In the quest to eat the best way possible for clients pursuing weight loss, we at LIVE frequently wil use the Glycemic Index as a tool, or GI. The GI is a scale that measures and ranks how quickly various foods turn into glucose or blood sugar in the body. This is a tool that was originally used by diabetics , and now is more and more popular for helping all kinds of people make the best food choices possible.
The Glycemic Index is used a lot is Europe where it is a pretty standard measurer, where in the US various nutrition authorities are having a harder time agreeeing on its standardization. The South Beach Diet by cardiologist Arthur Agatston, MD, mentions and uses the GI frequently as a primary tool for weight loss. The GI of various foods are measured by comparing the blood sugar responses that result in the body after eating them. The measurement compares how quickly a food enters the blood stream as glucose relative to the ingestion of straight glucose, and the resulting number is on a scale of 1 to 100.
High GI foods have a ranking of 70 or higher. An example would be a boiled potato and the score is close to that of the straight glucose. Intermediate-GI foods (ex. sweet corn) have a ranking between 56 and 69 and low GI foods (ex. fresh nectarines or lentils), have a ranking of 0 to 55. The lower the number, the slower the rise in blood sugar after a meal, and the less insulin is secreted by the body. Blood sugar remains more constant.
Quicker digesting carbs are typically higher glycemic. Carbohydrates that break down slowly, because they contain more dietary fiber, for example, release glucose into the bloodstream more gradually and have lower GI values.
GI of food can be affected by the other foods that are eaten with it or how the food is prepared. Fats, vegetables, meats and legumes and other low-GI foods slow the release of glucose contained in other foods.
The core message of the GI is pretty simple: by eating more of your carbs as low-GI foods, you will have an easier time staying healthier and slimmer. You can’t go wrong if you emphasize whole, unrefined foods and minimize excessive refined foods and sugars. Also, make a point of eating side salads or fresh veggies along with your high-GI meals, and of adding some protein or a little healthy fat to high-GI snacks, and the effect is even better in the end.