The glycemic index is associated with foods rich in carbohydrates, such as bread, fruit, pasta, pastries, vegetables, and cereals. But what is the glycemic index or GI?
What Is Glycemic Index?
The glycemic index is a reference parameter that shows how the carbs in food affect blood glucose levels. The higher the glycemic index of food, the faster the blood glucose level rises.
All forms of carbohydrates in food (starch, dextrose, sucrose, etc.) convert to glucose when they enter our digestive system. It is not surprising as our body transports carbs in the form of glucose.
Different foods provide carbohydrates at different rates. The glycemic index shows the rate at which food carbs convert into blood glucose. Glucose has the highest GI, at 100 units, as it digests almost instantly and enters the bloodstream. And other foods are compared with glucose.
The higher the glycemic index of a food, the more glucose enters the blood in time. And what happens when glucose enters the bloodstream? The body starts to produce the insulin hormone.
The more glucose, the more insulin goes into the bloodstream. And the faster it happens, the faster the hormone is produced. And insulin is known to be one of the main anabolic hormones that promote the accumulation of nutrients in the body (including fat). Insulin very quickly cleans the blood from carbohydrates, fatty acids, and amino acids, putting them in the appropriate cells of the body.
And how do you think what you feel when the amount of nutrients in the blood decreases? A hunger! ?
Why Is Glycemic Index Important?
If you give your body a reason to quickly clear the blood from nutrients, you push yourself into a constant feeling of hunger. And if you’re overweight, you don’t need that. However, if you have a poor appetite and need to gain weight, you need to help your body get hungry.
Sugar, honey, sweet fruit, bread made of white refined flour, cakes, white rice have a very high glycemic index. So, after eating such foods, in an hour or two, you will feel the same hunger as before (maybe even increased).
On the other hand, foods with a low GI (less than 55) lead to a feeling of satiation for longer since blood glucose level maintained more steadily.
Dr. David Ludwig of Boston Children’s Hospital made a study on the relationship between the glycemic index level of eaten foods and subsequent caloric intake.
The result was impressive: overweight people consumed 81 percent more calories after meals with a high glycemic index than after meals with a low GI. Dr. D. Ludwig pointed out that rapid digestion of glucose leads to a rise in norepinephrine levels, which prompts a consequent desire for more food.
At the same time, eating carbohydrate foods with protein lowers their glycemic index. In other words, carbs absorb more slowly, which prevents too much insulin secretion.
Related: What To Eat To Lose Weight?
Also, some foods increase their glycemic index significantly when cooked, for example, celery. Raw celery has a GI of about 35. Cooked celery is around 85.
Eating foods with a high glycemic index with a lot of fiber lowers their GI. Fiber slows down the absorption of fast carbs. That is why whole fruits are much healthier than juices for people looking to lose weight.
Eating foods with a low glycemic index lowers your appetite. So, your body will still be under the effect of the previous meal with low GI foods, and you will not overeat.
That is why nutritionists advise starting the day with complex carbohydrates (porridge, whole grain bread), dairy, and other protein products, as they have a low glycemic index, rather than cakes and coffee with sugar.
That is because the process of burning carbs by combining protein and carbohydrate foods slows down. But if you start the morning with fast carbs, then during the day, you will always want to eat something. And for some reason, it’s something sweet and sugary.
The Glycemic Index Chart
Below is the glycemic index [GI] chart for common foods.
If you need a version of this chart for even more foods, you can find it here (available in PDF format and not so colourful ?).
Now, you are familiar with the glycemic index and how it affects your life. So, try to adjust your nutrition to recommendations in this post and enjoy the result. However, do not forget that the cause of increased appetite can also be psychological discomfort, life uncertainty, excessive stress, or health problems.