What Is The Glycemic Index?

What is the Glycemic Index

Over the last 30 years, research into food and blood glucose response has completely changed our carbohydrate classification system. It has been learned that it is impossible to predict the impact on blood glucose levels by certain foods, instead people are fed carbohydrate foods and the response measured. This response is known as the Glycemic Index (GI), it is a measure of how quickly carbohydrate foods are digested and absorbed, and ranks carbohydrate foods according to their impact on blood sugar (glucose) levels: as indicted by elevated blood glucose.

Foods with a high GI are absorbed quickly into the blood stream and cause a rapid rise in blood glucose levels. While foods with a low GI are broken down more slowly over time and keep blood glucose levels more stable (Remember that low is slow!).

Some carbohydrate foods will maintain your energy levels for hours, while some may cause your blood glucose to rise and fall. Different types of carbohydrate can also affect feelings of fullness in the stomach and this can influence hunger and your ability to control your body weight.

Why Is The GI Important?

When our blood glucose levels are stable we have plenty of readily available fuel for the brain and muscles. If our blood glucose levels drop too low (hypoglycaemia) we feel tired, dizzy and generally unwell. If our blood glucose levels rise too quickly a rapid drop usually follows this.

Include low glycemic index foods in meals and snacks to slow the release of glucose into the bloodstream. A low glycemic index snack a few hours before exercise will help maintain your energy levels for more effective training.

After high intensity exercise (strength training) a high glycemic index snack should be consumed within 30 minutes. This will help to replace energy and start the recovery process.

Low-GI foods take longer to digest and help delay hunger pangs that little bit more and thus promote weight loss. So please choose your carbs carefully as this will lower your insulin levels and burn more fat. The secret is to swap high GI foods with low GI foods.

Simple Steps To A Low GI Diet

1. Start with a healthy, well balanced and varied diet based on a good nutrition program. The diet should be low in fats, moderate in carbohydrate and protein. The program should be high in fibre and contain a varied amount of foods to provide the required amount of vitamins and minerals.

2. Look at the type of carbohydrates that you consume during the day. Look at the carbs that you eat the most, as these will have the most dramatic impact on your diet.

Try to change the carbs you eat the most with at least one low GI one. (Replace potato with sweet potato, use noodles instead of rice) By substituting half of your daily carbohydrate from high GI to low GI will result in an overall reduction in the GI of your diet.

Reducing the GI in your diet reduces your insulin levels and increases the fat burning apparatus in your body. Try to reduce the high GI’s in your diet by substituting them with low GI’s.

Regular consumption of low GI foods increases the feelings of fullness and satisfaction and so prevents weight gain. Try taking in six small meals a day of healthy low fat low GI foods to prevent overeating at meal times and control appetite.

Remember, that it is also important to look at the calories in food to. Rice and bread might be low in fat but when your body is burning the carbohydrates in these foods it doesn’t burn as much fat. So if you are on a low fat diet, you wont lose as much weight if your calories are still high.

Chicken, beef, fish, eggs, nuts, and avocados contain very little or no carbohydrates. These foods if eaten by themselves will not have much effect on your glucose levels and are very low GI. Low GI foods are ideal for losing weight due to the slow absorption from the stomach. Low GI foods also help to keep blood sugar levels more stable and this has an effect on reducing sweet cravings.

Have a look at the table below for the different GI food ratings.

Food Group Very Low GI Low GI Medium GI High GI
World’s Healthiest Foods
Vegetables asparagus carrots beets potatoes
avocados eggplant corn
beet greens garlic leeks
bell peppers green peas sweet potatoes
bok choy onions
broccoli sea vegetables
Brussels sprouts winter squash
collard greens
fennel (bulb)
green beans
mushrooms, crimini
mustard greens
olive oil
Romaine and other lettuce
summer squash
Swiss chard
turnip greens
Fruits apples apricots
bananas cantaloupe
blueberries figs
cranberries kiwifruit
grapefruit papaya
grapes pineapple
lemons/limes raisins
oranges watermelon
Nuts & Seeds flaxseeds almonds
sesame seeds cashews
pumpkin seeds
sunflower seeds
Beans & Legumes soybeans black beans
tofu dried peas
tempeh garbanzo beans
kidney beans
lima beans
navy beans
pinto beans
Seafood cod scallops
Meats beef, grass-fed
lamb, grass-fed
turkey, pasture-raised
Dairy cheese, grass-fed
eggs, pasture-raised
cow’s milk, grass-fed
yogurt, grass-fed
Grains barley millet
brown rice
whole wheat
World’s Healthiest Spices and Herbs black pepper
chili pepper
cilantro & coriander seeds
cumin seeds
mustard seeds




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