To develop the Shaklee Smart Carb Food Plan, we partnered with a preeminent expert in metabolic science, Dr. Vlad Vuksan, who helped develop the glycemic index, a core concept of the Shaklee Weight Management Program. With more than three decades of clinical nutrition and author of numerous studies (38 in the past four years alone), Dr. Vuksan has received Outstanding Research Fellowship Awards with the National Institute of Canada. Currently he is an Associate Director of the Clinical Nutrition and Risk Factor Modification Center at the University of Toronto.
We asked Dr. Vuksan to talk about the glycemic index.
Q. What does the glycemic index measure? A. The glycemic index (G.I.) assigns a value to a food based on how far and how fast blood sugar rises after it's easten. A high-glycemic food such as white bread is quickly converted to glucose, causing a spike in blood sugar, which is followed by a steep dip that the brain translates into hunger and fatigue. Low-glycemic foods, in contrast, help the body maintain more constant blood sugar, and that helps keep the body supplied with steady energy.
Q. Is the glycemic index similar to the difference between simple versus complex carbohydrates? A. Not at all. Simple carbohydrates were considered bad and complex ones, good. But our research showed that some complex carbohydrates such as potatoes raised blood sugar rapidly, while some simple carbohydrates such as fruit raised blood sugar more slowly. That led us to develop the glycemic index as a more precise way to measure carbohydrates.
Q. How does glycemic index contribute to weight loss? A. By using the glycemic index to identify carbohydrate foods with a low impact on blood sugar, foods can be selected that maintain energy, postpone hunger, and thus avoid overeating. Low-glycemic foods have also been shown to improve blood lipid levels by increasing the breakdown of fat and increasing the metabolic rate of fat burning.
Q. Are low-glycemic diets safe and effective? A. A number of clinical studies have shown the low-glycemic diets are effective, promote weight loss, and decrease body fat. Subjects who consumed low-glycemic diets have been shown to decrease body mass, eat less food, and lose significantly more weight than those who ate the same calories from high-glycemic foods.