There has been a lot of talk lately about the glycemic index of foods. But few people really understand what this indicator is. In fact, everything is very simple, this is a conditional coefficient that displays how quickly the body absorbs carbohydrates that are contained in food and, as a result, how much the blood sugar level will rise.
Initially, this indicator was used exclusively by diabetics, but now more and more often GI is included in the characteristics of food for healthy people.
Harm of foods with a high glycemic index
Many studies have been carried out in many countries around the world regarding the harm and benefits of foods that have a high GI. And all scientists are unambiguous in their opinion – if you regularly consume foods with a high GI, then sooner or later diabetes will develop.
In fact, everything is very simple. If a person constantly, for example, every 2 hours consumes fast carbohydrates, these are snacks with sweets, tea with sugar, then his normal metabolism is disrupted. Fat begins to accumulate in the lower abdomen, and the person himself constantly feels hunger and begins to eat again. It is for this reason that the description of any diet begins with the need to give up starchy foods and sweets, that is, from simple carbohydrates.
Pros and cons of a high glycemic index
In fact, we can say that there are no harmful and healthy carbohydrates. It all depends on the quantity. After hard physical labor or power loads, foods with a high GI will help you to restore your strength most quickly, in addition, they will improve your mood. And weight gain is only due to the fact that there is an excess of bad carbohydrates in the diet, and as a result, a high calorie intake.
The glycemic index also depends on the combination of foods on the menu and how the food is prepared. For this reason, it is not necessary to completely abandon bad carbohydrates, you just need to know when to stop.
Pros and cons of a low glycemic index
First of all, GI is important for diabetics. It allows you to create a rational menu and avoid a sharp jump in blood glucose. For healthy people, this indicator will allow you to adjust the diet and reduce the amount of fast carbohydrate intake.
Foods with a low GI index, which ranges from 0 to 55 units, are digested more slowly in the stomach, and the substances contained in them are also absorbed more slowly into the blood. Therefore, the feeling of satiety is felt from them much longer.
What determines the glycemic index
The glycemic index depends on the amount of fat in the food. For example, in creamy ice cream this indicator is lower, since it contains more fat than milk ice cream. In addition, GI depends on what foods are combined in the diet. For example, if in one meal most of the food is carbohydrates, but there are also proteins and fats, then the GI will decrease in carbohydrates. It is for this reason that separate meals are not recommended for diabetics. Doesn’t give such nutrition any benefit to healthy people.
The glycemic index also directly depends on the method of preparation of the dish and the degree of grinding. The longer foods are chewed, the higher their GI.
Why do athletes need the glycemic index
There is a lot of controversy regarding the benefits and harms of high and low GI for athletes and, to be honest, scientists have not yet come to a consensus.
But there are still general recommendations that many athletes adhere to:
- if you want to gain muscle mass, you can eat foods before training with a GI of up to 80 units;
- after hard physical training and the desire to increase muscles, the consumption of foods with a GI of 80 and higher is allowed;
- when forming a relief and losing weight, the index of products should not exceed 60 units.
If you need to quickly recuperate, for example, between workouts, you should consume carbohydrates with high protein and high GI in order to accelerate the synthesis of glycogen. Although scientists have different opinions regarding this statement.
What is glycemic load
The glycemic index is an indicator of how quickly carbohydrates are broken down to the state of glucose, and accordingly reflects the speed of penetration into the blood. Glycemic load is a calculated unit that allows you to establish how much carbohydrate is in food. It is calculated using the following formula:
GI / 100 * the amount of carbohydrates in a specific serving. It is believed that the ideal glycemic load would be 10-20 units.
How to lower the glycemic index of foods
There are several ways to influence GI. First of all, do not overcook food or grind it too much. The finer they are cut, the faster they will digest and turn into glucose. If we talk about vegetables, if they are finely chopped, then they have less fiber.
