Low glycemic index diet

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Posts: 302
Joined: Mon Jun 02, 2014 7:41 pm

Low glycemic index diet

Post by Frunobulax »

Recommended as CFS treatment, my RLS appears got a lot better after starting a low glycemic index diet, so maybe we should add this to the "compilation of what's worked" @ViewsAskew. Other beneficial side effects for me are much better blood fats after 4 months (cholesterol is much better, and my triglycerides are down to 200 from over 450, where 150 is considered normal range), better blood pressure (125:80 instead of 140:95) and weight loss that helps as I'm a bit overweight (2 pounds a month even though I eat as much a I like and don't try to lose weight, and I can't do any sports at the moment).

It took 2-3 weeks for me to see first effects (more energy, less RLS). The blood values need a bit longer.

So this is worth a thread :-)

Fans of that diet will claim that everybody should follow it, and the normal dietary guidelines (low fat, lots of whole grain carbohydrates) should be scratched in favor of low carb. And I tend to agree after reading a lot about it. The diet was originally developed for people with type 2 diabetes, but it seems to have a lot of other benefits too. (My blood sugar values, or whatever is determined for diabetes, were always very good. So whatever worked for me, it doesn't come from better blood sugar.) There is substantial scientific evidence that low glycemic diet is very benefitial for a lot of blood parameters, especially fats: It seems counterintuitive that you can lower your cholesterol and fats by eating more cholersterol and fat, but there we are - apparently the body processes unused carbohydrates into fats, and is very well adapted to gaining energy from fat and protein. The key is to avoid fat in combination with lots of carbohydrates, and avoid certain fat types (trans-fat in particular).
And almost all overweight people will lose weight, at a healthy rate, even though they are allowed to eat as much as they like. And unlike other diets like Atkins you don't have to worry about not getting enough vitamins or an unbalanced mix of nutritients.

Unlike some other low-carb diets (like Atkins), this diet is centered around vegetables/fruit/salad, even though these contain carbohydrates. Also it's not a time limited diet but something that people will follow for the rest of their lives if it helps them. The idea is to limit the insuline production of the body, while ensuring a dietary mix that contains plenty of vitamins, amino acids and essential fats (omega 3) etc. - ensuring that the nutrition mix is similar to the one our ancestors ate 10.000 years ago, but allowing for modern cooking.

You can google "low glycemic index diet" if you want to know more. These are the cliff notes:

* The mix is 20% of the energy comes from carbohydrates, 30% from protein, 50% from fat.
* Eat vegetables 3 times a day and fruit 2 times a day.
* Everything is allowed, but some things should be consumed only in small quantities and not too often (sugar, bread, rice, potatos). The diet has a 4-stage pyramid where vegetables, fruit and fats are the basement (eat as much as you like), dairy products, meat, fish, nuts and pulses are level 2.
* Fats should be "good" fats - lean meat is preferred. I use linseed oil and olive oil to increase the fat content of my meals (salad etc.), and eat a lot of nuts. Butter is encouraged, but no butter substitutes.
* Fiber is OK, even though it's technically carbohydrates. High-fiber stuff is a mainstay of the diet (many vegetables and pulses).
* Almost all vegetables and nuts are fine (you can eat as much as you like), with some exceptions that are fine in normal amounts but not unlimited (like corn). Dairy products are fine if they contain no sugar and no artificial ingredients. (I eat a lot of cheese and yoghurt but no processed cheese.) No need to use fat reduced stuff!
* Whole grain products are better than white flour products, but still bad. They cause a drawn out insuline production, but the body still needs insuline to break them down.
* As for fruit, those with low sugar content are preferred. Sugar should be avoided in general, treat it more as a spice than something that is a substantial ingredient.
* I try to avoid processed food and any preservatives. I eat meat but no sausages, and I avoid all kinds of ready meals.
* There are tables for everything that you can follow, similar to other diets. I do look stuff up occasionally, but I don't count any "points" or whatever.

It takes a while getting used to, but I'm getting along fine. I now eat a lot of dairy products, eggs and nuts, and more meat, vegetables and salad naturally. Some things can be replaced - I use ground almonds and chickpea flour instead of breadcrumbs and wheat flour, and I can bake decent low-carb buns, do battered stuff and bake pies. In a restaurant I'll replace the rice/fries/bread with salad or vegetables. I do replace sugar with artificial sweeteners (I know many RLS patients can't do this), but I use low amounts of unrefined brown sugar too. I always have some nuts handy if I need a snack. Instead of a bagel or sandwich I'll eat cheese, nuts and maybe some vegetables. And my daughter loves that diet, as she's allowed to eat cheese without bread :-)

One more CFS recommendation that I'm following, that may be worth a try for those of you waking up with food cravings: One half slice of whole grain bread with a healthy amount of butter, just before I go to bed. (This is the only bread I still eat.) Due to the combination of whole grain bread and fat it will take the body at least 4 hours to process the bread, giving the brain easily accessible energy for the second half of the night.

