Glycemic Index and Carbohydrate Consumption

Applying the Glycemic Index for healthy weight.

Trying to eat “correctly” is confusing with all the books, articles and blogs on food and nutrition. But understanding some of the popular concepts that have a strong scientific basis can help you refine your eating choices to best suit your body and lifestyle.

Glycemic Index (GI), initially developed for individuals with diabetes mellitus, is one way of thinking about carbohydrate consumption. It underlies the premise for “avoiding white carbohydrates”.

Expressed as a number, glycemic index reflects the rate of glucose release into the blood stream after eating. Standardized to glucose or white bread, a value of 55 or less is low and a value of 70 or greater is high.

Choose a Low GI

Foods with low GI include most fruits & vegetables, legumes, nuts and whole grains. Foods with medium GI include brown rice, whole wheat, and sweet potatoes. Foods with high GI include glucose, white bread, white rice, and breakfast cereals.

Eating foods with high GI cause the blood glucose to rise more rapidly or “spike”. This in turn increases insulin levels causing blood sugar to drop below normal or “dip”. This pattern of spikes and dips in blood sugar make it hard to control appetite and energy levels.

Many studies have shown that eating foods with a low GI results in better satiety, less food consumption and more weight loss than comparable caloric intake of high GI foods.

The recommendations for lowering the GI of your diet are:

1. Avoid sugary foods
2. Avoid starches like potatoes, white rice and white bread
3. Increase vegetables

Use the Glycemic Index to choose carbohydrates that are satisfying but maintain glucose and insulin levels steady. Eat carbohydrates sparingly and double up the vegetables.

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