Low GI

Low GI diet

The GI (glycaemic index) of a food gives an indication of the effect of that food on blood glucose (sugar) levels. When we eat foods that contain carbohydrates (starches and sugars) the carboydrate is converted into glucose in the blood to give us energy. The body then produces insulin, which brings the blood glucose level back down.

The aim of a low GI diet is to avoid sharp and high rises and falls in blood sugar and insulin levels. This is done by choosing carbohydrate foods that break down slowly, releasing glucose gradually into the bloodstream.

A low GI diet can help you to feel fuller for longer and there is increasing evidence that low GI may provide a range of health benefits, including:

  • Weight loss
  • Prevention and control of diabetes
  • Reduction of cholesterol and prevention of heart disease
  • Control of symptoms of PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome)
  • Peak sports performance

 Simple swaps to lower the glycaemic index of your diet

Instead of…


Corn flakes, Rice Krispies, Special K


Porridge oats, Oatibix, All Bran, Bran flakes, oat-based low sugar cereals

White or brown bread, bagels or crackers

Oatcakes, wholegrain seeded or rye bread

Potatoes, rice, pizza, chips, flour

Basmati rice, pasta, buckwheat, bulgar wheat, pearl barley, sweet potato, oats

Cakes, sweets, biscuits, crisps, chocolate

Seeds, nuts, dark chocolate

Sugary drinks, beer

Diet/sugar-free drinks, red wine

Dates, raisins, mango, bananas and other tropical fruits

Berries, apples, pears, plums, apricots, peaches, oranges, all vegetables and salad

Ketchups, chinese sauces, apple/cranberry sauce, honey, syrup, sugar

Vinegar, mustard, lemon juice, Indian sauces / tomato-based pasta sauce, natural yogurt, herbs, spices, cinnamon

The quantity of carbohydrate consumed also influences the impact on blood sugar so keep to one small portion of starchy food per meal and one piece of fruit at a time.

Low GI foods

Low GI foods

The importance of protein in Low GI diet:

Protein lowers the GI of a meal and keeps you fuller for longer. Include some of these foods with every meal:

  • Meat, fish and eggs are protein-rich and GI-free as they little if any carbohydrate
  • Beans and lentils are low-GI, low-fat and great protein and fibre sources
  • Milk, cheese, low sugar yogurts and unsweetened soya alternatives are low GI

A well balanced Low Gi diet can provide a range of health benefits and be a great way of living.

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  • Reply
    April 8, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    I didnt know this so thought I would share….

    The glycemic index (GI) is whereby a numerical value is assigned to any food, drink, or other edible, that quantifies your body’s blood glucose response and fat-storing capacity.

    Glycemic testing is conducted by orally feeding human subjects the food or drink in question, and then analyzing subsequent blood glucose levels, insulin levels, and fat-storage markers at 15-minute intervals.

    .. interesting!

    • Reply
      April 8, 2009 at 4:44 pm

      Yeah, the science bit can get a bit confusing and you really need to consider Glycaemic Load (GL) as well as GI.
      The GI is assigned by comparing the effect on blood glucose of 50g glucose not with 50g of say carrots or potatoes but with the amount that provides 50g carbohydrate. So some high GI foods may not have too much effect on blood glucose (in normal portion sizes) because the amount of carbohydrate in the food is relatively low (eg watermelon, GI 72 but only 7g carbs per 100g). And even low GI pasta will bump up the blood sugar if you eat a huge plateful.
      My advice would be choose the lower GI options where you can but also watch the portion size of sugary and starchy carbs.

  • Reply
    Louise Taylor
    April 8, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    This is brilliant. It ties in with the GI advice I got from my midwife who speciaises in diabetes in pregnancy (type 2) but it gives me some more detail and ideas of what to fill up on as the advice I had was a bit brief. Also interesting about controlling the peaks and troughs – this morning I had 2 bits of fruit together – now I know that it’s fine to have it but better to space them out which makes sense. Thanks Laura!

    • Reply
      April 8, 2009 at 6:02 pm

      Thanks Louise, glad you found it useful. Grazing is a good way to go! All the best for the birth x

  • Reply
    August 17, 2009 at 4:05 am

    hey u know what, when I practice Low GI, I lose 18kg in 2 months, its really great, This low GI was promoted by my doctor as I am overweight. From 135kg, I manage to decrease it to 117kg and keep on decreasing. I feel lot more confidence now.

  • Reply
    March 24, 2014 at 10:13 pm

    Hi I’m new to the low GI lifestyle but I know that other country’s such as the US AND Australia specifically have food packages in the supermarkets with the low GI symbol on them ( from Facebook group for low GI recipes), but does the UK supermarkets have this? and if so are there specific products any one would recommend. Thank you

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