You should also adhere to the following rules:
- try to eat vegetables raw, for example, in boiled carrots, the GI rises 2.5 times in comparison with raw root vegetables;
- add fiber to each meal, it quickly saturates and partially prevents the absorption of glucose in the digestive tract;
- in addition to fiber, add proteins to the diet, they are slowly absorbed and do not allow glucose to jump.
And the last rule – do not give up fat. They are the ones that are absorbed most slowly, and also reduce the absorption of carbohydrates. But do not overdo it, only 3-5 g of butter is enough to season the porridge.
How does the glycemic index affect weight loss?
The higher the GI in the diet, the less chance of losing weight, but it is an opportunity to gain excess weight. Foods that have a high glycemic index are quickly absorbed and stimulate the release of insulin. It is this substance that is responsible for the distribution of “excess” sugar in the body, and the excess is sent to the fat layer. Hence the conclusion that the more fast carbohydrates in the diet, the stronger the release of insulin and the more fat.
There is only one conclusion, if it is necessary to reduce weight, then you should eat foods with medium and low GI. You should not completely abandon products with a high rate, but you still have to reduce them to a minimum.
What is the difference between the glycemic index and the insulin index?
These two terms overlap, but are still different. GI displays the effect of carbohydrates on blood sugar concentration. The insulin index displays how much the amount of insulin will increase after consuming a particular food product for 2 hours.
The main difference between the two terms is that the latter only displays insulin hormone levels and is not based on glycemic load.
The insulin level is in no way proportional to the glycemic load, for example, even lean meat can increase it. Even a low GI value in a product can cause an increase in insulin levels.
Glycemic index and diabetes mellitus
As mentioned earlier, the glycemic index was originally developed for use in the diet of diabetics. It is he who shows how quickly sugar is absorbed from the food product. Over time, scientists have established that GI is important for healthy people as well, as foods with a high index raise their sugar levels. For this reason, healthy people should also rely on the GI, naturally, without fanaticism.
Determination of the glycemic index without tables
To date, many tables have been developed that display the level of the glycemic index in individual foods. A low indicator is from 0 to 35 units, an average: 40-50, anything above 50 is already a high indicator. It is clear that the index of products that are always on your table can be memorized, but walking with the table will not always work.
To determine the GI level by eye, you need to determine the amount of sugar. If it is more than 30%, then the indicator will be equal to 30 units. In the case when the product contains not only sugar, but also other carbohydrates, then they should also be taken into account.
- complex carbohydrates always have a lower GI level;
- milk in any product increases the GI by 15-20%.
This indicator can be independently determined experimentally. If the feeling of hunger after a certain dish comes very quickly, it means that it has a very high GI, that is, these are fast carbohydrates that are almost instantly absorbed into the bloodstream. It is about 30-40 minutes after the meal.
Glycemic index myths
The pursuit of a healthy lifestyle sometimes reaches the point of absurdity. Rice and carrots are already on the list of “bad” foods, but is it worth giving up natural and healthy foods?
The first myth is that foods with a high GI inevitably raise sugar levels. In fact, it all depends on the diet, if such foods are combined with proteins, fiber, then no problems will arise. A balanced diet will never cause your blood glucose to rise.
Myth 2 – absolutely all foods with a high glycemic index lead to gaining excess weight, and with a low one – to weight loss. This is not true, if you eat buns in moderation, then the body fat will not increase. This rule echoes the first, only the balance between fast and complex carbohydrates will allow you to eat deliciously and not gain excess weight.
Myth 3 – Fast carbohydrates don’t make you feel full. Not true, it all depends on what to use them with. If one meal contains a high GI product, protein and / or fiber, then the feeling of satiety will remain for a long time.
Bottom line: should you cut out high glycemic foods?
In no case should you give up foods that have a high glycemic index. They are tasty and healthy, but we should never forget that we eat food not only for pleasure, but for energy. Therefore, the balance between the energy expended and the food consumed must always be respected, and then no obesity threatens a person.