Using the Low Glycemic Index and Complex Carbs for Weight Loss

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The low-glycemic index diet is fairly complicated when you break it down and start looking at the science. The essential rule, though, is pretty basic: avoid simple carbs.

When I started this diet in July of 2010, I lost 30 pounds without lifting a finger. All I did was swap what I ate–no more traditional Southern, deep-fried goodness for Beej–no exercise, no running, no lifting. Not even any walking. I just swapped my diet to low-glycemic and watched the pounds fall off.

And I felt terrible. Like really bad. Awful, want-to-curl-up-and-die bad. My dad made the comment one evening, “Son, if you’re new diet is making you feel this bad, you might want to try something else.”

But then, in about a week, my body flushed all the simple carbs and overcame its dependency on sugar for energy. I stopped I walked around like a zombie.

After that period, I wasn’t hungry, weak, or tired. I powered through it, and by eating low-glycemic for just 7 days, I had dropped 5 pounds and had tons of energy to spare. After that initial carbopurge, I felt fantastic, and have pretty much maintained that feeling for two and a half years.


Sadly, the hardest part of going on the low-glycemic diet is what you have to give up. You have to give up a lot of the simple carbs and starches that make up a huge portion of most people’s diets.

Basically, you don’t eat anything white:

  • No rice
  • No sugar
  • No corn
  • No potatoes
  • No pasta
  • No bread

And sadly, this is where I lose people. People tell me every week, “Well, I can’t give up potatoes. I just eat too many of them.”

My reply should be, “Damn right you do!” but it tends to be more along the lines of “It’s really not that hard once you actually try.”

But they don’t try because it seems impossible. It isn’t. Really, it’s pretty easy because for everything you won’t be eating, there’s a replacement.


On our version of this diet, we ate complex carbs in moderation–basically one meal a day. We could have two slices of sourdough, rye, or pumpernickel bread a day, or a sweet potato, or a small serving of whole-wheat pasta.

  • Sweet potatoes. Make these exactly like you would white potatoes–they don’t have to be made with cinnamon and sugar. In fact, they’re better when they aren’t. Just use them however you would use regular, white potatoes. Make fries, mash them, bake them, twice bake them. Just use light ingredients instead of full-fat/sugar. These quickly became staples of our diet, and we still eat a ton of them. Oh, and did I mention I hated sweet potatoes before I tried them with jalapenos and cheddar cheese baked in? Just sayin’.
  • Sourdough bread, rye bread, or pumpernickel bread. These breads are chock-full of complex carbs, so make yourself a sandwich for lunch and bring it to work. In fact, these breads have more calories than white bread and normal wheat bread, but that’s okay. I promise you’ll stay full longer so you will intake fewer calories overall.
  • Thin buns. If you’re not up on those kinds of bread, you can always buy thin buns in your grocery store’s bread aisle, and at just 100 calories each, you can make make a handy-dandy turkey sandy (tee hee).
  • Whole wheat pasta. Probably the least-eaten of anything here, if you’re a giant pasta person (AHH! GIANT PASTA PERSON! RUN!). Ahem. Sorry. If you’re a major pasta eater, rather, you shouldn’t feel bad about making spaghetti or lasagna or whatever with some whole wheat pasta. You won’t want to do this every day, but if you do it once or twice a week like we did, the pounds will still melt away, and you’ll still be full of nomlicious food.
  • Corn and rice replacement? Sorry. Nada. Even brown rice didn’t work for us, and there just wasn’t a good way to do corn and be low-glycemic. If there was one part of the lifestyle change that hurt my wife, it was this one. Sorry to say it folks, but you’ll just have to suck it up without corn and rice. And if you’re really that dependent on it, make it on special days when you’re craving it. A serving now and then won’t kill your calorie-intake or make you dependent on simple carbs again.
  • Low/no-calorie sweeteners. Look: eating no sugar is hard. Probably the hardest thing on this list. You hear all the time that artificial sweeteners are bad, and you know what? They probably are. But even in a fairly organic and whole-foods lifestyle, I love me some Splenda with Fiber. I just can’t help it. I put three spoons of it in my coffee in the morning, and then swirl some Truvia in my oatmeal before I go run.

And that just about does it for carbs. As you can see, if you’re willing to make the swap to low-glycemic, you aren’t doing without. You can effectively replace every simple carb in your diet with something better.

Awesome, huh?



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