Combining Fasting With Low Glycaemic Load (GL) Eating


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.


HighBreakfast 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.


HighAll white or highly processed breads.

Low – Soya and Linseed bread (Burgen), Pumpernickel, Sourdough Rye, Stoneground Wholemeal Pitta, Stoneground Wholemeal Wraps.

Potatoes, Rice and Pasta:

HighLarge 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.


HighWhite 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,


Blogging my journey at

Twitter: @thePRIMALme

You can also find fellow fasters @FeedFastFeast and also in the Facebook Group


4 responses to “Combining Fasting With Low Glycaemic Load (GL) Eating

  1. Started the 5:2 IF diet 2 weeks ago and lost 4lbs already, well impressed. I don’t expect to lose this much every week but I’ve got to admit its a great start. Because I have limited calories only 2 days a week I think I’ll be able to stick at this one. My problem with other diets has always been the unsociable element where you can’t eat or drink certain things when you are in company. Not thought about the GI side of things until reading your article but feel really well so far so hopefully this will become a regular way of life 🙂

    • That is great progress :o)
      I agree, this is much easier to fit into real life than a conventional ‘diet’.
      I’m sure you’ll continue to progress. Especially if you take I I consideration some of the low GL principles and add (or continue) exercise. Best of luck :o)

  2. I watched the PBS show on fasting and diet as it relates to cell repair and better health. It was quite interesting and makes sense.
    One important thing to consider is that these recommend ways of eating/diet are not necessarily for weight loss. The goal is not really weight loss, it is to eat a diet that effectively allows your body to repair your cell and it’s structure rather than to continually replace cells by building new ones. When the body creates a replacement cell that’s when DNA damage can occur and can lead to cancers, which are cells that did not reproduce properly as the DNA was damaged. Thus, the DNA code was corrupted during the cell replacement. By eating more plant based foods with less protein in the diet the body then goes into a cell REBUILD mode instead of a cell replace mode. With rebuilding the cell retains it’s DNA structure and simply becomes updated, refreshed rather than replaced allowing the “old” cell to die. This then keeps the total organism in better general health.

    Very intriguing stuff. So, today I started my 4 day fast. I will then begin a fast and feed regime on the 5th day, starting with only 500-600 calories of mostly plant food, then eat a moderate diet on the feed days.
    Yes, I want and need to lose a good amount of weight. But, the more important aspect of this way of eating/diet is to allow my body to get to it’s better balanced level, which should by it’s nature result in weight loss to get to a healthier state.
    That’s why I think this better way of eating/diet shouldn’t be promoted as a weight loss “diet”, as many people will simply say they don’t need to lose weight so why bother doing this. The reason for doing this is not just to lose weight. This way of eating/diet is for everybody to become healthier as it puts your body into a cell repair and maintenance mode rather than a cell replacement mode, and that then allows you to be healthier and potentially live longer.

    Seems there is good research into these diets where other mammals have been tested on these diets and have shown longer life spans and healthier condition. So, “diets” like the Atkins diet is counter to healthier and longer life as it relies much too much on protein, which triggers the body to replace cells rather than repair cells.
    For us it seems healthy cell maintenance is vital and key to a healthier state and for potentially longer and healthier life.
    I’m looking positively forward to seeing how this new way of eating will work. 🙂

    • I couldn’t agree more. In fact it is the scientific aspect of cell repair rather than weight loss alone that we constantly push as the main message in our Facebook group – FeedFastFeast: Intermittent Fasting.

      While we obviously offer support to those members that are looking for weight loss alone, we actively encourage discussion about the health benefits as not all of our members are trying to lose weight.

      Unlike other (larger) groups that are pushing the popular 5:2 or ‘fast diet’ our group are encouraging members to view this as a lifestyle change through a variety of different fasting protocols rather than a short term fix for weight loss. If you’re not already a member then I encourage you to join. The more scientific, evidence based our conversations are the better :o)

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