You may have heard about the Glycemic Index …
but what does it really mean? … and how important is it for your health? … What is a low glycemic diet?
Very simply, the Glycemic Index is a scientific ranking of how the foods we eat affect our blood sugar levels in the 2 or 3 hours after eating. This index is measured against pure glucose, which has a value of 100 on the index. The index ranges from 0 to 100 with:
0-55 = Low-GI 56-69 = Moderate-GI 70-100 = High-GI
High GI 70-100 Carbohydrates that break down quickly during digestion, release blood sugar rapidly into the bloodstream, and cause marked fluctuations in blood sugar levels.
Medium GI 56-69 Carbohydrates that break down moderately during digestion and release blood sugar moderately into the bloodstream.
Low GI 0-55 Carbohydrates that break down slowly during digestion, release blood sugar gradually into the bloodstream, and keep blood sugar levels steady … and provide you with proven benefits for your health!
Low GI Meals leave you feeling fuller longer, ease food cravings and provide you with greater and more sustained energy levels. If you’re looking to either lose weight, or maintain your existing weight, a low GI diet lifestyle is the perfect option. Also, if you find yourself lethargic, losing concentration, or experiencing mood swings an hour or so after eating, a change to low GI meals may show immediate benefits.
In term of long terms health, Low GI Diets are important to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes or heart disease. However, if you’ve already been diagnosed with diabetes, low GI diets have been shown to improve both lipid and glucose levels, maintain more stable insulin levels and reduce insulin resistance, which is important in reducing the risk of long term diabetes-related complications.
More and more health benefits associated with choosing a low glycemic index diet are constantly being realised, but the ones we’ve listed are certainly already impressive …
- Control and stabilise your blood sugar levels
- Raise your HDL (“good”) cholesterol
- Lower your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels
- Assist you with weight loss
- Manage symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Improve your body’s sensitivity to insulin
- Lower your risk of type 2 diabetes
- Lower your risk of heart disease
- Improve your energy levels and general wellbeing
So, to get started, just do your best to avoid high Glycemic foods as much as possible … and simply choose medium or low GI foods wherever you can! It becomes very easy once your understand the basics, and it certainly doesn’t mean that you’ll be forever consulting charts and adding up numbers to succeed. Begin simply, by continuing to learn a little about the glycemic index and you’ll be on your way to a satisfying and tasty low glycemic diet lifestyle.
A low glycemic index diet is one of the best ways to look after your health, and lose excess weight effectively and naturally. The weight reduced through a low GI diet approach is safe, and you won’t find yourself needing to starve on just carrots and lettuce! The glycemic index ranks the foods from 0–100 according to the speed at which they effect your blood sugar levels in the 2 or 3 hours after eating. In the glycemic index list of foods, the foods with a glycemic index value below 55 are low GI foods, foods ranking 55–70 are moderate GI foods, and foods with a GI value 70–100 are high GI foods.
- High GI (70-100) Carbohydrates which break down quickly during digestion, releasing blood sugar rapidly into the bloodstream – causing marked fluctuations in blood sugar levels.
- Medium GI (56-69) Carbohydrates which break down moderately during digestion, releasing blood sugar moderately into the bloodstream.
- Low GI (0-55) Carbohydrates which break down slowly during digestion, releasing blood sugar gradually into the bloodstream – keeping blood sugar levels steady … and so provide you with the best health benefits!
Low GI foods are often the ones with “good” carbohydrates, low fat, high dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals. These foods help in keeping the blood sugar levels stable, are beneficial for sports persons, diabetics, people with coronary heart disease, those wanting to lose weight … and really just about everyone!
But … one word of warning … watch out for companies branding their products with “Low GI” labels. Just because a food is low GI, doesn’t necessarily make it a good food! Some foods may have a low GI, but may be high in “bad” fats, or are high in additives, flavourings, colourings, or preservatives. Always check the full ingredients list! … And also ensure that a large proportion of the foods that you eat are as minimally processed as possible!
When referring to any GI Food List, please remember that the numbers aren’t absolute and should serve as a guide only. The impact any particular food will have on your blood sugar levels on any given day will depend on many other factors such as ripeness, cooking time, product brand, fibre and fat content, time of day, blood insulin levels, and recent activity. Use the Glycemic Index as just one of the many tools you have available to improve your control.
Also check out Low GI Diet Tips to help make a low GI diet lifestyle easier to follow!
Glycemic Index List of Foods
The glycemic index ratings of individual foods will vary according to ripeness, variety, product brand, specific ingredients used, cooking times, and GI testing procedures. This will explain the variation you may see amongst different GI Food Lists.
(Find a more comprehensive & Downloadable GLYCEMIC INDEX FOOD LIST, by entering your name and email at the top right of the page)