Introduction To The
Glycemic Index (G.I.)
The Glycemic Index (GI)
The Glycemic Index ranks food on how it affects your blood glucose levels in the 2 to 3 hours after eating. Food high in fat and protein do not really affect blood glucose levels. However Carbohydrates do! The lower a food’s Glycemic Index the less it affects blood sugar and insulin levels. The GI is based on the glucose index where glucose is set to equal 100.
The Glycemic Load (GL)
GI divided by 100 (glucose index) multiplied by GL (available carbs in grams). For example A 120g serving of melon has 6 grams of available carbohydrates and a GI of 72 so the calculating to rank its GI would look like this:
72 ÷ 100 = 0.72 then multiplied by its available carbs = 4.32, the GL rounded down would therefore be 4.
The Glycemic Index will show the quality and not the quantity of carbohydrates and help you avoid the unhealthy carbohydrates as well as the less obvious complex carbohydrates. It is great information for your health and weight loss challenge.
How does food affect blood glucose and why is it important?
When you eat a meal your body converts digestible carbohydrates into blood sugar (glucose) which is your main source of energy. Your blood sugar levels can affect how hungry you are and your energy levels. Blood sugar is also used in the utilisation process and determines whether you burn fat or store it which is quite an important factor for weight loss.
When you eat refined grains that have been stripped of their fibre, sugar or other carbohydrate-rich food, the pancreas goes into overdrive to produce the insulin necessary for all this blood sugar to be used as energy.
But even more concerning to the fat storing process, as all unused fat gets stored anyway, is the insulin surge that causes too much sugar to be transported out of your body resulting in a huge drop in blood sugar and insulin levels. Subsequently you are left feeling tired and hungry and invariably grab a quick sugar fix which starts the cycle all over again.
Regulating Your Blood Sugar
Simple sugars are made up of one or two sugar molecules stuck together making them easy to pull apart to digest. They will make your blood glucose rise more rapidly than complex carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates are empty calories with little or no nutritional value.
Complex carbohydrates are long chains of sugar molecules that must be broken down during the digestion process. They release glucose gradually into the bloodstream and some have a lower glycemic index. Complex carbohydrates offer a longer surge of energy. However whole grain bread, legumes, starchy vegetables and some fruit feature high on the Glycemic Index and should be approached with caution.
Because some foods are more palatable than others they were easier for ‘students’ to test, other foods such as celery or tomato ketchup are less desirable and are therefore not included on the list.
It is also worth bearing in mind that because the Glycemic Index is not an exact science there are variations of the same food type made by different companies. Uncle Ben’s white rice for example has the lowest Glycemic Index which may be down to the processing methods.
The cooking method will also have a bearing on the Glycemic Index.
Because we are all unique food affects us in different ways too. A food high on the Glycemic Index for you for example may affect your neighbour’s make-up or bio-chemistry quite differently.
The Glycemic Index is very useful for measuring the quality of carbohydrate in your diet and the key is to eat more foods with a low Glycemic load and eat less of the foods that are high on the Glycemic Index.
However it is equally important to develop a relationship with your body to better understand how you are affected by your food intake.
Check out this great website for an in-depth value specific resource, some tasty GI recipes and much much more.
And if you or a family member have diabetes, this website may provide the support you need. Click here to find out more.
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