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Take a load (of carbs) off

Take a load (of carbs) off

January 2006

by Natalie Gutierrez

Youíve heard of the Atkins Diet, the South Beach Diet and the Low-Fat Diet. But have you heard of the Low-Glycemic Load (LGL) Diet? Itís certainly a mouthful to say, but some experts claim itís not the next fad, but is here to stay.

Researchers in the Medical School and School of Nursing are conducting a study of the effects of the LGL Diet on type 2 diabetics in San Antonio. Raymond George Troxler, M.D., M.P.H., clinical associate professor of medicine, is the principal investigator. Darlene Gilcreast, Ph.D., assistant professor, and Jeanne H. Loop, R.D., an adjunct faculty member, both in the department of chronic nursing care, are the co-investigators.

Most fad diets discourage eating all forms of carbohydrates. Yet, just as we already know that not all fat is bad, the same is true for carbohydrates. Some carbohydrates, when digested, cause blood sugar levels to rise rapidly in some people, while in others they have little effect.

The LGL diet focuses on calculating the glycemic index (rate at which foods turn into sugar in the body) of particular foods. The purpose is to allow individuals to reap the health benefits of consuming carbohydrates or sugar while reducing the overall "glycemic load" or total amount of glucose in a meal that may cause the bodyís blood sugar levels to rise to unhealthy levels.
The glycemic load of a medium apple is 5.7.
How do I calculate Glycemic Load (GL)?

Net Carbs X Glycemic Index/100 = GL

To calculate the glycemic load of foods, take the amount (grams) of carbohydrates in a serving of food, multiply it by that foodís glycemic index and divide by 100 (pure glucose is the reference point and is assigned the value of 100).

Health Science Center researchers are recruiting 30 individuals ages 18 or older with type 2 diabetes for the study. Participants will be separated into two groups: the experimental group, which will receive the LGL diet, and the control group, which will receive a standard low-carbohydrate diet. Those on the LGL diet must consume a glycemic load of between 20 and 30 per meal. All will receive free nutritional counseling, blood work and body fat analysis, and pedometers to track the amount of walking they are doing.

"Our goal is to determine how well the LGL diet helps participants achieve weight loss and lower cholesterol and glucose levels," Dr. Gilcreast said. "We hope to introduce the LGL diet as one of the best methods to help diabetics avoid the deadly complications that result from the disease, and to improve their overall quality of life."

Dr. Gilcreast said calculating dietary glycemic load isnít simple. However, knowing the glycemic index of certain foods can help people make healthier choices.

The glycemic load of a doughnut is 17.5.
What is the difference between glycemic index and glycemic load?

Glycemic index (GI) indicates how quickly a certain food turns into sugar in a personís body. Fifty grams is the marker used for all foods to calculate how quickly that amount of carbohydrate in the food will raise blood sugar in the body. GI alone does not determine how much total carbohydrate or sugar is in the entire serving of food.

Glycemic load indicates the total amount of glucose in the food. It allows consumers to calculate the total amount in terms of an average serving.

"We hope to help people who are or might become insulin resistant to create a healthy eating pattern that minimizes insulin secretion and reduces insulin resistance," she said. "For those who are not diabetic, the diet is a great way to avoid putting on those extra pounds that might put them at risk for the disease later in life."

The study is funded by a grant from the School of Nursing, from the Lt. Col. Philip Piccione and Col. Jean Migliorino Faculty Award, and by the Dr. Rosemary Kerr McKevitt Memorial Research Award.

For more information about enrolling in the study, call (210) 567-0345.

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