Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Glycemic Index, What Is It

The glycemic index is a measurement of how much blood glucose increases after eating a specific food. Glycemic Index is a measure of the rate at which carbohydrates are digested. Evidence from prospective studies shows that low GI diets are associated with reduced diabetes risk, especially type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease risk, cancer risk, and metabolic syndrome. For this reason, GI diets are more likely to be seen as acceptable by doctors, nutritionists and dieticians. This is because low GI diets are more closely aligned to the healthy eating guidelines promoted by most Western governments than low carbohydrate diets. The foods which are restricted on low GI diets are those which cause your blood sugar and insulin levels to rise fast and high. GI diets are based on the principle of balancing blood sugar

Highly processed, rapidly digested carbohydrates that are high on the glycemic index such as mashed potatoes or cookies cause fluctuations in blood sugar and insulin levels that contribute to hunger and prevent the breakdown of fat. Whereas foods with a low GI value slowly release sugar into the blood, providing you with a steady supply of energy, leaving you feeling satisfied longer so that you are less likely to snack.

Low-GI diets are based around fibre-rich foods and include lots of fruit and vegetables and generous helpings of beans and pulses, wholegrain bread and brown rice which the body digests slowly. Low GI diets are claimed to be healthier, more satisfying and beneficial in managing blood sugar levels and provide a sustained source of energy for the body. Moderate GI diets are full of slow release foods that keep you feeling full for longer. Even though low GI diets are not called low carbohydrate diets, they are "lower" carbohydrate diets than most other diets. and higher in protein content.

Foods vary in the GI based on origin and processing. Foods containing high amounts of carbohydrate include flour and sugar, potatoes, rice, corn and other grains and the many foods made with them.

Foods with a high glycemic index convert rapidly into glucose, are more quickly digested and provide fast release energy which can be particularly useful after exercise when you need a quick boost.

Foods with a low glycemic index are low in sugar, or release sugar slowly in a more controlled way, which avoids peaks and troughs in blood sugar levels. Foods with low GI values are among the most filling of all foods and delay hunger pangs for longer. fruit such as apples and oranges, pasta, beans and lentils and porridge are examples of food with a low glycemic index

There is evidence that low GI diets are able to reduce abdominal fat specifically. Without any drastic change in regular dietary habits and using the theory behind glycemic index can help keep hunger at bay whilst watching the calories.

Low GI diets are becoming increasingly popular and there is an ever-growing number of books on the subject.

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