Carbohydrates are a major source of energy for the body! They are also the preferred source. This means that a major portion of our calorie intake comes from carbohydrates.
This basic idea has given rise to two sets of people: (a) people who avoid carbohydrates like the plague. For these people, the lack of nourishment can lead to several deficiencies. And, (b) there are others who have resorted to calorie counting.
From a distance, calorie counting does seem effective, but there are obvious pitfalls. For one, our control on calories means our meals are not balanced and that we miss out on some super nutritious but high-calorie foods. For example, bananas and mangoes that are high in calories but also rich in several micronutrients. Also, we remain so focused on the calories that they forget to complement our food intake with proper exercise and overall healthy living. The results are disastrous!
What is GI?
Glycemic Index, or GI, is a number attributed to foods based on how much energy is derived from them when they are broken down and how they affect the blood glucose levels.
So, GI is indicative of how much energy is packed into the food. For example, the GI for Glucose is an even 100.
In general, we should all aim to eat low GI foods (GI< 50), whilst moderating medium GI foods (GI=50 to 60) and avoiding high GI foods (GI> 60) altogether.
Carbohydrates that bear low GI, such as oats and barley, are broken down slowly by the body. Naturally, the release of glucose is gradual and the blood glucose response is slow and flat. Low GI foods prolong the digestive process due to their slow passage and break down. And this helps with the feeling of satiety and fullness.
High GI Foods and Insulin Resistance
High GI foods, or foods with GI higher than 60, cause spikes in our blood glucose levels when consumed. Such rapid rise and fall of glucose levels is usually countered by the body through the release of the hormone insulin. Insulin acts on the glucose and helps it migrate from the blood into the cells, where it can be used for energy production.
However, when high GI foods are consumed repeatedly and often, the body enters a state of Insulin Resistance. In this state, the insulin secreted by the pancreas fails to act on the glucose in the blood. And blood continues to carry the glucose.
For this reason, Insulin Resistance is also termed as Prediabetes. In other words, a stage leading to diabetes!
GI Load: Portions and Serves
While it is important to continue consuming low GI foods, ultimately it is the Glycemic Load that matters. The GL is the standard and suitable serve size for low GI foods.
GL builds on the concept of GI by taking both the GI of the food and the amount of carbs in a portion into account. This is easy enough to understand. Large quantities of low GI foods will also affect the same impact on the blood glucose levels that small quantities of high GI foods do. Therefore, it is essential to keep to the right serve sizes.
A Free! eBook That Explains
GI is a great tool in determining, organizing and planning for a healthy diet. It is especially useful for women who want to control their blood sugar levels and maintain a healthy weight. It is however not the only consideration. The nutritional quality of food and your active lifestyle are equally important!
There is a great deal of information in the ebook I recently published, ‘Life Hacks For Total Inner Calm for moms on-the-go-go-go!’. The book takes a deep dive into all aspects of health – Physical, Emotional, Mental and Spiritual, and gives a well-rounded idea of what works. What’s more? There are low GI food list cut-outs included at the end that are super handy and infinitely useful. Be sure to download and take a read!