It suddenly all became clear to me and it was like something inside of me clicked. How can someone lose weight, primarily body fat, by using something called the glycemic index (GI). Chris is a friend of mine who is in excellent shape and he called me one day because he wanted to have lunch. We met at a Japanese restaurant for sushi and his reason for calling this meeting was to talk with me about nutrition and how food works within our bodies to help or hinder us in reaching our physique goals. This was many years ago at a time when I was at my early weight lifting stages competing in Miss Hawaiian Tropic contests.
Chris asked, “Do you know about the Glycemic Index?” and I replied, “No, what is it?” He told me it’s something I needed to know if I was going to be serious about looking my best. Chris made it very clean that from building muscle to losing body fat, the glycemic index is very important.
As we continued our conversation I took mental notes of what exactly this miracle index was and how it could work for me. I was hanging on every word like it was the gospel. In essence, knowing about the GI is pretty much like knowing the gospel in the fitness world for getting absolutely shredded.
What is the Glycemic Index?
The glycemic index is a ranking of carbohydrates based on their immediate effect on blood glucose (blood sugar) levels. It compares every food for the amount and type of carbohydrates located in it. Carbohydrates that breakdown quickly during digestion have the highest glycemic indexes. The blood glucose response is fast and high. Carbohydrates that break down slowly release glucose gradually into the blood stream and have lower glycemic index ratings. Eating foods that have a low GI level will help keep your blood sugar levels (BSL) stable and make it easier to burn body fat and get lean.
Obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes, cancer and diabetes have all been linked to (as well as other factors) diets that contain foods with a high GI. Foods with a low GI maintain a healthy BSL and help us to lose weight. One proven way to lower our risk of developing the diseases mentioned above is to keep our blood sugar levels in check.
Below is what I learned from the conversation with my friend and I urge you to educate yourself on the subject of the glycemic index even further than this article. Some foods may be listed as having a higher GI than you expect. An example is potatoes. To slow the rate at which potatoes enter your system, add a tablespoon of flax oil, or even better, opt for sweet potatoes or yams since they naturally have a lower GI level.
What is The Significance of The Glycemic Index?
- Low GI means a smaller rise in blood glucose levels after meals
- Low GI diets can help people lose weight
- Low GI diets can improve the body’s sensitivity to insulin
- High GI foods help refuel carbohydrate stores after exercise
- Low GI can improve diabetes control
- Low GI foods keep you fuller for longer
- Low GI can prolong physical endurance
What is Glycemic Load?
- Glycemic load builds on the GI to provide a measure of total glycemic response to a food or meal
- Glycemic load = GI (%) x grams of carbohydrate per serving
- One unit of GL is the glycemic effect of 1 gram of glucose
- You can compare the GL of all the foods in a meal, for the whole day or even longer
- A typical diet has around 100 GL units per day (range 60 – 180)
- The GI database gives both GI and GL values
How To Switch To a Low GI Diet?
- Use breakfast cereals based on oats, barley and bran
- Use “grainy” breads made with whole seeds
- Reduce the amount of potatoes and other “white” starchy carbs you eat
- Enjoy all types of fruit and vegetables (except potatoes)
- Eat plenty of salad vegetables with vinaigrette dressing