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The glycemic diet explained

The glycemic diet has been one of the most popular diets over the past few years - but does it work, and if so, what do you need to know to follow it? We reveal all.

New diets come and go, but one that seems to have some staying power is the GI diet. Surprising, it wasn't developed by a celebrity, or someone trying to make a fast buck (though plenty have cashed in since), but arose out of research into how food affects our blood sugar.

The GI diet is based on the glycemic index (GI) of foods - a ranking of carbohydrates based on their immediate effect on blood sugar levels.

Carbohydrates that break down quickly during digestion have a high GI score, while those that break down slowly have a lower GI score. Foods are ranked as either:

  • Low GI (55 or less)
  • Medium GI (56 - 69)
  • High GI (70+)
The aim of the GI diet is to eat foods that are low on the GI scale. Low GI foods, which release glucose gradually into the blood stream, have the following benefits:
  • They produce a smaller rise in blood sugar levels
  • They can help you lose weight - the more gradual release of sugars into the blood helps you feel full for longer, and therefore eat less
  • They re-fuel glycogen stores after a workout
  • They are a better source of energy for prolonged physical endurance, providing a steady release of energy rather than a quick rush
All of this makes the GI diet both an effective way to lose weight, and a healthy way to eat. So what do you need to know if you want to follow this plan?

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