What is the Glycemic Index and why should we watch its value in the food we eat? Why should we prefer foods with a low GI and limit the others? Glycemic index (GI), simply put, expresses the speed and extent with which food increases the concentration of sugar in the blood. In detail, glycemic index expresses how much each gram of available carbohydrate in a food raises the blood glucose level after consumption, relative to consumption of pure glucose (glucose has a Gi of 100).
The glycemic index basically measures how your body reacts to the food you eat. Generally, the higher the GI value, the greater tendency the food has to disrupt the balanced level of glucose in the blood. The best therefore is to choose and eat foods with a low glycemic index.
Six reasons for eating foods with a low GI
- It makes it easier for the body to lose weight.
- It reduces the risk of colon cancer, breast cancer or pancreatic cancer.
- It reduces the risk of heart problems and stroke.
- It reduces the risk of diabetes.
- It reduces the risk of colds and flu.
- It increases the energy level, you will feel energetic and smarter.
The importance of glycemic index for weight loss
The basis of a classical reduction diet is to limit the intake of fat and carbohydrates, followed by increasing the protein consumption. It’s actually more important to watch carbohydrates than fat. When loosing weight, it’s important to reduce the intake of high GI carbs in favor of protein or carbohydrates with low GI.
Watching the glycemic index of foods should be one of the priorities especially for people who feel hungry after a limited energy intake or can’t lose weight for a long time (sometimes despite the increased exercise activity and energy expenditure). Foods containing carbohydrates have varying ability to increase blood sugar levels. After eating, the sugar level rises in the blood and washes out the insulin hormone. Insulin ensures the reduction of blood sugar levels, but when the sugar level get too low (hypoglycemia), the feel of hunger, nervousness or headache arrive again. This can be fought by eating a next meal, but this again swings the bloog sugar levels. The more frequent these rapid fluctuations, the greater the likelihood of getting overweight. For this reason, it is preferable to watch the GI on foods and achieve balanced levels of blood glucose.
Glycemic index levels
Foods with carbohydrates can be divided according to the level of GI to those with low, medium and high GI:
- less or equal to 55 – low GI
- 55 – 69 – medium GI
- 70 or more – high GI
To lose weight and be healthy (or if you have diabetes), the foods with low GI should be at the first place for you. Sometimes, you can try foods with the medium GI, but you definitely should avoid the high GI foods. The ideal GI value is 55, eating foods with GI above 70 is risky. Foods with a low GI are being digested for a longer time and maintain balanced blood sugar levels. The value of GI is influenced by the ratio of three primary nutrients (carbohydrates, fats and proteins), fiber (which slows down the use of sugars), how the food was processed, acidity of the food (GI is reduced by acids) and of course by the serving size (small portions = less sugar). Generally speaking, if two people on a diet of the same energetic value, it’s likely that the one who eats foods with lower GI will lose more weight.
The role of Glycemic Index in disease prevention
It has been proven that eating a low-GI diet for a long time may significantly reduce the risk of developing a diabetes, stroke, heart disease, colon cancer and obesity.