Have you ever heard the expression "great bodies are made in the kitchen, not the gym"? There's definitely an element of truth to this, because no matter how hard you work out, it takes a good diet to uncover those toned muscles and give you the silhouette you're after. Here at Health & Fitness Together, we teach our clients how to follow a "low GL" diet. When combined with the right exercise programme, it gets amazing results every single time.
What Is a Low GL Diet, and How Does It Work?
"GL" stands for glycemic load, which is simply a measurement of how a particular food or meal will impact your blood sugar levels. It's based on the amount of carbohydrates (sugar and starch) in foods, and how they impact the body. When you consume carbohydrates, they are digested and broken down into glucose. This makes its way into your blood stream to be used as energy. Any excess glucose you don't burn off through normal bodily functions or exercise is then stored away as fat.
High GL foods will have a greater effect on your blood sugar, because they release more glucose. This is fine if you're about to work out or you have a very physically demanding job. But for the vast majority of people, it's better to focus on eating low GL foods and keeping your blood sugar levels balanced. The average Western diet contains far too many high GL foods, which has led to an epidemic of weight gain and medical issues like diabetes. So we teach our clients how to follow a low GL diet and maintain balanced blood sugar levels, which makes for better health and more effective weight loss.
How to Do It
So now that you know what a low GL diet is all about, here are a few ways to reduce the glycemic load of the meals you eat:
- When it comes to starchy foods like bread, pasta, rice and potatoes, keep your portion sizes small.
- Instead, opt for more low GL fruit and veggies with your meals. Cook the veggies for the minimum amount of time, or as close to raw as possible for the dish you're preparing.
- Pulses and legumes have a low glycemic load and plenty of fibre, so include peas, beans and lentils in place of rice or pasta.
- Make sure to include a healthy source of protein such as lean meat, fish, poultry, eggs or low-fat dairy with every meal.
- You can further reduce the glycemic load of your meals by adding acidic condiments like vinegar, lemon juice or pickles, or by adding a small amount of healthy fat like olive oil, parmesan cheese or low-fat cream.
- Choose healthy snacks like nuts, seeds, dried fruit or a little dark chocolate rather than sweets, crisps, cakes and biscuits made from sugar and refined flour. Try to pair carbohydrates with some protein whenever possible (e.g. have a few almonds with your apple rather than just eating the fruit by itself).