Why Glycemic Index Diets Don’t Work
Proponents of the glycemic diet also often argue that foods with a high index score are more likely to turn into fat.
While the glycemic diet sounds very scientifically sound, it actually misuses and misunderstands science in order to make an argument for a diet plan that won’t work.
The diet may provide assistance for diabetics hoping to regulate their blood sugar more effectively, but it is not going to work as a fat loss diet.
What is the Glycemic Index?
A glycemic index is a number assigned to a food that is supposed to indicate how quickly a food will convert the carbohydrates in the food into glucose.
Foods that have a higher score are more quickly absorbed by the body, which can cause a rapid increase in blood sugar.
- 0-55: Foods with these scores are labeled with a “low” GI score, including apples, carrots, most beans, and sushi.
- 56-69: This category comprises the foods with a “medium” score such as figs, cherries, peaches, black bean soup, sweet potatoes, boxed macaroni and cheese, pancakes, and table sugar.
- 70-100: Foods with an index number in this range have a “high” score and include watermelon, potatoes, bread stuffing, waffles, white rice, pizza, pretzels, and lifesavers.
Flaws in the Glycemic Index System
Even when used strictly as a tool for managing blood sugar, the index score has a few significant problems that are not easily apparent.
The actual effect that a food has on our blood sugar can be influenced by multiple factors, which in turn, have the capacity to change the index score of the food that we eat.
Glycemic Index Flaw: Consumption Timing
One of the factors that influence the effect that food has on us is the time of day that we consume the food. The original glycemic numbers were obtained during a fasting state, and the numbers may not be the same for people who are eating multiple times during the day.
The simple act of your digestive system continuing to digest your last meal may lower effect that the food’s glycemic score may have on our bodies.
Glycemic Index Flaw: Mixing Carbs
Most of us do not consume only one food at a time. When we consume foods that have a high glycemic score with foods that have a lower glycemic score, the overall significance of the meal upon our blood sugar may be lowered.
The addition of proteins, fats, and fiber can also greatly influence the effect that a food has upon our blood sugar. Combining carbs with one another or with another type of food can ultimately reduce the time our body takes to absorb carbs with a high glycemic score.
Glycemic Index Flaw: Fat on GI Scale
One aspect that the GI diet does not take into account is the fact that it does not consider the fat content of any food.
Many extremely fatty foods, such as ice cream or candy, have a low glycemic score. Yet, these foods are immensely fattening and unhealthy for our bodies overall.
Using the glycemic score does not give an accurate indication of how healthy a portion of food actually is for our bodies.
Glycemic Index Flaw: Cook Time
Both the cooking time and the cooking preparation methods will affect the way that our bodies absorb carbohydrates. If you cook pasta for a long time, you greatly increase the glycemic score. Cooking pasta for 10 minutes might have an end result of a 44 score on the glycemic scale, while pasta that you’ve cooked for 20 minutes could have a score as high as 64.
Why GI Diets Won’t Help You Lose Fat
It is tempting for us to pay attention to the number of people in the weight loss and fitness communities who advocate a GI diet.
According to these advocates, foods with a high glycemic score will raise blood sugar more quickly and therefore cause a quicker conversion of food to fat.
But multiple studies, including those published in the 2014 issue of Journal of the American Medical Association and a 2015 issue of Obesity, have found that low glycemic score diets did not affect insulin sensitivity or fat loss.
In fact, both of these studies pointed to the diet’s major weakness: it does not factor in the importance of calories in the weight loss journey.
Why is the Glycemic Index Promoted for Weight Loss?
One reason that the glycemic score diet is so popular is simply due to marketing.
The diet has been heavily promoted, and the gimmick behind the diet has sold a lot of books.
That makes it easy for people to latch onto as a diet. Another heavily promoted diet, the low carb/keto diet, works to make people believe that carb consumption makes us gain weight through insulin spikes.
Despite these heavily marketed beliefs, the calorie deficient diet is the one that has been proven repeatedly effective.
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