Low GL/Glycaemic Load

GL stands for Glycaemic Load. It’s a unit of measurement that tells you exactly what a particular food will do to your blood sugar. Foods with a high GL have a greater effect on your blood sugar, which isn’t desirable. Foods with a low GL encourage the body to burn fat, which is what we’re aiming for. Keeping your blood sugar balanced is the concept at the heart of the low GL diet – sustainable weight loss will follow.

When your blood sugar level increases, the hormone insulin is released into the bloodstream to remove the glucose (sugar). Some glucose goes to the brain and muscles where it’s used as an energy fuel, but any excess goes to the liver where it’s turned into fat and stored, causing you to gain weight. Insulin is known as the fat-storing hormone.

The glycaemic load (GL) is based on the glycaemic index (GI). Put simply, the glycaemic index of a food tells you whether the carbohydrate in a food is fast or slow releasing (fast is bad, slow is good). What it doesn’t tell you is exactly how much of the food is carbohydrate. Glycaemic load on the other hand tells you both the type and amount of carbohydrate in the food and what that particular carbohydrate does to your blood sugar.

The Online Low GL Counter

You can look foods up online using the Low GL Diet Counter.

3 golden rules

For balancing your blood sugar, there are only three rules:

  • Eat 45GLs daily to lose weight or 65GLs to maintain weight
  • Eat carbohydrate with protein
  • Eat little and often

5 simple principles:

  • Balance your blood sugar
  • Eat good fats, avoid bad fats
  • Eliminate allergie
  • Supplement for success
  • Exercise for at least 15 minutes daily
  • The protein-carb connection

There are two ways to achieve a low GL meal. The first is to avoid carbohydrates altogether and eat lots of protein and fat (Atkins style – not recommended in my opinion). The other is to have some carbohydrates, but only those that release their sugar content slowly (low GL) and to always eat them with protein (my preferred option). Protein helps to slow down the release of sugar from carbohydrates and has virtually no effect on blood sugar.

While fats don’t have any effect on blood sugar, the amount and type of fat you eat will still affect how much weight you lose. Saturated fat is easily stored in the body as fat, so should be avoided. Essential fats (omega 3 and 6) are crucial to your health and need to feature in your diet daily.
You will find Omega 3 fatty acids in oily fish such as salmon, trout, mackerel and sardines, as well as in flax and pumpkin seeds. Omega 6 fatty acids are found in nuts and seeds as well as evening primrose oil, corn oil and soya oil.

The importance of exercise

Exercise is the fastest way to improve your metabolic rate. Muscle burns more energy than fat, so the less muscle you have the slower your metabolism. Combining low GL eating with regular exercise is important for success on the diet.

Low GL benefits

  • You won’t feel hungry – while a restricted diet will not fully satisfy your appetite, from day one the low GL diet recommends foods designed to satisfy your appetite and leave you feeling full.
  • It is safe – unlike highly restrictive diets, the only side effect of a low GL diet is added health.
  • It’s enjoyable and delicious – no food groups are excluded on the low GL diet so you don’t have to fight to stay on track
  • You’ll feel great! – a low GL diet works with your body, not against it.

How to Work Out the GL of Foods

There are two ways to work out the GL of foods. There is GL information in my books, in particular The Holford Diet GL Counter and/or you can look foods up online using the Low GL Diet Counter.

Natural Support for the Low GL Diet

If you need further support with your weight-loss programme and with blood sugar balance, take a look at the Patrick Holford Metabolism range which was formulated for this purpose:

Cinnachrome – contains chromium which helps maintain blood sugar levels, providing a stable source of fuel for the body, and assists in reducing sugar cravings. It works in synergy with cinnamon and Niacin.

Carboslow Powder – contains glucomannan, derived from Konjac Root. It fills the stomach, making you feel full. Great if you’re on a weight loss programme.

Get Up and Go

A nutritious start to the day as a healthy shake/smoothie giving essential vitamins and minerals with fibre, protein and essential fatty acids from almonds, flax, sunflower, sesame and pumpkin seeds, oat bran, quinoa, rice, soya and white beetroot. The shake is flavoured with organic apples and naturally sweetened with  prebiotic FOS, which provides food for friendly bacteria.

Provides nutrients such as B vitamins, biotin, calcium, iron, magnesium and manganese which contribute to normal energy-yielding metabolism and 939mg vitamin C and 15mg of zinc. Also chromium to assist with normal blood glucose levels. This formula contains super soluble glucomannan fibre to help you feel full and promote weight-loss as part of a calorie-controlled diet.

Blend 30g daily with half a pint of milk, soya milk or rice milk, oat or nut drink, a handful of berries. If you blend with a carb free almond milk and 60g of berries it provides only 4.5GLs per adult shake. Perfect if following The Low GL Diet.

GL Support

GL Support may be particularly useful for those following a diet or exercise plan as it combines three supporting nutrients- Garcina Cambogia Fruit, Chromium and L-Carnitine. Chromium contributes to normal nutrient metabolism and to the maintenance of normal blood glucose levels.

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What you should eat

40GLs Meal Examples

There are two stages to the low GL diet; weight loss and weight maintenance. On the weight loss diet you should eat no more than 40GLs daily, with an additional 5GLs allowed for a drink or dessert. Following these guidelines will ensure you reach your personal goals.

Breakfast (choose one of the following to make up 10GLs)
1. Scrambled or boiled egg with one slice of rye toast or 2 rough oatcakes
2. Get Up and Go shake made with skimmed or soya milk and a handful of berries
3. Fruit topped with yoghurt and seed.

Mid-morning snack (choose one of the following to make up 5GLs)
1. A small apple, pear or peach, plus 5 almonds or a tablespoon of pumpkin seeds
2. One thin slice of rye bread thinly spread with sugar-free peanut butter
3. Smoked salmon, lean meat or hummus with one or two rough oatcakes

Lunch (choose one of the following to make up 10GLs)
1. Quinoa Tabouleh
2. Apple and tuna salad with oriental green beans and coleslaw
3. Beany vegetable soup

Mid-afternoon snack (choose one of the following to make up 5GLs)
1. Spiced chickpeas
2. A small natural bio-yoghurt with a handful of berries
3. Crudités (carrot, pepper, cucumber or celery) with ¼ of a small tub of hummus

Dinner (choose one of the following to make up 10GLs)
1. Pasta with borlotti bolognese
2. Steamed salmon served with cooked greens and brown rice or quinoa
3. Indian spiced chicken served with a large portion of greens or salad

Drink or dessert (choose one of the following to make up 5GLs)
1. A small glass of unsweetened orange juice, diluted 50:50 with water, or the juice of one freshly squeezed orange
2. A small glass of red or white wine
3. Individual berry cheesecake

For further information on following a low GL diet as well as more delicious low GL recipes, please consider Patrick’s book ‘The Low-GL Diet Bible‘.


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