Lose Weight this Holiday Season with a Low-glycemic Diet.

Did Santa put an extra five pounds in your stocking last Christmas? Given the holiday festivities, complicated and stringent diets often fail. Eat healthier and lose weight this holiday season. Just take a few minutes to educate yourself on the GI Diet. Low-glycemic diets are touted by popular TV hosts and athletes alike claiming this diet can help you lose the weight – and keep it off. We decided it was time to dispel the rumors and get to the bottom of what low-glycemic truly means. First, the key is eating healthier and warding off chronic disease. An added bonus will be to not have to hide your stocking stuffer under your puffy coat this New Year.

Dr. Bright McConnell, III of FitMed Partners counsels patients on weight loss through his medically based fitness and nutrition program at hisDanielIslandoffice.  Below you will find answers to some of the most confusing questions surrounding low-glycemic diets.

1. What it the glycemic index?

             The glycemic index is a scientific way of looking at how the carbohydrates found in the food we eat affect our blood sugar levels. While we know that all carbohydrates raise blood sugar to a certain degree, the glycemic index takes this understanding to the next level by figuring out the specific blood sugar spike (on a scale of 0-100) one experiences for individual foods.  Below is a simplified chart which outlines various common foods and their glycemic index

Low GI >55 Beans, small seeds, intact whole grains, most vegetables, most fruits
Medium GI 56–69 not intact whole wheat, pita bread, raisins, cranberry juice, banana
High GI <70 White bread, white rice, processed breakfast cereals, maltodextrins, potato

2. What is the difference between a low-GI food and a high-GI food

           A low-GI food will release glucose slowly and steadily, which leads to more stable blood sugar levels after a meal. This helps to maintain a feeling of fullness and prevents against that famous “afternoon crash.”  A high-GI food causes a more rapid rise in blood glucose levels and is better for energy recovery after exercise or those with naturally low blood sugar levels.

3.  Is the low-glycemic diet really a diet?

            Unlike most weight-loss diet programs, the low-glycemic diet is not a “diet” in the sense that there are specific meal plans you need to follow, lists of foods to eat and foods to avoid.   Instead, the glycemic index gives you a scientific method for knowledgably selecting foods that meet your specific blood sugar level needs. It can be as simple as not eating bread and cutting our refined sugars. Replace those food choices with vegetables, fruits and protein. For example, turn a turkey avocado wrap into a turkey avocado salad. Keep it simple as you ease into the change. Success is more likely when you can master a diet easily around your daily life.

4. How can I lose weight on a low-glycemic diet?

           A balanced diet must contain a mix of carbohydrates, protein, and fat — or starches, fruits, vegetables, meat and beans, and dairy and fats.  By incorporating a variety of food groups into your meals, you will help stabilize your blood sugar and supply your body with a range of vitamins and minerals. Ultimately, your body won’t crave food to combat the “sugar highs and lows” enabling you to stay satiated longer. Reaching for a bagel at 4 pm or indulging in 10 Ms. Hamby’s sandwiches at the party can be avoided. You can avoid it because reaching for it is no longer about having a craving and needing discipline. The Low Gylcemic Diet balances out your body’s nutrients and naturally keeps you in check – without having to lean on will power alone!

Here are some fun GI Diet recipes to try this holiday,

Marinated Pork Roast (Makes 8 servings)

1 (4 pound) pork roast                              ½ teaspoon mustard powder

½ cup Worcestershire sauce                      1 teaspoon lemon pepper

2 tablespoons honey                                  ½ teaspoon celery salt

2 tablespoons cider vinegar                       1 clove garlic, minced

½ teaspoon mustard seed

1. Prepare grill for indirect heat.

2. In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the Worcestershire sauce, honey, vinegar, mustard seed, mustard powder, lemon pepper, celery salt, and garlic; seal, and mix ingredients. Place the roast in the plastic bag, press air out of bag, and seal. Marinate for 2 hours in the refrigerator, turning the roast occasionally to help coat while marinating.

3. Lightly oil grill grate. Place roast on grill, and discard marinade. Cover, and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until internal temperature is 145 degrees F (63 degrees C).

Roasted Figs with Goat Cheese and Balsamic-Agave Glaze (Makes 2 servings)

4 ripe figs                                            2 tablespoon amber or light agave nectar

8 thin slices of goat cheese                 salt and pepper to taste

1 1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Spray a small baking dish with non-stick spray or brush with olive oil.

2. Cut the stem end off of each fig, then cut figs in half lengthwise and lay in baking dish with cut side up. Cut 8 thin slices of goat cheese and lay on top of each fig half.

3. Whisk together balsamic vinegar and agave nectar, then drizzle over the cheese-topped figs. Lightly season figs with salt and fresh ground black pepper.

4. Roast for 15-18 minutes, until the figs are hot and lightly cooked and cheese is melted. Serve hot.