A Starter's Guide to Low-Glycemic Diet
A Starter's Guide to Low-Glycemic Diet

The low glycemic diet is based on the concept of the glycemic index (GI). Studies suggest that a low GI diet may lead to weight loss, lower blood sugar levels, and reduce the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

What is the Glycemic Index (GI)?

Carbohydrates are found in bread, cereals, fruits, vegetables and dairy products. They form an important part of a healthy diet. When you eat any carbohydrate, your digestive system breaks it down into simple sugars that enter the bloodstream. However, not all carbohydrates are considered the same.

Each carbohydrate has different effects on blood sugar. The glycemic index (GI) acts as a measurement system that classifies foods according to their effects on blood sugar levels. The rate at which different foods raise blood sugar levels represents an ordered pattern compared to the absorption of 50 grams of pure glucose. Pure glucose is used as a reference food and has a GI of 100.

There are three GI ratings. These are:

Low: 55 or less

Medium: 56–69

• High: 70 or more

Foods with a low GI value are the foods that should be preferred more. This is because it is digested and absorbed slowly, which causes slower and smaller increases in blood sugar levels.

Foods with a high GI value are foods that should be consumed with caution. Because it is quickly digested and absorbed, which causes blood sugar levels to rise quickly and fall in the same way. Only foods with carbohydrate content are given a GI value. For this reason, foods that do not contain carbohydrates are not included in the GI lists. These foods are beef, chicken, fish, eggs, vegetables and spices.

What Factors Affect the GI of a Food?

Many factors affect the GI value of a food. For this reason, we have briefly compiled these factors as a guide for you.

Type of Sugar Contained

There is a misconception that all sugars have a high GI. However, the GI of sugar is 23 for fructose and 105 for maltose. Therefore, the GI of a food depends in part on the type of sugar it contains.

Structure of Starch

Starch is a carbohydrate that contains two molecules, amylose and amylopectin. Amylose is difficult to digest. However, amylopectin is easily digested. Foods with high amylose content have a lower GI.

Refined Carbs

Processing methods such as grinding and drawing disrupt the amylose and amylopectin molecules, increasing the GI. In general, the more processed a carbohydrate, the higher the GI.

Nutrient Composition

Adding protein or fat to a meal can help reduce the meal's glycemic response by slowing digestion.

Cooking Method

Preparation and cooking methods can also affect the GI. In general, the longer a food is cooked, the faster its sugars are digested and absorbed, thereby increasing the GI.


Complex carbohydrates in immature fruits are broken down into simple sugars as the fruit matures. The GI increases as the fruit matures. E.g; An unripe banana has a GI of 30 while a ripe banana has a GI of 48.