemic index that takes portion size into account. Although adding glycemic load to the mix may cause the glycemic index of some foods, such as white rice, to remain the same, it opens up the door for enjoying more foods that may have a high glycemic index but a low glycemic load based on different portion sizes.

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