If you want to lose weight and keep your blood sugar stable, you may have to do more than just count carbohydrates, as it could also be necessary to avoid foods with a high glycemic index. What is the glycemic index and how does it work? Here’s what you need to know.
Glycemic Index (GI)-An Overview
Carbohydrates are turned into glucose that is then used for energy. Even so, not all carbohydrates are converted at the same rate. The carbohydrates provided by refined sugars turn into glucose much faster than the ones found in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. The Glycemic Index measures how fast these carbohydrates turn into sugar, and contains three different categories:
Low (55 or less)
High (70 or greater)
Glycemic Index vs. Glycemic Load
You can find information about a food’s glycemic index in the product’s label. Some manufacturers also provide information about the glycemic load. The glycemic load is derived by multiplying the quality of carbohydrates in a particular food by the number of carbohydrates in a single serving. It is basically an estimate of how much a serving of that food will raise your blood sugar level, with one unit providing the same effect as consuming a single gram of glucose. Foods with a high glycemic index may not necessarily have a high glycemic load, so it is important to measure both if you are trying to control blood sugar.
Factors that Affect
Several things can affect the glycemic index of foods, including:
How they are prepared. As a rule, the glycemic index increases the longer foods are cooked or processed.
Ripeness-the glycemic index of certain fruits increases as they ripen.
Acid, as using lemon juice or vinegar causes foods with a high glycemic index to rate lower on the scale.
Foods with a High Glycemic Index
Harvard Medical School has ranked the glycemic index/glycemic load of some common foods:
Low Glycemic Index
Whole grain bread
Pure apple juice
Medium Glycemic Index
Macaroni and cheese
Vanilla ice cream
High Glycemic Index
Cream of wheat cereal
Eating a Balanced Diet
The American Diabetes Association recommends counting carbohydrates and limiting the number of foods with a high glycemic index. Information from the University of Oregon indicates that doing so can not only help you lose weight, but can also make it easier to control your blood sugar levels and ward off conditions such as Type 2 diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease.
You don’t have to avoid foods with a high glycemic index altogether. Instead, enjoy them in moderation along with foods with a low glycemic index to prevent excessive weight gain and reduce your risk of diabetes.