The Glycemic Index

Introduction To The
Glycemic Index (G.I.)


Glycemic index, healthy cooking, blood sugar, healthy diet, heart disease

The Glycemic Index (GI)

What is it and how does it relate to your health and weight loss?

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)

The Glycemic Load represents the amount of available carbohydrate (i.e carbohydrate minus the fibre content) of that particular food and its value is derived using the following calculation:

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.

Insulin is produced by the pancreas which transports sugar into the cells of your body where it is used for energy.

Glycemic index, healthy cooking, blood sugar, healthy diet, heart disease

When you eat refined grains that have been stripped of their fibresugar 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.

This insulin surge or spike as it is sometimes called indicates to your body that plenty of energy is readily available and it should stop burning fat and start storing it instead.

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

Glycemic index, healthy cooking, blood sugar, healthy diet, heart disease

Regulating your blood sugar will avoid this type of roller coaster ride. Identifying and eliminating carbohydrates with a high Glycemic Index is key to your weight loss programme.

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.

The presence of naturally occurring fibreprotein and fat in many whole food further slow down the sugar-release process.

Not all carbohydrates are included on the Glycemic Index though scientists have measured approximately 750 high carbohydrate foods.

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.

Banana in particular have different rankings depending on how ripe they are. An under-ripe banana will have a higher starch content of its carbohydrate which changes to sugar as it ripens.

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.

Glycemic index, healthy cooking, blood sugar, healthy diet, heart disease

However it is equally important to develop a relationship with your body to better understand how you are affected by your food intake.

You will soon be able to assess what carbohydrates cause a spike in your blood glucose level and which ones are gradually released into your bloodstream and adjust your diet accordingly.

The Glycemic Index therefore should be used holistically in conjunction with your overall self-improvement program.

Check out this great website for an in-depth value specific resource, some tasty GI recipes and much much more.

Click here

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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Resources

http://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/articles/nutrition-and-meal-planning/carbohydrate-counting-glycemic-index-and-glycemic-load-putting-them-all-together/all/

http://www.maxs.com.au/index.php?pageID=1642

http://www.livestrong.com/article/469343-my-glucose-spikes-after-eating/

 http://www.glycemicindex.com

http://www.the-gi-diet.org/lowgifoods/