Some Good Questions and Answers About the Glycemic Index and the Glycemic Index DietAuthor: Daniel St-jean
Over 165,000 searches are done online each month for the term glycemic index. That means a lot of people are curious about this. As they should be. It also means that a lot of people are confused about it… and they shouldn’t be.
Here are four questions and answers that hopefully will clarify some of the “mysteries” surrounding the glycemic index. Let’s start with…
What’s the Glycemic Index Diet?
The most important thing to know about the glycemic index is that it is not really a diet. You can use the glycemic index list to guide your diet and show you what foods are likely to work best for you.
The power of the glycemic index is that you can use it to choose your foods wisely, because it shows you which foods will have the greatest impact on your blood sugar.
Use the glycemic index chart to find those foods with the lowest glycemic index. For best results, stick to foods with a glycemic index of under 50. Occasionally, you will eat something with a higher index, but you will probably be OK if you eat foods under 50 most of the time.
What’s missing from the glycemic index diet?
If you have been using the glycemic index food list to look up your favorite foods, you may have noticed something’s missing. There are almost no meats, or other protein foods, for that matter.
My first thought when I noticed this a couple of years ago was that the glycemic food index was simply unfinished. There will always be more foods that could be added, but that’s not the reason.
The real reason is that the glycemic index of foods is all about carbohydrates. Meats and other proteins are not listed on the index because they raise your blood sugar so slowly that they don’t make a measurable difference to your blood sugar over the first hour or two after eating.
The glycemic index list of foods is another way to think about planning your meals and snacks. Remember to include protein, and choose low-GI carbohydrates.
How does what you do affect the glycemic index of the foods you eat?
You may have glanced through the charts and tables and made some adjustments to your diet. But did you know that your food preparation methods may be affecting the glycemic index of the food you eat? The more your food is modified, the higher its glycemic index will be.
In the extreme case, imagine that you are eating a handful of wheat heads directly from the field. Probably not pleasant, but you could if you wanted to. Now imagine eating a tablespoon of flour. The very act of turning the wheat into the soft, fine flour removes almost all of the fiber, and the flour will raise your blood sugar much faster than the handful of natural wheat will.
In the same way, although to a lesser degree, grinding and cooking our food raises its glycemic index.
Some examples of ways to maximize the fiber in your foods and keep the glycemic index as low as possible:
-When you cook pasta, cook it for the minimum possible time. It should still be firm, not mushy.
-When preparing vegetables or fruit, use the skin or peel if you can.
-When possible, eat your vegetables raw (lots of salads).
-When cooking vegetables, allow them to retain a little of their crunch—imagine the best stir fry you have ever eaten—and you will keep some their fiber, too.
Although the carbohydrates you eat have each been assigned a number on the glycemic index, remember that you have some control over just how quickly or how slowly they turn into sugar in your body.
What is glycemic load?
The concept of Glycemic Load (GL) was developed in response to concerns that large amounts of low glycemic index foods might still cause unacceptable increases in blood sugar levels. The glycemic load index links serving size to the glycemic index so that it is easier to use.
Carrots, for example, have a very high glycemic index, (higher than white bread), but this was measured with 50 grams of carbohydrate. Since one carrot only has about 4 grams of carbohydrate, you would have to eat a lot of carrots to get a huge blood sugar response.
Pasta, on the other hand, has a low glycemic index compared to carrots, but a serving of pasta contains about 40 grams of carbohydrate. This means that the blood sugar response you will have with a plate of pasta will be several times higher than even a whole serving of carrots.
If you’re at all concern about what you eat, your weight, your blood sugar level, and your health in general, it’s a great idea to consult a glycemic index list and choose your food wisely.
Eat well, be well, live well!
Daniel G. St-Jean
Editor of Help For Hypoglycemia
Publisher of the Help For Hypoglycemia BlogAbout the Author:
Daniel G. St-Jean is the Editor of Help For Hypoglycemia (http://www.help-for-hypoglycemia.com ) where you’ll find much information about the glycemic index (get the FREE eBook 22 Easy, Yummy, and Delicious Recipes for Hypoglycemics) and he’s the publisher of Help For Hypoglycemia Blog (http://www.help-for-hypoglycemia-blog.com ). Both provide information and resources for people with hypoglycemia. Note: this article was inspired by Roberta Ruggiero, author of Do’s and Don’ts of Hypoglycemia.