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What is the Glycemic Index?

September 23rd, 2014

By rating carbs according to their effect on your blood sugar, the glycemic index can help with efforts to stick to a healthy diet and lose weight.

If you’ve been struggling to lose weight, you’ve probably had friends recommend just about every diet imaginable. Maybe you’ve even tried a few low carb or low fat diets without much success. By presenting a totally different way of thinking about carbs, the glycemic index may be able to help you shed that spare tire or muffin top that’s been bugging you since the onset of menopause.

Understanding the Glycemic Index

While counting calories or carbs can help manage blood sugar, these methods don’t take into account the way that the body actually uses the carbs in different foods. The glycemic index does, and therefore presents a much more useful tool for controlling blood sugar. It ranks foods based on the actual impact they have on the average person’s blood sugar, rather than on the amount of carbs a food may have in an unconsumed state. Foods are scored on a scale of 0 to 100 and then grouped into low (55 and under), medium (56 to 69), and high (70 and up) categories to help guide your eating choices. Foods with high scores on the glycemic index will have bigger impacts on blood sugar and may contribute to the kind of blood sugar instability that has been linked to obesity, diabetes, stroke, and heart disease.

Food Prep Matters!

You might be surprised to learn that the exact same food can have a different glycemic index rating depending on how it is prepared. For example, non-whole grain breads and pasta come from the same base food and contain similar amounts of starches. However, the bread will have a higher GI rating than the pasta. Why? Because the structure of the bread makes more of the starches accessible to digestion. Grinding grains into flour, overcooking legumes, and other processes that result in damage to the cell structures in the food can also affect their GI rating, since the weaker the cells, the more of their starches will be accessible to digestion. This is a perfect example of how using the glycemic index to choose food can result in wiser diet choices than counting carbs alone.

Changing Your Diet Plan Based on GI Values

It’s actually very easy to make adjustments to your diet based on the glycemic index. For example, you can substitute whole grain products for the cereals and breads you’re eating now and add more fresh fruits and veggies to your diet. However, bear in mind that in order to lose weight, you must be burning more calories than you consume. Any diet needs to be supported with exercise in order to be effective. If you’re interested in adopting a specific diet plan based on the glycemic index, please contact Renew Woman™ to get in touch with one our  certified nutritionists.

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