Why Low GL?
There are a lot of reports in the media that intermittent fasting basically means that you can eat what you like on your feed days and still lose weight. While this may be true for some people it is also equally untrue for a lot of others and for those people they are going to have to consider ‘dieting’ of some description on feed days. Obviously because of the fasting, the calorie restriction on those days will not be as severe as a conventional daily calorie restricted diet. For some people though, the thought of doing anything that involves counting calories or ‘dieting’ fills them with dread. After all, didn’t they start fasting so that they wouldn’t have to do that any more? Well I have a couple of suggestions.
The first is that (at the time of writing this) there is only one fasting protocol where you can eat what you like and still lose weight and gain all of the health benefits associated with fasting. That protocol is alternate day fasting (ADF). In essence you eat what you like one day and then the next day you eat one meal (500Kcal for a woman, 600Kcal for a man) between 12pm and 2pm. If that sounds like something that suits you then fire away, there’s your answer.
If that sounds like it’s too intrusive on your lifestyle and that you prefer to have more regular feed days, as is the case with a 5:2 protocol, then I have a solution for you as well. Combine your fasting protocol with a low Glycaemic Load (GL) diet. The reason this makes sense is that both the fasting and the low GL promote weight loss by suppressing insulin levels in the body, allowing the increase in hormone sensitive lipase which mobilises fat deposits and triggers your body to burn them as fuel. Excess insulin levels shut down the bodies production of hormone sensitive lipase and fat burning stops. While there is a lot of truth in that old mantra “calories in versus calories out” the truth is that if insulin levels are too high it is possible to eat a calorie deficit and still not lose any weight.
What is Low GL?
Let’s start by saying what low GL is not. Low GL is NOT low Glycaemic Index (GI). There is a fundamental difference between the two because one (the GI) is purely a scientific database of a set amount of foods effect on blood sugar and the other (GL) look specifically at what effect a portion of food that you eat has. It doesn’t sound like a big difference but it is because whereas the Glycaemic Index would probably make you want to eat less carrots and watermelon, the GL (because it takes into account portion size) allowa the consumption of carrots because when you look at how much you actually eat, the Glycaemic Loading is actually low.
What does it mean though, high GL, Low GL? Well, all foods that contain carbohydrates have an effect on your blood sugar levels. What the GI index tells us is that not all carbohydrates are absorbed by the body in the same way. Some are broken down more slowly than others. What the index doesn’t tell us is how much carbohydrate is actually in a food, this is where the Glycaemic Load helps. The GL of a food is calculated by taking the GI and the carbohydrate content of a portion and using some fancy mathematics comes up with a number.
A food that has a GL score of 10 and under is Low
A food that has a GL score of 11 – 19 is Moderate
A food that has a GL of over 20 is High
In terms of weight loss you want to aiming to have a daily GL score of below 80. A moderate score would be between 80 – 120 for a day whereas 120+ is HIGH!
Do you want to know one of the best things? You don’t have to remember any of that at all. There is no number crunching or calorie counting on the low GL diet. Once you have got used to looking at recommended portion sizes, you will instinctively begin to know how much of a food to have with each meal. No more weighing out portions, you will have the confidence to do it visually. Once it becomes second nature you will be able to take a lot of your favourite recipes and swap high GL ingredients for low GL ingredients and still enjoy the food that you love. Guilt free.
Swapping High GL For Low GL Food (courtesy of The GL Diet Made Easy – Nigel Denby)
Here are some examples of swaps that can be made between high and low GL foods.
High – Breakfast cereals that have honey, chocolate or sugar coatings. Also watch out for ‘healthy’ mueslis that have added sugar. Check the ingredients list.
Low – Porridge Oats. Real oats, not the highly processed instant oats. No added sugar bran flakes (or sticks). Make your breakfast more interesting by adding some chopped fresh fruit and sugar free natural yoghurt.
High – All white or highly processed breads.
Low – Soya and Linseed bread (Burgen), Pumpernickel, Sourdough Rye, Stoneground Wholemeal Pitta, Stoneground Wholemeal Wraps.
Potatoes, Rice and Pasta:
High – Large white potatoes, White rice, White pasta.
Low – Baby new potatoes, Sweet potatoes, Yams, Beans and Pulses, Low GL Veggies, Wild Rice, Brown Rice, Chickpea Pasta, Wholewheat Pasta.
High – White Crackers, Corn Crispbreads, Rice Cakes, Ripe Fruit, Milk Chocolate
Low – Rye Crispbreads (Ryvita), Sugar Free Oatcakes, Firm less ripe fruit (Berries are the lowest GL), Dark Chocolate with 70%+ cocoa content.
List of Low GL Foods (per portion):
All Meat, Fish and Dairy are zero GL. Agave Syrup (10g), Apple Juice (125ml), Artichoke (80g), Asparagus (80g), Aubergine (80g), Avocado (80g).
