Study: Low-Glycemic Diet Helpful in Maintaining Weight Loss

Dorian Martin Health Guide
  • For many people who want to lose weight, the finish line consists of finally seeing a specific number show up on the scale one day. However, in their efforts to reach that goal, these people may neglect thinking about how they’re going to maintain that lower weight. New research from Boston Children’s Hospital offers some insights into how these people should eat once they reach their goal weight.


    This four-year study involved 21 adults between the ages of 18-40 who were overweight or obese. The participants were asked to participate in an initial diet that caused them to lose between 10 percent and 15 percent of their body weight. After their weight loss, the participants were divided into groups and asked to follow a different diet that was randomly assigned over a four-week period. While consisting of the same number of calories, the diets varied in the amounts of carbohydrates, fat and protein. One of the eating plans was a low-fat diet which had 60 percent of the calories coming from carbohydrates while the remaining calories were split evenly between fat and protein. The second eating plan was a low-glycemic index diet that had 20 percent of calories from protein while the remainder was split evenly between carbohydrates and fats. The third eating plan consisted of a very-low carbohydrate diet, with 60 percent of the calories coming from fat, 30 percent from protein and 10 percent form carbohydrates.

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    The researchers then measured the participants’ metabolism, including energy expenditure, while they were on each of the diets. The analysis found that participants burned more calories (3,137) when they were eating the very-low carbohydrate diet than they did on the low-glycemic diet (2,937 calories) and the low-fat diet (2,812 calories). However, the researchers also found that participants had higher levels of risk factors for diabetes and heart disease when they ate the very-low carbohydrate diet. The researchers also found that the low-glycemic index diet offered similar benefits as the very-low carbohydrate diet but had fewer negative health consequences.


    So what is this type of diet? “A glycemic index diet uses the glycemic index to guide your eating plan,” the Mayo Clinic states. “The glycemic index was originally developed to help improve blood sugar control in diabetes. The glycemic index classifies carbohydrate-containing foods according to their potential to raise your blood sugar level.” The diet does not require you to count carbohydrates or calories or reduce portion sizes. Instead, the diet encourages you to eat certain types of carbohydrates.


    The glycemic index rates foods and beverages containing carbohydrates on a scale of 0 to 100 on their effect on blood sugar levels. (Carbohydrates are the only foods that are rated since they have the largest effect on blood sugar levels, causing large spikes in these levels which could lead to insulin resistance.)
    Some examples of foods that are rated with a high glycemic number include instant white rice, brown rice, plain white bread, white skinless baked potato, boiled red potatoes with skin and watermelon. Examples of foods that have a medium score include sweet corn, bananas, raw pineapple and raisins.  Examples of foods with a low glycemic score are raw carrots, peanuts, raw apple, grapefruit, peas, skim milk, kidney beans and lentils.


  • When eating, you should opt for foods that have a low glycemic score since they are digested more slowly, causing blood sugar to increase in a regulated way. These foods also remain in the digestive tract longer, which can help control your appetite and delay hunger pangs. Foods with high glycemic scores, on the other hand, are believed to cause blood sugar to shoot up rapidly and then decline rapidly.

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    Interested in learning more? The University of Sydney has a wonderful website that provides lots of resources about the glycemic index, including a food index, recipes and the latest research.

    Sources for This Sharepost:


    National Institutes of Health. (2012). Food choice may affect ability to keep weight off.


    The Mayo Clinic. (2011). Glycemic index diet: What’s behind the claim.

Published On: July 31, 2012