Beat hunger with a low GI diet

Heathy crispbread with low GI

One of the things members love about the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet is that they don't tend to feel hungry between meals. This is thanks to the eating plan's higher protein, low GI approach, which keeps you feeling fuller for longer. Today, we're focusing on the latter part of the diet: low GI.  

The glycemic index

The glycemic index (GI) is a ranking given to food to describe how quickly the carbohydrate in the food is broken down and absorbed into the bloodstream. The scale ranges from zero to 100 with the lower numbers representing a low GI food and the higher number representing a high GI food.

The glycemic index is split into three ratings:

  • Low: GI value of 55 or less.
  • Medium: GI value of 56 to 69 inclusive.
  • High: GI value of 70 or more. 

Low GI foods include: 

  • Wholegrain bread
  • Pasta
  • Beans
  • Lentils 
  • Oats 
  • Grains
  • Some vegetables
  • Some fruits

High GI foods include: 

  • White bread 
  • Pastries 
  • White potatoes 
  • Highly processed carbohydrates 

Are you trying to lose weight? Read our comprehensive guide on weight loss to understand where to begin, what happens when you lose weight, and what doesn't work when it comes to dieting.

Keeping insulin steady

When the starches and sugars in carbohydrates are digested, they are broken down into millions of glucose molecules which are released into the bloodstream. When blood glucose levels rise, your body releases a hormone called insulin, which allows glucose to enter cells. This provides fuel for our brains, muscles and other vital organs. If you are overweight or obese, this insulin may not be as effective as it should be.

Foods with a high GI are quickly broken down and absorbed by the body and result in a rapid rise in blood sugar levels – think a steep rise in energy followed by a sudden crash. On the other hand, low GI foods are broken down and absorbed more slowly into the blood stream. They result in a steady rise in blood sugar and insulin levels, which gives your body even, sustained energy. 

The lower and slower rise in blood glucose, and therefore insulin levels, provided by low GI foods is better for your body.

Insulin also plays a key role in fat storage: when insulin levels rise, your cells are forced to burn glucose rather than fat.

“Insulin is a leading player in fat storage deciding whether you burn fat or carbohydrate to meet your energy needs. It does this by switching muscle cells from fat-burning to carb-burning,” says Professor Jennie Brand-Miller of the Glycemic Index Foundation.

For example, if your insulin levels are low, as they are when you wake up in the morning, then the fuel you burn is mainly fat. If your insulin levels are high, as they are after you consume a high carb meal, then the fuel you burn is mainly carbohydrate.

What are the other benefits of low GI?

In addition to nourishing your body with a steady release of energy, a low GI diet offers more benefits for your weight management and health outcomes:

  • Weight loss and management. Eating low GI carbs can help to control your appetite by helping you feel fuller for a longer time. This means you're less likely to snack between meals. "We examined 17 studies on satiety and low versus high GI meals, and 16 of them confirmed that low GI meals increase fullness to a greater extent than do comparable high GI meals,” says Brand-Miller. 
  • May reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. High GI diets have been associated with higher incidences of type 2 diabetes. Making the swap to low GI foods can improve blood glucose levels by reducing spikes in blood glucose and reducing insulin resistance. Low GI diets have also been shown to help in the management and treatment of type 2 diabetes.

Don't cut out the carbs

Carbs often get a bad rap, but they're an essential macronutrient your body needs for energy and other functions. You just need to choose high quality carbs (low GI) over low quality carbs (high GI).

“If you eat healthy low GI carbohydrates, the pancreas doesn’t have to work as hard, it releases less insulin to manage your blood glucose levels and helps burn more fat,” says Brand-Miller. 

She also goes on to say another benefit of low GI diets like the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet is they provide a sustainable lifestyle change, rather than a fad that’s impossible to easily integrate into your life or maintain. “Regardless of the types of foods and textures you like to eat, there is generally a way of adapting recipes to use low GI ingredients and improve the value of your food without giving up the enjoyment.”

Looking for weight loss motivation, dinner inspiration or exercise ideas? Check out the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet blog or read some incredible success stories

Meet some CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet members who lost weight and reduced their blood glucose levels with a higher protein, low GI diet: 

Chris lost 17.4 kg* 

Chris progressed from pre-diabetes to type 2 diabetes, and then to potentially needing injectables to manage his health. Since he lost the weight, Chris' blood glucose levels have dropped significantly in three months and he's had a reduction in his diabetes medication. Read his story.

*In 24 weeks. Individual results may vary.

Lyn lost 68 kg*

Before she joined the 12 Week Program, Lyn's diet consisted of a lot of chips, fried foods, chocolate and large portions. A routine blood test revealed she had type 2 diabetes, which is what brought her to the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet. Lyn achieved impressive results with the Special Edition for Type 2 Diabetes program, and now feels healthier than ever! Read her story. 

*Individual results may vary.

Gary lost 40 kg*

When his eye sight started going hazy – a symptom of pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes – Gary went to see a doctor who told him he needed to lose weight to improve his health. Gary lost an impressive amount of weight with the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet and credits his success to a low GI diet, preparation and walking every day. Read his story. 

*In 18 months. Individual results may vary.

Get our latest blog delivered to your inbox

I agree to receive emails from the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet (we respect your privacy)

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.