Glycemic Index: What is it and how can your health benefit from it?

This is a guest post courtesy of Needak Rebounder for Flabs to Fitness.

 photo provided by needak rebounder.

photo provided by needak rebounder.

The Glycemic Index is a valuable tool that has become a staple concept within health and fitness circles. When used intelligently and responsibly, the glycemic index can be used as a powerful mechanism for improving health, reducing the risk of certain diseases and reaching healthy weight goals.

What is the Glycemic Index?

The Glycemic Index - commonly referred to as “GI” - is a scale that ranks the way different carbohydrate foods affect your blood glucose (also known as “blood sugar”).  The GI is represented as a number, with the highest value being 100 which is equivalent to pure glucose and corresponds to the effect pure glucose would have on blood glucose levels.  So, if you were to consume a tablespoon of glucose, or sugar, you can imagine the effect it would have on your body: your blood sugar level would rise very fast seeing as glucose does not need to be broken down by your digestive system.  You might feel hyperactive, jittery or a suddenly energetic.  The glucose would cause a very rapid and high rise to your blood glucose level.

The higher the GI of a particular food, the more rapidly it is digested and absorbed by your body and the more dramatically it increases your blood sugar.  Foods that are low GI foods take longer to digest and absorb, which creates a gradual increase to blood sugar

 image provided by needak rebounder.

image provided by needak rebounder.

In other words, low GI foods release the energy content of food slowly and steadily over a longer period of time unlike high GI foods, which provide quick-release energy within a shorter time span.

Can low GI diets help with weight loss?

One of the most significant and noticeable effects of low GI foods is their effect on appetite.  Due to their slow digestion, low GI foods last longer in your system and therefore keep you satiated for a greater period of time.  By steadily releasing energy to your body, you feel full for longer and experience hunger pangs less often than on high GI foods.  Therefore, when it comes to weight loss and weight management, the natural hunger-suppressing quality of low GI foods means you can stick to a healthy diet more easily and focus on feeding your body only as much as it needs

Research also shows that low GI foods encourage your body to burn stored fat and assists in lowering cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol levels. 

What are examples of low GI foods?

Generally, carbohydrate foods are divided into three GI categories:

Low GI: 1 to 55
Medium GI: 56 to 69
High GI: 70 and higher

When we talk about low GI foods, we refer to foods that are within the 1-55 GI range.  Below are some examples of low GI foods – as you will see, there are plenty of different foods that fall within the low GI range.  Creating your own low GI diet is not difficult when you know what to choose from!

Cereals: oat bran; rolled oats; natural muesli; porridge.

Breads: soya and linseed; wholegrain pumpernickel; heavy mixed grain; whole wheat; sourdough rye; sourdough wheat.

Vegetables: frozen green peas; frozen sweet corn; carrots; eggplant/aubergine; broccoli; cauliflower; cabbage; mushrooms; tomatoes; chillies; lettuce; green beans; red peppers; onions; yams; sweet potatoes.

Fruits: cherries; plums; grapefruit; peaches; apples; pears; dried apricots; grapes; coconut; coconut milk; kiwi fruit; oranges; strawberries; prunes.

Legumes (Beans): kidney beans (canned); butter beans; chick peas; haricot/navy beans; red lentils; green lentils; pinto beans; black eyed beans; yellow split peas.

Grains: brown rice; pearl barley; buckwheat; white long grain rice; spaghetti.

Eating low GI foods does not mean you need to forego your tastebuds or flavourful foods.  There are plenty of delicious low GI recipes easily found through Google.  The Glycemic Index Foundation is a good place to start – they provide breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack recipes that all look tantalizing and many of them take less that 20 minutes to whip up! 

 photo provided by needak rebounder.

photo provided by needak rebounder.

Are there any benefits to consuming high and medium GI foods?

High/medium GI whole foods such as bananas, pineapples, watermelon and dates are advantageous sources of quick energy for times when your body requires rapid fuel replenishment.  For example, after performing a rigorous workout it’s important to refuel your body so that your muscles can properly recover and rebuild.  In such instances, eating a natural high/medium GI food in order to provide your body some immediate sustenance until your next meal can assist with muscle recovery

Other health benefits of low GI diets:

There is a significant body of clinical research which describe various health benefits of maintaining a low GI diet.  One of the most notable areas of research is the effect low GI diets can have in reducing the risk of diabetes.  High GI diets create unhealthy surges to insulin levels.  If you maintain a high GI diet for long enough, your body develops insulin resistance, which is a precursor to Type 2 Diabetes.  Conversely, low GI foods do not spike your insulin levels and assists your body in maintain proper regulation of insulin and blood glucose levels.  Proper Low GI diets can also help with managing and improving diabetes symptoms by improving blood glucose levels, reducing insulin resistance and improving blood cholesterol levels.

Other benefits of maintaining a low GI diet include being at a lower risk of developing heart disease and age-related adult macular degeneration

Final thoughts:

Given all the evidence supporting the benefits of low GI foods, it makes a great deal of sense to switch to a predominantly low GI diet.  Low GI diets can markedly assist with reaching and maintaining healthy weight and significantly lessen the the risk of developing serious diseases.  Furthermore, combining regular exercise activities with a predominantly low GI diet can maximise weight loss and promote overall well-being.  And you don’t need to overwhelm yourself with strenuous high impact or heavy duty exercises or heavy duty exercise to maintain good health.  There are numerous low impact options such as walking, rebounding, swimming, strength training which you can tailor to fit your individual needs and requirements.

About Needak

Needak Rebounder is an official retailer of the bestselling rebounder in the world.  Their fitness device is focused on alternate forms of in-home cardiovascular health, and their blog features many articles which focus on this and how it relates to the sport of rebounding.  Visit Needak.com if you are interested in exploring the Needak Rebounder and the revolutionary sport of rebounding.