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Glycemic Index

What is the Glycemic Index and How to Benefit From It

The Glycemic Index and How to Benefit From It

By Allan Wu

A low glycemic index diet has been known to the Europeans for a while now. Even athletes are slowly latching on to this concept and incorporating it as a part of their training.

Glycemic index (GI) ranks carbohydrates based on their ability to affect blood glucose or sugar levels. Glycemic index is a measure of the degree by which a 50-gram portion of carbohydrate raises a person’s blood-sugar levels when compared with pure glucose. When carbohydrates are digested into glucose, it causes blood sugar levels to rise temporarily. This is referred to as a glycemic response. Glycemic response is impacted by factors such as how much you eat, the quantity and kind of carbohydrate that eat, the method for cooking the food etc.

The glycemic index is essentially a list of foods which are ranked on a scale of 1 to 100 where 100 is the score for pure glucose. Those foods which are ranked higher than 70 on the scale are rated as high, those lower than 55 are rated low and those between 56 and 69 are considered moderate. A low glycemic index diet would be typically low on fats and high on carbohydrates that are low on the glycemic index.

The major benefits of following a low glycemic index diet are quick weight loss and greater energy. This is primarily a result of fewer blood sugar fluctuations through the day. This diet helps in controlling diabetes better and reduces the risk of heart ailments. It is also useful in managing high blood cholesterol. Since low GI foods are loaded with fiber, they aid digestion. They are also useful for sportspersons as they develop stamina.

To get started on a low GI diet, include cereals like oats, bran and barley. Replace your bread with that made from sour dough and whole grains. Completely cut out potatoes from your diet as they are a high GI food. Eat plenty of vegetables, specifically in the form of salads. Instead of frying, using cooking methods like grilling or barbecuing. Avoid beverages loaded with sugar and opt for fruit juices, water and skimmed milk.

Substitute regular pasta and noodles with those made from whole-wheat. Eat in small quantities but at regular intervals and include foods from as many nutrient groups as possible. When you combine a high GI food with a low GI food, the net effect is that the high GI food does not impact your blood sugar levels as adversely as it would if eaten on its own.

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