Sunday, April 08, 2007

The South Beach Theory

Like other diets that are based on the Glycaemic Index (GI), the South Beach diet severely restricts the carbohydrates in the first two weeks before gradually reintroducing those with a low glycaemic index.

The idea is that our bodies break down carbohydrates into sugars and absorb them into the blood, thus, causing high blood sugar. In response, the pancreas releases the hormone insulin to facilitate the use of sugar in the blood. The more sugar there is in the blood, the more insulin is also released.

Carbohydrates rich foods with high glycaemic index, such as bagels, cornflakes, white bread and jacket potatoes can cause a rapid rise in blood sugar. As a result, when you eat lots of these foods, your pancreas also releases voluminous amounts of insulin.

This rapid release of large amounts of insulin likewise results in rapid drops of blood sugar levels, leaving you lacking in energy. Since carbohydrates are your body’s prime source of energy, you start to crave more carbs, leading to carb-splurging – that is, eating too much carbohydrates at one time.

If this pattern is repeated, you are likely to gain weight as a result of constant overeating. On top of this, your body may develop resistance to the action insulin over time. When this happens, your body starts to store more fat, especially around the middle.

That said, there is no question then that foods with a high GI are definitely out.

Instead, Dr. Agatston suggests carbs with a low glycaemic index like pasta, pulses and porridge. These foods contain low amounts of sugar, which are slowly released into the blood. The result is a steady supply of energy for your body that will leave you feeling satisfied for a longer period of time.

Since you don’t feel constantly hungry and have few cravings, you are less likely to overeat. In addition, your body is less likely to develop resistance to insulin action, thus allowing your body to become more effective in burning fat.

So if you want to lose weight, then better start eating foods with low GI.

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