Medically reviewed by Amy Gorin, MS, RDN
Curious about the low-glycemic diet plan? Find out the ins and outs of the eating style, including a low-glycemic foods list.
Like many of us, I love a fresh bagel in the morning. The crispy crust and doughy center, in combo with a slather of cream cheese and a sprinkle of everything bagel spice is oh-so satisfying and can put me in a chipper mood. But before long, those carb-filled calories burn off, and I'm quickly feeling hangry.
Why the sudden shift in energy and hunger? Bagels—like white bread, white rice, pretzels—are just one of the many foods that have a high-glycemic index (GI), meaning they're digested quickly and may cause a spike in blood-sugar levels, aka blood glucose levels.
To curb those crashes and also to lose weight, more and more people are turning to a low-glycemic diet. Despite the scientific-sounding name, this eating style is a lot simpler than you'd think.
Keep on reading to get a better idea of the low-GI diet meal plan, and find out if steering away from high-GI foods could be right for you and your lifestyle.
How to Eat a Low-Glycemic Diet
After reading that intro, I bet you have a million questions dancing in your head! What's the glycemic index? What should be on your low-GI foods list? What foods are part of the low-glycemic diet plan? What are some of the LGID benefits, and what are low glycemic foods?
For a sneak peak on the low-GI foods list, here are a few facts:
- Foods that have a higher glycemic load tend to be lower in protein and fiber. On the flip side, low-GI foods tend to contain more protein and fiber, as well as more nutrients.
- Looking for foods with low glycemic index? Some on the low-GI food list include soy beans, lentils, and barley. Carrots are also on the list of low glycemic diet foods.
- Breakfast cereals can be either higher GI or lower GI. It really depends on if they're made of whole grains or not. For instance, muesli has a GI of 57 and cornflakes have a GI of 81.
- If you're not sure if you should start a low-GI diet, you should seek medical advice from a doctor or dietitian. This is especially true if you have type 2 diabetes.
- Most dairy products fall in the middle of the spectrum for a low-GI meal plan. For instance, whole milk has a GI of 39, while fruit yogurt has a GI of 41. For more information about the lowest glycemic foods, take a look at a low glycemic food list.
- Yes, you can follow a gluten-free low-glycemic diet plan!
A Healthy Snack for a Low-GI Diet
If you're thinking about following a low glycemic diet plan, here's a snack you should know about and that you can include on your low-GI food list. Feel guilty after eating a giant bowl of popcorn? Don't! Especially if you're eating the air-popped, no-butter variety.
Not only is the go-to movie snack made from whole grains, it's also low carb. But the munchie falls in a gray area when it comes to the low-GI diet. That really means you can pair it with a healthy fat (i.e., a couple of Tablespoons of almonds or pistachios) or a protein (like a hardboiled egg) to help steady your blood-sugar levels. So it can absolutely be part of a low glycemic meal plan, even though it's not on the low-GI foods list.
Amy's Low-GI Recipe to Try
Here's a recipe you'll
love: Lemon Garlic Asparagus!
Are you an asparagus fan? If you're following Amy's diet plan (a healthy eating plan!) and looking for low-GI recipes, you should be eating lots of green things.
With just a little bit of seasoning, this green veggie is oh-so delicious. And it's a great pick if you're trying to eat more vegetables and low-glycemic foods. Yup, asparagus is one of the top low-glycemic fruits and vegetables. It can absolutely be part of a low-GI diet meal plan.
This roasted dish takes just 10 minutes or so to bake, with the hint of thyme bringing out a gentle lemon flavor. Your tastebuds will not be disappointed with this one! In fact, it's one of my fave recipes to recommend when I'm talking about plant-based eating. Also try an avocado deviled eggs recipe.
Cooking at Home for a Low GI Diet Plan
Many people who choose to eat off of the low glycemic foods list have a heightened risk of diabetes. And people with diabetes end up having a higher risk of heart disease. The good news: It turns out that in addition to eating less higher-GI foods, cooking meals at home may help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
In a study in PLOS Medicine, study authors researched almost 100,000 healthcare professionals, following them over a 24- to 26-year period. The study didn’t look at particular foods eaten at home, just whether or not they were prepared at home.
The findings: People eating between five and seven midday meals at home per week had a 9% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Dinner had an even bigger impact: Adults eating the same number of meals at home had a 15% lower risk of developing diabetes. The volunteers also gained less weight and were less likely to become obese.
These results are in line with previous studies linking fast food intake and increased risk of diabetes, as well as ones connecting frequent dining out (including eating at fast-food establishments) with weight gain.
Now that you've seen a quick list of low glycemic foods, what are your thoughts on following a low glycemic index diet plan?
This blog post was updated in June 2020. A version of this content originally appeared on WeightWatchers.com.
- Consumption of Meals Prepared at Home and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: An Analysis of Two Prospective Cohorts, PLOS Medicine
- Everything You Need to Know About Eating a Low-Glycemic Diet, Greatist.com
- Popcorn is 1 of the Healthiest Ways to Snack on a Low-Carb Diet for This Surprising Reason, PopSugar.com
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What are your thoughts on a low GI diet plan for weight loss? What are your favorites on the low-GI carb list and a low GI meal plan?