What is this glycemic index all about? GI? Am I supposed to eat low or high GI foods? Confused? Let's break it down...in a sciency way. Oh, I'm getting exited!
Some carbohydrates (simple carbs) need a lot of handholding. The Glycemic Index, GI, was developed as a rating system to determine how much handholding a carbohydrate needs. GI is a measure of the carbohydrate's effect on blood sugar levels.
Specifically it's the measurement of response (insulin response) in the two hours following eating 50 grams of the food. The standard against which foods are rated is white bread. White bread = 100 (GI rating). White bread's glucose effect - or blood sugar response = 140. So the GI is designed to estimate blood sugar response based on the GI rating of a carbohydrate.
Got it? This system was designed for diabetics, and it's been adopted by weight management communities as well because a steady blood sugar level is a marker of good food choices. A high GI rating is a fast digesting or simple carbohydrate, and a low GI rated food is a slower digesting carbohydrate.
Not so mysterious after all. GI indexed foods are categorized into 3 groups:
- Low GI: 55 or less - most fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, & fructose
- Medium GI: 56-69 - whole wheat products, batsmati rice, sweet potato, sucrose & lactose
- High GI 70-100 - baked potatoes, watermelon, white bread, white rice, breakfast cereals, glucose, maltose
Basically, the simpler a carbohydrate, the faster it's digested and gets into our blood stream. All of a sudden we have a dump into our blood, insulin has to rush in and grab it up (hold its hand) to transport it for storage.
Items on the low GI list digest slowly, they are like time-release carbohydrates. They are all grown up and need very little handholding. Just a little. Cause it's nice (wink).
Here's a list of 100+ foods and their glycemic index. I hope this helps to demystify the GI rating once and for all!