What You Need to Know to Lose Lots of Weight, Avoid or Control Diabetes and Lower the Risks of Heart Disease and Even Cancer

August 13th, 2011

You are probably aware of the alarming percentage of Americans that are over-weight or even obese. In no small way, the amounts of sugar that have crept into our diets from sources like sugary beverages, cereals and deserts, have not only rendered us over-weight, but under healthy with type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance increasing like never before.

Articles and dieticians often speak about the blood sugar raising ability of the different kinds of carbohydrates in various foods that we may choose to eat.  Carbohydrates can be simple sugars like sucrose (which is a combination of glucose and fructose) or fructose (which is the sugar found in fruits that has its own set of issues) or complex carbohydrates like starches (which are just long chains of glucose attached to one another) and finally dietary fiber (which is indigestible by our bodies, so therefore, does not raise blood sugar).

The term that helps us to understand how much carbohydrates are in foods and raise blood sugar, is called “glycemic index”, (GI).   GI is calculated by taking 50 grams of a specific carbohydrate found in a food and measuring how much it raises blood sugar compared to 50 grams of pure glucose.

So for example, if the glycemic index of a carbohydrate in carrots was 78 this would mean that 50 grams of it raised blood sugar, 78% of how much the same amount of glucose raised blood sugar.

Foods with a GI below 55 are considered low GI foods.  GI’s between 55-70 are considered intermediate GI foods and foods with a GI above 70 are considered high GI foods.

This is important information, but you need to know and understand that sometimes even the best of intentions can go awry.

By this I mean, knowing the GI of a particular food is only part of the story.  This is because “quantity counts”! You will recall that I mentioned above that GI is calculated by comparing how much an equal amount of a carbohydrate in a food (50grams) raises blood sugar compared to 50 grams of glucose.

The GI of any particular carbohydrate found in a given food, is a number that is a percentage relative to glucose.  What it doesn’t tell us, is how much of the carbohydrate is actually in a given sized serving of the food.

What we really want to know and monitor in order to lose weight and avoid diabetes or insulin resistance and the diseases like obesity, heart disease and cancer, they can lead to, is the absolute, real life amount of increase in blood sugar, eating a specific sized portion of a given food will cause. Not its relative percentage compared to 50 grams of glucose.

Percentages can be very deceiving.  I could say that I save 30% of my income.  This is an impressive percentage but if I earn $10,000 a year, it is $3,000.

On the other hand, I could save only 10% of my income but if I earn $100,000, the savings is $10,000, more than 3 times greater in absolute dollars.

Well, the same thing applies to GI, it is a percentage, it does not tell you the absolute increase in blood sugar a given sized portion of a specific food will cause.   It doesn’t do this because it doesn’t take into consideration the absolute amount of the carbohydrate, actually found in the food.

This is where the concept of glycemic load comes in.(GL)   Knowing and monitoring the GL, which you can get from charts on the internet and one sample is provided below, of the foods you eat will get you far down the path to a much slimmer and healthier you.

The GL of a food is calculated from its GI times the actual amount by weight of the carbohydrate that is present in a given sized portion divided by 100.

Think about it, if a food has a glycemic index of 20 that is very low!  50 grams of it only raises blood sugar by 20% of what an equal weight of glucose raised blood sugar.  What if the weights are not equal?

What if you eat 5 times the amount by weight of that food, so instead of 50 grams, which is the weight used to calculate GI, you eat 250 grams (a little more than ½ of a pound)? Well then your blood sugar would raise the same amount as eating 50 grams of glucose because 5X20= 100.

Glycemic load gives you real life, very valuable blood sugar information about the size of the portions of each food you choose.  It enables you to limit portion sizes so that you control blood sugar and really establish a powerful regimen under which you can lose substantial amounts of weight, while avoiding diabetes, heart disease, cancer and many other chronic diseases.

Avoiding the effects of too much sugar in the body is very anti-aging as well.  Both your internal organs and you skin will benefit tremendously.

Below is a sample chart of glycemic load of certain foods. Additional charts can be found on the internet just Google glycemic load.

I advise you to try to average no higher than 50 in your GL food choices.  So if you choose to splurge and eat a desert with a GL of 80 try to offset it with an equal number of calories of a food with a 20 GL while keeping your total calories in the 2000 calorie per day range if you are a woman of average physical activity. (As low as 1500 for faster weight loss)  For men the caloric intake, depending upon muscle mass and physical activity should probably be in the 2400-2800 calorie per day range. (Around 1800-2000 for faster weight loss)


FOOD LIST

RATING

FOOD GLYCEMIC INDEX

BAKERY PRODUCTS

*Pound cake

Low

54

Danish pastry

Medium

59

Muffin (unsweetened)

