Glycaemic Index: What is it? Why should I care?

blood sugar glycaemic index Mar 08, 2023
glycaemic index graph

Tell me more about glycaemic index?

You’ve probably heard of glycemic index (GI), but do you really understand what it means?

Simply put, it is a measure of how quickly carbohydrates in food are broken down and absorbed into the bloodstream, causing a rise in blood sugar levels. Foods have been lab tested and given a ranking on a scale from 1 to 100 according to the extent to which they raise the blood sugar after eating.

Foods with a high GI are rapidly digested and cause a rapid spike in blood sugar levels, while foods with a low GI are digested more slowly and cause a gradual rise in blood sugar levels.

A low GI food (which is what we ideally want to aim for) has a score of equal or less than 55.

Why should I care about GI?

If you have high GI foods, they can cause a rapid spike in blood sugar levels, which can lead to a range of health problems, especially when this happens frequently. Think type 2 diabetes, increased cholesterol, and increasing weight.

Also, low GI foods tend to be more nutrient-dense, meaning they contain more vitamins, minerals, and fiber than high GI foods.

Here is a nice little summary of the benefits of low GI foods:

  • Reduce insulin levels, which play a role in fat metabolism
  • Facilitates greater fat loss – low GI foods help burn more body fat and less muscle
  • Help you to feel full for longer due to slowing the rate of digestion
  • Reduce food cravings
  • Help maintain long-term weight loss

How do I know which foods are low GI?

Head over to the University of Sydney website – they have a comprehensive database of tested foods:

The other thing to consider, is to make higher GI foods more “blood sugar friendly”, is add in some lean protein and healthy fats. What these two things do, is help to slow down the digestion of the carbs overall.

An example of this is, you are much better off having a piece of chocolate alongside a handful of nuts, because at least the nuts will help to slow down the sugar rush of the chocolate.


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