The glycemic index (GI) is a numerical representation of carbohydrates’ effect on blood sugar.
Food with a high glycemic index is quickly digested and absorbed, resulting in an increase in blood sugar levels.
Food with a low glycemic index take longer to digest, resulting in lower blood sugar levels.
What is the glycaemic index?
The glycaemic index (GI) measures how quickly foods containing carbohydrates raise blood glucose levels.
It is measured by comparing the rise in blood glucose with a reference food (usually 50g of pure glucose).
It is assigned 100 for the glucose. So, carbohydrate food is rated between 0 to 100. There are 3 main categories of foods based on GI.
- Low – Value 55 or less
- Medium – GI value between 56 to 69
- High – GI value of more than 70
The GI of a food is determined by how much it raises blood glucose levels compared to an equivalent amount of pure glucose.
How high and low GI foods affect your body.
The Glycaemic Index (GI) measures how fast carbohydrates are broken down and absorbed into the bloodstream.
This can be beneficial when trying to manage your blood sugar level or lose weight.
Foods with a high glycaemic index (greater than 70) tend to cause blood sugar levels to rise rapidly after eating them. Whereas foods with a low glycaemic index (less than 55) have less impact on blood sugar levels.
So, foods with high GI indexes result in faster glucose absorption and trigger insulin secretion from the pancreas. This causes higher levels of insulin resistance and puts you at risk for type 2 diabetes over time.
Therefore foods with higher GI are unsuitable for diabetes and patients with metabolic syndrome.
The pros and cons of the glycaemic index diet
The glycaemic index diet is a popular and highly effective method in diabetes control and weight loss. So, when you understand the glycaemic content of foods, you guide your eating. You can balance your diet by adding a combination of other food categories.
It can also help manage diabetes. However, it’s not without its downsides: it can be hard to stick to, and it’s not the best option for everyone.
In addition, GI can vary among individuals. This is because the individual response to digestion and absorption is different. Further, the presence of fibres in the diet can interact with digestion and absorption.
How to know if a food has a high or low GI
A food with a high GI will cause blood sugar to rise quickly, whereas a low GI food will cause it to rise slowly.
A food with a GI of 55 or higher is considered high; foods with a GI between 40 and 54 are moderate, and those with a GI below 39 are low.
There are reference resources to find the glycaemic index of foods. You can use https://glycemicindex.com to find the GI of foods.
Is it safe to follow the glycaemic index diet?
The GI diet is not a fad, low-carb, high protein, or low-fat diet. It is also not a gluten-free diet.
It does have similarities with some other diets, but it’s essential to understand that the GI diet is about eating whole foods in moderation without eliminating any food groups or nutrients.
The main point of the GI diet is to eat a wide variety of carbohydrate-containing foods. However, it focuses on eating foods with a lower glycaemic Index (GI) and avoiding those that are higher in GI foods.
The fact is that the glycaemic index is just one factor that influences blood sugar levels. However, other factors affect digestion and absorption of carbs and fats. For example, dietry fibre delays and prevent digestion of various foods and absorption of nutrients.
Another thing to note is that GI is a measure of how quickly the carbohydrates in a food are converted to glucose, so it does not reflect the food’s overall nutritional value.
The Bottom Line
In conclusion, a glycaemic index is a valuable tool for people who want to manage their blood sugar levels.
However, it does not tell you about other nutritional factors such as fibre, fat, and protein.
So if you’re on a diet and looking for foods that will help with weight loss or diabetes management, you need more information than just GI alone!