What Is the Glycemic Index?
The glycemic index is a system that ranks carbohydrates based how long it takes the body to absorb them. Simple carbohydrates, like white flour and sugar, are absorbed quickly resulting in severe spikes in blood glucose levels. Complex carbohydrates, like whole grains, take longer for the body to absorb, resulting in more stable blood glucose levels and a longer feeling of fullness after a meal.
Low glycemic eating can help to reduce the risks and complications of common diseases like heart disease and diabetes. Sticking with low GI-rated foods and avoid those with a high GI rating can also help you to sustain weight loss and a maintain a healthy overall weight.
The easiest way to think of the Glycemic index is to think of it like traffic light. Foods with a glycemic index 55 and under would fall into the green light category and can be eaten freely. Foods with a glycemic index between 56 and 69 would fall into the yellow light category and should be monitored. Foods with a glycemic index of 70 and above would fall into the red light category and should be restricted and limited to very small amounts.
Foods with a Low Glycemic Index
Focusing on foods that have a glycemic index of 55 or lower would include foods like:
Low-fat Yogurt GI: 14
Multigrain bread GI: 48
Cherries GI: 22
Apples GI: 38
Spaghetti (protein enriched) GI: 27
Spaghetti (whole wheat) GI: 37
Peanuts GI: 15
Almost all vegetables fall into this category with most popular vegetables having a GI of about 15 with some variation.
Foods with a High Glycemic Index
Foods that fall into this category have a glycemic index of 70 or higher, and consumption should be strictly limited.
Baked Potato GI: 85
Cornflakes Cereal GI: 83
Dougnuts and Waffles GI: 76 (each)
White Bread GI: 71
Most of the foods that fall into this category are refined and/or prepared. Use the foods’ colors as a way to decide whether they are worth eating or not. If the food has a rich bright color, there are probably a lot of nutrients and are most likely is on the green light list. Foods that have a bland or light color are more likely to be less nutrient dense and be on the red light list.
Planning Your Meals
Set yourself up to succeed by taking the guess work out of meals. Don’t wait to get home from a busy day to try to throw something together for dinner. By planning your meals you decrease your chances of impulse eating because you already have everything you need for your meals and you know what you are having.
Make a grocery list based around the foods you need for those meals. Grocery shopping is always going to be a temptation, but if you bring a list and stick to it you are more likely to resist the urge to impulse buy your favorite “no no” snacks. Not only will you buy healthier food you will save a lot of money by cutting out those unnesaccary purchases.
Remember that the glycemic index only rates carbohydrates, so plan out your proteins first, followed by any fruits or vegetables. Keep a short list handy of low-glycemic foods, and use it to add carbohydrates to your meal plans.
Eating using the Glycemic Index to Your Benefit
Follwoing a diet plan that encourages foods with a low glycemic index does not require you to purchase food from a third party or restrict your diet so much that you are setting yourself up for a binge. The thought is to transition to a healthier diet so that you reep the benefits in a better overall health profile.
Instead of trying to do too much all at once, try transitioning over one food at a time. For example, instead of eating white bread, try transitioning to a whole wheat, whole grain, or sourdough bread. You can still enjoy things like breakfast cereal but you can make wiser choices in what types. Look for a whole grain cereal or one that is an oat or bran based cereal.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and you shouldn’t expect yourself to change your eating patterns overnight either. Start off slow and you are more apt to stick with your lifestyle changes.
Home of the Glycemic Index
Glycemic Index Chart
Self Nutrition Data: Know What You Eat