About Glycemic Index Numbers: How GI Levels Affect Health and Weight Loss

It’s important to include many foods that have a low glycemic index number in a diet. Besides helping weight loss, foods with a low GI number protect against diseases.

Often when people start a diet they focus only on the number of calories they’re allowed to consume for weight loss or numbers on the scale. Although calories and bathroom scale numbers are important, there other factors and numbers that influence weight loss, such as the glycemic index of a food. The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how much a particular food affects levels of blood sugar, which affects appetite. Foods with lower GI numbers are healthier as they cause blood sugar to rise and then fall at a slower rate than those foods that have higher numbers.

Carbohydrates Turn into Glucose

It’s a common misconception that diabetics and dieters only need to avoid plain sugar. Dieters often are more afraid of a couple of teaspoons of sugar in their coffee than eating a baked potato. However, foods such as baked potatoes that have a high GI number can be ever worse that sugar, according to the Mendosa.com website. That’s because a baked potato is converted into glucose once it enters the bloodstream.

Glycemic Index Categories

Each food has an index number ranging from 1 through 100, with 100 considered pure glucose. The three GI levels are high, moderate and low. High GI levels are greater than 70, while moderate ones fall into the 56 to 69 range. A low GI level is less than 55.

Processed Foods Have Higher GI Values

Basically the more processed a food, the higher is its GI value. Foods made with white flour such as white bread, pasta and rice score high, while foods with little no processing have a lower GI number. On the other hand, whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta and brown rice have a lower GI index than white bread, pasta or rice. Usually high fiber foods have a low GI. A good rule of thumb is to shop the perimeters of a supermarket where fresh produce and meats are found and toss in less foods found in the middle of a store.

Health Benefits and Weight Loss from Low GI Foods

Eating lower GI foods can result in many health benefits. A diet of lower GI foods reduces the chance of contracting type 2 diabetes. It lowers cholesterol levels. This way of eating also helps improve the odds of getting cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure (hypertension), stroke, nerve disease, kidney disease and eye disease.

Eating more foods with a lower GI number can give a full feeling in which a dieter is not hungry. Because low GI foods are digested more slowly, they stay in the stomach longer, so a dieter feels full. As a result a dieter consumes fewer calories, eats less and feels satisfied.

Don’t Eat Carbs Alone

Carbohydrates should never be eaten alone, but should be consumed with a protein and a good fat such as olive oil. Combining a food with a high GI number with a protein and good fat lowers the GI number of a meal. In other words, when eating a carbohydrate such as an apple as a snack, be sure to add a protein food such as a slice of cheese or a boiled egg, along with some good fat. However, protein can be eaten by itself without adding a carbohydrate

Finally, realize that balance is important. Although eating low GI foods has many health benefits, a diet that’s totally made up of low GI foods can lead to inadequate nutrition. Some extreme low carb diets are dangerous such as ones that limit carbs to only 30 a day. A healthier low carb diet is one that has about 90 calories a day. To ensure a diet is safe first consult a health professional or doctor regarding healthy carb limits, as well as get a complete physical and blood test.

References:

Mendosa: The Glycemic Index

Brighman and Women’s Hospital: The Importance of the Glycemic Index

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