Introduction: The Ultimate Diet
Part I – What is GL?
1 GI and GL Made Simple
2 How to Follow the 7-Day GL Diet
Part II – Whose Side are You on?
3 It’s All in the Mind
4 KOKO – Keep on Keeping on
5 Every Second Counts
Part III – Your 7-Day GL Guides
6 The 7-day Fast and Friendly Plan
7 The 7-day Veggie Friendly Plan
8 The 7-day Foodie Friendly Plan
9 Variety is the Spice of Life
Part IV – Living a Low-GL Lifestyle
10 Low-GL Food Lists with Portion Guide
11 A Guide to Low-GL Shopping and Eating Out
12 Love Your Food and Your Body
Part V – Further Information
13 The Evidence – Research that Shows Low-glycaemic Diets Work
14 Your Questions Answered
Appendix 1 – A-Z of Low-GL Foods
Appendix 2 – Recommended Reading
Index of Recipes
About the Author
Reviews for the GL Diet
About the Publisher
Introduction: The Ultimate Diet
In my role as both a clinical dietician working on the front line with patients, and as a dietician working in the media, the question I’m asked most frequently has to be: ‘What is the ultimate diet?’
It’s a claim that’s been made about so many of the diets that we now know to be at best useless and at worst dangerous. Before we can even begin to answer the question, I think we have to decide what the ultimate diet would need to include.
The ultimate diet – it works, it’s easy to follow, it’s based on sound scientific evidence, and it suits both men and women. There is no need to count points or calories or to weigh food. There is no humiliation or guilt! It is a diet for life – not just post-Christmas, and it’s safe. There is such a diet and it’s called the 7-day GL diet.
We know that every fad diet and every celebrity diet has maybe one or two of these attributes – but for me that’s not good enough. For any diet to bear my name, and more importantly for me to use with patients in clinics, I have to be completely satisfied that my criteria have been met.
I firmly believe that if we don’t have these high standards we will keep people in the ‘diet trap’, an unhealthy cycle leading to both physiological and psychological damage.
For me, the 7-day GL diet ticks all of the boxes. This isn’t a diet we thought up sitting in our office – it’s taken years of trials, research and adaptation to develop into a plan we are proud of and in which we have complete confidence.
From working with both men and women with weight issues I have learnt that while people like to have clear and simple guidelines, they are also more likely to succeed if given the responsibility of choice. This book will enable you to understand fully why the plan can work for you, and will help you to control your weight forever. What we want is for you to get to the point where you have learned enough to put the book away and get on with your life, without having to keep checking if you are doing things right.
The 7-day GL diet gives you the simple, flexible, straightforward foundations you need to start a new healthy way of eating. It will put you firmly in the ‘weight-control driving seat’ and keep you there!
Although it might seem like it, none of us goes upstairs one night thin and comes down the next morning with a weight problem – it takes years of repeated behaviour, and that behaviour becomes more ingrained with every failed dieting attempt. Writing the book has been both a professional and personal learning curve for all of us. Much of the advice, support and coaching we give to change these behaviours comes from our experience of working with real people, as well as from our personal stories of breaking free from our own ‘diet traps’.
With a combined 90 years of dieting experience between us, we created Diet Freedom to help other people just like us, people with busy, pressured lives who were frustrated with the continual cycle of either preparing for the next diet, or recovering from the most recent dieting failure. Along with our individual professional strengths – tireless researcher, amazingly experimental cook and diligent dietician – this experience puts us in a unique position to support you in your own quest for diet freedom.
You may notice throughout the book references to both our website www.dietfreedom.co.uk and Diet Freedom Fighters. The name ‘Diet Freedom Fighters’ was coined by GL dieters on our website forums, who have taken up the GL challenge and are getting great results. We set up the website as an added support network and are delighted that it is so popular, not to mention huge fun. We love it and wanted to make sure you are aware that there is a lot more support available to you after reading the book – in fact, there’s a whole community out there waiting to welcome you!
We really hope this book will give you the answers you have been looking for. We’d like to be the first to congratulate you on taking your first step towards success and achieving your goals!
RD BSc Hons
WHAT IS GL?
This section gives you all the background information about the diet and how it works. Most importantly, it tells you how to get started. It also explains why we feel the Glycaemic Load (GL) makes more sense than the Glycaemic Index (GI) alone, and gives you the simple science behind balancing blood sugars and permanent weight control.
