It is most important to understand the concept behind glycemic values (Glycemic Index, or GI). In order to level out your blood sugar and avoid fluctuations in glucose you must eat slower digesting foods. These foods typically have a low glycemic index or load.
The glycemic index is a system in which a number is given to a particular carbohydrate food to determine how quickly or slowly the food breaks down into sugar in the bloodstream.
This number is important since people tend to consume many high-glycemic index foods such as refined carbohydrates (white pasta, white bread, white rice) that turn quickly into glucose (sugar) in our bodies. These foods do not sustain your appetite or energy (blood sugar) level and people end up overeating them.
If you incorporate low-glycemic index foods (foods that turn into sugar slowly), you can sustain a more even energy level and you also will not get hungry very quickly. This is due to non-fluctuating blood sugar. You know that sugar equals energy.
When you eat refined or high-glycemic index foods, your blood sugar quickly climbs and then drops. When the blood sugar drops, you feel hungry since your brain signals your body to eat in order to maintain your energy level. However, if you consume mostly low-glycemic index foods, your blood sugar tends to level out and not fluctuate. This results in diminished appetite and a more sustained level of energy! In addition, by metabolizing sugar more slowly and over a longer period of time we have a chance to utilize the sugar or glucose before it gets stored as fat (triglycerides)!
Glycemic Load is a newer and more accurate term. The glycemic index tells you how rapidly a particular carbohydrate turns into sugar. It does not tell you how much of that carbohydrate in grams is in a serving of food. The Glycemic Load is the amount of carbohydrate grams in a food multiplied by the GI of that carbohydrate.
|Glycemic Index Values|
|Low GI||55 or Less||Most fruit and vegetables (except potatoes and watermelon), grainy breads, pasta, legumes/pulses, milk, and products extremely low in carbohydrates (fish, eggs, meat, nuts, oils).|
|Medium GI||56 – 69||Whole wheat products, brown rice, basmati rice, orange sweet potato, and table sugar.|
|High GI||70 – 99||Corn Flakes, baked potato, watermelon, some white rices (eg jasmine), croissant, white bread, and candy.|
Harvard Medical School’s Glycemic Load for 100 Foods