The glycemic index of food is a ranking of foods based on their immediate effect on blood glucose (blood sugar) levels. Carbohydrate foods that breakdown quickly during digestion have the highest glycemic indexes. Their blood sugar response is fast and high. Carbohydrates that breakdown slowly, releasing glucose gradually into the blood stream, have low glycemic indexes.
What is the significance of Glycemic Index?
- A smaller rise in blood sugar and can help control established diabetes
- Can help people lose weight and lower blood lipids
- Can improve the body's sensitivity to insulin
- High GI foods can help re-fuel carbohydrate stores after exercise
How to switch to a low GI diet
- Breakfast cereals based on wheat bran, barley and oats
- "Grainy" breads made with whole seeds
- Pasta and rice in place of potatoes
- Vinegar and lemon juice dressings
In short, the goal should be to build a good plan including the low Glycemic Index foods. This way, hunger is minimized, and there is less tendency to "cheat" or overeat. Consequently, you can continue to lose body fat or maintain your weight - once the excess pounds have been lost.
Even for those whose main objective is not fat loss, foods that are low on the glycemic index will help alleviate mood swings and regulate energy levels.
- Foods that stimulate insulin surges can cause people to eat 60 - 70% more calories at the following meal.
- People who consume foods relatively high in glucose (such as white bread, most commercial whole wheat bread, and raisins) eat an average of 200 calories more at the next meal than those who eat fructose (a sugar found in fruits).
Low glycemic index foods can be mixed with modest quantities of high glycemic foods without losing their hunger reducing effect.
The purpose of the chart is not to have you eliminate those nutritious choices from your diet. Instead, balance the foods that are "less desirable" by eating them with foods that are "desirable."
A low glycemic food plan can be beneficial to:
- Persons with insulin resistance or Syndrome X
High glycemic foods:
- Elevate insulin and blood glucose Stimulate fat-storage
- Exacerbate hyperactivity
- Reduce sports performance.
A low glycemic food plan is beneficial for:
- Helping balance blood glucose and insulin levels
- Reducing excess body fat levels
- Increasing sports performance.
Low glycemic food plans are not based on starvation or deprivation. Eating is a part of our lives and we should not have to sacrifice tasty foods in order to stay healthy.
Low glycemic food plans focus on reducing ingestion of foods that elevate insulin and stimulate fat storage. We can't totally eliminate high glycemic foods from our diet, but we can be aware of the glycemic reaction that foods have so we can make better choice.
Low glycemic food plans have been proven to reduce incidence of Type II diabetes and to help control Type I and II diabetes, hypoglycemia and hypertension. Low glycemic foods do not stimulate food craving hormones like Neuropeptide Y and Lipoprotein Lipase. Stimulation of these hormones can cause chemically-triggered cravings for food and uncontrolled eating binges.
It would be ideal for everyone to cook balanced meals at home, but the reality is that most families are too busy to make home cooked meals every day. The Low Glycemic Food Plan for Women is a sample of realistic food planning, which is why fast-foods are included. Though the Food Plan contains fast-foods, the daily fat calories still meet the heart healthy guidelines of the American Heart Association, Harvard University, the American Cancer Society, and the UDG (Unified Dietary Guidelines)
Obviously, low glycemic food plans can be followed for more than 7 days. You can create your own low glycemic food plan with many variations. Be sure to ingest enough calories per day to meet the needs of your own body.
For optimum health, select a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, and foods daily. This helps assure an adequate intake of Phytochemicals, vitamins, and minerals. The GI of foods has important implications for the food industry. Terms such as complex carbohydrates and sugars, which commonly appear on food labels, are now recognized as having little nutritional or physiological significance. The WHO/FAO recommend that these terms be removed and replaced with the total carbohydrate content of the food and its GI value. However, the GI rating of a food must be tested physiologically and only a few nutrition research groups around the world currently provide a legitimate testing service. The Human Nutrition Unit at the University of Sydney has been at the forefront of glycemic index research for over a decade and has tested dozens of foods as an integral part of its program. Jennie Brand Miller (JBM) is the senior author of International Tables of Glycemic Index published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 1995.