The GI Diet – Do You Want To Be Fighting Fit?

December 13, 2008 by  
Filed under Diet Reviews

Countless people, no doubt, have heard of the GI diet and assumed it has something to do with GI Joe, the fictitious American soldier of television cartoon fame – or less flippantly but still inaccurately they imagine it has some connection with the American troops of World War II, where the abbreviation “GI” stands for either Government Issue, General Infantryman or Galvanised Iron depending on whom you listen to. This is a common misconception, but a misconception nonetheless. The term GI in reference to a diet applies to the “Glycaemic Index” of different foods, and the theory that judging foods by their Glycaemic Index can allow the dieter to lose weight and live a more healthy life.

A food with a high GI will break down very quickly in the digestive system, as a result releasing glucose into the bloodstream and providing what is commonly known as a “sugar rush” – a short-term boost that will give a person a sense of energy and well-being. A low GI means that a food will break down slowly, giving slow-release sustained energy throughout the day, and will therefore not have the common “crash” effect present when a sugar rush expires and leaves the person with an energy debt, feeling shaken, tired and often depressed.

The GI diet was developed by research scientist Dr. David Jenkins nearly 30 years ago at the University of Toronto, and came about as a result of a study into which foods would help diabetics control their blood sugar level. The Glycaemic Index is concerned with how quickly the energy is released into the body, and the higher GI a food has, the quicker it is broken down in the digestive system. Thus a food with a low GI is considered a good thing.

Foods with high GI include corn flakes, croissants and white bread – traditionally breakfast foods which are considered to kick-start a person’s metabolism. Adherents to the GI diet point out that these foods may get the day off to an energetic start, but are partially responsible for a mid-morning “crash” which can leave you hanging on waiting up to two hours for lunch to top up your energy levels. It is generally held that a better option is to eat fruit or grainy breads for breakfast, as their lower GI will keep a steady level of energy going for most of the day.

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