We hear much about cutting out sugar and carbs, and while the benefits of doing so are regularly preached by those committed to these dietary regimes, it appears that a number of health benefits are achieved by simply cutting back on carbs rather than cutting them out entirely. Recent research by Tuffs University published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has found that simply reducing the glycaemic load of the diet, by controlling the intake of processed carbohydrates and sugars was a powerful predictor of weight loss over a 16 year dietary trial. Such results suggest that when it comes to carbs it is all about the quality of the carbs we are eating on a daily basis which can be qualified by our overall glycaemic load. Most importantly, it is not that difficult to achieve a lower glycaemic load, even when we are regularly consuming many of our favourite foods.
The glycaemic load of the diet is based on the total amount of carbohydrate consumed; how quickly or slowly these carbohydrates are digested as well as how much protein is consumed. Rapidly digested, high carb foods such as white bread increase our glycaemic load, while low carb, protein rich food and slowly digested lower carb foods such as lower carb bread help to reduce it. Assessing the quality of the diet according to its glycaemic load takes into account the entire dietary intake patterns rather than isolating individual foods and labelling them as ‘good’ or ‘poor’ choices. So before you feel the need to get your calculator out, here are the easiest ways you can reduce the glycaemic load of your own diet to help support long term weight control.
1. Swap to lower carb bread
Regular large slices of sliced bread or Turkish loaves can contain as much as 50-60g of carbohydrates per serve compared to just 20g for lower carb loaves.
2. Eat carb rich foods and protein food together
Greek yoghurt and fruit; eggs on wholegrain toast or cheese and wholegrain crackers – a mix of carbs and protein helps to control the release of the hormone insulin and reduce the overall glycaemic load of the meal or snack.
3. Avoid high carb snacks
Rice crackers, banana bread, fruit juices and dried fruit are all snacks that contain refined grains; white flour and / or concentrated sugars which bump up the glycaemic load of the diet significantly.
4. Watch the serves of grains
Brown rice, quinoa, pasta and oats all contain a number of positive nutritional properties but they are also all relatively high carbohydrate foods – for example, a single cup of brown rice contains as much as 40g of total carbohydrate or the equivalent of 3-4 slices of bread. These foods are nutritious but keep your portions to just 1/2 – 3/4 cup cooked a=to help control your glycaemic load.
5. Use your dairy
Whether it is cheese as an after dinner snack; yoghurt with a small serve of breakfast cereal in the morning or milk with your coffee, the study found a positive association with the regular consumption of full cream dairy over time. This effect could be due to the fact that dairy food, thanks to its high protein and nutrient content helps to reduce the glycaemic load of the diet.
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