Ludwigs GI Pyramid

Its been a bank holiday weekend and I have well and truly forgot about work, (and healthy eating too I’m afraid). It was a great weekend an I camped out with a gang of girlie friends and was part of a festival my church run. It was a deep and beautiful weekend. The food was deep and meaningful too, chocolate muffins and too many biscuits. Only drinking our new Tiger cranberry and raspberry smoothies (which I am sending everyone as samples this week) made me feel more virtuous about our weekend diet.

But now its Tuesday morning, and I’ve discovered a little more on the GI trail.

(GI means the Glycemic index: An indicator of the ability of different types of foods that contain carbohydrate to raise the blood glucose levels within 2 hours. Foods containing carbohydrates that break down most quickly during digestion have the highest glycemic index. Also called the dietary glycemic index.)

today’s discoveries are the work of David S. Ludwig, MD, PhD, associate professor of pediatrics at Children’s Hospital, Boston. His work has been posted on and explains more about the types of foods advocated in the GI diet using a pyramid analogy – the a low-glycemic-load food pyramid:

At the bottom — the basis of the diet — are fruits and vegetables, cooked or served with healthful oils.
Next come reduced-fat dairy foods, lean meats and
fish, nuts, and beans.
Higher up — and meant to be eaten less frequently — come whole grains, unrefined grains and pastas.
At the top – to be eaten sparingly if at all – come refined grains, potatoes, and sweets.

Makes good sense to me, though I’d expected the whole grains to come a little lower down. (Secretly I think its a person thing – I’m willing them down the scale a little!)

Dr Ludwig conducted a small study putting with 23 obese 30-year-olds. 11 of these were trying out the “slow carb” GI method whilst 12 counterparts were trying more conventional low fat diets. The 11 who were watching their glycemic load lost more weight than the 12 who were watching fat and calorie intake. Interestingly they also lowered their risk of heart disease.

This sounds like my kind of diet – this is the run down –

Obese participants in the study were instructed to eat non-starchy vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, and dairy products. They were told to eat carbs with protein and healthful fat at every meal and snack. And they were told to eat until they were full and to snack when hungry.
Other obese study subjects were put on a traditional, low-fat/low-calorie diet. Both groups were asked to exercise regularly and were given lifestyle counseling.
“Those in the low-glycemic-diet group were told to eat as much as they wanted and to snack when hungry,” Ludwig says. “Yet after a year, they lost fully as much weight as those told to cut back on fat and to cut back on calories. But they did better in terms of heart disease
risk reduction.”

After 12 months on the diets, the slow-carb group lost 7.8% of their body weight compared with 6.1% in the low-fat-diet group.
Levels of
triglyceridesblood fats linked to heart disease — decreased much more in the slow-carb group. The levels were down 37% in the slow-carb group compared with 19% in the low-fat group.
Levels of a factor that increases blood clots – called plasminogen activator inhibitor – decreased by 39% in the slow-carb group but increased 33% among the low-fat dieters. Blood clots in the heart arteries are usually the cause of heart attacks.
The conclusion? Slow-Carb Diet, Not Low-Carb Diet.

So here are the tips from “The Low-GI diet revolution”

Aim to eat carbohydrates at every meal.
Aim for the low-GI breakfast cereals — oats, muesli, All-Bran.
Aim for heavy-grain breads, sourdough breads, and stone-ground breads.
Eat lots of legumes (even baked beans).
Don’t be afraid to eat pasta, Basmatti rice, or couscous.
Have two to three servings of low-fat dairy a day.
Eat nine servings of fruit and vegetables a day.
Don’t avoid any kind of fruit or vegetable except potatoes. Replace white potatoes with sweet potatoes, corn, and other
healthy foods.
Eat lean meat, fish, and chicken.

All links to GoodnessDirect site to help with your searching around the shops etc. Just get it delivered, that’s what I’m here for.

GI Diet

I received an e-newsletter yesterday which advocated “Fat is beautiful” and proceeded to extol the virtues of a little rolly polly to aid with some aspects of health. How’s that for flying in the face of what around 40% of women strive to attain?

It seems from where I sit in my office in the sky, that those of us who don’t need to loose much weight go diet crazy, whereas the more obese among us keep troughing the pastries, crisps and cream doughnuts and need a little more help with this. I suppose its keeping our eyes on health and wellness and ruling out obsession? None of us can argue with the heart disease mortality figures.

With all the interest around in weight loss and nutrition I have naturally been embroiled in several diet schemes which have hit the media – the Hamptons Diet, Southbeach, Gillian McKeith and Adios to name a few of the more recent ones which have passed my desk and been available from GoodnessDirect. But I must say I am rather taken by the GI (Glycemic Index) approach. This diet is based on the rate at which the food we consume converts and is taken into our blood stream as sugars. Glucose absorption (if that’s the right word) is taken as 100 and is used as the control and all other foods are given a number to rate it against this. The lower the number the better. Glucose being taken into our blood so quickly causes a sugar rush. Outwardly we may feel great for a short time, energy zoom, but this is short lived as inwardly our bodies release insulin to counteract this mass influx of sugars and try to calm it down (sorry for the lack for scientific lingo).
It succeeds and the result is that we feel flat and sluggish, maybe even depressed and need our next “fix”. More sugary foods – yum.

Foods with low GI rating on the other hand release the sugars into our blood streams more slowly – we don’t feel hungry so quickly – get it? It does make sense doesn’t it and there is more good news ‘cos the range of foods is massive, and there are more do’s than don’ts. There is plenty of information about GI and ratings and I am in the process of gleaning what I can to put on the GD website. I’m using the books written on the subject, plus the which gives loads of info and research done by Sydney University in Australia. They seem to be the leaders in the field at the moment with some quality info here. The testing done in the UK at Leatherhead to give foods their GI rating even uses the Sydney Uni methodology.

I’m in the process of creating a list of indicators for the products on the GoodnessDirect website, but if anyone out there has any authorative info on GI – I’m yer gal. All info appreciated, especially if you’re trying the diet.