What to eat on a low GL diet

The previous article gave some background on the benefits of a low GL diet. Today we are taking a look at how to actually put it into practice.

A scoop of low GL porridge oats

Here are some of the basic rules and guidelines to stick to when embarking on a low GL diet. Read the lists below a few times until you start to get a sense for which foods are high GL and which are low. Ideally, you want this to become second nature so you don’t have to waste time checking ingredients at each mealtime.

Your Daily Allowance

Each day, you should aim to get between 35 - 45 GLs, which includes both food and drinks. There is no strict rule for how you break this down, your lifestyle may dictate this, but here is a general guideline:

  • Breakfast: 10 GLs

  • Lunch: 10 GLs

  • Dinner: 10 GLs

  • Drinks and Snacks: up to 15 GLs across the day.

drinking for low gl
 
  • Avoid alcohol wherever possible. Try to stick to a maximum of 5 glasses of wine, or 2-3 pints of beer per week. If you find that it is too difficult to achieve this, remember that any reduction at all is an improvement and will have benefits, so don’t become disheartened.

  • Limit or avoid caffeine. Try to stick to a maximum of 1 cup of tea or coffee each day and completely cut out any fizzy caffeinated drinks.

  • Aim to drink 8 glasses of water per day, or more if you are exercising. This can include any non-caffeinated herbal teas.

eating-low-gl.jpg
 
  • Avoid sugar, sugary foods and any food containing fast-releasing carbohydrates. These are foods that will receive a GL rating of 10 or above, per serving.

  • Avoid trans-fats. Healthy fats are essential for our bodies to function properly, but those found in processed vegetable oils and the hydrogenated fats found in sausage, fried food and other junk food are harmful and should be avoided.

  • Aim to include low GL carbohydrates with a portion of protein at each meal. The protein will actually reduce the glycaemic load of the carbs even further.

  • Include whole, unprocessed foods that are high in soluble fibre, such as oats, beans and lentils.

  • Include plenty of healthy fats in your diet. It is now a well-established fact that fat does not make you fat and conversely, low fat does not assist in weight-loss. In fact, fat is an essential part of a healthy diet. Take a look at this article to learn more about the role that fat plays in the body. Foods such as avocado, olives, seeds and fish are all wonderful sources of healthy fat. Include a good amount of these and your body will stop craving the trans-fats that can be so damaging to your health.

GL checklist for different food types
 

Here are some guidelines for the GL content of various food categories. You can begin to get an idea of which foods you can fill up on and which must be eaten in moderation.

5GL of Fruit

  • Berries - 1 large punnet

  • Cherries - 1 punnet

  • 1 grapefruit

  • Half a melon

  • 1 pear, peach, orange, apple or kiwi

  • 4 apricots or plums

  • Pineapple or mango - 1 slice

  • 10 grapes or raisins

  • Half a banana

Breads

  • Oatcake - 2GL

  • Small wrap - 5GL

  • Rye slice - 6GL

  • Ryvita - 6GL

  • Rice Cake - 6 GL

  • Wholegrain - 7-9GL

  • White slice - 8-10GL

  • Croissant - 17 GL

  • Muffin - 17GL

low gl foods

0GL Vegetables

  • Broccoli

  • Spinach

  • Kale

  • Runner beans

  • Peas

  • Courgettes

  • Cabbage

  • Brussels sprouts

  • Mange tout

  • Asparagus

  • Soya Beans

  • Tomatoes

  • Lettuce

  • Watercress

  • Alfalfa

  • Cucumber

  • Celery

  • Peppers

  • Endive

  • Radish

  • Rocket

  • Garlic

  • Cauliflower

  • Onions

  • Mushrooms

  • Fennel

  • Aubergine

  • Bean sprouts

  • Spring onions

7GL of Cereal

  • 1 large bowl of porridge

  • 1 large bowl of GL muesli

  • 1 regular bowl of low-carb granola

  • 1 weetabix or shredded wheat

  • 30g All Bran

  • 20g muesli

  • 15g raisin bran/bran flakes/special K

  • 10g cheerios/cornflakes/rice crispies

Protein

  • Eggs/fish/poultry/meat - 0GL

  • Cheese - 0-1GL

  • Cow’s milk (300ml) - 3GL

  • Soya milk (250ml) - 3GL

  • Fruit yoghurt - 10 - 15GL

  • Plain yoghurt - 3GL

  • Seeds - 0GL

  • Nuts (25g) - 0 - 2GL

  • Lentils (150g) - 5GL

  • Beans (150g) - 10GL

  • Soya Beans (150g) - 1GL

examples of high gl foods

Drinks

  • Water - 0GL

  • Herbal Tea - 0GL

  • 1 small glass of wine - 5GL

  • Vodka and tomato juice - 2GL

  • Vodka, soda and fresh lime - 1GL

  • Gin and tonic - 10GL

  • Half pint/284ml of beer - 5GL

  • 1 Pint/568ml tomato juice - 4GL

  • 1 Glass of carrot juice - 10GL

  • 1 Glass of fruit juice - 5GL

  • Half pint of cider - 10GL

  • Half pint of pimms and lemonade - 10GL

7GL of Starchy Carbs

  • Pumpkin - 1 fifth

  • Carrot - 160g/1 large

  • Beetroot - 110g/1 large

  • Quinoa - 65g/2 handfuls

  • Cous cous - 25g/1 handful

  • Wholewheat pasta - 35g/1 handful

  • White pasta - 35g/1 handful

  • Brown rice - 40g/1 handful

  • White rice - 25g/1 small handful

  • Corn on the cob - 60g/half a cob

  • Baked or mashed potato - 60g/half a potato

  • New potatoes - 70g/3 potatoes

  • Chips - 3 chips

more low gl food examples

Other

  • Oils - 0GL

  • Avocado - 1GL

  • Nut Butters (16g) - 1GL

  • Humous (60g) - 3GL

  • Dark Chocolate (25g) - 3GL

  • Milk Chocolate (49g) - 15GL

  • Vanilla Ice-cream (one scoop) - 7GL

  • Cereal Bar - 15g - 20GL

  • Biscuits (x1 average) - 5GL

  • Cake (1 small slice) - 20GL

  • Crisps (1 small bag) 10 - 15 GL

  • Chocolate bars / sweets (50/60g) - 20-30GL

 

Each day, you should aim to get between 35 - 45 GLs, which includes both food and drinks.

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