Glycemic Index: Smarter Choices
The Glycemic index (GI) of a carbohydrate measures how fast your body processes the carbohydrate. If a food has a high GI your body will use the carbohydrate as energy very quickly, and you will become hungry faster. Pure glucose has a score of 100 on the GI; this means that it is absorbed into your system very quickly. If you want to lower overall calorie intake you should try to eat food with a lower GI score because your body will take longer breaking down the carbohydrate into glucose. For example try wheat bread instead of white bread. White Bread has a score of 70 while Wheat Bread is around 50. (This means that wheat bread takes longer to turn into energy than does white bread).
High GI foods include white bread, bagels, syrup, raisins, and potatoes. This does not mean you must always avoid these foods. Potatoes and raisins are good sources of fiber. You can use the tactic of slowing your response to high glycemic index carbohydrates by combining them with fats or proteins. For example you could have a bagel w/ peanut butter, a source of protein and unsaturated fat. High GI foods are not all bad; they are most effective for restoring glycogen. It is a good idea to eat high GI foods after period of extended work like distant runs, hiking trips, etc.
Middle GI foods include bananas, grapes, oatmeal, and rice.
Low GI foods include mixed-grain breads, bran, pasta, pears, yogurt, and apples.
Knowing about the GI index will help you decide what to eat and when to eat it. After working out, your body is going to energy quickly. Therefore, high GI foods would be good to eat. However, if you are not exercising regularly or want to lose weight you should focus on eating middle to lower GI foods.
Deuster, Patricia A., Ph. D., M.P.H. et.al., eds. The U.S. Navy Seal Guide to Fitness and Nutrition. Skyhorse Publishish, Inc., 2007.
Menís Health Magazine. Menís Health Best Weight-Free Workout. Kite, Joe, ed. Rodale Inc., 2005.