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Low Glycemic Foods

Low Glycemic DietAccording to a recently published Harvard study, a low glycemic diet ranked highly for maintaining metabolism during weight loss. Also known as the glycemic index diet, the plan was first developed to help control blood sugar levels in diabetes patients.  Put simply, the glycemic index measures carbohydrates, but what are low glycemic foods and how do they affect weight loss?

What is the low glycemic diet?

A diet based upon the glycemic index suggest that foods and beverages with a low glycemic index (GI) rating help to keep blood sugar levels steady. In theory, by eating low glycemic foods, you can lose weight and reduce risk factors for diabetes and other chronic diseases. The low glycemic diet encourages plenty of complex carbohydrates and unprocessed foods, which take longer to digest and won’t spike blood sugar levels. Researchers have discovered that high GI foods like potatoes and white rice generally raise blood sugar levels very quickly, whereas low glycemic foods such as quinoa, oatmeal, cottage cheese and nuts lead to satiety and help promote weight loss.

How the glycemic index works

The glycemic index chart ranks food and drinks based on how they impact blood glucose levels. Only those with carbohydrates are rated, as these have the greatest effect on blood sugar. As a general rule of thumb, the majority of processed or refined such as plain white bread are given a higher glycemic rating. These types of foods are rapidly digested and elevate both insulin and blood sugar levels quickly. On the contrary, low glycemic foods are harder to break down, contain more nutrients and fiber, and do not spike blood sugar levels.

The glycemic index range is as follows:

  • High GI 70 and up: white bread, baked potato, pretzels, donuts, French fries, instant white rice and  watermelon
  • Medium GI 56 to 69:  bananas, mangoes, papaya, raw pineapple, corn chips and raisins
  • Low GI 55 and under: skim milk, strawberries, peanuts, apple, grapefruit, kidney beans and lentils

Popular low glycemic foods

The aim of a low glycemic diet is to consume unrefined carbohydrates with lean proteins and healthy fats to improve the sensation of fullness by keeping digestion both steady and slow. The goal is to avoid too many processed foods that release glucose, which sparks a hormone response signaling hunger – a vicious cycle for dieters, who may be trying to limit their total caloric intake.

The following is a sample list of low glycemic foods (GI of 55 and under) that are recommended when following the glycemic index diet:

  • Fruits: peaches, raspberries, melon, blueberries, cherries, pear, fig, plums, grapes, nectarines and mandarin oranges
  • Vegetables: asparagus, artichokes, broccoli, cabbage, eggplant, fresh lima beans, green beans, chick peas, arugula, yellow squash, Swiss chard, spinach and mushrooms
  • Legumes: black beans, navy beans, lentils, pinto beans, black-eyed peas and kidney beans
  • Dairy products: cottage cheese, soy milk, low-fat ice cream, almond milk, low-fat yogurt, cheddar cheese, ricotta, mozzarella cheese and Gouda
  • Omega 3 foods: Wild salmon, avocado, tuna, oysters, bass, almonds, pecans, sunflower seeds, flax, olive oil and walnuts
  • Grains: quinoa, oatmeal, oat bran, pearled barley and buckwheat kasha
  • Breads & pastas: oat bran bread, barley bread, whole-wheat bread, rye pumpernickel bread, certain “high-protein” pastas that are not overcooked and brown rice pasta

A good diabetic diet may include low glycemic foods

Those who suffer type 2 diabetes or the effects of pre diabetes may use the glycemic index chart to select wholesome, low GI foods. While there is no quick solution for managing or even reversing diabetes, a healthy diabetic diet and regular exercise go a long way toward these efforts as even moderate weight loss can help stabilize blood sugar levels.

Physician-developed programs, such as those available at The Center for Medical Weight Loss have helped thousands of clients in managing diabetes with easy to follow diabetic diet guidelines. According to the Center’s founder and Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Michael Kaplan, “When patients lose just 5 to 10 percent of their body weight, it is a given that they will reduce their blood sugar significantly.”  Clients will embark on an individualized medical weight loss program that incorporates a nutritious diet full of low glycemic foods along with physical activity and personal counseling.

Read weight loss success stories!

The Center for Medical Weight Loss boasts thousands of weight loss success stories at its 450 locations throughout the nation. Their physicians understand the needs of diabetics struggling with weight loss and will be with you every step of the way.  If you’d like to learn more about how the Center can help you with a diabetes diet for weight loss, just enter your zip code into the box at the top right. Introductory offers are available for first-time visitors in most locations.


  1. The Wall Street Journal, (January 26, 2012) Not All Calories Equal, Study Showshttp://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304458604577490943279845790.html

  2. Huffington Post, (June 27, 2012) Low Glycemic Foods, Explainedhttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/27/low-glycemic-foods-diet_n_1630893.html