The GI Diet Guide


Rick Gallop on the Gi Diet

In May 2008 Tim Wiffen interviewed Rick Gallop for the GI diet guide website. Continued from: Rick Gallop on Healthy Eating.

I wonder if you can clarify something for me. My understanding is that low GI foods will not cause you to lose weight in themselves, but instead they help you to control your appetite and make it easier to reduce your calorie intake. Is that a fair statement?

Yes I think it is. The simple illustration of this is Hagen Daz ice cream [which] is a low GI product, but a nightmare from a saturated fat and calorie content standpoint. I try to use that as an example when I say to people low GI does not necessarily mean that you will lose weight. Ultimately we are all faced with the same food dynamic equation which is: calories in is equal to calories out. From that standpoint this is something that people had some difficulty with at the start. I had a bit of a problem with Tesco on this. I worked with Tesco and produced two or three books with them. They were trying to... I would not say deliberately confuse, but they weren't helping to clarify the fact that they wanted to call some of their products low GI. But I wouldn't be associated with those as they were not necessarily going to help you lose weight.

Would you encourage calorie counting?

In a sense I'm trying to solve that issue with the color coding because the green light foods automatically will be low GI, low calorie and low in saturated fats. If people haven't got their heads around that I would very much encourage them to check out the labels and check out those two other core elements the calories and the amount of fat, particularly the bad fat, saturated fats.

The GI diet has been criticized by some for its low focus on protein, particularly by the low carb movement, how would you respond to these criticisms?

I don't know where they've got that from; its low compared with what their advocating. I very strongly advocate protein with all meals and all snacks, we recommend three meal and three snacks a day. We are very keen on making sure there is adequate protein in that. Partly, of course, because it reinforces the GI, because it slows down digestion. From the point of view of feeling full and satiated protein it is a core element of that and we've made efforts to advocate protein, but lean protein. The problem that Atkins and that group have is that they advocate lots of red meat as a source of protein, but red meat is totally associated with saturated fats. We always talk about lean protein and we are very keen on the vegetable proteins, soya and things as well. But there are lots of lean protein choices, even pork. Yesterday I had I woman write to me about how she loves her pork and she can't eat it on this diet; but it's not true. A loin of pork is a very lean cut of meat; it's one of my favorite meats. We very much insist on protein being a core component and not to short change yourself on protein. It's very easy to do.

Is it so bad to have the occasional sugar rush?

It's not. What we are trying to say people is that it's not a straight jacket, if you're on this 90% of the time you are probably ahead of the game. The odd sugar rush is fine you just need to remember that the things that give you a sugar rush are not your friend which get's people in this mess in the first place. I think a lot of people don't realize that somehow those treats that they see, the sort of things that cause trouble in the first place, are the sort of things your body doesn't like. I do try and make the point that these things are not your friend; these are the things that are killing you. If you are going to start thinking about them differently, then it's a mindset that you've got to work on over time. The real world that we live in means that you're going to get a sugar rush at some time. Hanging around with the wrong friends, having a drink too many at a party. These things happen; that's why I say 90% is terrific and if you've fallen off the wagon and you want to climb back on again you ought to. It's not the end of the world.

Somebody wrote to me about this within a few of months of being published and said they'd been on the diet for a couple of months. They'd been out for lunch with their old drinking buddies and they'd had the usual high GI lunch, pizza and the rest of it. They came back and felt violently ill after it. Since then I've been quite clear about this: if you want to know that you're eating the right way, just go and have you old fashioned lunches and see how **** you feel about 3 o'clock in the afternoon. You'll just feel awful. It's a great way of reminding yourself that your body doesn't like to be abused in this way. Try it! I call it the motivation of last resort as I don't think we should be encouraging people to abuse their bodies.

One of the questions I've had a few times on the website is that there is a bit of confusion about the different GI values. I also saw that there was a bit of research showing that there was a wide range of GI values for the same food based on different studies. Could you clear this up for us?

This isn't a major issue for me. With most of the foods we are recommending it's not just the GI, it is the calorie density and the fat content and all the other critical components. The GI is not the be all and end all of it, certainly in my book. It's a key corner stone but it's not the only corner stone. Therefore if there is some difference in the GI rating between one country's rice and another country's rice in the larger scheme of things, so what. The most important thing is to not make it more complicated than it already is, because if you want to find the number one way of turning people off a diet it is to make it complicated. They'll do it for a few weeks but after that life if too short and too busy. They haven't got the time or inclinations and if I've got to keep counting points and calories and find ways of measuring foods then forget it.

I think we have to, and I mean you and I, if we are going to get any real change, we've got to relax on some of these details. I think we just need to get people thinking about what they are eating and eating sensibly. For years, apparently, carrots were a no, no on the GI diet. Well this is utter nonsense. For a start you'd have to eat a bucket full of carrots to have any impact on your weight. They are not a high GI produce they are a moderate GI produce. I've had interviews where people make carrots the center of the discussion. I'm thinking, am I crazy or are they. How people pick up on a detail and make an issue out of it. This is not the issue; the issue is that people are eating badly. So I get, probably, a similar frustration as you, that people hark on about these more finite details and miss the larger picture, which is eating the right foods.

Next page - The interview continues with Rick Gallop on Emotional Eating
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