What Is a Low GI Diet?


Quick Answer

A low glycemic index (GI) diet focuses on foods that balance blood sugar, according to the Mayo Clinic. The original purpose of the diet was to help diabetics control their blood sugar levels. The low GI diet, however, may also help with weight loss and heart disease, according to WebMD.

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Full Answer

Individuals on the low GI diet eat more foods classified as low on the glycemic index. The glycemic index measures foods, ranking them based on how much they raise blood sugar levels, according to the Mayo Clinic. The scale ranges from zero to 100. The higher the rank, the more blood sugar level rises. High GI foods rank 70 and higher. This includes foods like white rice, white, skinless potatoes and watermelon. Medium-ranked foods are between 56 and 69. Examples of these foods include bananas, sweet corn and raisins. Low GI foods are ranked as 55 and below and include raw apples, peanuts and skim milk.

Foods ranked lower on the GI scale have more fat and fiber, according to the American Diabetes Association. The more processed a food is, the higher its GI index is. For example, instant mashed potatoes rank higher on the GI scale than baked potatoes with the skin. The GI level can also change based on ripeness and storage time. A brown banana may have a higher GI level than a green banana. Although the diet emphasizes low GI foods, combining them with high GI foods helps to balance blood sugar responses.

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