Most diets are not complete without relying on the glycemic index. Usually, it is used to divide foods into unhealthy and healthy foods. Based on it, the diet is built. However, many misconceptions have formed around this concept; some healthy foods are unreasonably excluded from the diet of healthy eating supporters.
What is the glycemic index?
Glycemic index is an indicator by which the rate at which glucose enters the blood. The higher this indicator is, the faster glucose enters the blood. Therefore, the higher the GI, the quicker the blood sugar level will rise.
The glycemic index conception was developed within the 90s of the last century by Canadian nutritionist D. Jenkins. The scientist measured volunteers’ blood sugar levels after eating various foods. Due to this method, Professor Jenkins inserted the term “glycemic index.” Then the concept of GI began to be used in dietetics and sports. Glycemic index has a direct relationship with health. By regulating glucose levels in organisms, you can improve brain performance and increase energy stores. With a low glucose level, the brain works slower, and we feel hungriness and anxiety. When you eat something, you raise your glucose level, and then you feel a burst of energy. When glucose levels exceed needs in the organism, the body stores the excess in stores, becoming fat. Therefore, it is essential to avoid spikes in glucose levels so that the body can use it instead of storing it.
Benefits and disadvantages of a high glycemic index
Benefits of high GI foods:
- Fast saturates the body and restores glycogen stores.
- Easy to digest
Disadvantages of high GI foods:
- Increases insulin levels quickly
- Excess carbohydrates go into fat stores
- After a short time, the feeling of hunger turn back
Benefits and disadvantages of a low glycemic index
Benefits of glycemic index:
- Creates a feeling of fullness
- Does not cause an immediate rise in blood glucose
Disadvantages of low GI foods:
Replenishes glycogen stores for a long time, so they are not suitable for a quick energy gain
low energy density. Generally, low glycemic index foods are not as tasty as high glycemic index foods.
Glycemic index of foods
The following product groups are distinguished:
- Low GI (less than 40)
- Medium GI (40 to 70)
- High GI (above 70)
But not everything is so simple. For example, the diet consists of a mixture of foods with different carbohydrates and different processing methods – this significantly changes the overall GI of the dish. In addition, the glycemic index can depend on many factors, such as freshness, way of cooking, temperature, etc.
Why you should learn about the glycemic index
Carbohydrates in food are complex and straightforward. The body needs insulin only for the assimilation of glucose. Therefore, for people with diabetes who lack insulin, the glucose content in food is of prime importance.
The glycemic index information is essential and has to be known, especially for patients who receive insulin. If you ignore the glycemic index, you can incorrectly calculate the insulin dose. All carbohydrates are indicated on the product label: those that require insulin and those not needed. Therefore, you need to know the number of carbohydrates for the absorption of which insulin is required. If you calculate the insulin dose for all the carbohydrates in a meal, you run the risk of injecting more insulin than you need.
It is necessary to monitor the glycemic index, but without any fanaticism, everyone has their purpose because there are no good or bad carbohydrates. For example, after a hard workout, you will need to recover with a high glycemic index product. Excess weight is also gained not from bad carbohydrates but the total excess of calories consumed.
You should not rely entirely on glycemic index data, as it can change. Therefore, Glycemic index tables are approximate values and should be used as a guide only.