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What is the Glycemic Index?
Carbohydrates behave differently in our body in the way they are able to raise blood sugar levels. The glycemic index ranks carbohydrates according to how high they raise blood sugar levels and their effect on insulin release on a scale of 0 to 100.
Foods with a high GI are those that are easily digested, absorbed and cause spikes in blood sugar levels. Low glycemic index carbohydrates produce small fluctuations in blood sugar and insulin levels because of their higher fiber content, so that they are not easily digested and absorbed.
A diet with 1000-calorie low glycemic index is therefore one which has a low calorie count (half the usual recommended calories in a diet) and where carbohydrate intake is limited to those with low glycemic index.
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What Are the Benefits and Risks of a 1000-Calorie Low Glycemic Index Diet?
For diabetics, this diet will help to prevent severe spikes in blood sugar levels, thus obtaining better control of diabetes. Unlike high-GI foods, a 1000-calorie low-glycemic index diet maintains a blood glucose level that is easily managed with less incidences of hyperglycemia (high blood sugar levels). It can also decrease insulin resistance and prevents excess insulin release in response to hyperglycemia.
Since you will be consuming foods that are low in calorie and high in fiber content, weight loss is an additional benefit. This diet plan consists of foods that can reduce feelings of hunger, delay the need for eating and decrease weight gain. With adequate control of appetite and a proper exercise plan, a diabetic will be able to lose weight while maintaining a balanced energy.
As a consequence, a low glycemic index diet can potentially decrease the risk of heart disease, hypertension and other chronic diseases related to high calorie, and high sugar content in the diet. Recent studies have shown that diets based on a low GI decrease the risk of diabetes type II and coronary heart disease.
Despite these advantages, caution must also be taken with regards to this diet. An abrupt change from one's usual caloric intake (2000 or more) down to a thousand calories may bring about feelings of weakness or tiredness which sometimes triggers an untrained individual to eat more eventually. Along with carbohydrates, calories coming from fat and proteins may be decreased to maintain a low calorie diet, so that in individual may suffer from nutritional deficits if not properly planned. Supplemental multivitamins and minerals may be needed to support nutritional needs.
Weight loss may not be sustained for a long time, since one does not continue to lose weight indefinitely; a plateau is reached when the body tries to conserve its energy when it senses that it needs to balance the loss. Thus weight reduction may slow down, especially when the individual feels tires or weak after a while. For this reason one is advised not to undertake this diet for long periods of time (up to one year only).
Some criticize this type of diet for diabetics because the switch from a high GI diet to low may “shock" the system initially and cause hypoglycemia or extremely low blood sugar levels. The brain, which is totally dependent on blood glucose, suffers and one may feel weak, tired, and dizzy or experience headaches. The pancreas may release glucagon, a hormone which increases sugar levels by causing the breakdown of glycogen (synthesized from fats and proteins in the liver) to produce more glucose. After a long time, ketones (from fat metabolism) may be produced and a complication called ketosis may result.
For these reasons, medical advice may be needed before following a 1000 calorie low glycemic diet, especially in diabetics.
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What Foods are Considered Low Glycemic Index?
On a scale of 0-100, low GI foods are those with a ranking of below 55, while medium GI foods are those that rank 55-69, and the rest are considered high GI foods. Examples of low GI foods are:
- Breads – pumpernickel, sour dough, and stone ground wheat breads
- Pasta – macaroni, spaghetti, meat ravioli, egg fettuccini
- Cereals – oatmeal, bran buds
- Fruits – grapes, apples, oranges
- Vegetables – broccoli, mushrooms, lettuce, onions, cabbage, peas, carrots
- Nuts – walnuts, cashew, peanuts
Following a 1000 calorie low glycemic diet is about balancing food portions to obtain a low calorie diet with low GI. Care must be taken to prevent complications with adequate consultation and information and avoiding too rapid weight reduction.
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All About Diabetes, “1000 Calorie Low Glycemic Index Diet" (accessed 11/19/10)
Mayo Clinic, "Glycemic index diet: Losing weight with blood sugar control" accessed 11/24/10