A Beginners Guide: How to Follow A Low Glycemic Index Diet

Following a low Glycemic Index diet will not only help you with weight loss, it may help you curb cravings as well. Hallelujah!

low glycemic index diet

What is the Glycemic Index?

The Glycemic Index (GI) measures how much carbohydrates raise blood-glucose levels. So, if a carb is measured at a high GI over 70, your blood sugar is going to skyrocket. If you eat carbohydrates that have a GI under 55, you may be in the clear. To see a Glycemic Index chart so that you can start using this as a guide, I found one that lists a lot of baked goods and breads (the more you know) from Harvard.Another great chart can be found on  Optimal Foods  for listing grains, beans, and fruits that are low GI. The GI Diet’s page also has a great list that includes low GI veggies. So take a look at these, and you may now understand why you are craving carbs and sweets throughout the day!

Why should we bother?

Eating low Glycemic Index foods means that you are working towards a more stable blood sugar level throughout the day. When you eat foods that have a hefty amount of carbs, like white carbs (pasta, bread, cookies) your insulin levels spike, then drop, causing you to be tired and craving more carbs. 

This is why I tell SO many people, when you eat a croissant first thing in the morning, you will crave more croissants and sweets the rest of the day. 

How do we do it?

Now that you know in a nutshell what the Glycemic Index is, and why we should be mindful of it, let’s talk about the *how*, my favorite part. 

How to Follow A Low Glycemic Index Diet.

I’m going to walk through a sample meal plan for a day that displays how to follow a low Glycemic Index diet. From this, you can use it as a guide or inspiration to create your own meal plan. So let’s jump in!

low gi green smoothie

Morning: Start your day with a green smoothie, juice, or SOUP! 

Balanced Babes break dieting rules, don’t ya know?! This means you can have lunch or dinner foods for breakfast, and breakfast foods for dinner. I like starting my day off with smoothies, juices or soups because they are low GI. I’m filling my stomach first thing with a meal I know is nutrient dense. Be weary of high carb breakfasts like bagels, pastries or donuts. 

Morning Low GI recipes: 

low gi minestrone soup

Dairy free and grain free minestrone soup.

Morning green smoothie

Jalapeno Pear Juice

“Cream of broccoli” soup.

Cleansing mung bean soup

Lunch Time: Load up on more low glycemic vegetables. 

To ease into a low GI diet, you can try swapping out at least one meal a day with a low GI meal. If you think you already eat fairly low GI, then you can use our recipes as a guide to create your own customized plan. For lunch time, I typically like to stay away from carbs so that I don’t hit the 3pm slump. I like to fill my plate with low GI “pastas” , veggie protein bowls, or soup and salad. 

Lunch time Low GI Recipes:

low gi black bean salad

Black bean salad

Crunchy lemon asparagus bowl

Miso ginger bok choy soup

Nightshade sautee

Collard green bowl

Zucchini “pasta”

Dinner Time: If you do decide that you can’t live without bread or carbs for a whole day, try opting for gluten free options like quinoa. If you *must* have bread, reach for some of the low GI options that you can find in the above charts. 

Also remember that sugary drinks can do a number on your blood sugar, so I like sipping on La Croix at night (sparkling flavored water) instead of a diet soda.  I typically make sure I have a lean protein at every meal with a low GI and high fiber veggie. In my case, I like to use beans, tempeh, and vegetables that are high in protein as my option. Sometimes I’ll have seafood if I’m craving it. Remember that as long as you aren’t piling your plate with potatoes, pastas, breads or processed foods, you are not spiking your GI! 

LOW GI dinners:

spaghetti squash low glycemic

Low glycemic “spaghetti”

Vegan Tofu Tacos

Try a low glycemic side of “mashed potatoes”

Asian Tempeh and green bean stir fry

Low GI desserts: We love desserts (who doesn’t). So instead of reaching for a chocolate chip cookie, try one of these alternatives instead. 

Cashew milk

Chia seed pudding

Flour-less brownies


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