Medium

62

Cake , tart

Medium

65

Cake, angel

Medium

67

Croissant

Medium

67

Waffles

High

76

Doughnut

High

76

BEVERAGES

Soya milk

Low

30

Apple juice

Low

41

Carrot juice

Low

45

Pineapple juice

Low

46

Grapefruit juice

Low

48

Orange juice

Low

52

BISCUITS

Digestives

Medium

58

Shortbread

Medium

64

Water biscuits

Medium

65

Ryvita

Medium

67

Wafer biscuits

High

77

**Rice cakes

High

77

BREADS

Multi grain bread

Low

48

Whole grain

Low

50

Pita bread, white

Medium

57

Pizza, cheese

Medium

60

Hamburger bun

Medium

61

Rye-flour bread

Medium

64

Whole meal bread

Medium

69

White bread

High

71

White rolls

High

73

Baguette

High

95

BREAKFAST CEREAL

All-Bran

Low

42

Porridge, non instant

Low

49

Oat bran

Medium

55

Muesli

Medium

56

Mini Wheat’s (wholemeal)

Medium

57

Shredded Wheat

Medium

69

Golden Grahams

High

71

Puffed wheat

High

74

Weetabix

High

77

Rice Krispies

High

82

Cornflakes

High

83

CEREAL GRAINS

Pearl barley

Low

25

Rye

Low

34

Wheat kernels

Low

41

Rice, instant

Low

46

Rice, parboiled

Low

48

Barley, cracked

Low

50

Rice, brown

Medium

55

Rice, wild

Medium

57

Rice, white

Medium

58

Barley, flakes

Medium

66

Taco Shell

Medium

68

Millet

High

71

DAIRY FOODS

Yogurt low- fat (sweetened)

Low

14

Milk, chocolate

Low

24

Milk, whole

Low

27

Milk, Fat-free

Low

32

Milk ,skimmed

Low

32

Milk, semi-skimmed

Low

34

*Ice-cream (low- fat)

Low

50

*Ice-cream

Medium

61

FRUITS

Cherries

Low

22

Grapefruit

Low

25

Apricots (dried)

Low

31

Apples

Low

38

Pears

Low

38

Plums

Low

39

Peaches

Low

42

Oranges

Low

44

Grapes

Low

46

Kiwi fruit

Low

53

Bananas

Low

54

Fruit cocktail

Medium

55

Mangoes

Medium

56

Apricots

Medium

57

Apricots (tinned in syrup)

Medium

64

Raisins

Medium

64

Pineapple

Medium

66

**Watermelon

High

72

PASTA

Spaghetti, protein enriched

Low

27

Fettuccine

Low

32

Vermicelli

Low

35

Spaghetti, whole wheat

Low

37

Ravioli, meat filled

Low

39

Spaghetti, white

Low

41

Macaroni

Low

45

Spaghetti, durum wheat

Medium

55

Macaroni cheese

Medium

64

High

92

ROOT CROP

Carrots, cooked

Low

39

Yam

Low

51

Sweet potato

Low

54

Potato, boiled

Medium

56

Potato, new

Medium

57

Potato, tinned

Medium

61

Beetroot

Medium

64

Potato, steamed

Medium

65

Potato, mashed

Medium

70

Chips

High

75

Potato, micro waved

High

82

Potato, instant

High

83

**Potato, baked

High

85

Parsnips

High

97

SNACK FOOD & SWEETS

Peanuts

Low

15

*M&Ms (peanut)

Low

32

*Snickers bar

Low

40

*Chocolate bar; 30g

Low

49

Jams and marmalades

Low

49

*Crisps

Low

54

Popcorn

Medium

55

Mars bar

Medium

64

*Table sugar (sucrose)

Medium

65

Corn chips

High

74

Jelly beans

High

80

Pretzels

High

81

Dates

High

103

SOUPS

Tomato soup, tinned

Low

38

Lentil soup, tinned

Low

44

Black bean soup, tinned

Medium

64

Green pea soup, tinned

Medium

66

VEGETABLES & BEANS

Artichoke

Low

15

Asparagus

Low

15

Broccoli

Low

15

Cauliflower

Low

15

Celery

Low

15

Cucumber

Low

15

Eggplant

Low

15

Green beans

Low

15

Lettuce, all varieties

Low

15

Low-fat yogurt, artificially sweetened

Low

15

Peppers, all varieties

Low

15

Snow peas

Low

15

Spinach

Low

15

Young summer squash

Low

15

Tomatoes

Low

15

Zucchini

Low

15

Soya beans, boiled

Low

16

Peas, dried

Low

22

Kidney beans, boiled

Low

29

Lentils green, boiled

Low

29

Chickpeas

Low

33

Haricot beans, boiled

Low

38

Black-eyed beans

Low

41

Chickpeas, tinned

Low

42

Baked beans, tinned

Low

48

Kidney beans, tinned

Low

52

Lentils green, tinned

Low

52

Broad beans

High

79

*High in empty calories     **Low-calorie and nutritious foods