Many individuals are of the belief that constant overeating is the cause of weight gain. Although excessive caloric intake can be to blame, spikes in insulin are one of the main causes of obesity. Foods high on the glycemic index are known to raise insulin levels and pack on excess pounds. Foods that are low on the glycemic cause a gradual increase in insulin, providing you with more sustained energy without retaining fat.
What is the glycemic index?
The glycemic index is a way of measuring how fast your body digests food and turns it into glucose, which raises blood glucose (sugar) levels. It is useful when evaluating the amount of carbohydrates in a food, and how quickly the glucose they contain will enter the bloodstream.
What is wrong with consuming high glycemic index foods?
Because foods high on the glycemic index cause a sudden spike in blood sugar levels, they can give you a rapid surge of energy. This is counteracted by an overproduction of insulin in an attempt to remove the excess sugar from the blood, resulting in a ‘sugar crash’.
This fluctuation in blood glucose levels promotes overeating, leading to obesity. Other symptoms associated with fluctuation in blood sugar levels are hypertension, mood changes and an increase in LDL cholesterol. Health experts have labeled this group of symptoms as ‘syndrome X’.
How the glycemic index affects obesity and weight loss
Studies have shown that caloric intake can increase up to 53% after consuming a meal consisting of moderately high glycemic index foods. Consuming a meal consisting primarily of high glycemic index foods can increase caloric intake by 81% percent.
Because numerous studies have shown the effect of high glycemic index foods and obesity, low carbohydrate diets are more popular now than ever. Although these types of diets work for short-term weight loss, carbohydrates alone are not to blame. In fact, many fruits and vegetables contain high amounts of carbohydrates, but rank low on the glycemic index. Because they contain important minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and high amounts of fiber, these foods are beneficial for weight loss, although they are severely restricted on the low carbohydrate-type diets.
Make better dietary choices to prevent obesity
Instead of counting calories as your main source of weight control, try to choose foods that are low on the glycemic index. The body will absorb these foods more slowly, providing you with a greater sense of fullness and a more sustained level of energy. When cooking, choose oils that contain monounsaturated fats such as olive oil. Eat fatty fish several times per week, such as salmon, which is high in omega-3 fatty acids. These are good fats, which have many health benefits. When choosing a carbohydrate source, pick fresh fruits and vegetables and avoid anything that contains refined sugars.
Weight loss is a little more complicated than calories in versus calories out. The quality of your food sources plays a critical role in healthy body weight. By choosing your foods carefully, you can obtain not only optimal health, but an optimal body weight as well.