Glycemic Index

Helping you to manage your blood sugar levels with the Gi food list and Glycemic Load

low gi pasta dishLow Gi Pasta Dish image uploaded to flickr by PhyrePh0X

Many diabetics successfully base their diabetic diets on the Glycemic Index (or Gi) but does that mean you can benefit from the Glycemic Index too?

Several studies have shown that the Glycaemic Index has a beneficial effect on your blood sugar levels and can therefore, help to improve your diabetes control. So keep reading to discover how you too can benefit from Gi Foods…

So what’s so special about the Glycemic Index?

The Glycemic Index is basically a ranking system for carbohydrates, foods that break down into glucose when they’re digested.

Foods with a High Glycemic index – or High Gi – will release sugar into your bloodstream rapidly and will spike your blood sugar levels (which could lead to hyperglycemia).

But if your food has a Low Gi, it will gradually release sugar over time, making you feel fuller for longer and will help stabalise your blood sugar levels and prevent a Hypoglycemic Attack.

In a nutshell, following the gylcemic index in your diabetic diet will help you understand how your blood sugar levels will react to certain foods and can help you improve your diabetes control.

This is why many diabetics successfully use the Gi diet to control their blood sugar levels and even lose weight.

Can the Glycemic Index really help me lose weight?

Eating foods that are broken down slowly will give you a steady release of energy. This way you won’t feel hungry so often. Making it easier to avoid the cookie jar :^)

Combine this with a balanced diet – as seen in the Food Groups page – and you’ll find it easier to improve your weight control, helping you to lose weight!

How is it measured?

The Glycemic Index scales from 0-100 and is split into 3 groups:

  • High
  • Medium
  • Low

glycemic index scaleAnything with a high GI get absorbed into our bloodstream faster than other Gi foods. Some of these foods can still be healthy in a balanced meal, but when eaten on their own, high Gi foods tend to spike your blood sugar levels.
These foods scale from 70-100, Glucose being at 100.

Example of high GI foods: Most of the foods in the Simple Sugars food group.

Foods with a medium GI are scaled from 56-69. Eating these foods won’t necessarily benefit your blood sugar levels but generally won’t spike them.

Example of medium GI foods: Some beans, pulses and tofu have low-medium GI’s making them great vegetarian meals in combination with other low GI foods.
Also, most of the foods in the Fruit and veg food group have medium GI’s. You don’t have to worry too much about this unless you have huge portions.

Foods with a low GI are digested slowly, meaning they release energy and sugar, slowly (maintaining your blood sugar levels) and keep you fuller for longer. Wholesome foods are an example.
These foods scale from 0-55.

Example of low GI foods: Most of the foods in the Grains food group.

Alternate measurement: Glycemic Load (GL)

Whilst this isn’t as common as the GI, it is sometimes better.They are GI values that take into account the typical portion size.

For example, fruit and veg moves from medium on the GI scale, to low on the GL scale. I won’t say anything else about it as it can get confusing. Also, it is harder to get used to. But if you’d like more information on the GL keep reading.

Do I have to avoid all high GI foods?

Not really. There may be a time when you might need a high GI snack to quickly recover energy. I referred to this here, on the Simple Sugars page.

But there’s even more flexibility to Gi foods. High Gi foods aren’t necessarily unhealthy. Brown rice and baked potatoes fit this bill as they have high Gi values.

But you wouldn’t normally eat a plain baked potato or brown rice by itself would you?

So the rest of the food on your plate can reduce the average GI of your meal and that’s what’s important.

If you combine high GI foods with low GI foods the overall GI rating is reduced. So you can eat sweet and savoury dishes with little worry, at any time of the day.

How will I know the GI/GL of a food?

Supermarkets are getting good at labelling own-brand foods with a low GI label. So you can pick up similar, branded foods as they will have a similar GI.

Glycemic Index (and sometimes Glycemic Load) values will usually appear on the back/side of the package underneath the Food Label and may sometimes have a Gi logo.

Overtime you will easily be able to tell whether a food as a low, medium or high GI. Until then, here’s a list of many foods and their GI values.

A complimentary food database that can help you manage your diabetic diet is the Calories in food Gadget. It will give you the real food labels for any food you type in, giving you useful nutritional information on its calories, cholesterol, sugar content and more.

So to access the the Calories in Food gadget head from the Glycemic Index page to the Free Calorie Counter page, here.Or use the NavBar (navigational bar on the left of this page) for more options.