Health: GI Diet Craze Hits UK, Backed by Tesco

Sugar is bad. Your dentist will tell you that and a host of slimming 'gurus' will back that up. But judging by all the 'bad press' glucose has been getting recently, you'd think the pioneers of the new GI ('Glycemic Index') diet had made a ground-breaking discovery. So it's out with the sugar and in with other 'carbohydrates', and to prove it, the GI sign has been popping up everywhere. GI diet books are selling by the truckload, while 'Tesco Supermarket' has set a precedent by producing its own book and re-labelling its food to show GI ratings. The craze is not restricted to the UK. Mr.Rick Gallop's 'GI Diet' has sold 600_000 copies and been translated into 12 different languages. It remains on the bestseller lists in Australia, New_Zealand and Canada as well as in Britain. Yet there really is nothing surprising about the science behind this phenomenon; it prescribes a balanced diet whereby we watch our intake of the sugary stuff. This means cutting back on white bread and rice and instead filling up on 'wholegrains' and 'greens'. In other words, eat sensibly. So, what is all the fuss about? Part of it is 'Atkins' fatigue. Sick of the 'low-carb' phenomenon, with its harsh restrictions on bread, pasta and rice, dieters have been searching for something new, and preferably something that doesn't require them to eat bacon and eggs three times a day. The sensible and seemingly straightforward GI diet is the antidote to its predecessor's radical and revolutionary approach. GI allows three meals a day, takes puddings off the banned list and has a mumsy, nurturing feel. No wonder it's caught on. It also works. An animal study published in 'The Lancet' 2004-08 found that a 'Low Glycemic Index' diet can lead to weight loss, as well as reducing the risk of developing 'diabetes' and 'cardiovascular' disease. But forget the science bit. What weight-loss fanatics want from their diet is celebrity endorsement, and this diet has it in spades. Pop singer Ms.Kylie Minogue and North American Politicos, 'The Clintons', are all fans, as well as TV's 'Sex and the City' actress Ms.Kim Cattrall. But why now? Ms.Jennie Brand-Miller is the brains behind the GI brand and began research into it in Sydney more than ten years ago. But while the Australians are claiming it as their own, the 'Index' itself was created in 1981 by Mr.Jenkins, a nutrition professor at the North American University of Toronto. His findings were used to help people with 'diabetes' to regulate their 'blood sugar levels'. French diet 'guru' Mr.Michel Montignac picked up on this in his book 'Eat Yourself Slim' in 1986. His was the first book to advocate a diet based on cutting down on 'carbohydrate' content and avoiding sugar. Many slimming diets, including 'The South Beach Diet' and 'The Zone', have made use of the index in their plans, but it was Ms.Brand-Miller who made the term mainstream by calling her book 'The GI Factor' in 1996. Eight years and two million copies later, we Brits have finally 'hopped on the bandwagon'. In 2002, Mr.Rick Gallop, the former president of Canada's 'Heart and Stroke Foundation', decided to pen his own plan called 'The GI Diet' after he lost nearly 6.5_kg following GI principles. He believes this year is the first chance 'The GI Diet' has had the opportunity to come out from the shadow of 'Atkins's Diets' and make its mark.
'As unhappiness grew with the low-carb high-fat diet, there was a need for something new', he says. 'But it is more than that. There is a certain logic and simplicity to "The GI Diet" that people can understand and easily incorporate into their lives'.
Based on the speed at which it releases sugar into the bloodstream, 'The Glycemic Index' is rated out of 100. White bread is given a rating of 70 and white rice is 98, giving an almost instant sugar 'hit' or 'high'. However, the subsequent 'low' makes reaching for another snack an inevitability. In this way most people's blood sugar levels peak and trough precariously throughout the day. What bodies need are foods that provide a slow and steady supply of energy. Any food with a GI rating of 55 and under has been given the OK by GI 'gurus'. Wholemeal bread has a rating of 53 and porridge made with water is a healthy 44. In this way it's easy to stay satisfied for longer and dieters are less likely to snack. This will not give the drastic weight-loss results that come from eating nothing-but cabbage soup or grapefruits all day, but it will help slimmers to shed fat in a healthy and relatively pain-free way.
'All "diets" will help you lose weight', says Mr.Gallop. 'But most people break a "diet" because they feel deprived and hungry and thus give up. The magic of "The GI Diet" is that you will feel satiated, end up eating less, and lose weight'.
There are also important medical implications to the plan. A GI 'way of life' is said to prevent the onset of 'Type 2 diabetes' and heart disease. When we eat sugary foods the 'pancreas' produces 'insulin' to divert 'glucose' into our body tissues or convert it to fat. If we become so desensitised to these high levels of 'insulin' we can no longer fight these sugar 'rushes', we are then at risk of developing 'diabetes'. The lining of our 'blood vessels' are also sensitive to high levels of 'glucose' and can become inflamed if we eat too much. In this way the walls of our 'arteries' can thicken and the risk of heart disease may increase.
