Understanding the glycemic index of foods

The glycemic index (GI) is a way to measure how much effect a particular food will have on our blood sugar levels. The higher the glycemic index, the more quickly that food is broken down during the digestion process, and the more quickly blood glucose levels will rise. Carbohydrates that break down slowly release glucose into the blood stream more gradually and have a lower glycemic index.

Higher glycemic index isn't always a bad thing

Sometimes people want a quick rise in their blood sugar. Serious athletes often pay close attention to the glycemic index of foods they eat so they can have optimal energy available when they need it.

Usually before a competition they'll eat foods with a lower glycemic index so that energy is released more slowly.

During a competition they may try to eat a balance of high and low GI foods; the low GI foods will provide sustained energy, and the high GI foods will provide a quick burst.

When they're finished, athletes will often eat high GI foods to quickly restore depleted energy stores.

The glycemic index really just concerns foods that are high in carbohydrates. Foods that are high in fat or protein don't have as much of an effect on your blood glucose levels.

The glycemic index is sometimes categorized into three classes: low, medium, and high. Table 4-1 shows GI ranges and some examples:

Table 4-1

Glycemic Index Ranges

Table 4-1


GI Range


Low GI

55 or less

Most fruit and vegetables (except potatoes), quinoa, and most other alternative grains

Medium GI


Orange juice, some pastas, some brown rices

High GI

70 or more

White bread, baked potato, most white rices, pizza, crackers, bagels, beer

A food's glycemic index may change depending on how it's prepared and what's eaten with it.

Unfortunately, a food's glycemic index won't be listed on the label. You can find glycemic index tables for specific foods by searching for "glycemic index (food name)" on your favorite search engine. Not all foods are listed, but many are, and it's a great start for understanding which foods cause your blood sugar to soar, and which ones don't.

A great book on the subject of blood sugar and its importance in maintaining overall health is The New Sugar Busters! by H. Leighton Steward (Ballantine).

Atkins Low Carb Diet Recipes

Atkins Low Carb Diet Recipes

The Atkins Diet is here. Dr Atkins is known for his great low carb diets. Excluding, Dr Atkins carb counter and Dr Atkins New Diet Revolution.

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment