What You Didn’t Know About the Glycemic Index

glycemic index explained factor 75

Over the past few years the “glycemic” buzz has spurred countless books, studies, and fad diets. This “glucose revolution” has been hailed as the solution to diabetes, the antidote to obesity, even the cure for metabolic syndrome.

But hold on Health World, let’s not get carried away. Here’s the glycemic index explained.

What it measures

Both the glycemic index and glycemic load measure how quickly carbohydrates turn to sugar in the body, and serve as great tools for determining how foods affect your energy level.

But what’s the difference?

And which one is most accurate? And most of all, how does this apply to you?

It’s hard to know who to believe with so many gurus topping the New York Times best seller’s list. In our two part series, we’ll unpack fact from fiction.

glycemic index explained factor 75

To understand glycemic index, let’s start with the most important meal of the day: breakfast.

You want to choose a low glycemic index (GI) food to prevent a mid-morning crash. The lower a food is on the scale, the slower its carb sugars are absorbed into the bloodstream.

Based on a scale of zero to 100, look for food indexed at 55 and lower.

  • A GI of 70 or more is high
  • A GI of 56 to 69 is medium
  • A GI of 55 or less is low

Have an attachment to your 7 a.m. bowl of Cornflakes? With a GI of 83, that crunchy return to childhood nostalgia will spike and drain your energy level, routing you back to the Coffeemate by 10am.

Choose a bowl of whole grain rolled oatmeal instead. The lower GI score of 49 means the carbs take longer to turn into sugar, giving you sustained energy until lunchtime.

However, the glycemic index doesn’t give us the whole story. What does the glycemic index leave out? That’s where the glycemic load picks up. Stay tuned for part two!

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