Taking a Closer Look at the Glycemic Index When Picking Your Food Options
The glycemic index is a new area of interest when it comes to picking food options and choosing a diet that provides more energy and helps you manage your weight as well. There are other benefits of keeping an eye on the glycemic index, such as helping to manage your blood’s sugar levels.
Some additional reasons why you should keep track of your food’s glycemic index are that it lowers your cholesterol levels and helps you make smarter decisions about what to incorporate into your diet. The glycemic index includes several factors, such as the nutrient composition of the food, the way it was cooked, how ripe it is, and how processed it is.
The aim is to include food that sits lower on the glycemic index, but this is not the only aspect to consider. Here’s what you need to know about this index and how to use it when deciding on what foods to consume.
What Is the Glycemic Index?
When the food we eat enters our digestive system, it breaks down into the simplest form of carbohydrates. This is essential before our bodies can use any of the energy present in the food because our cells need the glucose to gain energy. The glycemic index is about the glycemic value of different food.
When food has a high glycemic value, this means that it breaks down quicker and raises the glucose level of our blood. This leads to higher levels of insulin produced by our pancreas in order to lower the glucose levels. Eventually, this causes our blood to have a limited concentration of glucose and fatty acids and can make us eat more because we feel hungrier and have less energy. This is believed to cause obesity.
When we aim for food that is lower on the glycemic index, it takes longer to break down. This means that we don’t have a sudden rise in our blood glucose levels—they rise gradually and prevent sudden food cravings or an increased appetite.
There are three glycemic index measures: low, which is 55 or lower; medium, which is 56-69; and high, which is 70 and higher. The glycemic index of food is not the same as the glycemic load because the glycemic index doesn’t measure the quantity of the food you eat, whereas the glycemic load takes the number of carbs per serving into consideration as well.
Why Is It Important to Consider the Glycemic Index?
Food with a low glycemic index is said to lower your chances of different kinds of diseases. Studies indicate that high levels of carbohydrates and a higher glycemic index increase your chances of heart diseases, diabetes, and gastrointestinal problems, while also helping you maintain an ideal weight.
While it isn’t confirmed whether a lower glycemic index is preferred because it slows down the rate at which glucose enters your bloodstream or because they have lower levels of carbohydrates, many people still prefer snacks, such as low glycemic protein bars to give them a steady boost of energy throughout the day.
What Are the Benefits of a Low Glycemic Diet?
Among the several benefits of opting for a low glycemic diet, here are a few that you should keep in mind. It’s important to make sure you’ve talked to a dietician or doctor before making any drastic changes to your routine in case you have any underlying, pre-existing conditions that need to be considered.
- Your body regulates your blood sugar better, which is especially important when you have type 2 diabetes.
- It’s easier to lose weight in a shorter time period if you stick to your diet consistently.
- There is a lower amount of cholesterol in your body, which helps fight off certain elements that can lead to heart disease.
What Kinds of Food are Low Glycemic?
If you’ve been opting for vegan chocolate and plant-based proteins to help you stay energetic, in-shape, and manage your diet, you’re already on the right track. Other foods that lie lower on the glycemic index are fruits, vegetables with low starch levels, whole grains, lentils, and beans.
If you’re careful, you can also throw in a few food items with a high glycemic index every once in a while, such as herbs, seeds, oils, and seafood if you’re not a vegetarian.
Foods that have a particularly high glycemic index include juices, energy drinks, cereals, rice, vegetables with high starch levels, cakes, popcorn, and a few more. You’ll have to invest some time and do a little research into the glycemic index of anything you want to include in your diet to get a better idea of its composition.
To learn more about the glycemic index of common food items, you can visit this website that lists down the values of several everyday food items.
How Can You Figure Out the Glycemic Index?
You’ll have to calculate the total carbohydrates present in the food, which consists of sugar, starch, and fiber. The higher the sugar and starch levels, the higher the index. Next, you’ll also have to take into account the fat content and protein. Food high in fats and protein compared to carbohydrates are lower on the index.
Lastly, the fiber content. Fiber digests slowly, so foods higher in fiber have a lower glycemic index.
You’ll need to take out a copy of the glycemic index table or database before you begin with your calculations. Some food items may already have their glycemic index value written on the packaging, which will save you the hassle of carrying out your own mathematics.
To learn more about the steps involved in calculating the glycemic value of foods, you can browse through this article.
It’s important to remember that watching out for the glycemic index of foods isn’t the only way to stay active, in-shape, and on the move. In fact, some people prefer snacks with higher glycemic values when they need an immediate burst of energy.
What’s more important is to have a thorough understanding of the composition of nutrients in your meals so you can control the quantity as well as the quality. It’s also essential to get in touch with a professional to make sure you’re not adding any strains or troubles to your digestive system and body by switching up the kind of diet you have.