Baked Beans (80g), Banana (60g), Bean Sprouts (80g), Beetroot (80g), Blackberries (120g), Black-Eyed Beans (80g), Blueberries (120g), Blueberry Juice (125ml), Broad Beans (80g), Broccoli (80g), Brown Rice (75g), Brussels Sprouts (80g), Buckwheat Kasha (cooked weight) (100g), Bulgur Wheat (cooked weight) (100g), Butter (20g).
Cabbage (80g), Carrot Juice (125ml), Carrots (80g), Cashew Nuts (50g), Cauliflower (80g), Celeriac (80g), Celery (80g), Chana Dal (80g), Cherries (120g), Chickpeas (80g), Chicory (80g), Chocolate (70%+) (2 squares), Coleslaw (1 tbsp.), Collard Greens (80g), Courgettes (80g),, Couscous (cooked weight) (100g), Cranberry Juice (125ml), Cream (1tbsp), Crème Fraiche (1tbsp), Cucumber (80g).
Dark Swiss Rye Bread (30g), Diet Drinks (one can/small bottle), Dried Apple (60g), Dried Apricot (60g), Dried Peach (60g), Dried Prunes (60g), Dried Berries (60g).
Eggs (zero GL), Endive (80g).
Falafel (100g), Fettucine (egg pasta) (100g), Figs (fresh) (120g), Flaxseeds (50g), Fructose (10g), Fruits (vast majority are low GL. Berries are lowest), Fruit Tea.
Garlic (as much as you want!), Grapefruit (125g), Grapefruit Juice (125ml), Grapes (120g), Guacamole (1tbsp).
Haricot Beans (80g), Hazelnuts (50g), Hemp Seeds (50g), Herbal Tea (knock yourself out), Herbs and Spices (unlimited), Honey (25g), Houmous (4tbsp).
Ice Cream (50g)
Jam (reduced sugar) (30g)
Kale (80g), Kidney Beans (80g), Kiwis (120g), Kohlrabi (80g).
Leeks (80g), Lemons (1), Lentils (80g), Lettuce (80g), Lima Beans (80g), Limes (1), Linseeds (50g).
Macadamia Nuts (50g), Mandarins (120g), Mangetout (80g), Mangoes (120g), Maple Syrup (25g), Mayonnaise (1tbsp), Melons (120g), Muesli (sugar free) (30g), Mung Bean Noodles (dried) (100g), Mung Beans (80g), Mushrooms (80g).
Nectarines (120g), Nuts (low GL but very calorific so be careful!)
Oat Bran (raw) (10g), Oat Bran and Honey Bread (30g), Oatcakes (30g), Okra (80g), Olive Oil (1tbsp), Olives (80g), Onions (80g), Orange Juice (125ml), Oranges (120g)
Papaya (120g), Parsnips (80g), Pasta (wholewheat) (dried) (50g), Peaches (120g), Peanuts (50g), Pearl Barley (cooked) (100g), Pears (120g), Peas (80g), Peas (marrowfat) (80g), peas (split) (80g), Pecans (50g), Peppers (80g), Pine Nuts (50g), Pineapple Juice (125ml), Pineapples (120g), Pinto Beans (80g), Pistachio Nuts (50g), Plums (120g), Pomegranite Juice (125ml), Popcorn (plain, microwaved) (20g), Porridge Oats (dry) (30g), Potatoes (baby new) (80g), Prunes (pitted) (60g), Pumpkin (80g), Pumpkin Seeds (50g),
Quinoa (dry weight) (100g)
Radicchio (80g), Radishes (80g), Raspberries (120g), Rhubarb (120g), Rice (Brown or wild) (dry) (75g), Rice Noodles (100g), Runner Beans (80g), Rye Crackers (30g).
Sauerkraut (80g), Spring Onions (80g), Semolina (steamed) (100g), Soba (buckwheat) Noodles (100g), Sour Cream (1tbsp), Sourdough rye Bread (30g), Spaghetti Wholemeal (dry) (50g), Spinach (80g), Squash (all varieties) (80g), Strawberries (120g), Sunflower Seeds (50g), Swede (80g), Sweet potato (80g), Sweetcorn (80g), Swiss Chard (80g).
Tabbouleh (50g), Tangerines (120g), Tinned Vegetables (no added sugar), Tomato Juice (125ml), Tomatoes (80g), Turnips (80g), Tzatziki 1tbsp).
Ugli Fruit (120g)
Vegetables (almost all veg is low GL)
Walnuts (50g), Watercress (80g), Watercress Sauce (2-3tbsp), Watermelon (120g), Wholegrain Bread (30g), Wholemeal Pitta (30g), Wholemeal Rye Bread (30g), Wild Rice (75g).
By basing your meals using some of the foods listed above you will help to control your insulin levels and maximise your bodies ability to burn fat. This post is obviously jut a snippet to give you a taste (excuse the pun) of what low GL eating is all about. For more information I highly recommend that you look for books by Nigel Denby and Patrick Holford.
I hope that this has been of some use to you 🙂
All the best,