A simple explanation of how the diet works
A clear guide to getting started
Tips on deciding what you want to achieve
“After I had my son I’d gained about 10lb, and in the first few months I was so busy getting used to being a mum I didn’t really have time to think about dieting. As the day to go back to work loomed closer and closer I began to panic. I’d got into a snacking habit that I just couldn’t seem to break. I’d worked with Nigel on nutrition stories before, and after he talked me through the diet I quickly got back in control of my eating, and lost the weight I’d gained in time for my first day back at work. I felt so reassured that I hadn’t needed to rely on a quick-fix diet. The concept of GL makes complete sense to me and has just become a way of life.”
Mishal Husain, BBC news anchor
GI AND GL MADE SIMPLE
The first thing you probably want to know about this diet is: ‘Does it work?’
Well, from my experience as a dietician working with patients in my own clinics, I can tell you yes, it most certainly does. Every day I see more and more people who previously thought they were stuck in a ‘diet trap’ telling me that the GL diet is finally getting them back in the driving seat where their weight is concerned. They are looking at life with renewed optimism and excitement as a world of possibilities and freedom opens up to them with every positive step they take towards their weight-loss goals.
Slow Carbs not No Carbs
Before we start looking at GI and GL and the differences in more detail, we need to go back a little further so you can see how our understanding of carbohydrate management has evolved.
A few years ago I was actively and publicly criticizing the ‘high-protein, low-carb’ diet phenomenon that was sweeping the world. We knew people were losing weight, but as a responsible dietician I could never sit comfortably with the idea of cutting out a whole food group from our diet.
What we can say about high-protein, low-carb diets today is this: in controlled weight-loss studies, they perform no better than any other weight-loss programme in the long term, and worryingly we remain unsure about how safe these diets are in terms of heart health and long-term kidney function.
So, let’s get one thing straight: this is not a no-carb diet. The principle behind the GL diet is SLOW CARBS, and there’s a big difference in terms of success and long-term health.
Although research into the Glycaemic Index (GI) has been carried out progressively over the last 20 or so years in Australia (University of Sydney) and Canada (University of Toronto), and more recently in the United States by Harvard Medical School, * the GI only really began to hit the headlines a couple of years ago as a possible, healthier successor to low-carb diets.
How Can the GI Help Weight Control?
Foods that contain carbohydrates have an effect on our blood glucose (or blood sugars). This effect is measured as the ‘glycaemic response’. A food that will make our blood glucose level rise quickly is classed as high glycaemic, whereas a food that has little or no impact on our blood glucose is low glycaemic.
When we eat high-glycaemic carbohydrates we get a rapid rise in blood glucose or a ‘spike’. This is bad news for the body and prompts our pancreas to produce insulin, the most powerful hormone in the body, so not to be underestimated. Insulin comes rushing in to flush the glucose from our bloodstream as a safety mechanism and carries it to our liver and muscles, where it is stored as energy for later use. Healthy blood glucose is quite finely balanced – when blood glucose goes too low or too high it can detrimentally affect most of the organs in the body. If this situation becomes the norm it can have quite serious long-term health implications. The muscles and liver fill up very quickly, especially if we are not doing a lot of exercise to use up this ‘stored energy’ – by ‘a lot’ we mean the sort of training you might do to run a marathon. When the muscles and liver are full and can’t store any more glucose, the only thing insulin can do is transfer the excess to other body tissues, where this excess energy is stored as FAT. Yes, those awful wobbly bits!
Once insulin has done its job and dispersed the glucose from our blood, the ‘spike’ in blood glucose falls rapidly. This is a vicious cycle as the rapid fall prompts us to crave more high-glycaemic foods – which actually caused the problem in the first place!
If we eat low-glycaemic foods, we store less excess energy and blood glucose levels are kept stable. This gives a slow-release, prolonged energy supply, enabling us to go about our activities with fewer cravings, feeling more balanced and ultimately storing less fat.
That’s the basis of all low-glycaemic diets. But why low GL (Glycaemic Load) rather than low GI (Glycaemic Index)?
So What’s Wrong with GI?
In principle nothing, except …
The way the GI of a food is worked out doesn’t always relate to the amount of food we actually eat at one sitting.
GI can be very confusing.
If you base your diet on low-GI foods, some very healthy foods are excluded, such as carrots, watermelon, parsnips, pumpkin and broad beans to name a few.
GI gives us the first part of the story. It tells us that not all carbohydrates are equal. But that’s a bit like knowing that you spend more money than you earn each month – it doesn’t actually help you manage your money and get back in the black!
What’s So Right about GL?
The Glycaemic Load (GL) gives you the whole story:
GL allows you to understand with confidence how foods will affect your body.
GL is based on carbohydrates in the portion sizes we usually eat, rather than the amount needed in a laboratory setting to work out the GI.
GL means far more food choices.
