The glycemic index (or GI) isn’t a new phenomenon, but surprisingly there is still an overwhelming number of individuals who have never heard of it before. Simply put, the glycemic index provides a wealth of information about how the carbohydrates in foods will effect a person’s blood sugar level. For diabetics, knowing the in’s and out’s of the glycemic index is a must, since foods with a low glycemic index release sugar into the bloodstream at a more gradual pace than higher GI foods, which are absorbed quickly into the bloodstream and can cause hyperglycemia (a dramatic rise in blood sugar levels).
Many popular weight loss programs, including Bistro MD, incorporate the glycemic index as a valuable resource to ensure that their products are suitable for sustainable weight loss, as low glycemic foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and low fat dairy are staple items of Bistro MD and other similar programs.
Low Glycemic Index
Generally, foods with a GI number of 55 and under are considered low glycemic foods. This group includes lentils, raw carrots, kidney beans, peanuts, skim milk, raw apples, peas, grapefruit, whole grains, grapes, pears, peaches, and sweet potatoes, just to name a few. Low GI foods are beneficial because they have more fiber than high GI foods, so you will feel fuller longer and thus avoid overeating at your next meal.
For anyone trying to follow a low glycemic eating plan, there are certain guidelines that should be followed and these include:
- Choose whole grains/nutty breads over enriched grain items, like white bread. The same goes for other related foods, like crackers and biscuits. Whole grains should always be your first choice in this category.
- When it comes to potatoes, sweet potatoes have a much lower GI than russet, red, or new potatoes.
- Choose Basmati or brown rice instead of white (enriched) rice.
- Stay away from processed breakfast cereals and stick with steel cut oats, muesli, and unrefined cereals.
- Tropical fruits such as bananas, pineapple, and melons tend to have a higher GI than stone fruits like peaches, apples, nectarines, and berries. If you must have fruit, go with the latter choice.
High Glycemic Index
All foods that have a high GI of 70 and above should be avoided as much as possible, since these foods are proven to cause a considerable spike in blood sugar levels. Examples in this category include watermelon, instant white rice, most potatoes, enriched plain white bread, honey, and pumpkin. It’s a general rule of thumb that processed foods, like cakes, pies, doughnuts, cookies, and most other sweets and desserts are classified as high GI foods because they contain large amounts of enriched white flour and sugar. Not only do they cause a rise in blood sugar, but they are high in fat and calories also, which makes them incredibly toxic to anyone trying to follow a weight loss program.
Medium GI (56 to 69) foods, like raisins, bananas, and sweet corn don’t cause a great flux in blood sugar levels, but they should still be eaten in moderation.