Low glycemic diets are shown to improve your health, reduce inflammation and prevent disease. Today I’m sharing some of my favorite healthy low GI recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as some tips to follow on a low GI diet. These healthy recipes can help you lose weight, improve blood sugar control and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
The low glycemic meals in this collection are satisfying, full of flavor and packed with healthy ingredients and antioxidants to help you reduce oxidative stress and damage which is the common denomminator in all chronic diseases.
Low Glycemic Diet
The low glycemic diet emphasizes the consumption of foods that have a lower glycemic index. The glycemic index is a scale from 0 to 100 which ranks carbohydrates in the food you consume based on how fast they raise your blood sugar. Foods with a GI rating below 55 are considered low glycemic, between 56 and 69 medium glycemic, and foods with a GI of 70 are high-glycemic foods.
This number is important to know, because rapid blood sugar spikes make your pancreas create too much insulin. The emphasis here is on too much. Because that insulin then helps remove the sugar from your blood and transport it into the cells, so that they can use it for energy. The thing is, the body needs to keep the blood sugar levels pretty tight and when there’s too much insulin that cleans up most of the sugar in your blood you end up with low blood sugar aka sugar crash. This then leads to cravings and wanting to eat more.
If you repeat that cycle over and over and over again, long enough you end up with insulin resistance and weight gain, which then can turn into all the chronic diseases that involve these conditions.
So, long-story short the glycemic index basically gives you an idea of the quality of the carbohydrates you eat. You want to eat carbohydrates that raise your blood sugar slowly. That’s the low glycemic foods. In general, low glycemic foods are naturally rich in fiber, vitamins and antioxidants and include mostly fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, herbs, spices, some whole grains and high-protein foods like fish, chicken and tofu.
Why A Low Glycemic Load Diet
Some of the benefits of a low glycemic diet include improved blood sugar levels, weight loss and reduced risk for heart disease, diabetes and even certain cancers.
High glycemic diets, on the other hand, are linked to increased risk for metabolic syndrome, the development of acne, diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers and overall death. (source)
The reason, I’ve been looking more and more into this way of eating lately is that diabetes and insulin resistance run like crazy on both sides of my family and I’m pretty scared of it. I wouldn’t be able to pull through a full on low carb diet, I also don’t think it’s the healthiest thing and I know for sure it is not for everyone. It’s definitely not for me. So I’m trying to do something more nutritionally balanced, sustainable and really healthy, since I want to have children over the next few years and I want my body to be best prepared for that time.
I know for a fact the females in my family are prone to having gestational diabetes, then after the baby is born insulin resistance and significant weight gain that doesn’t magically disappear through breast feeding. So, I’m basically just trying to get ready the best I can and see if the lifestyle changes I want to focus on like walking more, sleeping enough, not sitting for longer periods of time and following a healthy low glycemic diet with focus on reducing inflammation can actually help or not. I don’t know, but it’s worht a try and I want to do the best I can.
Now, I am currently, for the most part, following a gluten and dairy-free diet (I do add some Parmesan and feta to my salads occasionally), but many of the recipes below are just gluten-free and incorporate some dairy. I will be adjusting these and I encourage you to do the same for your specific food intolerances.
More Than Just The Glycemic Index
What’s more important than the glycemic index of food is the glycemic load of your meals. The glycemic load takes into account the glycemic index of the food and how much you eat of it. Because, sure, a certain food might have a low glycemic load, but if you eat too much of it, it can still result in high blood sugar. So, the story isn’t just done by what you eat, it’s how much and how you eat it.
Another thing to consider is that certain foods like nuts and apple cider vinegar can also affect your blood sugar when consumed with high-glycemic index foods. For example, it’s been shown that the addition of peanuts and vinegar to a high glycemic food can reduce the glucose response by up to 55%. (source)
It’s also about how you prepare your food. In general, baking increases the glycemic index of foods. For example, a sweet potato boiled for 30 minutes has a GI of 46 which is low, but if you bake that sweet potato, it has a GI of 82, which is high. (source)
Now let’s get into the low glycemic recipes.
Low GI Breakfast Recipes
These are some of my favorite breakfasts and they just happen to also be low GI friendly! And yes, there is also a pancake recipe.
Refreshing and super tasty! Ingredients include chia seeds, nut milk, honey and fruit.
These fluffy pancakes are a great way to start your mornings. You can make them with some blanched almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda, maple syrup or honey and an egg.
Smoothies are a great way to start your mornings, they’re energizing and super easy to make. This one is made with spinach, banana and almond butter.
Overnight oats are a great easy healthy breakfast idea that you can make the night before. For a filing breakfast, top with some nut butter and fruit.
If you’re craving a more savory breakfast, make a crusless quiche like this one. You don’t really need to add the cream cheese if you do not want to, you can keep it dairy-free and it will still turn out delicious.
Yes, you can even enjoy some breakfast cookies! Made with nut butter, dark chocolate, some honey or maple syrup, oats, seeds and shredded coconut.
