Low Glycemic Gotchas

When I started this latest and (frankly) greatest diet two hundred and seventy days ago, the whole idea wasn’t so much to lose weight as it was avoiding diabetes. I’ve been voluntarily taking my own blood sugar readings for a while now and when I hit the number pictured here, I knew it was time to do something.

After having tried many different diet plans, I knew I really needed something different this time. So I did two things I’d never tried before: 1) I kept track of what I ate in a journal; and 2) I went with a low glycemic plan (due to the fact that blood sugar levels were a big concern and also because it sounded cool).

A low glycemic diet is a lot like low carb, but you’re allowed to eat Twix candy bars. (In moderation, of course. No more than a dozen or so per day. (And yes, I’m kidding.)) The idea is that eating foods with low impact on your blood sugar levels is better than the opposite. The trick is figuring out which foods are which.

For example: which food do you think has the lower glycemic index (or “GI”): the aforementioned Twix bar or watermelon? No joke, folks, it actually is the Twix bar. So what gives? Well, “what gives” is the GI achilles heel: in order to do apples to apples comparison, the GI is calculated by giving people an amount of a food that delivers fifty grams of digestible carbs (meaning sugar and starches, but not fiber).

Therefore, to get 50g of digestible carbs out of a Twix, eat three-fourths of a large bar. To get that much out of watermelon, eat five cups of the stuff on a hot summer day. Ironic how making an apples to apples comparison results in something that looks like nothing of the sort.

Bottom line? Even though watermelon does indeed have a greater absolute impact on blood sugar levels, you’re probably not going to be eating it at those quantities.

So what’s a person to do with all this confusion information? Well, just do what’s never failed you: use your common sense.

Apple or birthday cake? See, it’s easier than you thought.

9 Responses to “Low Glycemic Gotchas”

Robina said
April 23, 2009 at 7:43 am

Here via Hallie at WwOW.

You should see me eat Watermelon sometime. Now, I am a person that could eat five cups!!! LOL But then I have to pee eveyr 15 minutes for the rest of the day.

    Charlie said
    April 23, 2009 at 7:52 am

    Welcome! And you’re probably not alone on the watermelon thing. Most people I know who like watermelon LOVE watermelon.

Helen said
April 23, 2009 at 8:23 am

My doc asked me to try a low glycemic diet a couple of years ago and so far, I’ve lost 40 lbs. It really does work for me but I happen to have common sense. When my boss saw my weight loss results, he had me buy him the book I used and explain it. Then he made his wife read the book so she could cook for him. (Notice he did not ever read it himself.) He has gained 40 lbs. Here is a typical conversation between us: “But you said, alcohol is low glycemic!” “Yes boss, but calories count too.” “BUT YOU SAID…(repeat)” “Yes, boss but you can’t eat 2000 calories of low glycemic food AND have 3 martinis everyday.” Sigh.

Biz said
April 23, 2009 at 9:26 am

Yep, it is still the calories that count most!

Before I was on insulin, my diet was about 85% lower GI foods – now insulin is my buddy and I can eat anything!

Which, is both good and bad! 😀

cloudy said
April 23, 2009 at 2:23 pm

I was put on this diet when I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes and I ended up losing weight WHILE PREGNANT. Now that I am no longer pregnant, I am trying the diet again because I don’t ever want to get regular diabetes.

Kelly said
April 23, 2009 at 2:31 pm

I’ve visited three times since Hallie sent me over…just to look at that picture, it cracks me up!

    Charlie said
    April 23, 2009 at 7:47 pm

    One of my sister’s favorites as well!

Sagan said
April 23, 2009 at 8:23 pm

Heh, I’ve always thought the low GI thing was interesting because of that and I’ve been skeptical of it. Parts of the concept are good, other parts I raise my eyebrows about.

Quix said
April 24, 2009 at 1:49 pm

I could totally get down with 5 cups of watermelon. But yes, I can see that most normal humans would probably see less of an impact from eating watermelon than twix. 😉