What is the glycemic index?
The glycemic index (GI) measures how fast your glucose levels rise after a meal. It does so by rating carbohydrates on a scale from 0 to 100.
Foods with a high GI are converted into glucose faster. This means carbs with a high GI have more of an effect on your glucose levels than those with a low GI.
And that’s simply because they release their glucose in larger quantities into the bloodstream, causing your blood sugar to rise more quickly than for foods with a low GI.
Is it the same thing as the glycemic load (GL)?
Well, it’s not entirely the same.
Glycemic load (GL) is more precise as it factors in the serving size of food. A food’s GL is determined by multiplying its glycemic index (GI) by the amount of carbohydrates it contains.
Therefore, a food with a high glycemic index (GI) can have a low glycemic load (GL). This is because eating a low-GI food in extremely large portions can make it have the same effects on your glucose level as a a lower portion of a high GI food, and vice versa.
That’s why the GL is a more accurate tool to use.
Why have a glycemic index?
The glycemic index can be used to optimize your diet, prevent disease, and maintain a healthy weight. When you consume foods with a high GI, you will feel hungry again sooner, which means you’ll eat more often and gain weight.
This happens because your blood sugar levels fluctuate rapidly and leave you feeling less satisfied.
As you already know, high levels of glucose in your blood can lead to diabetes and also damage your arteries. On the other hand, foods with a low GI are converted into glucose more slowly, lowering your blood sugar levels and helping you feel full for longer.
How can you use the GI?
The concept behind the glycemic index was first invented by Physicians David Jenkins and Thomas Wolever in 1981 at the University of Toronto.
Over 40 years later, researchers are still trying to better understand it and its application. Foods with a high GI are proven to not only increase your blood glucose levels but also increase your risk of heart diseases and other health complications.
While this is generally a dangerous effect of consuming high-glycemic foods, there are many ways that you can use the GI to live a healthy life.
In the end, whether you want to lose weight or reduce your glucose levels, the glycemic index is a useful tool to have in your arsenal.
How can you use a glycemic index to optimize your diet?
Why do differences in the glycemic index exist?
How can you calculate the GI of a food?
How is the glycemic index determined?
The GI rating for a specific food or ingredient is generally calculated in one of two ways:
The first method uses subjects who have not eaten any meals for at least 8 hours. They are then given 50 grams of a specific carbohydrate and their blood glucose measurements are taken over the next two hours.
The second method uses pre-diabetic subjects, who are given a 50-gram portion of the sample and their blood sugar levels are measured for 2 hours after they have eaten it.
Could foods with low GI also have a high risk for carbohydrates?
Although it is generally accepted that the carbs and sugar content of foods with a low GI are healthier, they can still have a high glycemic load (GL).
This occurs when someone consumes large quantities of foods with low GI-foods, which affects their blood sugar levels similar to those who consume foods with high GI foods in smaller portions.
What are some examples of foods with high or low GIs?
Fructose has a very low GI, whereas rice cakes have a very high one. For this reason, their glycemic load (GL) is generally high. Foods with a low high GI are also often high in fat. This could be the case with foods like french fries, which have a relatively low high GI and cause large fluctuations in blood sugar levels.
However, a recent study of 800 people and 46,000 meals showed the foods that raise blood sugar levels may differ dramatically from person to person. (2)
To get a more accurate picture, consider using a continuous glucose monitoring device (CGM) to monitor how your glucose level reacts to different foods on the glycemic index.
Can you use the GI to lose weight?
How can you use the glycemic index to prevent disease?
By taking control of your glucose levels through diet and exercise and monitoring it in real-time with a CGM, you can lower your risk of diseases like diabetes, heart diseases, cancer, and obesity.
This means eating foods that have a low glycemic index and avoiding foods with a high GI.
What are some other applications of the glycemic index?
You can also use the glycemic index in other ways, such as in the design of foods and recipes. It can provide you with information on how to make your meals suitable for weight loss or diabetics.
The glycemic index can also be used to create products that have a low glycemic load (GL) while being healthy. This could include products like pancakes or biscuits for people with diabetes.
Why low GI?
There are several reasons why lowering the glycemic index is important for long-term health.
The first reason is that eating low-GI foods helps you feel fuller longer. You will also feel less thirsty, and it will keep your appetite in check.
Low GI foods also offer benefits such as better insulin sensitivity, improved ability to process sugar, and improved cognitive function, and lower risk of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
All of these factors can help improve your long-term health.
Summary and Conclusion
The glycemic index (GI) is a system for measuring how fast and how much your blood sugar rises after consuming a specific type of carbohydrate.
A high-glycemic-index food will usually cause an increase in blood glucose levels and can lead to weight gain and many health disorders.
The glycemic index should not be used to diagnose or treat a specific condition. You should not stop eating high-GI foods when you are trying to lose weight.
Instead, learn how to create a healthier lifestyle and eat high-GI foods in moderation.