fattening foods

It's not the fat on your plate that makes you fat... it's the type (and quantity) of carbohydrates you eat.

French fries

It’s not the fat on your plate that makes you fat… it’s the type (and quantity) of carbohydrates you eat.


As a general guide, any food that grows in the ground, or is made from something that grows in the ground, is a carbohydrate.

That covers a whole host of natural foods like vegetables, beans, rice, fruits, as well as most man-made foods like breads, pastas, pizzas, chips, biscuits, cakes, sweets, fruit juices, and fizzy drinks.

All carbohydrates are composed of long chains of sugar building-blocks. Some carbohydrates are easily taken apart by the enzymes in our intestines during digestion… other types of carbohydrates are only very slowly broken down into their component building-blocks.

The ones that are easily and quickly digested enter the blood stream quickly, and they cause a rapid rise in the amount of sugar circulating in our blood.

Other carbohydrates are more difficult to break into their sugar building-blocks, so are only slowly absorbed into the blood stream. They don’t cause a rapid rise in blood-sugar levels.

glycemic (or glycaemic) index (GI)…

The process of digestion keeps splitting apart the long chains of sugars in the carbohydrates, until the basic building-blocks are reached.

The basic building-block of carbohydrates is glucose, and as everyone knows, that’s our main source of energy.

It’s also a two-edged sword… too much glucose in the blood can damage vital organs, so our bodies strictly control how much glucose is allowed to float around in the blood. More about that later.

Glucose has been given the arbitrary value of 100, this being the Glycemic Index of glucose, often shortened to the letters GI.

GNLD has examined many different foods and compared them with glucose, as part of the 3-year research and clinical trials with human volunteers that went into developing their GR² Weight Control Programme.

Some surprising results were obtained.

For example, the carbohydrates in white potatoes (boiled, mashed, baked, or chipped) are quickly broken down in the intestines, and their glucose building-blocks are quickly absorbed into the blood stream, causing a rapid rise in blood-sugar levels… in fact, a quicker rise than table sugar! That’s why spuds are on GNLD’s ‘Avoid’ list if you’re trying to lose centimetres from your waist-line.

Another example is bread. The carbohydrate in ordinary processed bread (brown or white) is easily and quickly broken down into its sugar building-blocks, and your blood-sugar level rises quickly after eating it.

On the other hand, bread made from rye, or from other whole grains, takes much longer to break down. The glucose molecules are only slowly released, and there is no rapid rise in blood sugar. This type of old-fashioned bread is on GNLD’s ‘Enjoy’ list… in small quantities, of course!

Rice and pasta are yet further examples. Ordinary white rice has a higher GI than brown rice. Brown Basmati rice has a different carbohydrate structure from ordinary rice, which makes it slower to break down, and therefore it has a lower GI than ordinary rice. Choosing a little brown Basmati rice instead of ordinary white rice avoids a blood sugar spike.

Whole durum wheat, from which whole-wheat brown pastas are made, has a carbohydrate structure more difficult to break down to its sugar molecules than any type of rice. Whole-wheat pasta therefore has a lower GI than any rice, so it’s on the ‘Enjoy’ list… again, in small quantities.

Cooking causes some vegetables to change the structure of their carbohydrate chains, so they’re more easily broken down. For this reason, raw carrots are on the ‘Enjoy’ list, but cooked carrots are on the ‘Avoid’ list. Butternut is another example.

The tropical fruits like mango, watermelon, and bananas are also very quickly broken down and release their glucose rapidly, so they’re also best avoided if you want to slim.

GNLD’s booklet, ‘Enjoy & Avoid’, is a handy little reference to take with you when shopping, or when eating out, so you can make the centimetre-losing food choices easily and quickly.

what difference does all this make to a slimmer?…

Sugar, in the form of glucose, is the ‘fuel’ our bodies use to make energy, so an adequate supply is necessary to keep our brains, and all the other organs, working energetically for a vibrant life.

The ideal is a steady supply of glucose we can efficiently use throughout the day, to achieve our best, without feeling tired.

However, many people get too much sugar because they choose high-GI carbohydrates like sweets, chocolates, bread, rolls, French sticks, pies, koeksisters, cakes, biscuits, rusks, muffins, breakfast cereals, white rice, white pasta, white potatoes, chips, boxed fruit juices, cool drinks, sports drinks, and so on. It’s a very long list!

Too much sugar in the blood is harmful, particularly to the brain, eyes, kidneys, and the tiny blood vessels in the fingers and toes, so the body strictly controls the level of sugar in the blood… mainly through the release of insulin and other hormones.

Insulin removes the excess sugar from the blood and stores it in the muscles and liver for later use. If the sugar stores are full, the liver converts the sugar to fat, and the body then stores the fat in the storage depots in our hips and waists.

Insulin also causes our body’s fat-burning department to close down, so none of our existing fat stores get used for energy… they just get bigger and bigger.

insulin yo-yo…

After a high-carbohydrate meal or snack, insulin does its work, and the level of sugar in the blood falls… not to its original level, but to a level lower than it was before the high-GI food was eaten. Now there’s not much glucose for energy available, and we feel tired. To overcome the tiredness and perk us up, we often have another high-GI snack or drink, and the cycle starts all over again.

This yo-yoing rise and fall of blood glucose levels, and the yo-yoing rise and fall of insulin levels, caused by eating high-GI meals and high-GI snacks, appears to ‘wear out’ the control systems. The muscles eventually don’t respond when insulin knocks on their doors to store glucose, and the cells in the pancreas making the insulin get tired and don’t produce the correct amounts of insulin.

This unhealthy state of affairs leads to obesity, and obesity leads to heart disease, arthritis, and diabetes.

how much carbohydrate to eat?…

There is something else important to consider, apart from the GI value of a food… how much carbohydrate the food actually contains. This is often called the glycemic load (GL for short).

Bread, pasta, and rice are more or less all carbohydrate.

Broccoli, on the other hand, contains a lot of fibre and water, and relatively little actual carbohydrate.

For this reason, a cup of pasta or rice has the same amount of carbohydrate as about 12 cups of broccoli!

That means the effect of a cup of pasta or rice on the blood sugar is about twelve times the effect of a cup of broccoli. Or to put it another way, you can eat 12 cups of broccoli to get the same amount of carbohydrate you get when you eat a cup of rice.

It’s very easy to eat a lot of rice or pasta at one meal, and this causes havoc in our sugar-control systems… most of it ends up on our hips!

In contrast, several cups of assorted vegetables are very filling and satisfying, without causing a blood-sugar spike.

Because the amount of carbohydrate the body has to deal with is much lower with the vegetable option, there’s very little chance of it causing the blood sugar level and the insulin level to yo-yo, so none of the carbohydrate will find its way to our hips or waist. Yippee!

your main meal…

To serve your main meal of the day, take a smaller dinner plate than usual, so you put out less food.

Start with the protein. Choose a piece of grilled fish, skin-less chicken, or lean meat about the size and thickness of the palm of your hand.

Next, add some dense carbohydrate, like brown Basmati rice or whole-wheat pasta, or something else from the ‘Enjoy’ carbohydrate list. Put just enough on your plate that would fill one cupped hand, not a big heap.

Fill the rest of your plate with steamed vegetables from the ‘Enjoy‘ lists, like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, leek, spinach, tomato.

Then, sprinkle a teaspoon of olive oil over your vegetables to get some ‘good’ fat.

Bon appetit! Enjoy your balanced, non-fattening meal.