What Is GI And Why Is It Important

What Is GI And Why Is It ImportantIf you think that all carbohydrates are the same and the only thing that’s important is how many calories are in them, you need to know about GI. Otherwise even your healthy, low-calorie meal could be making you fat!

What Is GI
GI, which stands for Glycemic Index, is the rate at which each carbohydrate is broken down and absorbed. Foods that have carbohydrates that break down and release glucose quickly have a high GI, while those that have break down slowly have a low GI. Each food can be assigned a figure between 1 and 100 based on this, with pure glucose being absorbed the quickest and therefore assigned a GI of 100. At the other end of the scale, chickpeas are a good source of carbohydrates and have a GI of just 10, so would therefore be much better to stop you feeling hungry for longer and to maintain a steady energy level.

Higher GI foods also cause more insulin to be released which promotes fat storage, by forcing glucose and fats already in the bloodstream into cells for storage. However, a post-workout meal consisting of high GI food or drinks is useful as exercise will have depleted muscles of their stored energy, so a source that can be quickly and easily used to reverse this is useful. The next meal should contain medium GI sources, such as brown rice, while any meals following this should be as low GI as possible to give a sustained energy release. A good example of this are chickpeas.

To give you an idea, here is a list of some common foods and their Glycemic Index.

High – 70 or more
Glucose – 100
Cornflakes – 80
White Rice – 87
French Fries – 75
Pretzels – 83
Parsnips – 97
White Bread – 71
Watermelon – 80

Medium – 56-69
Shredded Wheat – 67
Basmati Rice – 58
Baked Potato – 60
Croissant – 67
Hamburger Bun – 61
Honey – 58
Beetroot – 64
Mango – 60
Sultanas – 56
Bananas – 58
Figs – 61

Low – 55 – 20
Rolled Oats – 51
New potatoes – 54
Spaghetti – 32
Brown Rice – 50
Yam – 35
Soya Bread – 36
Whole Wheat – 49
Milk Chocolate – 42
Milk – 32
Lentils – 25

Very Low – 19 or less
Peanuts – 13
Walnuts – 15
Broccoli – 10
Cabbage – 10
Mushrooms – 10
Lettuce – 10
Chickpeas – 10

Aside from high GI foods causing energy levels to peak and then plummet due to the amount of insulin required, this also promotes fat storage in the short term and even diabetes in the longer term. This is because the more often insulin is in use and therefore in the blood, the more the body becomes used to it and begins to ignore it, which is known as insulin resistance. This means that increasingly more insulin is required to do the same job, placing more and more stress on the pancreas, which eventually cannot do its job and so insulin injections are required instead. This is known as type 2 diabetes.

A sedentary, inactive person is more likely to become insulin resistant or even diabetic than someone who exercises regularly, but a diet high in sweet, high GI food and drinks can affect everyone. Plus if you’re goal is to build muscle, lose weight and get a six pack, the only time you should be touching anything high GI is during and immediately after you workout.

As always, any questions or feedback leave a comment below.

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