Some research that is linked on german websites for the diet (in English):
http://content.onlinejacc.org/cgi/conte ... ct/50/1/14

Posts: 302
Joined: Mon Jun 02, 2014 7:41 pm

Re: Low glycemic index diet

Post by Frunobulax »

Let me add just a bit about the WHY. (If anyone recommends something to you, he should have a good answer to that.) Again, I'm not a physician, I just want to share what I've learned in the past years.

Obviously there is conflicting research. If you know medical science, you'll know that you can get basically any result in a study if you want to, depending on who sponsors the research. But from what I hear, there are strong indications from recent research that people who want to lose weight, have high cholesterol or blood fats (like triglycerides) should go on a low-carb diet and not low-fat. And here is why this could be the case.

(1) Diabetes. Evolution has shaped our digestion to perfectly match the food that was around for us apes the last million years or so. That diet contained a lot less carbohydrates than we eat today. The relatively short time since we started farming wheat and rice was too short to adapt us in any way. That leads to Diabetes for a lot of us: We need Insulin to digest carbs. As we eat a lot more carbs, we produce a lot more Insulin. Now a part of us will tolerate this, but for others, the high insulin levels lead to insulin resistance - the body does not respond as well to Insulin, the body will try to compensate by producing even more Insulin, which leads to more resistance. In the end, the whole system breaks down and we get Diabetes. (Where the first line of treatment should be a low-carb diet, not even more Insulin.)
Low glycemic index diet is tailored to reduce Insulin production.

(2) Essential ingredients. When you look at the stuff that the body needs except energy (which it can get from fat, protein and carbs), you'll find that everything we need (essential amino acids that the body can't produce itself, vitamins, omega-3-fats, minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium and kalium) is contained in a diet based on vegetables, fruit, protein and fat, while many carbohydrates don't add a lot to it. In other words, "good" fat (contained in nuts, some fish, olive oil and such) will contain a lot more minerals and vitamins than bread or pasta, and it will contain the omega-3-fats that we need.

(3) The recommendation that we should eat a lot of "healthy" carbohydrate comes partially from the assumption that the more fat we eat, the more fat the body will store and our blood levels of "bad" fats will rise. And while some fats will be indeed lead to weight gain, others don't - especially if you limit carbohydrates. The combination of carbs and fat will lead to a high body-mass index (both sugar/fat and other carbs with fat), but if people limit carbs they can consume a lot of fat and will actually lose weight. But what most research will usually not look at, why are so many people who eat low fat still overweight? Because the body is very well adapted to converting excess carbs into fat, that's why. If you google a bit you'll find that Insulin is considered a hormon to fatten up pigs and cattle!

The bummer is that this assumption is not backed up by scientific research. Take cholesterol for example - for decades we heard that we should avoid eggs and butter because they are high cholesterol. Recently several independent studies found that eating eggs and butter will not influence the cholesterol level, and that reducing the consumption of trans-fats is much more effective to reduce cholesterol.
The same is true for triglycerides: A low-fat diet does not significantly reduce triglycerides (for most of us), while a low carb (and especially low sugar) is very efficient in achieving this.

(4) Apparently there are differences how well we can process carbs in the first place: Some of us can process only a limited amount of carbs, and our body will store a lot of unused carbs into fat even if we follow a "healthy" diet. I can't give you percentages, but I'm in this group - I was never able to lose weight when I switched to low fat, no sugar, lots of healthy carb diets. (Except from a moderate weight loss if I ate less, that was offset by the yo-yo effect once I started to eat normally.) I always had high triglycerides and high cholesterol, and those "healthy" diets never helped me there.

Bottom line:
* If you choose the right low-carb diet (i.e. one that is not based on huge amounts of meat and animal fat), you'll eat more vitamins, minerals and essential amino acids than usual.
* Your blood values will get better.
* You'll lose weight. (No counting calories, no limits, just eat what the diet allows, as much as you like.)

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Re: Low glycemic index diet

Post by badnights »

very nice summary
Beth - Wishing you a restful sleep tonight
I am a volunteer moderator. My posts are not medical advice. My posts do not reflect RLS Foundation opinion.

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