Glycemic Index

Greetings from Connecticut! I made it to my parents’ house yesterday evening after a surprisingly easy drive from Alexandria. I thought I would hit major traffic but there were no delays and I made the drive in under 7 hours. Not bad!

While I’m here I will be starting a diet and exercise program with my CrossFit gym back in Virginia Beach. I attended an info session on Saturday and after learning about the plan, I was in.

The program is 7 weeks long and includes both diet and exercise. Since we are all CrossFitters, we are obviously doing CrossFit several times a week, but the program includes supplemental WOD’s which all of the participants are doing in addition to our regular workouts. There are two supplemental WOD’s per day, an a.m. one and a p.m. one. Each workout is about 10 minutes long and focused on core strengthening exercises such as planks, burpees, mountain climbers, grasshoppers, v-sits and tons of other fun stuff.

While the WOD’s sounded great, the nutrition part of the program is what really intrigued me. If you read my post about my goals for the month of May, you already know that I have been working to reduce my sugar intake. Unfortunately, it turns out that I have very little self control when it comes to cookies and fro-yo.

The diet plan that goes along with the weight loss challenge focuses on low-sugar, low glycemic index foods. Why is that important? Let me share the science behind this, which I learned from my awesome coach who put this program together.

When we eat sugar, it is quickly converted in glucose, which dissolves into our bloodstreams and spikes our blood sugar levels. When our blood sugar levels spike, our bodies release insulin, which is not great for weight loss. There are two reasons for this:

1. Insulin reduces the amount of glucose in our bloodstream, diverting it to various body tissue for immediate short-term use OR storing it as fat. So, unless you’re going to hop on the treadmill immediately after eating a package of M&M’s, and I mean immediately, because that glucose needs to be used up FAST, then your body will store those calories as fat. That is why endurance athletes basically consume pure sugar during their events- it is quick energy- but it is gone just as fast.

2. Insulin inhibits the conversion of body fat back into glucose for the body to burn, making it even harder to shed body fat.

So, by consuming foods that are low on the glycemic index, you will get longer lasting energy from your food, therefore feeling fuller for longer. Low-glycemic index foods include steel cut oats, quinoa, apples, berries, almonds, lean meats and most vegetables. These foods are low in sugar and high in fiber and protein, making them great for energy and satiety.

The plan also includes calorie counting, because ultimately you must expend more calories than you consume to lose weight. It stinks, but it’s the truth. The plan suggests that everyone hover around 2,000 calories, but since I am so small (I am only 5 feet tall, people) I know that I won’t lose weight at that number, so I am sticking with 1600.

I am hoping this plan will give me the structure I need to reign in my sugar cravings and lose a few stubborn pounds. Yesterday was day one and it went really well. The workouts were killer, the meals were tasty and I felt full and energized throughout the day.

I’ll be sharing some of the meals and workouts in the next few weeks and keep you posted on how it goes. Wish me luck!

Have you ever tried or heard of the low-glycemic index diet??? What do you think of it?