One of the goals of a healthy diet is to consistently maintain optimum blood glucose levels. In the early 1980s, the Glycemic Index (GI) was devised to help measure the effect of different carbohydrates on blood glucose levels.
Each food containing carbohydrates is assigned a GI number, and they are ranked from low to high. Carbs with a low GI number break down slowly and release glucose into the bloodstream slowly and steadily, while carbs with a high GI number cause large spikes in blood glucose levels by breaking down rapidly and introducing large amounts of glucose into the bloodstream.
Low-GI foods are those with a GI of 55 and under, medium GI foods are those in the 56-69 range, and high GI foods rank 70 and above. Selecting low-GI foods over high-GI foods will help to maintain a consistent blood glucose level.
Benefits of Low GI Carbs
Low-GI foods are instrumental in helping you lose weight. They keep hunger at bay in between meals and snacks and help to maintain your energy level as well as increase endurance. From a health standpoint, replacing high-GI foods with low-GI foods can lower cholesterol and reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
How to Use the Glycemic Index
The Glycemic Index can help you make substitutions, replacing bad carbs with better carbs, high GI carbs with low GI carbs. You can look up the GI of any food on the Internet by conducting an Internet search, but there are a few simple rules to help you get started. Salads, green vegetables and fresh fruits are generally a safe bet. Avoid most white foods: white flour, sugar, potatoes and white rice. Instead, opt for whole grains, salads, colorful vegetables, fresh fruits, brown rice, etc.
The GI can help you to make choices within food groups. For example, suppose that you have a craving for fruit. You have two fruits in mind: watermelon and grapefruit. Watermelon is 72 on the GI and grapefruit is 25. Once you know the GI of both fruits, the choice is easy.
While the Glycemic Index is helpful in making food choices, it is not infallible. Unfortunately, some unhealthy food choices have a low GI. The Glycemic Index is a helpful tool when combined with common sense, and it’s one of many tools that can help you attain your weight loss goals quicker.