Defeat Diabetes

The essential guide to low carb vs low GI

2 mins read

They may sound similar, and although they share the goal of helping people with type 2 diabetes, understanding the differences between a low carb diet and a low GI diet is important for deciding how you choose to manage your blood glucose levels. 

What are low carb and low GI?

Low GI:

The Glycaemic Index is a scale that ranks carbohydrates on a scale from 0 to 100, based on how quickly and how much they raise blood glucose levels after eating. Foods with a low GI (55 or less) are absorbed more slowly, causing a slower and smaller rise in blood glucose levels. This diet emphasises the quality of carbs consumed, focusing on whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables with low GI scores.

Low carb:

A low carb diet focuses on lowering the amount of carbs you eat overall, regardless of their GI score. This approach restricts foods high in carbohydrates, such as sugars, bread, and pasta, and instead encourages higher protein and fats, such as cheese, olive oil, nuts and avocado. The goal with low carb is to lower blood glucose levels and, therefore the need for insulin, as the body uses fat as its primary energy source instead of carbs.

The main differences

1. Carb quantity vs. quality:

   - Low carb: Reduces the quantity of carbs.

   - Low GI: Focuses on the quality (type) of carbs you eat.

2. Dietary approach:

   - Low carb: Once you understand how many carbs are in different foods, you can count the grams of carbs you eat daily to stay below the recommended amount for low carb. At Defeat Diabetes, we recommend around 50 grams of carbohydrate a day. 

   - Low GI: Encourages the selection of foods based on their GI ranking.

3. Impact on blood glucose:

   - Low carb: Will lead to more significant and rapid improvements in blood glucose levelsdue to the reduction in carb intake.

   - Low GI: All carbohydrates raise blood glucose levels. Following a low GI approach may result in a slower rise, but as all carbs turn to glucose in the bloodstream, blood glucose levels will certainly increase. Many foods with a ‘low GI’ ranking can contain up to 10 teaspoons of sugar! 

low carb vs low GI - whats the difference type 2 diabetes

Which is best for blood glucose levels?

Foods ranked as ‘low GI’ can still contain a significant amount of carbs and will cause a longer, slower rise in blood glucose levels. But high blood glucose is still high blood glucose, no matter how long it took to get there! Low GI may result in a slower blood glucose rise, but the result will still be high blood glucose.

Low carb foods have far less of an impact on blood glucose levels. Some low carb foods, particularly fats, don’t impact blood glucose levels. So they can be enjoyed without fear of a post-meal rise. 

Final thoughts:

Both diets have merits in managing diabetes and improving overall health. However, if your goal is to improve your blood glucose levels and reduce the need for medication, then a low carb approach such as the Defeat Diabetes Low Carb Program will be the most beneficial. In fact, 88% of our members saw an improvement in blood glucose levels after starting our low carbprogram, and 2 in 3 were able to return blood glucose levels to  the non-diabetes range. 

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