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This article was written on 07 Sep 2008, and is filled under General information.

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GI: The Glycemic Index Explained

The Glycemic Index (GI) measures the effect of foods on your blood sugar levels. Eating foods with a high glycemic index value will raise the blood sugar level more dramatically than foods with a low glycemic index value.

Traditional thinking has told us that complex carbohydrates like rice and potatoes were absorbed slowly, and that simple and refined carbohydrates, like candies and jams resulted in a sharp rise in blood sugar. However recent research has indicated that this is not necessarily the case. There are more factors involved than just simple vs complex or refined vs natural.

The GI values are a measure of 1 to 100 where pure glucose has a value of 100. Many carbohydrate-rich foods have been tested and applied against the index. A value of 50 (for example) indicates that the food has an effect on blood sugar equal to half that of glucose.

Glycemic Index and Weight Loss

The GI has had a pronounced affect on the health community, with many Doctors now recommending the GI to patients with diabetes and/or obesity. A number of nutritionists are no longer educating people on complex vs simple carbs, but tend to favor the GI index.

Eating foods with a low GI value tend to provide a feeling of fullness for longer and therefore assist those trying to eat less or lose weight. Diabetics can now choose their foods in a more controlled manner.

The GI factor is not the key to all weight loss, but it is another excellent another tool. A diet rich in low GI foods is a good diet, provided that there is nutritional variety.

Glycemic Index Diets

There are a number of diets that are based on the GI:

Glycemic Impact Diet
A new diet introduced by eDiets – has a ratio of 40% carbs, 30% proteins, and 30% fats – where all carbs are strictly low GI. This diet is quite sensible about the GI as it user the Glycemic Load of a food to determine quality carbs. Recommended.

NutriSystem Nourish
NutriSystem is a portion-controlled weight loss program based on the GI.

South Beach Diet
This popular diet chooses carbs that are based on low GI values.

Glycemic Index Food List

LOW GI (< 55) MEDIUM GI (55-70) HIGH GI (> 70)
Apple and apple juice
Baked Beans, dried beans, butter beans, chick peas, soy beans, lentils
Breakfast cereals (oats, muesli, bran)
Whole grain / nutty bread
Fruit Loaf
Milk, Yogurt
Pineapple Juice (unsweetened)
Corn (still on cob)
Salad Vegetables
Sweet Potato
Basmati Rice
Bread (white and brown)
Ice Cream
Orange juice
Pineapple, mango, melon
Pita bread
Potatoes (new)
Potato chips
Rye bread
Sports drinks
Water melon
Crackers and crisp breads
Broad beans
French Fries

Low GI eating

Here is a guide to forming your own low GI eating habits.

  • Choose Basmati rice instead of normal rice.
  • New potatoes have a lower GI than older potatoes. Sweet potatoes also have a low GI.
  • Unrefined cereals such as oats or muesli are lower in GI than processed cereals.
  • Bread with lots of grains and seeds are lower in GI than other breads.
  • When eating biscuits and crackers, those with whole grains in them are lower in GI.
  • Cakes and muffins made with fruit, oats, and seeds can supply more low-GI ingredients.
  • Fruits – Stone fruit (peaches, nectarines), apples, citrus are lower in GI than tropical fruits such as bananas, melons, pineapple, etc.

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