The GI Factor and Weight

Sounds pretty cool…The GI Factor…

In relation to food, the GI factor is a classification system for measuring a food’s sugar content on the digestive (and other) systems.   The end goal of food, of course, is fuel for our body and brain.  The boost that sugar gives to the body is crucial.  But, what does the body do with extra or excess sugar?  The Glycemic Index (GI) number given to a specific food to help people regulate the flow of sugar into the body and blood stream.

Google “carbohydrates” and you will be inundated with search results.  Many of the findings will give conflicting evidence either for or against carbohydrate intake in regards to weight loss.  What I can tell you is that a food’s fat and fiber content tends to lower the glycemic index (GI)-carbohydrate load- of a food, which positively affects weight loss.  In fact, “fat releases endorphins,” which produce “mellow, satisfied feelings.” [i] Carbs can be labeled either simple or complex, meaning how quickly they turn to sugar and other nutritional content.  In general, most complex carbs have fiber, minerals, and vitamins to slow down digestion.  For example, when you eat a candy bar, the sugar goes “right through you” and you feel an immediate sugar rush or high.  This is the same thing that happens when you eat simple carbohydrates because there’s no added “content” to slow down the digestion process.

Labeling foods according to their effect on the body and impact on weight loss is best done through the glycemic index, and the Australian labeling system is more accurate in defining and categorizing the body’s response to carbohydrates.  I’m going to quote directly from a Harvard study[ii] here:

“The glycemic index ranks carbohydrates on a scale from 0 to 100 based on how quickly and how much they raise blood sugar levels after eating. Foods with a high glycemic index, like white bread, are rapidly digested and cause substantial fluctuations in blood sugar. Foods with a low glycemic index, like whole oats, are digested more slowly, prompting a more gradual rise in blood sugar. Many factors can affect a food’s glycemic index, including the following:

Processing: Grains that have been milled and refined—removing the bran and the germ—have a higher glycemic index than minimally processed whole grains.

Physical form: Finely ground grain is more rapidly digested than coarsely ground grain. This is why eating whole grains in their “whole form” like brown rice or oats can be healthier than eating highly processed whole grain bread.

Fiber content: High-fiber foods don’t contain as much digestible carbohydrate, so it slows the rate of digestion and causes a more gradual and lower rise in blood sugar.

Ripeness: Ripe fruits and vegetables tend to have a higher glycemic index than un-ripened fruit.

Fat content and acid content: Meals with fat or acid are converted more slowly into sugar.”

Next, I found a clinical study very interesting on the interaction between carbs and fats in foods.  Since I know the GAPS diet is very food-specific, through this study I was able to see how this aspect in GAPS led to drastic weight loss.  A low GI has “a ratio of about 40% carbs and 35% fat,” which “produced a greater decrease in weight and body fat percentage” than just eating “low fat” foods.  Furthermore, “reducing glycemic load may be especially important to achieve weight loss among individuals with high insulin secretion.” [iii]  High insulin secretion is not a good thing; your body is fighting too hard to keep a healthy balance.   It also throws off your hormonal balance, which of course leads to weight gain!  Consequentially, most people who crave carbs have higher levels of insulin secretion.  The Reset is NOT a “low carb or low fat diet” by any means; it is important to give the body quality carbs and natural fats to maximize weight loss.

The inclusion of “good” fats, which are saturated and monounsaturated fats, into your carb selection have a dramatic impact on weight loss.  These good fats from nutrient-dense foods like nuts, cold pressed oils and avocados help your body absorb and use the nutrients in other foods as well as a beneficial source of fiber to move along digestion.  One “super food” fat source is an avocado, and by eating at least a half an avocado daily, you will speed up weight loss because of all it adds to your gut, including the “full” feeling after eating one.  Don’t like avocados? Try 1-2 tablespoons of avocado oil!  A study done in 1992 found that a high-carb diet “enriched with avocado” even lowered cholesterol.[iv]  Good fats will also help heal the body as well as keep a healthy weight stable.

Another clinical study confirmed that “a modest reduction in dietary carbohydrate has beneficial effects on body composition, fat distribution, and glucose metabolism.” [v] Eating lower-carbohydrate and higher fat foods actually reduces belly and intermuscular fat, with an added bonus of increasing “insulin sensitivity,” (which is good!).  Try cutting your simple carbs down to half, and you will see weight loss results!  If you want to control your cravings/appetite AND lose weight, eat more proteins paired with low GI, natural fat foods.  Remember, bone broth is 50% protein and full of healthy fats!  Throw some low starch/carb veggies in it and you’re all set for many hours!

“Sugar and vegetable oils act like chemical static that blocks the signals our bodies need to run our metabolisms smoothly.”

Shanahan MD, Catherine (2011-04-22). Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food (p. 78). Big Box Books. Kindle Edition.

The carb-sugar aspect is very important for weight loss, which is why using the GI Factor is important!  Your body responds to sugar by producing and releasing insulin.  A clinical study showed the link between individuals with high insulin secretion and achieving weight loss as a reduction in the person’s glycemic load. [vi]   Your specific body’s hormonal response to sugar, and therefore insulin secretion, is dependent upon your genetic code, nutritional deficiencies, and what foods you have primed and created patterns for in your gut-brain connection.  In short, it is the start of the sugar addiction cycle.



[i] Shanahan, Catherine, Food Rules, 2010








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