Nutrisystem programs offer balanced nutrition, and are also low glycemic index (GI). Why is low GI important? Looking across multiple clinical trials, low GI meal plans improve hunger management, help prevent energy dips, and result in better weight loss; and, in the case of people with diabetes, low GI diets are better for improving diabetes control. With so many people at risk of type 2 diabetes – according to the American Diabetes Association, an estimated 79 million U.S. adults are pre-diabetic – low GI diets are a prudent choice, for weight loss and for health.
What does low GI mean? When you eat foods that contain available carbohydrates – sugars and starches – your blood sugar (glucose) will rise as that carbohydrate is digested and absorbed. Studies have shown that the degree of that rise in blood sugar varies considerably across foods, even when the amount of available carbohydrate is held constant. High GI foods release their carbs rapidly, producing a bigger spike in blood glucose. Low GI foods release their glucose more slowly. As a result, insulin levels also rise less, and this is part of a cascade of differences that favor low GI meal plans from a health perspective.
If you read a nutrition facts panel on a Nutrisystem® food, and compare it to a similar-looking food made by someone else, it will often be the case that the Nutrisystem food contains less sugar and less fat, but not less carbohydrate. Nutrisystem is not low carb; it’s good carb. We choose the right ingredients and processing conditions to yield a lower GI score. We do sometimes add sugars, but only in small amounts, because sugars tend to raise the GI. There is less added sugar in a full day of Nutrisystem, including all grocery additions, than in a single 12 oz can of cola!
Here are four simple rules to reduce the GI of your diet:
1. – GI only applies to foods that contain carbohydrate. Oils, nuts, and most meats do not have enough carbohydrate to generate a GI.
2. – The more a carb is refined or processed, the higher the GI. Smooth, spongy white bread is more heavily processed than dense, chunky whole grain bread. The white bread probably has a higher GI.
3. – The more a carb is cooked, the higher the GI. Mushy pasta or rice will be broken down and converted to blood glucose more quickly than the same pasta or rice prepared al dente. The mushy stuff has a higher GI. Apple sauce (even with no sugar added) will have a higher GI than a raw apple.
4. – The riper a fruit, the higher the GI. An over-ripe apple, banana, or cantaloupe actually smells sweet, doesn’t it? Nature has already started the process of breaking down the carbs, which is work that your body doesn’t have to do. Carbs from ripe fruit are converted into blood glucose faster, resulting in a higher GI.
Do you need to know the GI number of individual foods? No. Just as on Nutrisystem you learn by doing what a serving size should look like, you learn by following the meal planner what fruits, vegetables and carbs are sources of good carbs. That’s a great start. Where it gets a little trickier is with our entrees, snacks and desserts, because they can look the same as popular high GI foods (for instance, the blueberry muffin that you buy in the store probably isn’t low-GI, even if it has sildenafil citrate the same look, smell, taste, and calorie content as the Nutrisystem blueberry muffin). This is where our cookbook (http://www.nutrisystem.com/jsps_hmr/customization/alacarte.jsp?categoryId=52) and our online recipes come in handy. When you are ready to shop and cook on your own, look to these resources and the support of our online community to help keep you eating the low GI way.
The GI News blog: http://ginews.blogspot.com/
For healthcare professionals, an article on the science behind Nutrisystem, including low GI: http://www.nutrisystem.com/pdf/HCP_Nutrisystem_Science.pdf