GL makes practical sense of the GI science. It’s the final chapter in carbohydrate management and offers a real solution to long-term weight control.
The Technical Bit – How We Work out the GI and GL of a Food
Note: if you don’t want to know about the science – and you don’t need to in order to follow the GL diet – then skip to Chapter 2.
GI – the First Part of the Story
To work out the GI of a food, scientists take whatever amount of a food is needed to give you 50g of carbohydrate. Now, with a food like bread that isn’t a problem because two slices of bread give us about 50g of carbohydrate. The bread is then fed to human volunteers and blood samples are taken from them at regular intervals to see how much glucose has been released into their bloodstream. The result of these tests is a GI number between 1 and 100.
Foods are classed as:
55 or less = low Gl
56–69 = moderate GI
70 plus = high Gl
So far, so good.
But let’s look at another food. Take carrots and use the same procedure. To get 50g of carbohydrate from carrots you would need to consume about one-and-a-half pounds (0.7kg). That’s a normal portion for a donkey maybe, but a bit excessive for the likes of us humans in one sitting. The volunteers (poor things) are fed the carrots, and the same blood tests and calculations are carried out as with the bread. The result is that carrots get a GI of about 75, making them high GI, which is why many GI diet books advise you not to eat them! Carrots are, in fact, a very healthy and low-‘GL’ food based on an average portion, so we can all thankfully continue to enjoy them as part of a balanced diet.
The GL Makes Sense of the GI
The GL goes a practical stage further. It takes the GI rating we’ve just outlined, but then very cleverly (thanks to Professor Walter Willett of Harvard Medical School who came up with the equation) takes into account the amount of carbohydrate in a portion of food we would normally eat. So now we know the effect a normal portion of carrots (around 100g) would have on our blood glucose levels, and that’s what gives us the GL rating.
It’s so simple and, more importantly, relevant to what we actually eat!
Foods rated using the GL do still get a number:
10 and under = low GL
11–19 = medium GL
20 plus = high GL
If you did want to count your GLs for the first few days to gain confidence that you are on the right track, you would be aiming to have 80GL or under on a low-GL day. A high-GL day would be 120GL or over.
BUT don’t worry. Although we do give some basic portion guidelines and GL references, you don’t have to count at all! Counting points and rigidly measuring and weighing foods is what turns us all off when it comes to diets. It’s the bit that makes diets boring, boring, boring and, besides, who has the time?
All you need to do is read through the rest of the book, start loving healthy, low-GL foods, losing weight and, best of all, be able to keep it off forever as the GL diet becomes a way of life.
As serial dieters we are all searching for our own elusive ‘diet freedom’. The GL finally brings this within everyone’s grasp without deprivation or hunger.
For us, this GL plan is the ultimate permanent weight-loss solution because:
It works – you’ll see results in just seven days.
It’s easy to follow.
It’s based on sound, sensible science.
It suits both men and women.
There’s no counting points.
There’s no endless weighing and measuring.
There’s no hunger or feeling deprived.
There’s no humiliation or guilt.
It’s a healthy diet you’ll want to adopt for life, not just for Christmas …
Oh … and it’s safe!
* The Harvard Medical School has carried out the longest running studies into human nutrition, stretching back over 20 years, and these are still continuing today.
HOW TO FOLLOW THE 7-DAY GL DIET
OK, so now you’ve got the gist of how and why the GL diet works, are you ready to get cracking?
This chapter is designed to give you a short and sweet, whistle-stop tour of how to use the book, eat fantastic low-GL food from the 7-day plans and, of course, get results.
We have written The 7-Day GL Diet to give you enough guidance to guarantee results. You can start by making small changes a week at a time until, before you know it, you are actually living a healthy low-GL lifestyle. If all you want to do is follow the diet for seven days to lose a few pounds then that’s no problem, but we’d like to think you’ll want to carry on once we get you feeling all the benefits of eating low GL. Once you feel confident about which foods are low GL and which aren’t, we think you’ll want to join the thousands of successful ‘Diet Freedom Fighters’ (as they like to be known) out there who now make eating low GL part of their day-to-day routine. You can of course carry on using all the recipes, food lists and shopping guides long after the first seven days. Remember, this doesn’t have to be a short-term quick fix – it can be a way of life.
Because the three of us are so different – and the feedback we’ve had tells us you are all so different too – we’ve carefully designed three seven-day plans to suit the variations in the way we all eat and prepare our food. If you want to pick one of the plans and follow it to the letter for seven days, that’s fine; or if you prefer to mix and match, choosing meals from all of the plans, then that will work too. You can also follow each of the plans in succession for three weeks, checking your results as you go – do whatever is going to fit in with your lifestyle and feels right for you.
