When people talk about diet, they often mean changing their eating habits temporarily until they’ve lost enough weight to make them feel good, and then going back to what they were eating before. Often, people fail on their diets before they’ve reached their target. The reasons for this are many.
A few years ago, I successfully lost a load of weight by sticking to a low glycaemic load (GL) diet. The UK website Diabetes defines the GL as:
Glycemic load is a measure that takes into account the amount of carbohydrate in a portion of food together with how quickly it raises blood glucose levels.
The glycemic load of a food is calculated from the glycemic index (GI) of that food and the weight of carbohydrates in the serving:
GL = GI × carbohydrate (g) / 100
University of Sydney, http://www.glycemicindex.com/faqsList.php#1
For example, the Diabetes website states that a slice of whole grain bread has a glycaemic index of 45 and contains 18 g of carbs. Its glycaemic load is therefore 45 × 18 / 100 = 8.1 (results vary from bread to bread, and with size of slice, of course).
Foods are divided into low GL, medium GL and high GL, where low GL foods are better:
- Low Glycemic load (low GL): 0 to 10
- Medium Glycemic load (med GL): 11 to 19
- High Glycemic load (high GL): 20 and over
Our slice of wholemeal bread therefore has a low GL.
When I followed this diet, the aim was to eat (up to) 100 GL units a day. I didn’t bother weighing things out, but I did tend to eat foods with lower GL rather than with high GL. One day a week, however, all this went out of the window. I knew I would crave all my favourite foods — all the high carb goodies —, so I had a weekly cheat day, where I could eat whatever I liked. This meant that if I did fancy a slice of cake or a portion of cheesy chips, I only ever had less than a week to wait. I think with many diets, the idea of not being able to eat all the nice things for a long time weaken one’s will power, and increase the likelihood of failure.
I started this diet on 15th April 2013 and finished it on 14th October 2013. I also cycled a dozen miles or so most weekdays. In that time, I lost 16.87 kg (2 stone 9.19 pounds). I intended to make this diet permanent; however, I failed because we moved onto a boat, and I lost my mojo.