These health benefits, as well as the promise of weight loss, have made dieticians welcome GI to these shores. Nutrition coach Ms.Kate Cook is one of them.
'It is not a revolutionary or -- controversial -- thing at all; it is just common sense', she says. 'I have been eating according to low GI principles for years. 'It is not just a "diet", it is a "way of eating for life" -- you'll never have to worry about your weight ever again'.
Read up on the 'rules' some more, however, and certain discrepancies do present themselves; the nutrient content of the food you eat can affect its 'GI value'. So crisps, which contain a lot of fat, have a low GI value because fat slows down the absorption rate of the potato. A baked potato, on the other hand, is out of bounds. The way you cook your food can also upset good intentions: a raw carrot has a relatively low GI but, once cooked, making it more readily digested, it has a high value. In terms of GI it is actually worse for you than chocolate. But Ms.Cook says that these points just make the whole issue more complicated than it needs to be:
'A carrot has got a bad press for having a high 'Glycemic Index' score, but it is just a humble carrot for goodness' sake. 'There is no need to read too much into the small print and start to get hung up about how to cook a carrot. 'It is a totally sensible way of eating and it is what people should be doing. 'Just remember high GI food is sweet stuff like orange juice and croissants. 'Low' GI food that people should be eating is basically dense thick fibrous brown and green foodstuffs'.
To navigate away from the carrot argument, Mr.Gallop has devised a 'traffic light system' where foods are colour-coded red, orange and green: Taking the food's calorific and fat content into the equation as well as its 'Index' position, the 'red' foods are the ones we should avoid, 'orange' should be eaten in moderation, and 'green' is for go eat.
'All the maths is done for you -- it is really simple. You won't feel hungry and when you return to eating less strictly and consume more 'orange' foods you won't pile the weight back on, as long as you are careful', he says.
Currently spreading the GI word in America, he promises that if you follow the 'traffic lights' you will lose weight. So foolproof is his plan that 'Tesco Supermarket' want him to work on their own GI plan. For the first time in its history, the supermarket chain has endorsed a diet and re-labelled 1_000 of its products with a GI rating symbol. 'Marks & Spencer' has also given its approval by adding a GI label to their 'Count on Us' range.
'You need the "big heavies" to get involved to give the philosophy longevity', says Mr.Gallop. 'It has all the other components -- it works and it's healthy. "The GI Diet" is here to stay'.
A day on the GI diet
  • Breakfast: Porridge made with skimmed milk -- or muesli with yoghurt or skimmed milk.
  • Snack: An orange or apple
  • Lunch: Vegetable-based soup such as 'minestrone' or 'pea and ham' -- or a 'pitta bread' stuffed with tuna and salad
  • Snack: oatcakes with cottage cheese or a low-fat (or sugar-free) yoghurt
  • Dinner: Pasta with a tomato-based sauce or chicken 'stir-fry' with egg noodles. For dessert: apple crumble with an oat-based topping -- or a fruit salad.
  • There is no strict portion control, but if you pile your plate high don't be surprised when you don't lose weight. While eating things with a low GI Rating (less than 55) is advised, energy values should be taken into consideration too. Most GI Diet books advocate a low-fat diet as well.
  • Coffee should be avoided because it stimulates the appetite -- but tea is OK.
  • Fruit drinks are high in sugar and thus 'play havoc' with 'blood sugar levels' -- 'The GI Diet' advises eating the fruit instead and sipping on water.
  • Alcohol is a no-no, although not strictly forbidden, as it converts into sugar quickly and can have a destabilising affect on 'blood sugar levels'.
    'GI: over here, over hyped?', Jessica Kiddle, The Scotsman, 2005-01-12, We Previously on This Blog... Health: Laziness is Good For You 2005-01 Health & Gizmo: Diabetes Detect and Cure? 2004-12 Health & Stats: The New Polymeal 2004-12 Health & Stats: Cancer on the Increase 2004-12 Stats & Health: Chocs, Cakes, Fags & Booze Sales increase 2004-12 Health: An Unfit, Fat Future? 2004-12 Intolerance: The 'Fat-Hating' Culture 2004-12 Stats & Health: Supermarket Health Survey Science & Money: Legally, Food is Addictive 2004-11 Money: Managing your food budget Health: Natural Ways to Avoid 'Flu 2004-11 Health & Stats: Insomniacs tend to be Obese Stats & Health: The Future of Food 2004-11 Money: "Organic" Food Sales growing each week Intolerance & Health: The Eating Plan from God! 2004-05 Stats & Health: Grapefruit before every meal is Slimming 2004-01 Science: Best Type of Breakfast for Improving Reactions


    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    You have an unhealthy obsession with slimming Dave - are you overweight by any chance?

    1/13/2005 01:47:00 am  

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