Whichever way you choose to use the plans, here are a few golden rules that will help you stay on track, and lose those unwanted pounds and inches.
The 7-day GL Diet Secrets of Success
Whichever plan you want to follow, make sure you eat three meals and two snacks each day. This will prevent the dreaded hunger pangs you so often get on a diet, whilst ensuring you meet your nutritional needs for the day.
Use the shopping guides and food lists we have put together for you. They are there to make everything easier and to ensure you don’t find yourself at the supermarket checkout with a whole load of high-GL foods.
Get organized – decide which day you want to start the plan, and stick to it. Get everything you need for at least the first two to three days. If you can, get rid of high-GL foods like biscuits, sweets, white breads and cakes that may act as trigger foods for you to fall off track.
Take some measurements such as waist and hips as well as weight or BMI (body mass index – there is a BMI chart on our website) before you start and don’t measure again until the end of the seven days. Weight can fluctuate daily for lots of reasons so you won’t get a true picture of your success by jumping on the scales every day – and anyway, that’s what people stuck in a diet trap do and you are now breaking free from all that!
Although we have given some general guides for portions, don’t start weighing everything you eat! There’s no need. The guides are there just to give you an idea of a sensible portion. Maybe weigh a food once, and then you’ll recognize the right portion the next time. Do use the cupped hands portion guide (see page 191) – this is the only portion rule you’ll ever need!
Don’t get hung up about counting GL points either. Although we have given you the GL values of foods it’s just to give you a basic understanding. We are all for ‘Diet Freedom’ and making everything smooth and easy, which fits in perfectly with this way of eating. Counting points and weighing food is too much like dieting for us – and remember WE HATE DIETS!
? Get active. You will lose weight following the 7-day GL diet on its own, but this book is all about helping you towards a healthier lifestyle and that means moving about more (see page 18 for details). You will feel even better and get fantastic results if you increase your activity levels by even 30 minutes a day, along with following the eating plans.
So What Can You Expect from the 7-Day GL Diet?
A lot will depend on where you are starting from, what your diet is like right now, how much you weigh, how active you are, and of course how closely you follow the plans!
The one thing we can promise you is that you will lose weight following the 7-day GL plan. You can expect to lose between 2lb and 5lb in the first week, more if you’ve got a lot of weight to lose. Unlike other diets, the difference is that if you keep to a reasonably low-GL diet you’ll keep the weight off. If you just want to lose a few pounds then a week or two following the plan may be all you need. However, most people feel so well on the plans that they carry on just for the many health and emotional benefits (see research in Chapter 13).
For those of you who have more weight to lose it will take a little longer, but you will get there, just take it seven days at a time. Whatever your goals, we – and the many wonderful Diet Freedom Fighters – are here to help and support you. Check out our website to help keep you going.
You can use the plans for as long as you like. They are nutritionally balanced; there are no food groups you have to avoid; and above all you won’t be hungry. Once you have got the hang of things it becomes second nature, but to start with we really recommend you take it in seven-day steps, building on your success as each week passes.
When you reach your goal we’ve also given you lots more help to maintain it (see Chapter 4).
The Seven-day Plans
Each of the 7-day plans has a particular type of person in mind. However, because we are complicated souls, and our daily routines aren’t all the same, please remember you can jump into one plan today and another tomorrow. As long as you stick to a breakfast, lunch and evening meal plus two snacks from any of the plans you’ll be just fine.
The Seven-day Fast and Friendly Plan
This is for people who probably know there is a cooker in the kitchen somewhere but don’t have what you’d call a loving relationship with it. It’s all about fast, healthy and delicious food to help you lose weight and snacks you can munch on the run. We even give you tips for eating out and grabbing ready prepared food.
The throw-together evening meals take no more than 20 minutes from start to finish, but if there’s the odd night you do want to spend a bit longer cooking, no problem – just choose a recipe from the Foodie Friendly plan for keen cooks. Similarly, if you like to eat meat-free every now and then you can dip into the seven-day plan for vegetarians too.
What we wanted to give you was a fast, easy and convenient plan that fits in with your normal routine. This is Tina’s speciality area – she’s a great cook but far too busy to waste a minute more than she needs to in the kitchen.
Fast and GL-friendly is Tina’s mantra!
The Seven-day Veggie Friendly Plan
This pretty much does what it says! Vegetarians are so often forgotten about when it comes to weight-loss plans, but not here. We have a mixture of quick, tasty recipes and one or two that take a little more time. The most important thing is that they taste fantastic – no more ‘vegetarian lasagne’ every night for you. Our recipes use clever ingredients, imagination and lots of variety to keep you nutritionally balanced and happy with fabulously indulgent food that’s good for you and your waistline.
