GI secrets explained - how it influences health and body fat

Mike Honore

Mike Honore runs reactiv - an online presence for fitness, weight loss, body building, nutrition, and supplements.

Have you read about or seen on tv buff stars preaching benefits of a low ‘GI’ diet? Or maybe you’ve heard the term ‘GI’ through a friend and wondered what it’s all about?

Foods like bread, potatoes, rice, pasta, cereal, fruit, soft drinks, alcohol and sweets are all carbohydrates. They are referred to as either simple or complex (simple carbohydrates are digested fast while complex carbohydrates are digested more slowly). Another way for describing carbohydrate foods is by the term ‘GI’ – short for ‘Glycemic Index’.

GI also takes into account the rate of digestion of different carbohydrates. More importantly though it considers the speed this digestion causes blood sugar to rise. Some carbohydrates cause fast and sudden rises of blood sugar – others cause a slow, healthier, and more stable rise in blood sugar.

Many people have happily discovered when they avoid carbohydrates that cause sharp blood sugar rises and stick to slowly digested carbohydrates instead they have:

– Better health and cholesterol levels
– Higher and consistent energy
– Less hunger cravings and feel full for longer
– An easier time losing weight and keeping it off

GI is simply a way to rank a carbohydrate food on a scale from 0 –100 based on the speed at which blood sugar rises. The carbohydrates that digest fast and cause sudden blood sugar rises are described as having a High GI. Foods that digest slowly and cause more gradual blood sugar rises are described as having a Low GI. Somewhere in between are the foods described as having a Medium GI. Glucose is used as the reference point and is given a value of 100. The following table shows how this translates into a ‘scoring’ system.

GI Score Table:

Low GI = 55 or less
Medium GI = 56 to 69
High GI = 70 and above

Many factors can influence GI. Processed foods are usually High GI. Wholegrain and unprocessed foods are generally Low GI. The Fiber content in natural, unprocessed carbohydrates slows down the rate of digestion. This is one factor that can influence GI and why high fibre foods are better choices than refined options where fibre has been removed. A good example is the comparison of fruit juice to fruit in it’s ‘complete’ natural state. By ‘juicing’ fruit, health benefitting fibre is broken down and in some cases virtually removed altogether, turning fruit into a high GI sugar rush health risk.

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