If you’re not that hungry in the morning, this smoothie is a great choice and it’s such a healthy, nutritious breakfast option.
You’ll notice that some of the recipes contain honey or maple syrup, which are high-glycemic foods. Yet, as we already discussed, they’re added in very small amounts to provide some sweetness and are therefore okay for a low GI diet. You can however use stevia or other carb-free sweeteners if you want to avoid these foods completely.
Low GI Lunch Ideas
These healthy lunches are packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals, healthy fats and protein!
Make the chickpeas and hummus for this one ahead of time and you’ll be having a delicious healthy lunch every day!
These are perfect when you’re looking for a lighter, yet protein-packed lunch to keep you going!
Omit the feta cheese to make this filling Mediterranean salad with chickpeas, chicken and vegetables dairy-free!
Cook up some chicken and serve it with some canned beans, broccoli and avocado! These delicious power bowls are great for dinner too!
It’s one of the most popular recipes on this blog and it’s absolutely divine and satiating! Great dinner option as well!
Another great option if you’re looking for a more filling, high-protein and high-fiber lunch recipe!
Make it in 10 minutes with some cooked quinoa, chopped olives, herbs and vegetables! Easy, nutritious and refreshing vegan lunch salad!
Fast & Easy Low GI Dinner Recipes
These weeknight dinners are fast, easy and delicious!
This is perfect if you love fried rice, but want it more high-fiber and nutritious overall!
If you love anything coconut curry with a hint of lime leaves or lemon grass, you need this low carb light, creamy and spicy soup!
Easy to meal prep and made with chicken, chickpeas, cabbage, tomatoes and cucumbers!
These lettuce wraps are perfect for dinner and so easy to make, you’re going to love the flavors!
For those days when you need a hearty lentil soup! Watch your servings with this one – sometimes I tend to overeat on lentil soup. Yeah, you read that right…just saying…
If you’ve got too many cans at home, put them to use with this easy, spicy and filling meal prep recipe!
Best And Worst Foods To Eat On A Low GI Diet
If you need a list with the glycemic load of common foods, you can find one here.
In general, the best foods to eat on a low GI diet, so you can improve your health and reduce inflammation are:
- leafy greens and cruceferous vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, arugula, spinach
- other vegetables like carrots, peppers, tomatoes, avocados, zucchini, cucumbers, radish
- all herbs and spices like parsley, basil, cilantro, turmeric, ginger, black pepper, cumin
- nuts and seeds like almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, cashews, flaxseed
- fruit like raspbrerries, strawberries, blackberries, apples, lemons, pears, peaches,
- whole grains like barley
- legumes like chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans and lentils
For some more protein in your diet make sure to also include foods like fish, chicken, eggs, some dairy, tofu and other soy-based products in moderation. These foods will help keep you satisfied and prevent you from overeating when you’re consuming fewer carbohydrates.
Foods In Moderation
- starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes or pumpkin
- sweet fruit like bananas, mango, pineapple, grapes and melons
- whole grains like quinoa, oats, bulgur and whole grain pasta
- maple syrup and honey
Foods To Avoid
- low fiber and refined foods like white rice, white flour and sugar
- fruit juices like orange juice and
- other refined foods like cereal
- many grains have a naturally higher glycemic index
- fried or baked foods like bread, cookies, cakes, baked sweet potatoes, potatoes, pumpkin…in general if a food has more carbohydrates, you don’t want to bake it…
Well, I hope you found some new healthy recipe ideas for your low GI diet and learned something new!
More Healthy Recipes:
- 22 Delicious Dairy- And Gluten Free Dinner Recipes
- 30-Minute Mediterranean Diet Recipes
- 27 Easy & Healthy Chickpea Recipes
Tuna Chickpea Bowls
- 1 can tuna, drained
- 1 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 2 Tbsp chopped parsley
- 1 tsp tomato paste
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp basil, dried
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper
- 3-4 Tbsp canned jalapeno
- 1 1/2 cup cabbage, chopped
- 1 avocado, chopped
- 1 cup olives, whole
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
- 1 tbsp hummus
- Heat a non-stick pan (medium heat) and add 1 Tbsp olive oil. Add in the tuna, chickpeas, basil, tomato paste, 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1 garlic clove and the crushed red pepper. Mix everything together and keep stirring for 4-5 minutes, so that the chickpeas and tuna absorb all the flavors.
- In a large bowl mix the cabbage with 1 clove of garlic, 1 tbsp lemon juice, a pinch of salt and 1 tbsp olive oil, mix very well!
- Arrange your bowl: Start with 1/2 cup cabbage, around 4 Tbsp of the tuna + chickpeas, then 1/4 cup olives, 1/2 avocado, some jalapeno and 2 Tbsp hummus. Top with some toasted sesame seeds.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 438Total Fat: 29gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 22gCholesterol: 24mgSodium: 1200mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 13gSugar: 6gProtein: 21g