Those trying to lose weight or fight blood sugar-related health problems such as diabetes will often turn to the low glycemic index, at least in the short term. And the benefits to this are obvious: it can yield very effective results if you stick to it, and these results typically are seen quickly and can be sustained. The meals, however, can prove difficult if you are accustomed to eating unhealthy fast foods or a high-carb diet. Especially when it comes to breakfast, the meal where the low GI diet rules often force the biggest change in eating patterns.
Think about it: a typical lunch or dinner using low glycemic foods will involve some type of savory protein, such as roasted chicken breast or fish, and a generous portion of veggies. This is not that far off from the dishes that one might be accustomed to eating when not even trying to eat low GI (with the possible exception of nixing the breads and heavy starches from potatoes. With breakfast, though, these sorts of car-heavy, high glycemic foods are often the centerpiece of the meals that people need to break from. So how can you stick to the diet and make sure you’re getting the fuel you need, even at breakfast time?
The key to a low GI breakfast is to include protein
With any low GI diet, you’re going to want to make sure to include protein. Common ingredients in a low GI breakfast include:
- Eggs or egg whites
- Low to mid GI fruits such as grapefruits or apples
- Heavier proteins such as chicken breast or fish
- Nuts or almond butter
- Almond milk
- No sugar sweeteners such as liquid stevia for coffee
Using ingredients like these in your breakfast will most likely result in healthier meals that what you were consuming before. It will also ensure that you’re getting the nutrition and energy that your body needs. You’ll need this in order to not only meet the demands of the day ahead, but also to keep your body fortified for the exercise regime that you’re like to put yourself through as part of your overall health strategy. And most importantly, you will maintain low GI foods in your diet and keep your blood sugar from rising and your body from storing fat.
Low GI breakfast ideas
If before the low GI diet, you were eating cereal, a banana, maybe some orange juice or yogurt, this is going to mean a significant change. With the old diet, there was little to no protein, and an extensive list of foods that will cause excessive spikes in blood sugar.
The new diet, however, needs to ditch these in favor of low GI foods. If your diet was something like the one mentioned above, this means you’re likely going to need to re-adjust your expectations for breakfast. There might be a brief slog in which you learn to like savory food in the morning instead of sugary sweets. This can be painful for some, but worth it in the results you will experience.
Here are some ideas for maintaining a low GI breakfast:
Switch out cereal for eggs – This is the most important change you can make. Cereals are public enemy #1 when it comes to maintaining healthy glucose levels. The same goes for other car/sugar heavy breakfasts like toast and donuts.
Mix in some vegetables to make an omelette – This is not as time consuming as it sounds. Simply take some eggs or egg whites, and chop in some spinach and/or bell peppers. It’s delicious, and typically only takes about ten minutes to make.
Use hardboiled eggs – They can be a simple, quick shot of protein and very easy if you’re on the go. Make sure to combine with some kind of fruit or vegetable, though.
Grapefruit is the go-to – Just a grapefruit alone can actually serve as a perfectly fine breakfast. However, you’ll probably want to snack again within a couple hours.
No, no, no sugar – Whatever you do, avoid sugar like the plague. Don’t drink fruit juices, and don’t add sugar to your coffee. Instead, use almond milk and liquid stevia. These have no sugar.
Avoid foods deceptively marketed as healthy
The biggest danger when attempting to lower blood sugar, fight obesity, or just try to burn fat, is to blindly purchase foods that are labeled “low fat”, “organic”, or “No Sugar Added”. Grocery stores are filled with labels that make us think the foods inside the packaging are healthy, when in reality, they are anything but, as seen in this article from Authority Nutrition. These foods can still be loaded with processed sugars, naturally occurring sugars, or enriched flower – all of which spell disaster for a low GI diet.
Instead, try to avoid processed foods as much as possible, especially processed foods that contain grain or bread products. For foods that are processed, make sure you read the label and confirm that there is no form of sugar or flour in them. These ingredients will make your blood sugar spike and fat storage increase even though the package says “organic”.
Above all, make sure you know and understand everything you’re putting in your body, including the approximate glycemic index rating of the ingredients. This will ensure that you’re sticking to a low GI breakfast and not inadvertently wasting all the effort you put into your dieting throughout the rest of the day.
A helpful list of low GI foods, including those which can be incorporated into your breakfast, can be found on the food list from optimalfoods.org.