We hear much about cutting out sugar and carbs from our diets entirely but new research suggests that we may get the same health benefits by simply choosing the right types of carbs in the right amounts. In a 16 year trial, research published by Tuffs University in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that reducing the glycaemic load of the diet, which is achieved by slashing the intake of processed carbs and sugars, while increasing the intake of protein rich foods including legumes, dairy, lean white meats and eggs was closely linked to weight control.
The good news is that from a practical perspective, reducing our own glycaemic load on a daily basis is relatively easy. The first step is to primarily base your diet around good quality carbs, in controlled portions. This means eliminating as many processed carbs and sugars as possible – white bread, rice, snack foods, added sugars and soft drinks need to go. Next, focus on including protein rich foods including dairy, eggs and lean proteins such as chicken and fish with each of your meals – this helps to reduce blood glucose levels over time. Finally, watch your portion sizes – a large serving of white rice can contain 3-4 x as much carbohydrate as a single potato so aim for your carbs to fit into a small measuring cup at most. Not only are all these changes relatively easy to implement but on a daily basis they will help to keep the hormones that are involved in weight control work at their best. Some other easy ways to help lower your daily glycaemic load and support long term weight control include -
1) Swap to lower carb bread
Regular large slices of sliced bread or Turkish loaves can contain as much as 50-60g of carbohydrates per serve compared to just 20g for lower carb loaves.
2) Eat carb rich foods and protein food together
Greek yoghurt and fruit; eggs on wholegrain toast or cheese and wholegrain crackers – a mix of carbs and protein helps to control the release of the hormone insulin and reduce the overall glycaemic load of the meal or snack.
3) Avoid high carb snacks
Rice crackers, banana bread, fruit juices and dried fruit are all snacks that contain refined grains; white flour and / or concentrated sugars which bump up the glycaemic load of the diet significantly.
4) Watch the serves of grains
Brown rice, quinoa, pasta and oats all contain a number of positive nutritional properties but they are also all relatively high carbohydrate foods – for example, a single cup of brown rice contains as much as 40g of total carbohydrate or the equivalent of 3-4 slices of bread. These foods are nutritious but keep your portions to just ½ - ¾ cup cooked to help control your glycaemic load.
5) Use your dairy foods
Whether it is cheese as an after dinner snack; yoghurt with a small serve of breakfast cereal in the morning or milk with your coffee, the study found a positive association with the regular consumption of full cream dairy over time. This effect could be due to the fact that dairy food, thanks to its high protein and nutrient content helps to reduce the glycaemic load of the diet.