If you are like most people, you've tried the majority of the weight loss plans available, only to be back at square one. There are reasons why this happens. But even more important, you need to know that you did not fail - the diet failed you! For most people who have struggled with healthy weight loss, a low GI diet is an effective alternative to traditional calorie-restrictive diets that just don't work.
Calorie restriction is what just about all weight loss plans have in common. One of the major reasons calorie restriction doesn't work is that it slows metabolism, unlike a low GI diet. Studies have shown that calorie restriction can slow your metabolism by as much as 10-15 percent. This is due to a survival mechanism that takes care of us during times of famine. In our hunter-gatherer days, when we would suddenly stop eating the same amount of calories, it was a signal to our bodies that food was scarce and we may be facing starvation. So, to preserve calories, our body adapted to this situation by slowing down our metabolism. It doesn't matter that you have enough food in your refrigerator to feed yourself for a month - there is really no way to bypass this survival mechanism. If calorie-restricted weight loss plans aren't the answer - then what is?
What is the Glycemic Index (GI)?
The answer is a low GI diet that focuses on the glycemic index (GI) rather than restricting calories. The GI is a measurement of the impact that a carbohydrate food has on your blood sugar - white bread has a high GI while beans and lentils have a low GI. The most complete list of the GI of foods can be found in Transitions Glycemic Index Food Guide. High GI foods cause a rapid rise in blood sugar (glucose) that in turn causes a rapid rise in insulin. When these two events happen, the body will store body fat. The great news is that when you follow a low GI diet, you don't have to count calories because most low GI foods are healthier, more nutrient dense and have fewer calories than foods with a high GI.
The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, one of the most respected scientific publications, compared calorie-restricted weight loss plans to a low glycemic ad libitum (non-calorie-restricted, low GI diet). The authors concluded that the decrease in total cholesterol was significantly greater with low GI diets when compared to calorie restricted diets, as was the change in LDL-cholesterol. The authors also concluded that overweight or obese people on a low GI diet lost more weight and had more improvement in lipid profiles than those on calorie-restricted weight loss plans. Body mass, total fat mass, body mass index, total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol all decreased significantly more in the low glycemic index group. In studies comparing non-calorie-restricted, low GI diets to conventional restricted calorie low-fat diets, participants fared as well or better on the low GI diet, even though they could eat as much as desired. Lowering the glycemic load of the diet appears to be an effective method of promoting weight loss and improving lipid profiles and can be simply incorporated into a person's lifestyle.
With a low GI diet, you not only get the benefits of greater weight loss but also improved body composition by targeting weight loss as body fat. This is crucial since high body fat slows down your metabolism. You do not want to lose muscle since muscle is your most metabolically-active tissue and dictates your metabolism. In conventional calorie-restricted weight loss plans, while some muscle and fat may be lost, the body tries to preserve more fat stores and utilize more muscle for energy. Studies have shown that if you are on a calorie-restricted diet, your muscle loss can be even higher than 30 percent! And, what's even worse is that when you go off the diet, even if you are eating well, you are doomed to gain the weight back as fat. The only way you can gain the weight back as muscle is if you cross train and engage in regular aerobic exercise and strength training.
Beyond its effectiveness to replace traditional weight loss plans, a low GI diet also helps to lower cholesterol and bad low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and several studies have shown that low glycemic index diets also improve blood sugar control - most notably in those with type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. The World Health Organization and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations both recommend low glycemic index eating to treat and prevent diseases of Western civilization - obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Are Low GI Weight Loss Plans Suitable for Children?
Eating low GI is nothing new - each and every one of our ancestors consumed a low GI diet. It is the way that we are genetically engineered to eat. Children need to consume low GI diets as well. Studies have shown that high GI foods - in particular, beverages like soda - may cause severe behavioral changes. In one study, teachers were asked to rate the behavior of grade school children. The teachers did not know which days the children were given the sweetened beverage. On the days the children drank the sweetened beverage, their behavior was rated 300 times worse by their teachers! High GI diets have been linked to cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and other diseases of aging - even in children and adolescents. Even our pets are affected by eating high GI diets when we feed them food that they should not be eating from the table. Your pet will also get fat and will most likely experience diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other illness - just like a human.
Get off the diet roller coaster and kick calorie-restricted weight loss plans for good by adopting a healthy lifestyle that includes a low GI diet and regular exercise. It's important for you, your family members and your loved ones. You'll find that in no time you'll be on the right path for not only losing weight, but also looking and feeling great.
Shari Lieberman, PhD is the Founding Dean of New York Chiropractic College's Master of Science Degree in Applied Clinical Nutrition; an industry consultant; a peer reviewer for scientific publications; and a published scientific researcher. Dr. Lieberman is a frequent guest on television and radio and her name is often seen in magazines as an authority on nutrition. She has been in private practice as a clinical nutritionist for more than 20 years. Dr. Shari Lieberman has partnered with Market America to develop the Transitions Lifestyle System. She can be reached via email through Market America at firstname.lastname@example.org.