Are you familiar with Glycemic Index (GI)? Maybe you’ve heard about it without really knowing what it means and how it can influence your health? Here are some explanations just for you (you will thank me later)!
What is the Glycemic Index?
The Glycemic Index measures the food’s effect on a person’s blood sugar (also called blood glucose) compared to the value of 100, the standard reference of pure glucose. The GI represents the rise in a person’s blood sugar level two hours after consumption of the food.
Ok, that was the official definition. Let’s keep it simple. When you eat, foods are digested and release proteins, fats (lipids) and sugars (carbohydrates). Once absorbed, sugars raise your blood sugar. Easy, right?
Let’s continue: When the blood sugar rises, the pancreas secretes a hormone called insulin whose role is to maintain the blood sugar level around 1g/liter. This hormone is also responsible for storing fat, preferably in the buttocks and hips in women, and around the abdominal belt in men, well, otherwise it’s not fun. So the more insulin you secrete, the more chances you have (or rather bad luck) to store fat and gain weight.
Some foods have the ability to raise blood glucose more than others: they are said to have a high glycemic index. They cause an overproduction of insulin and therefore promote weight gain. Conversely, low glycemic index foods have a reduced impact on blood glucose and result in a lower insulin production.
The GI of a food reflects the quality of its carbohydrates, regardless of the amount of carbohydrates. For example, quinoa has a GI of 35 while cornmeal has a GI of 70. Both have similar amounts of carbohydrates. Quinoa causes less insulin secretion and does not promote fat storage. So, quinoa is healthier than cornmeal. QED.
Benefits of a low-glycemic diet
Are you still following me? So I’m sure you can already guess the major benefits of a low GI diet on your health:
– Better blood sugar balance and insulin control for people suffering from diabetes type 2
– Easier weight loss (fat detox) in combination with a balanced diet
– Improved sports performance and increased energy
– Absence of hunger and better mood thanks to the stability of the blood glucose
– Cardiovascular protection and disease protection
– You can still enjoy yummy foods as many “pleasure” foods have a low IG (like black chocolate rich in cocoa)
Did you know you could lower the glycemic load of your meal using just a few simple methods? Here are some tips (food combinations, alternative food choices and food preparation) to lower the glycemic impact of any meal or snack.