Glycemic this and glycemic that.
Does it really matter?
Prior to 2013, I had never heard of the word “glycemic”. As a busy working mother, all I knew was that I was steadily putting on the pounds and no amount of cutting back was helping.
I had turned my body into a “fat storage” machine.
My food choices were all about sugar, flour, rice, white potatoes, boxed this and boxed that, and enough bread to sink a ship.
Has your body turned into a “fat storage” machine?
Have you tried to lose weight, only to see the scales creep upward?
This is a complaint I often hear from my busy clients. They’re so busy and they’re trying to eat healthy, only to be losing the battle. Their mid-section seems to get bigger by the month.
I know you’re busy and staying informed on all the nutrition information out there is not even on your radar. Today, I want to share some information that will help you turn off the fat storage machine you’ve turned your body into.
The Glycemic Index and the Glycemic Load is a complicated topic; which is more than this blog can cover. I do spend more time with my clients on this topic, guiding them to understand how the Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load can help turn off their fat storage.
Today I’m sharing the basics so you can get your health headed in the right direction.
Just a little information will go a long way in helping you begin to make better decisions about the food you eat.
Notice that they both begin with the term “Glycemic.” That’s your tip that both have something to do with sugars and carbs. Not only how much sugar is in foods, but more importantly, how foods affect your blood sugar levels.
Every food item has a Glycemic Index and a Glycemic Load.
The foods you eat will either elevate your blood sugar levels or keep them at normal levels. Learning which foods to eat during the day will help keep your blood sugar levels low.
In general, diets that are high on the glycemic index (GI) and high in glycemic load (GL), tend to increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
You may have heard that you shouldn’t eat “white” food. This is due to the starches, like those in potatoes and grains, which are digested into sugar. Starch is basically just a bunch of sugars linked together. Digestive enzymes break those links so that the sugars become free. Then those sugars affect your body the same way that eating sugary foods do.
Let’s look at the two and determine how we can turn off the fat storage…
Glycemic Index (“how fast”)
The most common of the two terms is “Glycemic Index” (GI).
As the name suggests, it “indexes” (or compares) the effect that different foods have on your blood sugar level. Each food is given a score from 0 (no effect on blood sugar) to 100 (big effect on blood sugar). Foods that cause a fast increase in blood sugar have a high GI. That is because the sugar in them is quickly processed by your digestive system and absorbed into your blood.
In other words, they cause a “spike” in your blood sugar.
To give you an idea of how this works; pure glucose is given a GI rating of 100; while broccoli, carrots and green beans – to name a few – have a GI of 0.
Regarding GI: low is anything under 55; moderate is 56-69, and 70+ is considered a high GI food.
Remember, this is a measure of how fast a carbohydrate containing food is digested and raises your blood sugar. It’s not a measure of the sugar content of the food.
How the carbohydrates in food affects your blood sugar level will depend on other components of the food. Things like fiber and protein can slow the release of sugar into the bloodstream, and this can actually make the food – a high-sugar food – low on the GI scale. Also, the way the food is prepared will determine the GI level in your system. Again, too in depth for this blog.
I’m just covering the basics though and want you to know that each food has its own Glycemic Index.
Lower GI foods are better at keeping your blood sugar levels stable because they don’t increase your blood sugar level as fast.
Can you guess which food has a GI of higher than 100? (Think of something super-starchy)
White potatoes! They have a GI of 111.
Glycemic Load (“how much”)
The Glycemic Load is different from the Glycemic Index.
Glycemic load (GL) doesn’t take into account how quickly your blood sugar “spikes”, but it looks at how high that spike is. Basically, how much the food increases your blood sugar.
GL depends on two things. First, how much sugar is actually in the food. Second, how much of the food is typically eaten.
Low GL would be 0-10, moderate GL would be 10-20, and high GL would 20+.
Example of GL and GI
So, let’s compare average (120 g) servings of bananas and oranges:
|Food||GI||Serving size (g)||GL per serving|
Excerpt from: Harvard Health Publications, Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load for 100+ foods
As you can see, the banana and orange have almost the same glycemic index.; this means they both raise your blood sugar in about the same amount of time.
But, the average banana raises the blood sugar twice as high (11) as the orange does (5). So, it contains more overall sugar than the same amount (120 g) of orange.
Of course, this is all relative. A GL of 11 is not high at all. Please keep eating whole fruits. 🙂
There are some very healthy foods that will have a high GL, which makes all of this information overwhelming at times.
You will want to look at your daily GL, especially if you have diabetes or pre-diabetes, and keep this as low as possible. Choose foods that have a low GI during the day to prevent your GL from increasing your blood sugar.
What does this all mean for your health?
You’re a busy lady and you may not always choose the healthiest food to eat during the day. It’s so easy to run through the drive-thru and call it a day. I did this for years and suffered the consequences and my desire is to help you move toward healthier habits.
Everyone should be aware of how food effects their blood sugar. For those with diabetes or are pre-diabetic, like insulin resistance, you need to be aware of the Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load of the foods that you are eating regularly and begin choosing healthier options.
I no longer cook “white” rice, opting instead to cook brown rice. We’ve switched to sweet potatoes rather than white potatoes and bread is a rarity. Processed foods are not allowed in my kitchen, which requires some meal planning.
I’m still busy, but my health has become a priority and I want to help you move toward a healthier you.
It’s the little changes in life that can have the biggest impact on our health. It took me a year to convert to healthier meal planning and convert my family to stop the madness. Now, it’s the norm.
This is a much deeper topic than I’m covering in this blog, but you need to know that all foods have an impact on your blood sugar. My desire is to teach you how to become aware of how your food choices impacts your health.
Start swapping out some higher GI/GL foods and replacing them with lower GI/GL foods. The Glycemic Foundation has plenty of information to get you started.
If you’re tired of the struggle and desire to get yourself healthier, contact me today and we’ll discuss your goals and get started today.
Have you joined our Facebook Community? You can join a wonderful group of ladies at Healthy Living For Life and get plenty of tips and support as you embrace your journey toward health.
Oh, and try this low GI recipe I have for you and let me know what you think.
Try this low Glycemic Index salad
- 1 Cucumber – Chopped
- 1/2 Cup Chickpeas – Drained and Rinsed
- 1/2 Cup Black Olives – Sliced
- 1/4 Red Onion – Diced
- 1/2 Cup Cherry Tomatoes – Halved
- 1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
- 2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
- 1 tsp Garlic – Minced
- 1 tsp Basil – Chopped
- 1/2 tsp Oregano
- 1 Dash Sea Salt
- 1 Dash Black Ground Pepper
Place first 5 ingredients in a bowl and toss together.
Add the remaining ingredients to a jar (to make the dressing) with a tight-fitting lid and shake vigorously.
Mix the dressing to the salad mixture and toss gently.
Serve and enjoy
Tip: Add chopped avocado for more fiber and healthy fat.