Glycemic Index and You

June 18, 2009

What good is it to know about the glycemic index (GI) of foods?

1. Knowing more about it can help you choose foods that will help you remain or become thinner (if that’s what you’re trying to do) and/or build muscle.

2. Knowing more about the glycemic index can give you the knowledge to choose the appropriate foods to give yourself energy during the day, during a workout, and to refuel and recuperate more quickly after a workout.

3. Knowledge of the details of the glycemic index of foods can help you look your best (because of point # 1, above), and be healthier because knowing more about what havoc certain foods wreak on your body will likely drive you, the knowledgeable-about-glycemic index person, toward healthier food choices.

So, in short, here’s the deal:

High GI foods cause a spike in your blood sugar (hyperglycemia). The body responds to a spike in blood sugar by releasing insulin (the bigger the blood sugar spike, the more insulin that is released). Insulin causes the blood sugar to get “soaked up” by your cells, which causes a big dip in the blood sugar level (a relative hypoglycemia) and the sugar crash you feel after you’ve eaten a bunch of simple sugar (cakes, doughnuts, etc). When you body “soaks up” the blood sugar it does one or a combination of the following: stores the blood sugar as glycogen in your muscles and liver, or stores it as fat (and your body becomes very receptive to these types of storage after insulin release). If you’ve been eating well and you’ve not been exercising, then your glycogen “buckets” might be full or mostly full, in which case a good portion of the carbs will go straight to the good ol’ fat stores. We don’t want this.

There are times when high GI foods can be eaten with impunity. Also, there are times when high GI foods can be eaten for a desired muscle enhancing effect.

enhanced muscle

enhanced muscle

When? It will be revealed tomorrow.

By the way, just fyi, here are some foods and their glycemic index classification (high, low, medium). Some of these might surprise you:

High glycemic: carrots (92), honey (87), corn flakes (80), whole meal bread (72), white rice (72), new potatoes (70), white bread (69), shredded wheat (67), brown rice (66), beets (64), raisins (64), bananas (62)

Honey - high GI

Medium glycemic: corn (59), sucrose (59), all-bran (51), potato chips (51), peas (51), white pasta (50), oatmeal (49), sweet potatoes (48), whole-wheat pasta (42), oranges (40)

Corn - medium GI

Low glycemic: apples (39), fish sticks (38), butter beans (36), navy beans (31), kidney beans (29), lentils (29), sausage (28), furctose (20), peanuts (13)

Apples - low GI


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