The Seven-day Foodie Friendly Plan
This is for the keen cooks amongst us. Deborah is a fantastically experimental cook who thinks nothing of starting preparation for a dinner party three days before anyone arrives – she’s our domestic GL goddess.
Although you might not have quite as much passion as Deborah for cooking, this plan was designed for people who enjoy winding down at the end of the day by taking a little time to prepare dinner. The recipes aren’t complicated but don’t rely on convenience and time-saving tips. While they are all delicious, don’t be fooled into thinking they must also be full of calories and luxury ingredients. We’ve kept a beady eye on our Deborah and have made sure these recipes will achieve the same weight-loss results as the other two plans.
Just in case you are wondering, I fall somewhere between Tina and Deborah when it comes to being bothered to cook – and would be the perfect example of someone who would mix and match from one plan to another throughout the week.
OK, you know which plan you want to follow, or how you are going to combine the plans to suit your routine, so what else do you need? Ah yes, an activity plan. Don’t panic – this is going to be so easy but we do think it’s a really important part of your success.
If we asked whether you were prepared to find 30 minutes a day to get to your goals, what would you say? Just 30 minutes or 1800 seconds every day will do so much to move you towards your goals:
It will encourage your body to make new lean muscle tissue – that means your metabolic rate will speed up and you’ll burn more calories even when you are asleep.
It will exercise your heart muscle and improve your overall health and wellbeing.
It will help you tone up as well as lose fat.
It will improve your quality of sleep.
It will help relieve stress and tension.
It will improve your overall physical and emotional fitness.
It will increase your results and make them even easier to maintain.
Every Second Counts! The 1800-second Challenge
Here’s the challenge to get you moving about more and shedding those excess pounds. All we want you to do over the next seven days is find either one block of 30 minutes (1800 seconds), two blocks of 15 minutes (900 seconds) or three blocks of 10 minutes (600 seconds), and when you’ve got them we want you to walk for Diet Freedom. That’s it! It’s as simple as that – chuck on your trainers and start walking. Every step you take will lead towards your own personal Diet Freedom, and you will start to feel the benefits we’ve talked about very quickly. Your body will soon notice you’re asking it to do more than usual if you are doing this every day, and that’s when the changes will start to happen.
We find the best way to fit in those 30 minutes is to look at your routine and see where you could walk instead of drive or take the bus, or just take some of the time wasted sitting down watching television when you could be out and about.
Walk to work, or part of the way?
Walk the kids to school?
Cancel the papers and go and collect them yourself?
Get out of the office at lunchtime?
Take a walk when you get in from work?
Get the kids away from the television or computer and walk with them?
Walk the dog or someone else’s dog?
The choices are endless. You might find it useful to have a couple of circuits in mind which will take you 10, 15 or 30 minutes, then you don’t need to worry about where you are going to walk. Make sure you feel safe walking your circuits, and if you are worried about becoming more active check with your doctor first.
If you already go to the gym, take an exercise class, swim or whatever, that’s great. But we want these 1800 seconds a day to be on top of what you already do.
Do this for the next seven days, then write a list of all the good things about getting more active – the pros. After that write another list of all the not-so-good things about getting more active – the cons. Which outweighs the other? We challenge you to come up with more cons than pros. If you do find some cons about your activity plan, look at each one in isolation and see if you can come up with a way to make it a good thing or a pro. Here’s an example:
Pros and Cons of Getting Active for Seven Days
How Do I Know if I’m Walking Hard Enough?
That’s an easy one. The ‘talk test’ is a really simple way of judging whether you are walking fast and hard enough. While you are walking, start talking (even to yourself!). Yes, people may stare but that’s their problem. If you can talk away as normal you can probably go faster or include more of an incline on your circuit. If you can still talk but need to catch your breath you are spot on and can keep going. If you can’t talk, have turned purple and keeled over, you are probably trying too hard.
Seriously, don’t go mad. Start gradually and build up to a level that just gets you feeling a little warmer and increases your breathing rate. At some point that level will feel quite normal and will require little or no effort. That’s the time to see if you can go faster, harder or longer.
So what’s stopping you? Rise to the Diet Freedom walk challenge – we know you can do it!
Now you’ve got everything you need to get started: you know how the diet works, you know how to make the 7-day plans work for you a week at a time, and you’re ready to start walking towards Diet Freedom – congratulations! Of course you have already taken the most positive step of all by starting to read this book – so well done!
We’d love to know how well you’re doing, so please do log on to the forums on our website and let us know.