The glycemic index is an important tool in helping people lose weight. It works by acting as a measure of carbohydrates in a given food. A food with a high glycemic index will cause the blood sugar to rise more quickly, while a food with a low index will take longer and keep blood sugar steady. People who follow a diet where the majority of foods are low glycemic will generally feel more satisfied, eat less and reduce weight.

How It Works

Low-GI foods, such as oatmeal, take longer to be absorbed and digested, allowing the person to feel fuller for a longer period of time. This is in contrast to high-GI foods, which cause a sharp uptick in blood sugar causing several hormone reactions and leading the person to feeling hungry again soon. The person will then overeat to compensate and in time will put on extra pounds.

The majority of low-GI foods are on the healthy end of the spectrum, including vegetables, fruits, beans and whole grains. High fiber foods are extremely filling when they are eaten with protein.

Using the glycemic index to choose the proper carbohydrates can be helpful in preventing disease as well as losing weight.

Controversy

Experts are quick to point out that a low-GI plan may not work for everyone due to differences between individuals, and the way those individuals eat. No foods are consumed in an isolated manner. Whenever carbohydrates, whether healthy or not, are eaten with other foods, there will be an effect on the blood sugar. There can be a great deal of variation in what that effect is, and there is not conclusive proof that elevated blood sugar levels are problematic in otherwise healthy people.

A basic recommendation is to consume unprocessed carbohydrates that are whole grain and the highest in fiber. Another approach is to fill up half a plate with proteins and grains, and the other half with fruits and vegetables. This keeps everything in balance, and relatively low-GI, without having to worry so much about numbers.

Overall, the best diet is the one a person can stick with, along with a regular regimen of exercise.