Glycemic Index Diet

glycemic index diet

It seems there is always something “revolutionary” when it comes to weight loss. Over the past 6 months, the buzz surrounding the Glycemic Index (or Gylcaemic Index in the UK) has grown unabated.

This large piece in the Health Telegraph is calling the GI “the new Atkins”:

Unlike the Atkins, the cabbage soup and all the other diet crazes that have come and gone over the past decade or so, the GI has the thumbs-up from the medical establishment as well as the fashion pack.

It’s intriguing really. The South Beach Diet (bestseller, released in April 2003) is based on the GI, and so is the pre-packaged weight loss program NutriSystem. For some reason (unknown to me) the GI has suddenly become fashionable.

I remain unconvinced. The GI is very useful in determining potential insulin response from various carbohydrates – and is particularly helpful for diabetics and other blood sugar issues (such as hypoglycemia). However once again we see a great and useful concept marketed as the panacea for all weight loss. The GI has been packaged together and called a “diet”. It now has a number of incarnations and versions – (such as the Glycemic Impact Diet and The Holford Diet).

A Sample of the GI Diet

Rick Gallop’s “The GI Diet” is one version of a glycemic index based diet. He splits food into 3 groups:


(eat freely)

Bakery: 100 per cent stoneground wholemeal bread; wholegrain, high-fibre breads (about 3g of fibre per slice)

Fish: all fresh fish; fish tinned in water; sashimi; smoked fish; squid; mussels; oysters; prawns; lobster; fresh crab; fresh clams

Meat: lean minced beef; back bacon; lean deli ham; tenderloin; chicken, game or turkey breast without skin; veal; venison

Pasta: all unadorned pasta – wholemeal is even better

Grains: barley; basmati rice; brown rice; quinoa, buckwheat; bulgur wheat; wild rice

Fruit and vegetables: all fresh green vegetables; tomatoes; peppers; fresh peas; carrots; cauliflower; mushrooms; new potatoes; most fresh fruit

Dairy: skimmed milk; cottage cheese; non-fat yogurt

Drinks: water; decaffeinated coffee; diet soft drinks (without caffeine); light instant chocolate; weak tea

Also: tinned tomatoes, tomato puree; dried beans; low-fat baked beans; tinned chick peas; tinned butter beans; vinegar; olive oil; low-fat low sugar dressings; olives; hummus


(very limited quantities)

Bakery: wholemeal pitta bread; rye bread; sourdough; thin wholemeal pizza crust; wholegrain breads

Fish: salt cod; seafood salads

Meat: sirloin beef; fresh ham; pork shank; roast or casseroled chicken or turkey; turkey bacon; lamb loin chops

Pasta: rice noodles; basil pesto

Fruit and veg: artichokes; corn; beetroot; pumpkin; squash; sweet potatoes; apricots; bananas; mango; pineapple

Drinks: most unsweetened juice; non-alcoholic beer; vegetable juices; diet soft drinks with caffeine

Dairy: one per cent fat milk; low-fat cream cheese; low-fat cheese; low-fat mozzarella; soya cheese

Also: most tinned vegetables; sesame oil; vegetable oil; sunflower oil


(avoid these)

Bakery: bagels; baguette; croissants; crumpets; white bread

Fish: breaded fish or seafood; seafood pate

Meat: sausages; beef on the bone; streaky bacon; spare ribs; duck; goose; offal

Pasta: pasta filled with meat or cheese; pasta sauces with added sugar; cream sauces

Grains: arborio rice; millet; instant rice

Vegetables: broad beans; parsnips; swede; turnips; mashed or baked potatoes; melons, including watermelon; tinned peas

Dairy: cream; full-fat milk; goats’ milk; rice milk; most cheese; full-fat yogurt; sour cream

Drinks: all sweetened drinks; coffee; alcohol; sports drinks; tonic water; watermelon juice