Understanding The Glycemix Index For Weight Loss And Better Health

Understanding The Glycemix Index For Weight Loss And Better Health



The Glycemic Index (GI) is​ a​ way of​ rating carbohydrate foods according to​ how quickly the​ carbohydrates are broken down into glucose,​ and thus how quickly that glucose enters the​ bloodstream. the​ reasoning behind this is​ that carbohydrates that enter the​ bloodstream quickly raise blood sugar levels rapidly,​ causing a​ spike in​ energy,​ that is​ followed by a​ drop after the​ effects of​ insulin are triggered.

Insulin is​ one of​ the​ hormones that help regulate blood sugar levels,​ and tries to​ keep them stable. When too much glucose enters the​ bloodstream at​ a​ time,​ the​ body reacts by releasing insulin to​ remove some of​ that glucose back out of​ the​ blood and into our cells. Its simply a​ way of​ keeping the​ balance. However the​ effect is​ that when all the​ glucose we​ just ate,​ in​ the​ form of​ carbohydrates,​ is​ removed from the​ bloodstream,​ we​ feel tired and hungry,​ often craving more carbohydrates. Thus a​ cycle is​ created,​ where we​ eat more than really necessary.

Carbohydrate containing foods are rated from a​ scale of​ 1 to​ 100. a​ score of​ 100 is​ the​ highest,​ and this is​ akin to​ eating glucose in​ its pure form. a​ score of​ 55 or​ lower means a​ food is​ classified as​ having a​ low glycemic index. Thus,​ it​ theoretically breaks down in​ the​ body more slowly.

I write theoretically,​ because the​ picture is​ a​ little more complicated than that. For example,​ fat lowers the​ GI of​ foods. Potato crisps have a​ lower GI than do oven roasted jacket potatoes. However,​ that does not mean that potato crisps are a​ better choice,​ in​ terms of​ nutritional and fat content. So,​ it's important to​ look at​ the​ whole equation when considering meal choices and the​ glycemic index.

Some suggestions for using the​ glycemic index in​ terms of​ one's diet is​ to​ balance a​ high glycemic index food in​ a​ meal with a​ low one. And try to​ make more low or​ mid range GI choices than high.

Other factors that can affect a​ food's glycemic index,​ beyond its GI rating,​ are the​ amount of​ food eaten. Chocolate has a​ low GI,​ but it​ is​ 30% fat. And any excess nutrients,​ whether they are fat,​ protein or​ carbohydrates,​ will be stored in​ the​ body as​ fat. So eating too much of​ low GI foods that are high in​ calories is​ not going to​ help with weight loss.

Another issue when considering using the​ GI of​ food,​ is​ that the​ time of​ day we​ eat a​ food may also impact its effect on​ blood sugar levels. This is​ because the​ GI rating given to​ a​ food is​ based on​ fasting. So,​ for example,​ we​ fast at​ night - meaning we​ are asleep and thus not eating for a​ period of​ hours. a​ food thus eaten in​ the​ morning may more accurately reflect the​ GI given to​ it​ than at​ other times of​ the​ day,​ when we​ haven't been fasting.

Yet the​ GI does have benefits. One study on​ obese young adults found that a​ low glycemic index diet was associated with a​ reduction in​ the​ risk factors associated with heart disease,​ when compared to​ similar children with a​ low fat diet. Both groups lost weight,​ and kept it​ off,​ which is​ good news for dieters! And the​ researchers suggested that a​ low glycemic index diet may not lower metabolism as​ much compared to​ low fat diets. This is​ important for dieters as​ it​ means they would feel less cold,​ tired and hungry,​ and as​ a​ result,​ would find it​ easier to​ stick with the​ changes made during the​ diet period.

The GI should not be used in​ isolation. Both common sense and other food guidelines,​ like avoiding excess fat and salt,​and making sure foods are full of​ vitamins,​ minerals and antioxidants,​ should still be used with the​ glycemic index.


References:
1. Australian Healthy Food,​ November 2005
2. nutraingredients.com/news/ng.asp?id=66151
3. nutraingredients.com/news/ng.asp?id=60035




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