Are you ready to hear the one lifestyle change I've made that has improved my energy levels more than any other? Hold on to your seats: It was switching over to a Low GI Diet.
Intro to Low GI Diet
Low GI (or Low Glycemic Index) is a diet that emphasizes eating foods that are low on the index and, even more importantly, avoiding foods that are high on the index.
The glycemic index rates foods from 0 to 100, with 100 being the highest and meaning it will spike your blood sugar levels the most. This is reserved for pure glucose.
The lower you go on the scale, the less effect the food will have on your blood sugar.
How It Can Benefit You
This is why sometimes after you eat a big meal you feel tired. This sleepy feeling will be even stronger if you eat a lot of sugar or carbohydrates in the meal.
Your blood sugar rises rapidly in response to the sugar and carb heavy meal. Next your body releases insulin to lower your blood sugar. Your blood sugar levels then plunge downwards, the perfect scenario for a nice afternoon nap.
Eating foods that are mainly low on the glycemic index reduces the up and down fluctuations in blood sugar that lead to that crashing feeling. Once I started paying attention to the foods I was eating and consciously making choices to avoid high GI foods, my energy levels throughout the day felt so much better.
I had steady energy and my mind was much clearer, the foggy feeling that I often have had faded. Many others have also experienced the same thing, and the science backs up why this is happening.
Over time, insulin resistance can eventually lead to type 2 diabetes, among other health problems. Minimizing the amount your blood sugar fluctuates is one of the best things you can do for proper energy levels throughout the day.
Foods to Eat in Low GI
So you might be asking yourself, what foods should I eat that are low on the glycemic index? While the exact answer is somewhat complicated due to the way the scale works, there are some basic principles and foods you can easily implement in your diet.
I wouldn't recommend going to crazy trying to find low GI foods, but instead stick to these principles and try not to eat high GI foods.
At its core, the Low GI diet is generally high in good carbohydrates (such as vegetables, fruits and whole grain) and low in bad carbs (such as cakes, cookies, etc).
Here is a list of Low GI foods, which will give you a better idea on what you want to be eating most days:
• Non-Starchy Vegetables (lettuce, leafy greens, broccoli, spinach, etc)
• Nuts and Seeds
• Beans and Legumes
• Yogurt, Fermented Foods (unsweetened yogurt, raw whole milk)
• Whole Grains (Steel cut oats, brown rice, whole-wheat pasta)
• Fresh Fruit
• Healthy Fats
• Good Quality Protein (salmon, free range eggs, lamb)
• Acidic Foods (Vinegar, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice)
Foods Not to Eat
• Refined Grains
• Processed Foods
• Dried Fruits (like raisins, craisins, dates)
• Starchy Vegetables (Potatoes, winter squash)
• Fast food and fried foods
Complexity of GI Diet
Implementing the Low GI diet exactly can be quite tough in practice. Some books will tell you that carrots are safe, while others will say to avoid carrots because they spike your blood sugar too much. I say don't get too bogged down in the specifics.
Avoid refined grains, processed foods, foods and drinks high in sugar and fast food. Focus on eating whole grains, high quality proteins and healthy fats. Try paying attention to how your body reacts when you eat certain foods.
You can also try keeping a journal where you can record how you feel after certain meals to get an idea of what foods work for you and what foods don't.
Overall, focusing on eating a Low GI diet has done WONDERS for my energy. Most days I no longer need a mid-day siesta and my mind is clearer. Try this diet out for a week or two and let me know if you feel the same!
by Stephen Novak