You may have increasingly heard the term “Glycemic Index” as it relates to successful weight loss, and maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. However, you may not know exactly how it works and how best to understand it. We’ve broken down the information to help you become a more educated consumer when it comes to your health.
What is the Glycemic Index?
Some foods give us a spike in energy for a short time after being consumed while others keep us hunger-free for several hours. Wondering why that is? When being digested, carbohydrates in food turn to sugar, also called glucose, the main energy source for a person. The Glycemic Index is a tool for measuring how much a carbohydrate-containing food will cause a person’s blood sugar to rise. The higher the glycemic index value, the faster the food will be digested by the body and the higher blood sugar will rise.
Each food that contains carbohydrates is assigned a value from 1 to 100 based on how fast it is digested and absorbed. Foods high in carbohydrates and sugars will hold a value closer to 100. Those high in protein and fiber will be on the lower end of the scale (where you want to be.) The GI of most vegetables is below 50. Fruits cover the scale from one end to the other as some have higher levels of sugar than others, so always read the labels.
It is important to point out that the Glycemic Index does not reflect the nutritional value of the food. It only shows how quickly a particular food will be absorbed and how much it will raise a person’s blood sugar. The GI value of food changes when it is combined with other foods. When a high-carbohydrate vegetable, like a potato, is consumed with meat (protein) and low-carbohydrate vegetables, like spinach or broccoli (fiber), the GI value of the meal will be lower.
The Glycemic Index is not always a precise value because it does not take into the account how much of a particular food is consumed. The value is measured in a serving of 50 grams. For some foods, 50 grams is a large amount to be consumed in one sitting. Therefore, a smaller portion of such foods will not cause a significant sugar spike even if the GI value is on the higher end of the scale.
Some diets focus on the GI value of the foods to eliminate sugar spikes and to help the weight loss process. Studies have also shown that lower-GI foods aid in controlling type-2 diabetes by maintaining blood-sugar levels.
While the Glycemic Index is a good tool to use, foods should not be eliminated from one’s diet–unless recommended by a doctor–just because they have a high GI value. They contain many valuable nutrients. Also, when combined with protein and fiber, the overall GI value of a meal is lower than that of the high-GI ingredient.
That’s it. uses low-glycemic fruit and controlled portions to make snacks that are appropriate for most diets and varying health and nutrition levels.